You start with a few buildings in your isolated base on Earth, along with a small population and some resources. Your buildings are:
- Capitol building, there for administrative purposes.
- Factory, for building components which will be used in the construction of buildings and spacecraft and everything in between.
- Research lab, where researchers research new research.
- Academy, which produces people. (Trains people, at least you hope)
- Space gate with accompanying loading and unloading infrastructure.
- Storage and housing, with a good amount of starter goods already stored.
- Leaders. People with names, stats, and roles that they can fill. I'm sure some will use them as simple stat sticks, but they're also there to give life and build stories around.
- Officers. Those that lead others, but are too low to be really notable to the player.
- Crew. The state employees, soldiers, and engineers that crew positions and get the crap jobs.
- Civilians. Those not aligned with the state that are paid to do their work and not get in the way.
- Colonists. The people I spent two blog posts talking about beforehand who are interested in living on other planets.
At any point in time, the player can always buy more resources and people on Earth. Buying is expensive though, and so the player is encouraged to produce their own resources. The player begins with a fair bit of cash to start to enable initial construction, but it won't last forever.
Upon taking the gate into space, you've got a small setup that all planetary connections will have, including:
- A gate leading back to the planet.
- Small, robotic tugs that take cargo from the gate to the station.
- A station (or a ship serving as a temporary station) with storage, housing, and useful facilities. At game start, the starting station is made primarily for storage and has a decent assembly platform.
- A secondary gate leading into the system network which can be used to transport ships to any other system network gate. Not actually built at game start.
At game start, you have two major goals in mind. You want to place and maintain a Mars colony, and build a gate connection to another system. Sure, a Mars colony makes very little actual sense, but it's romantic enough that the politicians in charge want it anyway (Plus, what sort of space game would this be if you didn't colonize Mars?) Going to another system is a much greater accomplishment, but the colony is easier and more straightforward, so I'll begin with that.
Let's start building! The rough outline works like this: create a connection from Earth-space to Mars-space, create a connection from Mars-space to Mars itself, build some initial infrastructures so colonists can survive, and then send them over. Pretty straightforward, but let's go into some details.
To build a connection between two areas, you need to build a gate on both sides. Building the gate in Earth-space is easy. The components are built in the factory on Earth, shipped up through the gate, and then assembled by the starting assembly ship. Building the other gate will be a bit more fun. Gates don't work at all unless there's another gate to connect to; instead, you need to use a jump module. Unfortunately for the player, these are also one shot devices that are pretty expensive component wise. So, the player starts the factories up, producing both the components for a jump module and a gate. The module is assembled out in space before activation, but the gate components need to be carried in some sort of ship storage. The player will need to build ships as well, and can use either the pre-generated storage ship design, or create one of his own.
So, the ships go through with the gate components so another gate can be constructed to connect the two locations. Building the next gate is easier than the last. Another gate is queued up in the factory, components are transported up to the station, storage ships take the components from the station, go through the new gate, and unload their storage so the assembly ship can construct the gate. A similar process exists if the player wants to build a station in the area, which is recommended if the area sees much traffic. (You can always abandon it later)
Now for the final gate. For the player, this one is fairly simple. A more traditional rocket is built that can land on Mars with the gate payload intact. The rocket is assembled in space and launched towards Mars. Assuming everything goes right, the gate is set up, connected to space, additional material and crew can be sent to construct a functioning base on Mars. Finally, the colonists are sent (in ships designed for a large amount of people) and the colony is constructed.
Of course, during all of this, the player has options to increase industrial capacity and infrastructure in order to make things smoother. For example, the player can choose to have more/larger factories to make construction quicker or set up a mining base in the asteroid belt for cheaper raw materials. Hope this beginning example is entertaining and helps with learning about the game.