Game Mechanics

Disclaimer

This is NOT how space works. The game is based on "pseudo-science" and, although some things may sound plausible, nothing here should be taken seriously. The goal is "playable" rather than "realistic". The following may contain some slight "spoilers".

Win/Lose conditions

Typically, the "win" conditions are described in the mission briefing and in-game on the "Objectives" panels. They vary between missions. The "lose" conditions in general follow the "survive" principle. You will lose the game if your ship is destroyed or becomes "derelict" - meaning all crew members (commandos and civilians are not considered as such) died.

Stance

The stance towards the player can be friendly, neutral or enemy. If, for some reason, the player fires at a friendly, it will change the stance to neutral. For the same thing, the neutral will become an enemy. Obviously - neutral ships will cooperate/ignore the player and hostile ships will attack him.

Altitude

Burning in atmosphereShips in the game are space vessels, not designed to fly in-atmosphere. Thus all start somewhere high-above the planet's surface. Safe distance is 90km. If the player goes below that altitude (voluntarily or due to malfunction of the engines), the ship will start taking damage (burning into the atmosphere). On lower altitudes, the atmospheric drag is higher, meaning the ships travel a bit slower, but also receive a small bonus to the electromagnetic "emissions". Shuttles are not affected by this limitation and can safely travel to-and-from the planet's surface. Maneuvering thrusters keep the ship at the desired altitude. If they are off for some reason, the planet will slowly start pulling the ship down. Holding Numpad+ or Numpad- changes the desired altitude.

Movement

Standard

MovementThe player can change the power to the main thrusters. From -1 (moving slowly backwards) to about 8 (buttons S and W). The higher the thrust - the faster ship travels, also the higher amount of Fuel is consumed. Speed is measured in kilometers per second. If you go too fast, the maneuvering thusters will not be able to make adjustments and you will start gaining altitude. Check the "max. orbital thrust" relative value. The main engine is also the primary factor when it comes to "emissions". Each level of thrust increases the emissions exponentially. While moving (if no waypoint is set from the command menu), the ship will follow the curvature of the planet, trying to keep at the desired altitude. Setting waypoint should be used only for nearby targets, because the ship will ignore everything and set herself on course straight to the waypoint. Turning left/right is done via A/D keys on the keyboard. All objects will preserve their momentum and inertia depending on how fast they go, meaning that ships will not stop immediately and just turning will not change the current trajectory.

Moving without motion - Space Fold jump

Space FoldingPlayer's ship - "Palm of the Galaxy" - is equipped with a Space-Folding drive. After a "SFJumpPoint" type of target is selected, and if the SF drive is not damaged, the player can initiate instant "jump" (Hotkey P) to that location. It causes a significant Electromagnetic-emissions spike (debuff). The player can "call" the supply ship "Osiris" only when near (100km) a "SFJumpPoint". SF drive has a significant recharge time (cooldown).

Positioning and helpers

HelpersThe latitude and longitude values are present ... but at some point I realized no normal person could be able to navigate using these numbers. If a SF-jump or DropZone is selected as target, player can use the "Draw Path" button (Hotkey O), which will launch a visual indicator with the direction towards the target. The "Draw Navigational Grid" (Hotkey TAB) button will set a surface at the minimal safe altitude and also show the trail behind the player's ship (for others the trail is enabled by default). Second press disables them.

Structural integrity

Also known as "life" in other games. The player can repair his ship if all 3 conditions are met:
- SI is below its maximum
- The crew members are equal (or more) than the "Optimal crew size" (understaffed ships cannot repair themselves)
- at least 1 "spare part" is present in the loadout
SI is lost on:
- collision
- weapon hit - torpedo, PDC, laser, flak
- fire on ship
- altitude - below 90km(atmosphere) or above 1000km(mutiny)

Damage

Physical

As stated - cause by high-speed collisions with physical objects - regardless if these are weapons, ships, asteroids, etc. Physical damage is negated by the ship's armor (varies from 0 to 7). For the "Palm of the Galaxy" these values are 4/2/1. An angle is calculated to estimate which part of the armor is being hit. Ships usually have higher armor at the front and weaker in the back. The minimum amount of damage-taken is 1. Physical damage can result in "fire on ship" or "hull breach" events.

