V0.4 Quick Play Guide
A Not-So-Quick Start Guide to Playing FreeOrion v0.4
- 1 Quick Start
- 2 How do I...?
- 3 Title Screen & Main Menu
- 4 Galaxy Setup
- 5 Multiplayer Connection & Setup
- 6 The Galaxy Map
- 7 Game Menu
- 8 Turn Button
- 9 SitRep (Situation Report)
- 10 System Sidepanel
- 11 Fleet Window
- 12 Research
- 13 Production
- 14 Victory
- 15 Useful Tips
- 16 Last Word
To start a game, run the freeorion executable (with working directory set to freeorion), then click on the "Quick Start" button on the main menu.
After the galaxy has been generated, you should then see a starmap filling most of the screen. You can drag it around with the mouse and zoom in/out with the scrollwheel.
At the top right of the screen, there is a row of buttons: SitRep, Research, Production, Design, Menu. These buttons are discussed later, but the most important one is "Menu", which brings up the main menu from which you can save or load a game, tweak game options, or resign from the current game to get back to the main title screen that appeared when the game first started. At the top left, there is another button: Turn (and a number). Clicking the turn button ends your turn, causing any orders that have been given to be processed (fleets move, things get researched, etc.).
There will be one star with a name under it, some half-coloured and half-grey lines sticking out from it, and an icon at the top right. This is your empire's home system. Clicking on the star icon will open the system sidepanel at the right side of the screen, showing the contents of the system.
Clicking the star opens the system sidepanel, which displays a star image at the top right with a vertical column of planet images and information below. If there are more planets than can fit on screen, a scrollbar will appear and the panel can be scrolled down using the bar or the mousewheel to see more planets. One of the planets will have a coloured name, which indicates that your empire owns it - other empires' planets will have different coloured names. It may be necessary to scroll down to see the planet your empire controls.
If a planet has a population, there will be a series of boxes containing icons below the planet's name, to the right of the image of the planet. The boxes with down arrows at the right side can be expanded by clicking the arrows. Most boxes can be hovered over to see details about what they are or what determines their values. If a planet has no population, it may have a "Colonize" button, that can be used to order a colony ship in the system to colonize the planet.
If a planet has a Basic Shipyard built, its name will be underlined.
The top box is the population and health panel, which shows the population of the planet and the planet's health, which determines its population's rate of growth.
The next panel is the resources panel, which shows how much of the various resources the planet produces, and has two droplists which can be used to specify the planet's focus. Focus determines what resources a planet's population works to produce. The droplist specifies the primary focus. Generally focusing on a resource will produce more of it, but various factors can influence how much of a resource a planet can produce at each focus setting. The five resources can be focused on, or the four-way arrows can be selected to spread effort between all of the resources. The resources panel also has a construction meter at the right, which is not a resource, but influences how quickly planets adjust to changes in focus settings made to them.
Below the resources panel is the military panel, which shows the supply, detection, stealth, planetary shields and defensive weaponry of the planet.
Below the military panel is the buildings panel, which displays icons for all buildings located on a planet.
The little icons below the ship's icon, name and type are in order: structure (called health in some revisions), shield, fuel, detection, stealth and speed. Note: As of rev 4541, the ships have the damage listed in the fleet window (the first one in the picture above).
Back on the galaxy map, to the top right of the star icon is a fleet icon. Clicking the fleet opens the fleet window. If the fleet window is open, right clicking on a star connected by starlanes to the system where the fleet is located gives the fleet a move order. FreeOrion is a turn-based game, so the fleet will only move after you press the turn button. A fleet can be split apart by dragging and dropping its ships to "New Fleet" in the fleets window. Colony ships can be used to make a new colony: click "Colonize" on the system sidepanel in a system where you have a colony ship.
Research can be done on the Research screen, accessed by the aptly named button at the top right. Production can be similarly accessed. See below for details on how to use these screens, which are somewhat complicated at first glance.
Try moving fleets around to explore, making a new colony or clicking on techs in the Research screen to read their descriptions. Read below for a more detailed explanation of how to use the various screen and the various features that have been implemented.
You can make more ships join the fleet by dragging the ship itself onto the fleet's name in the fleet window.
How do I...?
The latter sections of this guide are a thorough listing of all the features of the game interface, and some other details about how things work. In order to make learning the game a bit easier, this section provides a few step-by-step instructions on how to do common tasks in the UI. These instructions assume knowledge of the terms they use, so if any are unclear, try searching the guide for the terms (using your browser search function) and you should be able to find an explanation.
- Give a fleet a Move Order
- End the turn.
FreeOrion is a turn based game. Orders you give are processed by the server between turns. If you give a fleet a move order, it will move after that turn, not during the turn.
Give a Fleet a Move Order
Starting from the main galaxy map (not in the Production or Research screens, and without the SitRep window showing), though the System Sidepanel may be open,
- Left click on a fleet icon next to a system.
