This page is one of a 10 part tutorial. The tutorial is designed to be read in order.
Starting the game
Ensure your version of BC3K is *not* in debug mode. Check this by examining the batch file used to launch the game – probably bc3k.bat. Open it in a text editor. The final line (“bc3000ad…”) must not have the switch /d1. Debug mode makes various tweaks that will not be obvious to start with, but may introduce details that contradict parts of what follows.
Launch BC3K. Once you have set your configuration accordingly (in particularly, setup any joystick), Start New Game. Create a character in one of the slots (avoid the first slot, since saving to this can be buggy). Select Free Flight and Exploration Mode from Miscon and accept the career. You are now logged on at Galcom HQ, a station orbiting Earth. The Galcom icon in the top-right is the main menu. You can access several features from here – we will examine these later. For now, Log Off and go to the launch bay. Now Launch.
This part of the tutorial introduces different screens and explains why you might wish to use them. Avoid the temptation to click buttons or press keys at random, particularly when on the bridge: You may accidentally set a mode or system into operation that will make subsequent instructions hard to follow. Once the launch sequence is complete you will see the bridge of your battlecruiser. The bridge is a pilot orientated view, the general look and feel of which it shares with many other space/flight simulators. You can toggle the bridge graphic on and off using F1 (other F-keys give different views of/from your battlecruiser – F1 will bring you back to the bridge).
Left-click on a blank part of the bridge screen to show the Command Menu. You can save/quit, access many ship systems, and issue certain orders from this menu. The game pauses whilst in this menu. You can also pause by pressing the Pause key, and un-pause again by pressing Esc. You can save the game at any time whilst in space, aboard your battlecruiser. You cannot save while docked at a station or while piloting other craft.
The precise layout of the bridge screen is somewhat cluttered, and a lot of the text will not mean much initially. The general layout is:
- Center left = Percentage gauges and on/off switches for main battlecruiser systems.
- Center middle = Battlecruiser flight indicators.
- Center right = Status/order craft and vehicles.
- Bottom left = NID (Navigation Interface Display). High-level navigation. Target larger objects like planets, and order probes.
- Bottom middle = Tacscan (Tactical Scanner). Local-level navigation. Target smaller objects such as other ships.
- Bottom right = CVD (Computer Video Display). Multifunctional display, used to watch one particular aspect of operations in detail.
Some systems can be set on/off/more/less/whatever by left clicking on the name or display area. Where there are multiple options, a menu will be shown. Most of these options will be covered in subsequent parts of the tutorial. Many can be set using either the mouse or keyboard. While mouse commands are often easier to use, try to learn the equivalent keyboard commands too. Other craft use only keyboard commands to achieve many of the same operations.
BC3K has a real-time strategic command view called Tacops (Tactical Operations Computer). Access this by pressing ALT+S […think Strategic…] or Command Menu–Systems–Tacops. You will see a 3D representation of your current area of space (Earth) and everything in it. If we had probes deployed in other regions of space, we could view those alternative regions too. Craft are shown on the right of the screen much as they are on the bridge. One can zoom to a particular location by left-clicking on the map, and zoom out again by right-clicking. To observe the surface of a planet (for example, Earth), click on the planet and zoom to it until the menu gives an option Observe. Select Observe and then select one of the surface zones shown by red squares. Once can then zoom right down to view each building. To zoom right out again, select Zoom To–View Local region from the left-hand list.
Pressing Esc reveals the Command Palette. The Command Palette is used to give specific orders to craft and units, including setting waypoints. The Hold/Update button on the Command Palette pauses the game while still allowing you to look around – rather useful in a battle. Pressing Esc again returns you to the bridge.
There are many people onboard your battlecruiser. You can see what they are all doing via Perscan (ALT+P or Command Menu–Systems–Perscan). The left-hand side lists named personnel, the right lists everyone else (mostly marines). The format of each listing is: Name – Life Factor – Fatigue Factor – Location – Current Order. This list updates real-time, so you can watch your crew wandering about your ship. This screen is useful for showing crew location at a glance, or keeping track of any intruders. You cannot issue commands from this screen, just watch. Return to the bridge by left-clicking once with the mouse or pressing Esc.
Open the Logistix screen (ALT+E […think Engineering…] or Command Menu–Systems–Logistix). This is the first in a series of linked screens which show the internal workings of your battlecruiser and a few other things. Whilst in these screens the rest of the game is paused. Move between these screens using the menu under the Galcom logo in the top right. You can return to the bridge by clicking on the Galcom logo or selecting Log Off from the menu below it. The first level of submenu appears in the bottom left. The Logistix screen has three submenus:
- Crafts: Examine current damage by component, and order repairs or upgrades.
- Cargo: Lists battlecruiser cargo. This does not include items which are notionally on your battlecruiser, but installed somewhere other than the cargo bays, such as missile ready to fire or cargo in shuttle cargo bays.
- Power: Allocate available power to systems. Allocating power may not automatically turn the system on if it is off, but a system needs power allocated first before it can be turned on.
The Tactical screen (if you were previously on the Bridge, ALT+T or Command Menu–Systems–Tactical; in this case select Tactical from the Galcom menu in the top right) has four submenus:
- Crew: Assign crew to jobs. Select different categories of crew from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
- Launch: Prepare support craft for missions.
- Loadout: Slightly chaotic mixture of moving cargo and crew between the battlecruiser and its weapons (and similar) bays and other vehicles and craft.
- Medibay: Lists occupants of the Medibay, allowing treatment to be administered and clones to be made if required.
Certain features overlap slightly. For example, pilots can be assigned to an interceptor via the Crew or Launch screens.
(And yes, there are lots of features called Tac-something, and all do different things.)
The Navitron (if you were previously on the Bridge, ALT+N or Command Menu–Systems–Navitron; in this case select from the Galcom menu) shows the planets of the current system. Right-click to show the whole galaxy map, and left-click on a system to show the planets within it. Do not select a planet yet (if you do accidentally, you should clear the course set by returning to the bridge and pressing X).
The Roster shows the abilities of you and your crew, alongside various statistics and medals earned. Miscon is the overall mission description you first saw when you started the character. The Commlink lists every broadcast communication you have received and comments made by your officers. Most entries consist only of a pair of lines, however during the ACM (missions) you will receive detailed instructions here too. Return to the bridge by clicking on the Galcom logo or selecting Log Off from the menu below it.