V0.2 Quick Play Guide

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A Quick Start Guide to Playing FreeOrion v.2

The Galaxy Setup Screen Options

  • Stars The total number of stars in the galaxy. Use the spinner to adjust, or click on the number and type an amount.
  • Galaxy Shape The shape the stars are arranged in.
  • Galaxy Age Older galaxies will tend to have more blackholes and other inhospitable stars.
  • Starlane Frequency The number of starlanes per star. Ships in FreeOrion must travel by starlane.
  • Planet Density The number of planets per star.
  • Specials Frequency Has no effect in v.2.
  • Empire Name & Color Self explanatory

The Galaxy Map

Click with the left mouse button and drag to move the map around. The scroll wheel zooms the map in and out. If you don’t have a scroll wheel, use the plus and minus key on the numeric keypad to zoom. (The E and R keys can also be used to control zoom.)

FreeOrion is a turn-based game. Clicking the “Turn” button in the upper left corner will advance to the next turn.

You’ll see a bunch of stars on the map, but at the start of the game only one star is explored: your home-system. Clicking on this or any other star with the left mouse button will pull up the System SidePanel. Clicking on empty space or pressing the S key dismisses the sidepanel.

You can press the D key to pull up the Sidepanel for your empire's home-system. This also centers the galaxy map on the home-system. The X and C keys will walk through each star system with colonies owned by your empire.

There’ll be a tiny triangle hovering near your home-system. This is a fleet: you begin the game with two scout ships and a colony ship. Clicking on a fleet will pull up the Fleet Window. Right clicking on empty space will dismiss the Fleet Window, as will left clicking the tiny X in the upper right corner.

The V and B keys will walk through each fleet owned by your empire. The F and G keys can be used to walk through each fleet owned by your empire that is idle (as in, not moving).

When playing multiplayer, press “Enter” to send to type a chat message. Press Enter again to send the message.

See Manual for an overview of keyboard commands.

Game Menu

Pressing the menu button in the extreme upper left of the screen or pressing F10 will open the game menu. You can save or load games from this menu, or turn off the background music.


Pressing the siterep in the upper left of the screen or pressing F2 will open the "Situation Report". This is a listing of events that occured in your empire during the last turn.

The System SidePanel

Click on an explored system (such as your home-system).

You’ll see a sidepanel to the right of the galaxy map, filled with planets. If there are more planets in the system than your screen can display, use the scroll bar on the extreme right.

At the top of the sidepanel is the system name. Once you have two or more systems under your empire’s control, you’ll be able to quickly move to them by clicking the arrows on either side of the system name. Or you can click the system name itself to choose a system to jump to from a list.

The best artwork in FO so far are the planet surfaces. Check ‘em out by via left clicking on any planet.

To change the name of a planet your empire owns, right click it and select "Rename".

If you have a colony ship in a system, you can click the “Colonize” button next to planets to create a new colony. Terran planets make the best colonies; Ocean and Desert the next best. Gas Giants and Asteroid belts can’t be colonized or otherwise used in version .2.

You’ll see a bunch of icons and controls next to every planet colonized by your empire:

  • The white icon resembling two people standing next to each other is Population. The first number is current population, the second is max population on that planet. If the first number is green, the planet’s population is growing normally.
  • The yellow icon resembling wheat is food. You need one unit of food every turn for each population unit in the empire. Excess food is automatically shipped to needy planets that aren’t growing enough food. Terran worlds grow the most food.
  • The green icon resembling a test tube is research. In version v.2, you can’t set which tech to research or even check up on your research: this will change in next version. For now, research points will automatically be assigned to researching Defense Bases, and after that more power combat ships.
  • The red icon represents minerals. Minerals are used to fuel industry—you’ll need one mineral point for every industry point produced. Excess minerals are automatically shipped to needy planets that aren’t mining enough minerals to feed industry.
  • The blue gear represents industry. Industry is used to calculate production points. You need one mineral point and one industry point to generate one production point. Production points are used to build ships and defense bases.

Setting Focus

You can control how much of each resource is produced by a planet by “Setting Focus”. Left clicking on any resource will set the “Primary” focus. Right clicking on any resource will set the “Secondary” focus. In the middle of the resources is a tiny cross arrow. Clicking on it will set focus to "Balanced", meaning the planet will concentrate on producing a little of everything.

Try it out, and see what results you get. In v.2, each Focus setting adds a bonus that is multiplied with population to determine the number of resources produced.

You can also set focus from the planet information window. Left click on any planet to view this window and manipulate focus.

Building Stuff

In version .2 of FreeOrion, you can build Defense Bases or ships.

On any colonized planet, you’ll see a little yellow arrow at the bottom of the planet’s slot on the sidebar. Next to the arrow will be the words “No building” if no building is in progress.

Click on this arrow to select a build project.

  • Defense Bases You can’t build defense bases until your empire has finished researching ‘em. They defend the system from attack.
  • Scout A fast civilian ship, cheap to build. They are good for exploration, but can’t fight.
  • Colony Ship You’ll need colony ships to colonized planets.
  • Mark I Attack ships. Eventually, your empire will research more powerful attack ships, labeled Mark II-V.

A green bar indicates the progress of the current project. When a project is completed, you’ll receive notification and a new ship of the same type will begin building.

You can also select a build project from the right side of the planet information window. Click on any colonized planet to summon this window.

The Fleet Screen

You can see fleets hovering near stars: tiny triangles colored depending upon which empire they belong to. Click on your fleet to pull up the fleet window.

The top of the fleet window is a listing of fleets at the current system. Every ship is in a fleet. Clicking on a fleet will display the ships contained by that fleet.

You can drag-drop ships to change their fleet. Click on a ship and drag it to a fleet name. Drag a ship to “New Fleet” to create a new fleet. You can select multiple ships to drag by clicking on each ship: clicking once selects the ship, clicking again deselects the ship. CAREFUL: in the release version of FreeOrion .2 the game will crash if you move the *last* ship in a fleet to a new fleet.

You can also drag-drop fleets. Dropping a fleet on to another fleet will combine the fleets into one.

Just like planets, you can rename fleets and ships by right clicking on them and selecting “Rename”.

You can move fleets to a new system by selecting the fleet, then right clicking on the star you wish to move to. You’ll see an animated dashed line marking the path the fleet will take. There must be a known starlane leading to a star system in order to move ships to it.

You can right click on stars that are many starlane hops away—FreeOrion will automatically suggest a path for the fleet to take.

Each turn, you’ll see the fleet triangle move along the starlanes to its destination. When a ship enters an unexplored system, your galaxy map will update with newly discovered starlanes.

If a military ship enters a star system containing ships or planets belonging to another empire, combat occurs. In v.2, there is no tactical combat: this will change in v.4. For now, you’ll just receive a brief overview of the combat results.


In v.2, victory is achieved by eliminating all planets belonging to other empires. There is no AI currently implemented, so computer players will just sit around and wait for the inevitable.

Last Word

Have fun experimenting with this early demo of FreeOrion, and thanks for helping test it.

Feel free to drop by the FreeOrion forums if you have questions, want to share you experiences playing the game, or want to pitch in and help build the next version of the game.

If you discover bugs in the game, please use the Sourceforge bug tracker to report them.