- If necessary, in the fleets window, left click on the individual fleet to which you want to give a move order
- On the galaxy map, right click on a system icon to which you want to order the fleet to move.
While a fleet that can be ordered to move is selected, and a system if moused over, a series of moving white dots will show the path the fleet will take if ordered to move to the moused over system. Also indicated will be the points along the path where the fleet will end subsequent turns if ordered to move. These places are indicated with solid white circles with numbers in them that indicate the number of turns it will take to reach the dot's location.
A ship will always take the shortest known path to its destination; if you want to give another path, you'll have to give new move orders after the fleet moves partway along its path.
If you've successfully given a move order, the fleet's icon should now be located to the top left of the system icon. There will be a moving series of dots showing the path the fleet will take, much like when ordering the fleet to move. These dots will be coloured the fleet's empire colour, unless the fleet is selected in an open fleet window, in which case the dots will be white.
If step 3 does not work, you might have misclicked on empty space, rather than on the system. System icons can be very small at wide zoom levels, and the clickable area near the system scales with the size of the icon as the map is zoomed.
Note that you can only order fleets to move to systems to which you know a path along starlanes.
Research a Technology
Starting from the main galaxy map, with or without the SitRep open, or from the Production screen:
- Open the Research screen by clicking on the Research button at the top right of the screen.
- (Optional) When the Research screen is first opened, all technology categories are selected and appear on the tech tree. You can select a single category (Learning, Growth, Production, Construction, Economics or Ships) by first clicking "All" to deselect all categories, and then clicking on the category you want. Clicking "All" again will select all categories. Selected category buttons are colored, whereas deselected category buttons are black.
- (Optional) You can change which types of technologies and technologies of which state are shown to you. Initially you are shown all types (Theories, Applications, Refinements) and all states (Unreserachable, Researchable, Completed) (the filter buttons are grey). You can deselect types or filters by clicking them (the color changes to black).
- Scroll the tree view by left click-and-dragging the view to find the tech you want.
- Double click on the tech you want to research.
If you enqueue a tech which has prerequisites, its prerequisites will be added to the research queue as well. Techs without prerequisites are more lightly coloured than techs with preconditions. By deselecting Unresearchable and Completed techs, you can view only techs without prerequisites.
To remove a technology from the research queue, double click the queue entry.
You can close the research window at any time by pressing the "Research" button again (top right).
Produce a Ship or Building
Starting from the main galaxy map:
- Left click on a system you control (system name coloured your empire colour).
- Left click on the Production button.
- Left click on a planet you control (has resource icons, population).
- (Optional) Right now, all production categories are selected. You can select a single category (Buildings, Ships) by first pressing "All" to deselect everything, and then click on the category you want. Clicking "All" again will select all categories. Selected categories are gray, deselected ones are black.
- (Optional) Right now, you are shown only available items (you fulfill the tech prerequisites). You can change this using the "Available" and "Unavailable" filter buttons. Active filters are gray, inactive filters are black.
- Double click on a buildable item
Note that you can only build ships at planets that have a shipyard. You can see the shipyard in the box of building icons below the planet on the sidepanel. Hover your mouse cursor, stationary, over a building icon to get a tooltip that says what type of building it is.
To remove an item from the building queue, double click the queue entry.
You can close the production overlay at any time by pressing the "Production" button again (top right).
Note: In Free Orion 0.4 RC2 (rev 4617), when the available filter is turned on, the buildable items have black background and the unbuildable ones (when you have the tech but can't build because some other requirement is not met) have dark grey background. To further help you, a tooltip will show the requirements for each building and whether the checks for them were PASSED or FAILED.
Ships that move out of the range of their empire's supply lines use fuel to move: one unit of fuel for each starlane jump they make. If a ship runs out of fuel, it can't move.
Ships that pass through or spend a turn in a system that has supply lines connected to it are fully refueled instantly, even if they are only partway through a turn's movement.
If a ship is stranded far from supply line with no fuel, it regains a little amount of fuel each turn. The only way to refuel it quickly is to extend your empire's supply lines to reach the fleet's system. This can be done by researching the Fleet Logistics technology, or building Interstellar Lighthouses on nearby planets. These both increase planets' supply meters, which determine how far supply lines project from the planet.
Title Screen & Main Menu
When you start FreeOrion, you will see the title screen with some exciting background art, as well as the Main Menu of the game. The buttons on the Main Menu may be clicked to
- Start a new Single Player game, taking you to the Galaxy Setup Screen, then into the game itself.
- Quick Start a new single player game, using the previously used galaxy settings (or default settings if they haven't been changed).
- Start or load a Multi Player game, taking you to the Server Connection Dialog. After connecting to a server, or hosting a game yourself, you'll be taken to the Multiplayer Setup dialog, where a new multiplayer game may be configured, or a saved multiplayer game loaded.
- Load Game previously saved (single player)
- Open the Options window, allowing various game settings to be changed. Some of these options require the game to be restarted to take effect.
- Read About the FreeOrion project (game licence and vision statement)
- View the Game Credits, a listing of people who have made significant contributions to creating the game so far.
