This page is one of a 10 part tutorial. The tutorial is designed to be read in order.
You can continue this part of the tutorial straight from the previous, or start over and re-launch.
Thrust and Hyperspace
After launch, your ship will be put into autopilot. “A/P” is flashing centre left of the bridge view. Press A once or click on the flashing A/P to get manual control. The battlecruiser should move in response to you moving the joystick (or whatever you are using to control the ship). Engine thrust can be set using the joystick throttle, pressing keys 0-9, or clicking on the box with numbers in it just to the left of dead centre and selecting the desired thrust level.
In addition to regular engine thrust, you have a hyperdrive and afterburner/retro-rockets. The hyperdrive allows huge distances to be covered very quickly, but each jump by your battlecruiser has a fuel cost associated with it. The afterburner will increase your speed beyond the maximum thrust, and must be applied manually. Retro-rockets may be used to slow the ship down again, or even put the ship into ‘reverse’.
Exploring the debris
To demonstrate these features, target the Debris Field. Do this by selecting NID (left click on the box in the bottom left) Target–Hazard–Earth Debris Field. Set the CVD (bottom right) to Target Camera (use the menu or press V), and you will see the target displayed. Now press SHIFT+9 and your crew will orientate the ship and put it into hyperspace. (Why _9_? In early versions there were nine different hyperjump factors, but all the others were eventually taken out.) You will drop out of hyperspace about 500 clicks from the target. You can check the distance on the NID (bottom left) if it is in Map mode. You could cruise to the centre of the Debris Field using regular thrust, but it will take a while. Instead, fire the afterburners by holding down ` until the thrust level (box with numbers in it just left of dead centre) reaches about 2000. Drift into the Debris Field until you are about 150 clicks from it. Then apply retro-rockets by pressing TAB, until you come to a stand. (In order to see the debris in this debris field, switch to Tacops and back again – ALT+S twice. The quirks of debris fields will be covered in more detail later.)
Large bodies and navigational features, such as the Debris Field, are targeted using the NID (bottom left). Smaller items, such as stations and ships, are targeted using Tacscan (bottom middle). Select Galcom HQ from the Tacscan (bottom middle, Tacscan–Targets–Friendly–Earth Ter Mil GalcomHQ). If this target cannot be found, check that you are in SPC mode – SPC will display in the bottom right on the Tacscan – if it says SUL, press K once to change the mode to SPC (SUL shows only craft that belong to you, SPC shows everything in space). Once targeted, SHIFT+9 as before. If nothing happens, you should wait for your hyperdrive to charge (see the series of circles filling on the right hand side of dead centre). You will emerge about 70 clicks from the station.
Manual flight and autopilot flight use different means to select targets. Select Halley’s Comet using the NID (Target–Hazard–Earth Haz Halley’s Comet). If you engage autopilot by pressing A or clicking on A/P, you will not jump to Halley’s Comet. Instead select the comet either by clicking on the box with numbers in just above dead centre (Hazard–Earth Haz Halley’s Comet) or select from the Command Menu (BC Orders–Orders–Fly To–Hazard–Earth Haz Halley’s Comet). Now engage autopilot by pressing A or clicking on A/P and your ship will jump to Halley’s Comet (again, you may need to wait for the jump-drive to charge up first). On arrival, deactivate the autopilot.
A better way is to change a target selected using the NID or Tacscan to a target the autopilot understands by re-assigning it to the Flight Path Designator. Select Galcom HQ using Tacscan (you may have it selected already). Press F once or twice until you see “FP: Ter/Mil GalcomHQ” displayed just above the centre of the screen. Activate autopilot and you will be propelled back to Galcom HQ. You may also notice the rectangular boxed effect guiding you towards the target. You may not automatically be put into a hyperjump (in this mode, short distances tend to be flown conventionally). You can always force a hyperjump by pressing SHIFT+9. Deactivate autopilot before you hit the station.
Thus far, the autopilot has been in Direct mode (shown Direct next A/P on the bridge view). Direct mode is used to conduct simple procedures, such as flying from A to B. Your ship also has an autopilot mode called AI. In this mode the crew will fly the battlecruiser without detailed instructions from you. For example, you can assign them to patrol this (Earth) region. Issue a Patrol order from the Command Menu – BC Orders–Orders–Patrol. Click on Direct on the bridge view to change it to AI, or press SHIFT+A. Your battlecruiser will now proceed to patrol the region by hyperjumping between different locations in this region of space. This particular procedure mostly wastes fuel – it is a simple example of how the AI autopilot functions. After making a jump or two, deactivate autopilot (press A or click A/P).