Radiation

Solar flare hitting shields Radiation damage is caused by rad-torpedoes, lasers or solar flares. If the ship has operational shield, it will completely negate the impact. Else the people on board will start dying and may trigger a "short circuit" event. All vessels have a certain level of rad- protection (0-to-6) which will negate some of the incoming radiation (6 for the player's ship). A hit from rad-torp will temporarily cause all sensors to work with 30% less capacity. Shield recharges over time. If it goes down completely, it will require ~1 minute to be somehow operational again. Solar flares occur randomly and hit the ship only if exposed on the sunlit side of the planet. The player will receive a 2 minute warning before the solar flare hits. These burst vary in duration and intensity.

Pure

The "pure" damage is one, that cannot be mitigated. For example from internal explosion or other malfunction. It directly lowers the structural integrity.

Malfunction gauge

Every damage will increase the "malfunction" threat a little bit. When it reaches a certain point, a "break check" will be made towards a random ship system. Depending how good the ship is built, chances something to malfunction vary. Check "Ship Systems" for the effects below. Again, due to damage taken, the following may occur:
- fire on ship - causes damage over time and may break systems, increases Thermal emissions
- short circuit - may cause fire, greatly increases Electromagnetic emissions
- hull breach - increases Radiation emissions, ship loses Life Support items

Detection

Sensors and emissions - how it works

Distances and detection Every object has 4 types of emissions:
- Visual - pure physical representation - color, brightness, size, etc.
- Thermal - when it emits/reflects heat
- Electromagnetic
- Radiation - any other type of rays
Man-made objects have also sensor arrays, monitoring the parameters above.
The formula for detecting other object is: when the highest sum of corresponding emission and detection is bigger than the distance between the objects, one detects the other. Some examples:
- If the sum of Ship-A's visual detection and Ship-B visual emission is higher than the sum-of-Thermal, then Ship-A detects Ship-B by its visual signature.
- Although Ship-A detects Ship-B, this does not mean the opposite.
- The ship with better sensor array or lower emission usually wins in the "detection" game.
Ships also have "sensor effectiveness coefficient". The simplest example for this is when Ship-A has 100 detection, 0.8 coefficient, and Ship-B has 0emissions. Ship-A will detect Ship-B at 100km as "unidentified". At 80km (100*0.8) Ship-B will be finally visible and identified. Once "identified", Ship-B will not become "unidentified" unless it leaves all range-calculations - in our example, the 100km range.

Sensors and emissions - buffs and debuffs

Distances and detection - UI On the very left hadside, under the "scanning" column, you can see the detection capabilities of your ship's sensor array. Under the emission's column you see the what the ship emits currently. These values may be affected by various factors and change over time.
Debuffs (penalty) on scanners may occur when you are hit by radiation torpedo or your Scanner subsystem is not operational.
Debuffs on the emissions happen more often and are usually caused by the working main thruster - it emits a lot of heat, and even more radiation - thus the faster you go, the higher the ship's signature is.
Emission penalties may also occur on malfunctions - fire, short circuit, hull breach.
Buffs on the emissions may happen if the ships is close (~100-200km) to big objects like a space station/asteroid or is in "Aurora" or "Space debris" area. The latter may cause small physical damage. Altitude affects the electromagnetic signature - the lower - the better.

Targeting

Selecting a target

All "detected" targets can be selected. Some actions require the target to be selected in order for the operation (button) to be available - for example, a SF-jump or firing at something. The player can select targets in 2 ways:
- by clicking on the target name on the top-right "Targets" pannel
- by cycling through all targets with the "T" key (Shift+T to dis-select target)

Selected target panel

Selected target panel Once a target is selected, the player will get visual "picture" of it and a set of valuable information - name, type, position, but most importantly - distance, structural integrity and if the player's ships is being detected by this particular target (!). One small exception are the shuttles entering/leaving the lower atmosphere - due to interference the visual channel is lost, but the other data is there.

Target stance and when the player gets detected

Depending on the stance of the "other side", different things may happen. Neutral ships will ignore the player and continue on their way. Enemies, depending on their "aggressiveness" rating, will approach to investigate (if the player is "unidentified" to them) or accelerate to attack.