When starting a new single player game, various options concerning how the galaxy will be generated for the new game are available. These include
- Systems - The total number of stars in the galaxy. Use the spinner to adjust, or click on the number and type an amount. NOTE:
The deep space and black holes COUNT towards this number! Note: Renamed to Stars as of FO 0.4 RC 2 (rev 4617).
- Galaxy Shape - The shape the stars are arranged in.
- Galaxy Age - Older galaxies will tend to have more black holes, red stars and neutron stars, younger galaxies will have more blue 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 - The frequency with which planets will be generated with specials when the galaxy is created. As of rev 4252, some specials will generate monsters, so be careful!
- Life Frequency - The frequency with which planets will have life. It also affects the number of monsters generated. As of rev 4521, split into Monster Frequency and Native Frequency.
- Player Name - Self explanatory
- Empire Name & Color - Self explanatory
- Starting Species - Self explanatory
- Number of AI Players - Self explanatory
After setting these options and clicking OK, the game will generate a new galaxy, and after a few moments, bring you into the game itself.
Multiplayer Connection & Setup
When starting or resuming a multiplayer game, initially you will be taken to the Connect to Server dialog. After hosting or joining a game, you will be taken to the Multiplayer Setup dialog.
Connect to Server
At the top of the Connect to Server dialog, you may enter your Player name. Just below, you may select whether you wish to join an already existing game, or host a new game yourself.
If hosting, you need only click OK after entering a player name.
If joining a LAN game, clicking Refresh list should list any games on the local network waiting for players. Select one of these and click OK to join.
If joining an internet game, you need to enter the IP address of the game you wish to join, then click OK.
If the connection is made successfully, you will then be taken to the Multiplayer Setup dialog.
After connecting or starting a new server, you will be taken to the Multiplayer Setup screen, where the game may be configured and players assembled before a game begins. At the bottom left of the Multiplayer setup screen, you may enter chat messages which will be sent to other players in the game, and seen in the column above.
If you are hosting a new game, you should ensure that the "New game" option at the left side of the Multiplayer Setup dialog is selected (which it is by default). Adjacent, various options may be set to configure how the game generates the galaxy for the new multiplayer game, just like the single player Galaxy Setup dialog. If you have joined a game that another player is hosting, these options will be disabled, though you can see what settings the host has chosen for the game.
When you join or host a multiplayer game, your player name and all other players' names are listed at the bottom of the multiplayer dialog. Each player needs to pick a unique empire colour and enter a unique empire name before the game can be started.
After all players have chosen unique empire names and colours, the host may click Start game, at which point game will generate a new galaxy, and after a few moments, bring all players into the game itself.
If resuming a previously saved multiplayer game, the host can select the "Load game" option (instead of "New game") and then specify which save file to load in the drop-down list.
Players that join need to select which empire they will be playing in the saved game. Each player needs to pick a different empire before the host can start the game.
The Galaxy Map
Clicking with the left mouse button and dragging will move the map around. The scroll wheel zooms the map in and out. Alternatively the plus and minus key on the numeric keypad, or the E and R keys, may be used to zoom the map.
There are numerous stars on the map, but at the start of the game only one star is explored: your home-system. The name of explored systems appear below the star picture on the map. The names of systems in which you control a planet are coloured with your empire colour. Any starlanes connecting systems to their neighbours are shown as white lines. Any fleets you know about in a system are shown by and accessed by clicking on the empire-coloured triangle(s) at the top right corner of the star picture; each empire's fleets get their own fleet icon at each system on the map.
When playing multiplayer, press “Enter” to type a chat message to the other players. Press Enter again to send the message.
Pressing the menu button in the extreme upper left of the screen or pressing F10 will open the game menu. From this menu you can
- Save or Load games
- Resign (quit your game and go back to the title splash screen and menu, where you can exit the program)
- Access the Options window, where you can change a variety of game options including
- Autosave settings
- UI appearance (colours, font and text size, main window size, option to turn on the detection radius etc.)
- Sounds and Music
- Directories (where games are saved, where data files are found when the game starts)
For many of the controls in the Options window, you have to quit and restart the game before they take effect. Enabling and disabling sound and music should happen immediately, however. So does the Autosave setting.
At the top left of the screen at almost all times during a game is the Turn Button.
FreeOrion is a turn based game. You give orders and view your empire during a turn, then press the turn button to indicate that you are done. After all players have finished their turns and pressed the turn button, the server processes the turn, then sends the results of the next turn back to the players. In a single player game, the server immediately processes a turn after you finish, as the AI players do not take any time to finish their turns. In a multiplayer game, you might have to wait a while while other players finish their turns before you get the results back and continue playing.
Be careful: there is no way to undo pressing the turn button, other than reloading a saved game in single player. The turn button is located conveniently far away from anything else on the screen you might be clicking, so it should not be prone to accidental clicking.
