Many elements of the game are reminiscent of the Arthur C. Clarke novel Rendezvous with Rama.
Starcross was rated by Infocom as "Expert" level in difficulty. This may be largely due to the scientific orientation of many of the game's puzzles. Other early Expert-level games were Deadline and Suspended.
The original plans for this game's feelies incorporated "Astronaut Food", which was to be a small package of something edible and presumably freeze-dried. The idea presented legal problems involving health laws, however, and was dropped. The foil-wrapped package is still depicted in a picture of materials included with the game, appearing on the back of the game box.
The Starcross feelies consisted of the following items:
* Log of the M.C.S. Starcross, a whimsical journal of the player's character's experiences on the ship
* A letter from the "Bureau of Extra-Solar Intelligence" providing advice for any encounters with alien lifeforms
* A partial space map of charted masses, including instructions on how to use the navigation computer
The game was Infocom's fifth title and the first in the science fiction genre.
(From The New Zork Times Vol.3 No.2 Spring 1984)
Some statistics about Starcross:
- Apparent number of rooms (those seen by the player): 84
- Number of rooms: 86 (for various arcane programming reasons, some locations are inaccessible to the player)
- Number of different ways to die: 39
- Number of words in vocabulary: 561
- Number of takeable objects: 23
(From The New Zork Times, Vol.3 No.1, Winter 1984)
Dave Lebling gave his science fiction scenario a working title of A Gift From Space. Noboby's socks were knocked off, so Infocom gave the problem to their ad agency, Giardini/Russell. They proposed five possible titles: Celestus, The Linking, Alien Intercept, Stardate: 2186, and Starcross. Celestus didn't have the right down-at-the-heels image for your ship's name. The Linking sounded too much like a Stephen King novel. Alien Intercept begged for a joystick. And Stardate: 2186 wasn't even good enough for a Star Trek episode. Starcross, however, with its reference to the stars and its similarity to the word starcrossed, had the right sort of feel, and was elected.
The original packaging for Starcross was not a cardboard box, but rather a white plastic saucer.