Passengers and items

Crew

Crew members operate the ship. Without them the ships is useless and the game is lost. At least one is needed. Two crew members are needed to fly each shuttle. If the crew is below the "optimal crew size" no structural integrity can be restored and all System's repairs are slower. Crew is used to the ship and operating in space and has higher chance of survival if something goes wrong.

Commandos

They capture the Drop Zones. Each shuttle can carry up to 30 commandos. It picks them automatically, no need for player interaction. Although tough warriors, commandos have lower chance of survival during space combat or disaster. Imperial commandos are a bit stronger than the Republic ones, meaning the player can attack and be victorious with less forces, but it is not advisable.

Civilians

Civilians have no game related value (unless mission requires it). They are most vulnerable if trouble in space.

Life support

Life support are all things related to human survival air/water/food/temperature. All passengers consume LS, so the more passengers you have - the faster the supplies will be exhausted. Without LS, crew, commandos and civilians will start dying at a rapid rate.

Fuel

Used by the main engine to propel the ship.

Spare parts

Valuable sets of standardized repair kits, used by the crew to "patch the ship" if the structural integrity is compromised.

Loadout, capacity and money

Loadout Every ship has a certain capacity. The amount of items, multiplied by their size, gives the "used capacity". In this game, the term "money" is relative and refers to main character's fame, the attitude towards him and the relation to the other side. The captain can use these "points" to acquire all "loadout" items. Check the "Trade" section below.

Systems

Ship Systems Every ship has several generic systems that encompass her primary functions. All of them, except Life Support, for obvious reasons, are dependent on the Core. If a system goes down (usually due to damage taken), the crew will try to repair it. This takes time (longer if the crew is less than nominal) and the player can view this by opening the "Systems" tab. They are described very well by tooltips on mouse hover. Here are the effects of a damaged system and break threshold (chance to break - the lower - the better) for the "Palm of the Galaxy". She is a really sturdy ship.
- Core down: [BT: 5%] Triggers a break check for all other systems. Shield system goes down.
- Weapon Systems down: [BT: 15%] Torpedoes cannot be fired. PDCs and decoy launcher are not operational.
- Scanners down: [BT: 20%] Scanner capabilities are 66% reduced.
- Propulsion down: [BT: 20%] No main and maneuvering thrust. The ship will start falling towards the planet.
- Life Support down: [BT: 10%] Random crew/commando/civilian will die.
- Shield down: [BT: 20%] No Shield. After the system is repaired, the shield will need some time for initial charge.
- SpaceFold Drive down: [BT: 30%] No SF-jumping possible.

Weapons

Torpedoes

Torpedoes Torpedoes are the primary weapon of any space ship. Fast, long-range, devastating. They are launched away from the ship by compressed gasses and activate in seconds. Then they gain speed and follow the target, even if outside the sensor range. The faster the torpedo goes, the lower are its maneuvering capabilities (meaning they may miss), but so is the chance to be destroyed. Torpedoes do not hit directly, but explode in a deadly, directed shrapnel/radiation cone towards the target. Type of torpedoes:

  • Kinetic Torpedo T1 (kin-tdo1): max.velocity: 100km/s, SI:3, damage type: physical, damage waves: 3, damage per wave: 14-18
  • Kinetic Torpedo T2 (kin-tdo2): max.velocity: 80km/s, SI:3, damage type: physical, damage waves: 3, damage per wave: 16-22
  • Radiation Torpedo T1 (rad-tdo1): max.velocity: 120km/s, SI:3, damage type: radiation, damage waves: 1, damage per wave: 30-60
Torpedoes - player control The player can choose which torpedo tube to fire (the "x" on the left-forward part of the torpedo-icon), and switch the torpedo type (with the icon at the back-right part). He can choose to fire them both by the "Link All Torpedo Tubes" button (Numpad6). Hotkey to "fire" is the Spacebar.