SitRep (Situation Report)
Pressing the SitRep button in the upper right corner of the screen or pressing F2 will open (or close) the "Situation Report". This is a listing of events that occurred in your empire during the last turn. On the first turn, nothing has happened, so this will be empty. On later turns, if something worth noting happens, the SitRep will automatically pop up when a turn starts.
The names of ships that appear in SitRep entries can be clicked to take you to the relevant ship by opening the Fleet Window and selecting the ship. Similarly, names of planets may be clicked to take you to the relevant planet by opening the System Sidepanel to the system containing the planet. When Technologies are researched, you can click their names in the SitRep to open the Research Screen with the new tech selected. If something can be clicked in a SitRep entry, it will underline when the mouse cursor is placed over it. (Note that buildings, which are not yet clickable, will also underline when moused over).
Clicking on the home system or any other star with the left mouse button will pull up the System SidePanel (though there may be a short delay while the game first loads planet textures for the first time). The system sidepanel lists information about the contents of a system. At the top of the sidepanel is the system name. Below is a list of all planets in the system, and information about those planets.
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 the drop-down list. Alternatively, the X and C keys will walk through each star system with colonies owned by your empire, and the the D key will open the sidepanel to your empire's home-system. Using the keyboard shortcuts in this manner also centres the galaxy map on the system shown.
Clicking on empty space on the galaxy map or pressing the S key dismisses the sidepanel.
Planets in a system are listed in a column on the sidepanel. Extra planets that don't all fit at once can be seen by moving the scrollbar at the far right of the screen and sidepanel. All planets on the sidepanel have a name, size (eg. medium), and environment (eg. Terran).
Populated planets have a population shown by the white icon resembling two people standing next to each other is Population. The number next to it is the current population. Hovering over the icon with the mouse will reveal a popup. The popup displays the current population (Current), what the population will be next turn (Next Turn), the change between this turn and next (Change)(green-growing, red-falling), the maximum population (Max Meter), and how the maximum population was calculated.
To change the name of a planet your empire owns, right click it and select "Rename".
To colonize an uninhabited planet, you need a colony ship in the same system. In the fleet window, select a colony ship from the bottom half of the list. If you have the proper tech and species button(s) will appear in the system sidebar "Colonize <number/number>" button. The first number is the population of the colony ship, and the second is the maximum population the planet would support. Clicking this button will create a new colony on the next game turn, but will consume the colony ship in the process. After clicking to colonize, if you change your mind, you can click the "Cancel" button to recover the colony ship.
The habitability of the planet depends on the species of the colony. For example, the terran planets are best suited for the Humans, while the barren planets are best suited for the Cray.
The image on the left shows the "wheel of habitability". The planet on the top is perfect for the species. The two planets below are good, the two in the middle - adequate, the next pair is poor, and the planets at the bottom are hostile. You can find the habitability for species other than Humans by rotating the wheel accordingly, so that the best-suited planet is on the top.
The planet's type can be changed by Terraforming - it shifts the planet's type to become one step closer to its' preferences. For example, if you terraform a planet that was hostile, it will become one of the poor types. Note that terraforming disappears after you build it, so you can build it multiple times. Also, it is important to note that Terraforming takes effect on the turn AFTER the one it is built in!
Gas Giants and Asteroid belts can’t be colonized with regular colony ship. They will not have a Colonize button even if a colony ship is in their system. You will only be able to colonize them with outpost ships.
The only difference between a colony and an outpost is the initial population. If a good planet is colonized with an outpost ship, it is still considered a colony.
As of rev 4251, you also have two more types of colony ships. They are Colony Base and Outpost Base. They work as the normal ships do, except for the fact that they cannot leave the system they were built in. They are useful for colonizing other planets in the system, though.
New planets may not be able to produce enough food to feed themselves, especially if their focus is changed from food-specialized.
However, if a new planet is connected to an established planet, such as your empire's homeworld, by resource supply lines, the two can share resources, including food. Resource supply lines are shown by starlanes that are coloured with your empire's colour radiating out from your colonized systems. The distance these supply lines travel is dependent on planets' construction meters, but the lines can also be blocked by enemy ships.
If a system is connected to another system with surplus food, or other resources, the surplus will be exported to systems that need extra. If you aren't generating a surplus, you can change the primary focus of planets, including the homeworld, to farming to get more. Keep in mind that the food output will take some time to reach the new maximum value, and that you are handicapping research and production by switching the focus to food.
Alternatively, you could leave newly colonized planets on farming focus, and they should be self-sufficient in food in most cases. Researching farming technologies also helps generate more food, so that more planets can be switched to other focuses, and generate other resources besides food. Farming-related technologies include Self-Rotating Crops in the Growth tech category.
On the system sidepanel, for each planet your empire controls, there will be a box with five pictures, two rows of horizontal bars, and some numbers below. These are the focus selector and meter indicators. The icons in the boxes represent the five resources in FreeOrion. The bars represent the current maximum values of the meters for the resources on the planet, and the numbers the change in the current meter value in the next turn.
