Privateer: Ascii Sector - Early title (until 2010)
Just as in Privateer, you're an aspiring freelancer who had just bought a cheap, used space ship, hoping to get rich. The player will jump between solar systems, trading goods and accepting various paid missions (ranging from transport, through escort, to bounty hunting), while fending off pirates... or join said pirates, scooping cargo from shot merchant ships, dodging Confederation and militia patrols. Merchant and mercenary guilds will accept you in their ranks for a price, offering lucrative assignments. You'll need that money to buy better ships, armament and equipment, as it's the only way to increase the chances of survival on your dangerous trips.
What sets this game apart from its archetype (and even the Elite series) is the inclusion of ground travel and combat - you can walk around spaceports (or even on board of own ship), talk with shady types that frequent local cantinas, arm yourself with laser rifles or vibroblades, and eventually visit a doctor to heal wounds earned in the last bar brawl. Other new features include handy tools for tracking commodity price changes between planets.
The game package contains documentation for writing custom quests, allowing its users to add subplots to the game (some were made available as extra downloads).