PDCs

Point Defense Cannons Point Defense Cannons are turrets, exposed on special elevated mounts on the fuselage, that allow them to cover maximum area around the ship. They are fully automated and will fire at all enemies. PDCs are very rapid firing guns, thus absolutely devastating, but their limiting factor is their range - just about 100kms (due to the high speeds of their targets, longer ranges are not viable). As their designation notes - they are used primarily for destroying the incoming torpedoes. The visible projectiles are just tracers, and represent a small number of total munitions fired. PDCs require ammo to operate. Their hit-chances are as follows:

- stations - 100%
- ships - 85%
- mines - 75%
- torpedoes - 45%
Damage per second: ~3

Decoys

Decoy Almost all combat vessels have a countermeasure launcher (needs "decoys" to operate). The ship has to be traveling with at least 10km/s for the decoy to launch - else it is not effective. When a torpedo enters its range of operation (~150kms), the decoy will try to lure the warhead towards its position. If successful, the torpedo will hit the decoy, instead of the ship. Hotkey - right square bracket "]".

Mines

Mines Detection Mines are small and stealthy. In other aspects they act as torpedoes - hitting every enemy that comes close. Player will get a message notification if a minefield is nearby. Then he can use the "high-energy pulse (HEP)" system on the ship to uncover the mines. Then the PDCs know what to do. HEP will result in significant Electromagnetic debuff. Hotkey - left square bracket "[". A mine covers 50km of space, does 20-30 physical damage and is invulnerable when invisible.

Kill Zones

Kill Zones Kill zones are areas on the planet surface, guarded by missile platforms. The player cannot detect and destroy them. The only option is to stay away from them. Indicated by orange warning hud-figures.

Surveillance satellites

Surveillance satellites Not a weapon directly, but these unmanned probes will detect and apply "emissions" debuff to the player's ship.

Lasers

Due to their high energy demand, limited effective range and good countermeasures (shields), lasers are not considered viable weapons and are not used in the military as such.

Trade

Trade pods "Purchase" is more acurate in this case, as the player cannot sell items - only acquire them. The ship needs to be close (100km) from a neutral/friendly station/ship and stationary (not moving, this is very important!). The player gets notified when trade is possible, opens the "Trade" tab and orders items (free capacity and money taken into account). By pressing the "Order" button, the other side informs about Pods being launched. Player should wait until last Pod leaves his ship - then the trade procedure is closed and he actually receives the items. Else the trade is interrupted and the other side will be "mad" and unresponsive for some time. Osiris is the only ship, the player can call for supplies. This happens only near a SFJumpPoint.

Osiris

Osiris Osiris is a massive, SF-capable support ship, with the sole purpose to deliver goods. She can be called for assistance only limited number of times per mission - this is shown on the tooltip on the "call support ship" button from the command buttons bottom-right. The player needs to be in the vicinity of a SFJumpPoint (100km). Osiris will appear at random position nearby. If the player is too slow to approach it, or she comes under attack, her captain will initiate immediate jump away from the battlefield. Trade procedure is exactly the same, as with a neutral station.

Capturing Drop Zones

Shuttles

Shuttles The only way to capture a drop point (orange sign with 3 arrows, pointing down) is by using shuttles. To launch a shuttle, the player needs...well a shuttle, 2 crew member (pilots) and up to 30 commandos. Shuttles can be launched with 2 "missions" - drop commandos (Hotkey L) and pick-up commandos (Hotkey Shift+L). After they land, commandos start fighting the local defenders. In the meantime the shuttle will try to get back to the mothership. There is a 4 seconds delay for launching a shuttle. The ship needs to be almost stationary (velocity <5kms). During landing operations, dropships may be attacked by enemy ships or flak fire from the ground. Shuttles are small and slow, compared to the bigger space ships. They will have trouble if player's ship is moving during docking operation. Shuttles can survive only a limited amount of time on their own (2minutes).

Flak

Some drop targets may be protected by flak guns. There is no way to counter them. If the shuttle is unlucky, it will be destroyed. Launching several shuttles disperses the incoming fire and may give a slightly better chance of survival.

Ground battle

It happens in rounds, between the commandos and the opposition. Each round a strength value is calculated, based on the numbers on each side and a little bit of luck. Strength in numbers - usually whoever has more soldiers, has the advantage. Imperial warriors (0.8-1.5) are stronger than the Republican ones (0.6-1.3). Thus the player can potentially win an engagement with less forces than the defenders.