There are five main resources in FreeOrion. These are:
- The yellow icon resembling wheat is food. Planets need one unit of food every turn for each unit of population. Excess food is automatically shipped to needy planets that aren’t growing enough food.
- The green icon resembling a test tube is research. Research points are used on the Research Screen, which is accessed by clicking the "Research" button at the top right of the screen. By researching technologies, you can unlock buildings and get various bonuses for your empire.
- The red icon represents minerals. Minerals are used to fuel industry — you need one mineral point and one industry point to generate one Production Point.
- The blue gear represents industry. Industry is used with minerals to calculate Production Points. You need one mineral point and one industry point to generate one Production Point. Production points are used on the Production screen, which is accessed by clicking the "Production" button at the top right of the screen. By producing ships and buildings, you can explore the galaxy, defend your empire, conquer other empires, and get beneficial effects for your planets.
- The orange icon represents trade. Trade does absolutely nothing in v0.3.
Note that the amount of each resource produced in a system is shown at the top of the system sidepanel, and the total resource production for your empire is shown at the top of the screen, to the left of SitRep and other buttons. The first number for all five resources is the amount your empire is producing. The second (bracketed) number for resources which have it is the surplus or deficit of that resource in the empire. Having too little food can result in starvation and population loss. Having too little minerals results in less Production Points being available than your industry point total. Having too little trade has no consequence in v0.3. Excess production of stockpiled resources (with brackets) can be saved from one turn to the next, to be used later when a shortage occurs, to stave off any ill-effects. There is currently no indication in the UI of the amount of stockpiled resources, however. This will be fixed in a later version.
The total Production points and Research Points produced by your empire are also shown on the Production and Research screens, respectively.
In FreeOrion v0.3, each planet has a number of "meters" associated with it. Meters are essentially two numbers: a Maximum (max) Value, and a Current Value. The current values of a planet's meters generally have some impact on how the planet functions, while the max values are limits to the current values (the current value of a meter can never be higher than the max value). Meter values are also restricted to the range 0 to 100.
There is a meter for each planet for each of the resources in FreeOrion: Farming meter for Food, Mining meter for Minerals, Industry meter for Industry Points, Research meter for Research Points, and Trade meter for Trade. Resource meters are a measure of how effective a planet is at producing each of these resources; the current value of these resource meters determines the amout of each resource that a planet produces, according to the formula:
(Resource Production) = (Current Meter Value) * (Planet Population) / 10
For example: a planet with population 20, a current farming meter of 30 and a max farming meter of 50 would produce 30 * 20 / 10 = 60 food. The max farming meter does not affect resource production directly.
The max and current value of each resource meter for a planet is represented graphically by the horizontal bars below the resource's icon for each planet on the sidepanel: max on top, and current below. Changes in the max meters are shown, with red indicating a decrease and green an increase expected on the next turn.
- Construction determines how fast the resource meter current values increase towards their maximum value. Exactly how fast is complicated, but in general, more construction means faster meter growth.
- Construction determines how far planets can spread their resource sharing. A planet must be connected to other planets to share food, minerals and industry with other planets. Any unused resources that can't be shared and can't be stockpiled are wasted and lost.
You cannot directly control the values of meters on your planets. However, you can affect planet resource production by “Setting Focus”. On the system sidepanel, on the box for each planet you control, the rolldown menu shows all the possible settings. You choose the focus of the planet by clicking one of them. You will see the expected size of the resource meter outlined below immediately. Note that not all planet types have all settings available.
Focus settings affect resource production by applying bonuses to the planet's max resource meters. At the start of the game, this bonus is +15 to a Resource Max Meter when focused.
Later in the game, researching technologies or producing buildings can apply additional bonuses to resource meters on planets with certain focuses, depending on other conditions, or to all planets.
Planetary specials may also give bonuses to resource meters on planets. In particular, the Cultural Archives special, which your homeworld has, give significant bonuses to all resource meters, among other benefits.
It's important to realize that changing a planet's focus doesn't immediately set the resources it is producing to correspond to the new focus. Resource production is determined by a planet's current meter values, while changing focus affects the planet's max meter values. It takes time for a planet to reconfigure its infrastructure to produce new resources whenever a focus change is made, which is represented by the growth of the current meter values over time.
Changing focus might cause an immediate drop in a planet's resource production, however (after ending the turn), because current meters are capped by their corresponding max meter values. For example, if changing from Farming focused to Mining focused, a planet's current farming meter will drop by 15 (at the start of the new turn), while the current mining meter will take several turns to grow up to the new, 15 point higher, max mining meter value.
There will be a tiny triangle hovering near your home-system. This is a "fleet icon" or "fleet button". Every system has a fleet icon for the fleets of each empire you know has a fleet in the system. Additional fleets owned by the same empire are shown by a single fleet icon.
You begin the game with two scout ships and a colony ship in a fleet called "Home Fleet". Since no other empires have any fleets in your home system at the start of the game, your empire's is the only fleet icon that appears next to the system.