Jumping between sectors
Time to leave Earth. You may have noticed a series of jump points linking Earth with other planets around Sol. There are several ways to use these to travel between different regions of space. The first method is entirely manual. In the NID target the Pluto jump point (bottom left, Target–Navigation–Earth To..Pluto). Assign the jump point to the Flight Path Designator by pressing F once or twice until you see the text “FP: To..Pluto” just above the centre of the screen. Ensure you are not in autopilot (no A/P flashing). SHIFT+9 to hyperjump to the jump point. Now manually fly towards the red glow in the centre of the jump point. Don’t worry about hitting the jump point structure – you cannot be damaged by it. You must have the target assigned as Flight Path Designator – simply flying towards it without targeting it correctly will not work. You must not have weapons systems active (IOD on the left-hand side of the bridge view should be displayed in red – if you accidentally activated it and it is displayed in green, press W once to turn it off). If you make the jump successfully, you will see “Verifying current location… Sol/Pluto… In Terra Quadrant” flash across the top of the screen. The word Pluto can also be seen towards the bottom of the left hand part of the bridge view.
Links between systems often use wormholes. Wormholes function in an identical way to jump points – jump techniques that work with one also work with the other. Single jumps can be automated using the autopilot. Jump to Centris in Alpha Centauri using the autopilot: Either target the wormhole to Alpha Centauri using the NID and then assign to the Flight Path Designator (bottom left, NID Target–Navigation–Pluto To..Alpha-Centauri..System; then press F until “FP: To..Alpha-Centauri..System” is displayed towards the top of the screen), OR assign the order Jump At Pluto To..Alpha-Centauri..System to your battlecruiser (for example, Command Menu–BC Orders–Orders–Jump At–Pluto To..Alpha-Centauri..System). Once the jump point is targeted, engage the autopilot. This method involves less effort than flying yourself, but does not allow tricks such as applying afterburner to reach the jump point quickly – this can be critical if you are being attacked, so it is useful to know how to do it manually. Once you have arrived in Centris, deactivate the autopilot.
In addition to jump points and wormholes, regions are also linked using flux fields. Flux fields allow jumps to be made in similar ways, however the destination is somewhat random. For this reason they do not form part of the standard means of navigating between regions, and to use them you must jump manually (the first method used to jump at jump points in this tutorial). Flux Fields theoretically provide short-cuts between distant systems. For example, the Flux Field in Ylisia, Omega Eridani, potentially allows ships to reach Alpha Cygni, a journey that would require almost 40 jumps via conventional means. In many cases there is a chance of arriving at either a supernova or a black hole. Supernovas are just empty systems – they allow you to re-jump without causing any problems (there is one exception – see Are there any hidden planets? below). Black holes cause near-instant death. Appendix B, Hidden Flux Field Links below, contains a list of such links.
Galactic journey planning – the Navitron
Navigating across the galaxy one jump at a time could rapidly become annoying. Instead use the Navitron to plot a course. Press ALT+N or select Navitron from the Command Menu–Systems–Navitron or NID–Navitron. Select Sol if it is not already visible, then click once on Earth and Log Off via the Galcom icon. The NID will now display something like “Waypoint 1 of 2, Next Jump Region: Sol, Pluto, Destination: Sol, Earth”. Engage the autopilot and watch as your ship uses a series of jump points to reach Earth. Once you arrive in Earth, deactivate the autopilot.
Not all regions can be targeted using the Navitron. One such exception is the Moon. Once you have arrived in Earth region, use the autopilot to jump at the Earth To..Moon jump point. Once you have arrived in the Moon region, deactivate the autopilot.
Finally, dock. Fly to station Genesis (Friendly–Moon Ter Mil Genesis). To dock, fly within 25-30 clicks of the station, with the station targeted. Once in range, press ALT+D to dock. Docking itself is automatic. At some stations you will not be able to dock during a battle (you may get a message “docking clearance has been refused” if their are enemies on your radar – this is very unlikely at Genesis).