Clicking on the fleet icon will open up the Fleet Window. While the fleet window is open, 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).
The top half 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 in the bottom half of the fleet window.
Clicking and dragging a ship from the bottom of the fleet window to the top, and dropping it onto a different fleet will transfer the ship between the fleets. The fleet labelled "New Fleet" is a special fleet; if you drag a ship onto this fleet, a new fleet is created for that ship (you don't actually have a fleet called "New Fleet"). You can also select multiple ships to drag by clicking on each ship: clicking once selects the ship, clicking again deselects the ship. When you drag a ship, if multiple ships are selected, all the selected ships will be dragged together. You can also drag-drop entire fleets; dropping a fleet into or onto another fleet will merge the dropped fleet's ships into the new fleet, deleting the dropped fleet.
Just like planets, you can rename fleets and ships by right clicking on them and selecting “Rename”. You can also scrap (destroy) ships by right clicking and selecting "Scrap Ship".
You can move fleets to new systems by selecting the fleet in the fleets window, then right clicking on the star you wish the fleet to move to. When you do this, the fleet icon will move to the bottom left corner of the star picture, and 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. Fleets can be ordered to move to star systems many starlane hops away from their present location. The fleet will automatically follow the shortest path from where it is to where you tell it to go. If you uncover new starlanes that make a new path shorter while the fleet is en route, the fleet's path will update accordingly.
Each turn, you’ll see the fleet triangle move along the starlanes to its destination. When a fleet enters (or passes through) an unexplored system, your galaxy map will update with newly discovered starlanes and system name.
If a military ship enters a star system containing ships or planets belonging to another empire, combat occurs. In v0.3, there is no tactical combat. For now, you’ll just receive a brief overview of the combat results.
If an enemy ship is present at your planet, it blockades it. It blocks all production on this planet and might affect supply lines of other planets. Note that the blockade does not affect research.
New ships may be built on the Production Screen.
Clicking the Research button at the top right of the screen opens the research screen. Clicking the button again closes the research screen. Pressing F3 similarly opens or closes the research screen. You can also open the research screen by clicking on a link from a SitRep entry.
Technology research in FreeOrion works according to the model that each tech has a certain Research Point (RP) limit per turn, and takes minimum number of turns to research. Each tech can have at most it's RP limit applied towards it each turn. You can spend less than the limit, which often happens to the last funded tech in the queue. If underfunded, a tech will merely take longer than it's minimum research time.
The top left research summary panel shows how many Research Points your empire is producing, how many of these points are being wasted by not being spent to research a tech, how many techs you are currently actively researching (how many are receiving RPs this turn), the number of RPs going to the underfunded project (often the last funded project on the queue does not receive its RP limit each turn) and how many research projects you have enqueued total.
Below the summary panel is the research queue itself. Techs that have been enqueued are shown by boxes on the queue. Multiple techs may be enqueued simultaneously, and if too many techs have been enqueued to fit onto the queue at once, a scrollbar will appear at the right of the queue.
Techs may be reordered on the queue by dragging and dropping. Reordering techs in this manner changes their priority, which is important because available RPs are applied to techs in priority sequence from top to bottom on the queue, up to each tech's per turn RP limit.
Techs may be removed from the queue by double clicking on their box on the queue. Any progress on partially completed techs is retained, even if they are removed from the queue. If re-enqueued later, research will resume where it left off.
The name of a tech appears at the top of its box on the queue. Below, a progress bar fills up to indicate visually the progress being made in researching the tech. At the bottom left of the tech box is the RP limit per turn and minimum number of turns required to research the tech. At the bottom right, the estimated number of turns to finish the tech is shown (at current RP production levels). This estimate takes into account the time required to finish techs higher in the queue before the tech in question receives partial or full funding.
The largest section of the Research Screen is the tech tree view to the right of the queue. This view shows the technologies in the game, connected by arrows to show their prerequisite relationships; most techs require one or more other techs to be researched before they can be enqueued. Each tech box on the tree view also shows the name of the tech, an icon at the top left to indicate the tech's category, as well as the RP per turn limit and minimum research time for the tech. If a tech has been enqueued, is being researched, or has been completed, this is indicated in a sub-box at the bottom right of the tech box on the tree.
To enqueue a tech, you can double click on it in the tree view, or you can single click on it, and then click "Add to Queue" at the top of the Research Screen. The tree view may be scrolled similarly to the galaxy map, by clicking (not on a tech) and dragging with the mouse, or by using the scrollbars at the bottom and right sides.
There are several view options for the tech tree. Directly above the tree, there are tech category buttons. Clicking these will limit the techs shown on the tree to techs in the appropriate category (or show all categories simultaneously, for "All"). Below the tree view, options are available to show only researchable, researchable and complete, or all techs, and only theory techs, applications and theories only, or all techs.
Techs on the tree view are shaded differently to indicate their status. From light to dark are techs that have been enqueued or researched, techs that may be enqueued, and finally techs that are not yet available to be researched.
Each tech in FreeOrion is categorized by its primary use to an empire. The categories are:
- Learning - techs that increase Research Point production, or are major prerequisites for multiple techs in other categories
- Growth - techs that increase Farming meters (and thus food production). Later this category will also include techs which improve planet Health meters, though this is not yet implemented
- Production - techs which increase Industry and Mining meters, which are both necessary to generate Production Points
- Construction - techs that increase Construction meters, which determines how fast current resource meters grow upwards to their corresponding max meter values. Later this category will also include techs that are prerequisites for many buildings.
- Ships - techs that unlock ship parts and hulls, allow construction of shipyards and boosting planet supply meters
Future versions of FreeOrion will likely add additional tech categories.
Note: As of FO 0.4 RC2, another tech category is added: Defense - a tech that unlocks planetary defense of various types.
If a tech is clicked on the tree view or the queue, or if a SitRep link is clicked to open the research screen with a tech selected, the tech appears at the top centre of the research screen. The name of the tech, its category, and its RP limit and minimum research time are shown.
Below the name, some descriptive text about the tech appears, superimposed over the category icon of the tech. If a tech is a theory, this descriptive text will be just for entertainment purposes. Application techs, however, may either unlock a building, which will be indicated in the descriptive text, or may have some effects. In v0.3, effects of techs (and buildings) generally give bonuses to planet meters, usually subject to some condition such as the focus setting of the planet.
To the right, a technology icon may appear, if one has been created for the tech.
To the right, above the tech icon, there are buttons that may be clicked to add the tech to the queue, or to centre the tree view on the tech. Centring the view will only work if the tree view is set to show the tech. That is, the research status and tech type options (below the tree view) must include the type of the tech to be centred. Also, if the current category setting (above the tree view) does not show the tech, this will be changed to the tech's category automatically.
Tech Links Box
To the right of the tech detail view, there is a box that shows the prerequisites of the selected tech, as well as the techs for which the selected tech is a prerequisite (or what it "unlocks"). These are coloured similarly to the tech boxes on the tree view to indicate whether the techs have been researched or enqueued, are available to be research, or are not yet available due to having unresearched prerequisites.
The techs listed in the relations box may be clicked to select them in the detail view, and to centre the tree view on them.
Clicking the Production button at the top right of the screen opens the production screen. Clicking the button again closes the production screen. Pressing F4 similarly opens or closes the production screen. Double clicking on a system on the galaxy map also opens the production screen, with the double-clicked system selected.
When first opened after starting or loading a game, the production screen may be mostly blank. This may be remedied by clicking on a project in the buildable items list, or by clicking a system on the central galaxy map portion of the production screen.
The production screen is somewhat like a combination of the research screen and the galaxy map with the sidepanel open. The sidepanel appears and works mostly the same as it does on the galaxy map. The centre of the production screen is the galaxy map itself. The top and left sides of the production screen are the project information box, summary panel and queue, similar to the research screen.
Production in FreeOrion works similarly to research. Each production project has a certain Production Point (PP) limit per turn, and takes minimum number of turns to build. Each project can have at most it's PP limit applied towards it each turn. You can spend less than the limit, which often happens to the last funded project in the production queue. If underfunded, a project will merely take longer than it's minimum build time.
You need one mineral point and one industry point to generate one Production Point. Production points are used on the Production screen, which is accessed by clicking the "Production" button at the top right of the screen.
The top left production summary panel shows how many Production Points your empire is producing, how many of these points are being wasted by not being spent to produce anything, how many projects you are currently actively producing (how many are reciving PPs this turn), the number of PPs going to the underfunded project (often the last funded project on the queue does not receive its PP limit each turn) and how many production projects you have enqueued total.
The production queue works largely the same as the research queue. Just like the queue on the research screen, the queue is located below the summary panel. Projects that have been enqueued are shown by boxes on the queue. Multiple projects may be enqueued simultaneously, and if too many projects have been enqueued to fit onto the queue at once, a scrollbar will appear at the right of the queue.
Projects may be reordered on the queue by dragging and dropping. Reordering projects in this manner changes their priority, which is important because available PPs are applied to projects in priority sequence from top to bottom on the queue, up to each project's per turn PP limit.
Projects may be removed from the queue by double clicking on their box on the queue. Unlike the research queue, any progress on partially completed projects is lost if they are removed from the queue. If you want to pause a project, just put it later in the queue where it does not receive any PPs. If re-enqueued after being removed, a project will restart from the beginning of production.
Just like the techs on the research queue, the name of a project on the production queue appears at the top of its box on the queue. Below, a progress bar fills up to indicate visually the progress being made in producing the project. At the bottom left of the tech box is the PP limit per turn and minimum number of turns required to produce the project. At the bottom right, the estimated number of turns to finish the project is shown (at current PP production levels). This estimate takes into account the time required to finish projects higher in the queue before the project in question receives partial or full funding.
Clicking a project on the production queue selects it, and shows details about the project in the production detail view at the top of the production screen, and selects the planet at which the project is being built on the production sidepanel at the right side of the production screen.
At the bottom of the production screen, to the right of the production queue, below the central galaxy map and to the left of the production sidepanel, is the buildable items list. This list contains all the items that you can build.
Directly above the list, there are category buttons. Clicking these will limit the buildable items shown in the list to items in the appropriate category (or show all categories simultaneously, for "All").
By clicking on a buildable item in the list, an item may be selected. When selected, details about the item are shown at the top of the screen in the buildable items detail box.
If a planet is selected on the production sidepanel, a buildable item may be enqueued, to be built at the selected planet, by double clicking the item in the buildable items list.
Buildable items (at the beginning of the game) include:
- 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 colonize planets.
- Colony Base - A colony ship that cannot move out of the system it was built in. Useful for colonizing other planets in the system. [as of rev 4252)
- Mark I through Mark IV - Attack ships. You can use these to capture enemy planets, fight enemy attack ships, or destroy (or force to retreat) enemy Scouts and Colony Ships.
At the start of the game, no buildings are available to be produced apart from the Basic Shipyard and the Imperial Palace. You must first unlock buildings by conducting research on the research screen.
Once unlocked, various buildings become available. Details about the buildings may be read by selecting them on the Available list on the production screen, and reading their descriptions, particularly the effects descriptions, in the project information box at the top of the production screen.
Most buildings in v0.3 give bonuses to planet meters. Many only give a bonus to a meter if a planet's primary focus is that resource, though some affect all planets in your empire.
Note that currently the Available setting lists also the buildings already built on the given planet and the buildings you cannot build on a given planet (for example, it will list all the shipyard extensions even if you do not have the Basic Shipyard built).
Production Galaxy Map
In the middle of the production screen, above the buildable items list, to the right of the production queue, below the production detail box and to the left of the production sidepanel is a view of the galaxy map. This view works nearly the same as the standard galaxy map (when the production screen is closed), except that fleet buttons cannot be clicked, and clicking on a system once opens it in the production view (as opposed to requiring a double-click on the standard galaxy map). The map may be zoomed and drag-scrolled as normal.
At the right side of the production screen is the production sidepanel. This works almost exactly the same as the regular sidepanel, seen on the galaxy map when a system is selected.
The one difference between the galaxy-map system sidepanel and the production screen sidepanel is that on the production screen, clicking the image of a planet selects that planet. When selected, planets are the location at which enqueue buildable items are placed.
Note that the system selected in the galaxy map sidepanel and the system selected in the production sidepanel are tracked separately. This allows you to open the production screen to the previous system that it was open to after changing the system shown on the galaxy map sidepanel, which may be convenient. This may also be unintuitive, so may be changed in later versions.
If a production project is selected on the queue, or a buildable item is selected on the buildable items list, details about the project or item are shown in the production details box at the top-middle of the production screen. Similar to the technology details box on the research screen, effects of a building are listed, along with an image (if available) and some descriptive text. Ships have an image shown, as well as information about their attack and defense strength and descriptive text.
If the buildable item is selected on the buildable items list, and a planet is selected on the production sidepanel, then an "Add to Queue" button may be clicked above the image for the item.
If a project on the queue is selected, a "Center on Build" button may be clicked above the image of the item. This button actually does nothing in v0.3, however the galaxy map will have been centred on the relevant system when the project on the queue was clicked.
When a project on the queue is selected, the name of the planet where it is being built is shown below the image for the project in the production details box. Also, for projects to build ships or defense bases, a number box labelled "Quantity" becomes enabled, located at the bottom left of the production detail box. This number box allows you to enqueue multiple copies of a ship or defense base in one project. How these multiple copies are produced is perhaps a bit unintuitive: after each copy is produced, the next will be started. To build multiple copies of a ship or defense base simultaneously, you need to enqueue multiple projects of that item. This behaviour may change in later versions.
In v0.3, victory is achieved by eliminating all ships and planets belonging to other empires.
There are some AI functions implemented, but AI empires will only explore and colonize with their initial ships, and will not build more or conduct research.
- Research Habitation Domes as soon as possible. They enable you to build Outpost Ships and Outpost Bases [as of rev 4252]
- Research Orbital Construction - it increases the supply range of the colonies. Remember the part about supply lines?
- Research the technologies increasing a meter for all planets. For example, Basic Autofactories increases the industry meter on all planets by 5. So does Basic Autolabs, except it affects research output.
- Research the technologies that increase the maximum population supported by your planets. Subterranean Construction is one of them.
- Remember to scout and colonize more planets. You won't go far with a single planet.
- Be sure that your planet has enough food before you change its focus.
- Terraforming is vital if you want to use Gaia Transformation, as the latter can be built only on planets perfect for your species.
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. If you have time, please check the resolved bugs, to see if the bug you're reporting has already been found and resolved in the latest version of the code. If you'd like to bugtest more seriously, you are encouraged to download and compile the latest version from Subversion (SVN), if you are able to do so.