Alpha Player Guide
Please note: while this guide has been recently updated, many of the other wiki pages are awaiting updates. Some screenshots and information may be outdated due to the number of recent changes.
Welcome to the Player's Guide for Beyond Dark's Alpha! This guide is for anyone that wants to find out more about Beyond Dark as well as the Alpha players that have been invited to test the game and help get it ready for Beta.
Before jumping in and playing, we strongly recommend blitzing through this page - it'll get you up and running as quickly as possible (for Beta there will be an interactive in-game tutorial).
If you have any questions or feedback please let us know on the forum.
- 1 Getting started
- 2 Welcome to the galaxy
- 3 First things first
- 4 Exploring the home star system
- 5 Home planet
- 6 Taking action
- 7 Battlestations!
Before you can begin playing you will need to:
- Install Beyond Dark via Steam using your Steam key (emailed out to invited players)
- Join a galaxy
Welcome to the galaxy
Your fledgling empire will begin with a home planet and one or two ships (depending on your civilization). This home planet will already have a population of 150,000 citizens (already taxed and generating an income for your empire) and a handful of structures.
In the above image, the home star system is in the middle of the circle. The icons below the name of the star system indicate there are: one planet colonized by the player (filled circle), five planets not colonized (empty circle), and two ships belonging to the player (triangle). This visibility of the galaxy is provided by the scanner on the home planet.
Are you alone?
Your view of the galaxy may appear quiet at the start of the game, but that doesn't mean other players aren't close!
- While in a star system, a ship can only be seen by another player if they also have a ship in the same star system
- While a ship is orbiting a planet, it can only be seen by another player if they have a ship in the same planetary orbit
Therefore, your ships won't expose your position if they are alone in a system - even while moving between planets - and you can hide from other ships in the same system while orbiting a planet. Travel between star systems - across deep space - can be seen by other players if they have scanner coverage of that area.
Of course, you and other players could be using cloaking technology...
The image above shows the player's scanner coverage.
- The outer circle represents the entire range. Stars and fleets within this range can be detected.
- The inner circle, sensor range, can provide additional intel on objects. For star systems, the planets can be seen. For fleets, the owner, number of ships and how they are equipped is available.
To the right of the image above a UFO is marked in red. This shows that another player's fleet has been detected, but because it isn't within sensor range, no information other than its position is available. If it moved within sensor range (the inner circle), the fleet owner and fleet composition would be known.
Hovering the mouse cursor over any of the main UI elements at the top of the screen will reveal a popup with additional info (this goes for most things in the game).
First things first
When first entering the galaxy, a notification pops up briefly at the bottom of the screen. Clicking a notification will open the galactic news panel. You can also open this panel by clicking the notification icon in the bottom left of the UI (next to the chat icon).
Clicking notifications will usually take you to the object that the notice is about. In this case, one of the notices mentions the home planet, and the other is a recommendation to begin researching technology.
Research is something you should always have ticking over in the background. Any time your laboratories aren't researching a new technology is wasted. You can open the research screen at any point by clicking the research icon in the top right of the main UI.
Each technology has a difficulty which determines how long it will take to research. A few take only a few minutes to complete and are a good place to start (colony deployment is a great early technology to unlock as it will enable you to build colonization vessels).
The speed at which research can be performed is determined by the total science power of the empire (constructing additional laboratories in the future will increase science power - research centers first needs to be unlocked).
Holding either the left or right mouse and dragging will pan the camera around. Mouse scrolling will zoom in or out.
Hovering over the name of a star system will reveal an eye, which when clicked, will zoom you in to that star system (if it is within sensor range). You can also double click the star, or single click it, and then select a planet to go to from a drop-down list.
When you start zooming in to the game it's easy to lose your bearings at first. There is usually a button in the bottom right corner which will take you back to the previous screen (these back buttons are sometimes missing, the backspace key is a useful way to move to a previous screen, or mouse scrolling out).
Exploring the home star system
After navigating to the home star system, the home planet is identified by the emblem of the civilization next to its name. Non-colonized planets have an empty circle. At the start of the game, you should also see two ships in orbit of the home planet.
Clicking any planet in the star system will open the planet management screen for that planet (you can quickly change to another planet by clicking it from the list on the left). For planets not colonized, the information available about the planet will be very basic.
Occasionally, you will see a non-colonized planet with a native population. Colonizing such a planet can provide a huge boost to income due to the taxes that can be collected.
If you have a ship in orbit of the planet, it is possible to see more info e.g. resource deposits and surface resources. Any ships in orbit of the planet are shown in a list to the left of the planet. Clicking the I icon to the right of the planet name opens the panel showing more info about the planet including the total mineral deposits and their densities.
Moving a ship within a star system
To move a ship into a planet's orbit: click the ship to select it, the mouse cursor will then change into a destination selector, and clicking within the orbit of a planet will send the ship there. You can also click the planet itself which will open a context menu, move to orbit being one of the options.
Collecting surface resources
When a ship is in orbit of a planet, it is possible to transfer any surface resources from the planet to the ship - even if the planet is not yet colonized.
Clicking the ship in the planet management view will open the transfer screen. The colony's resources are on the right. Click one to select and send it to the ship.
Early game ships cannot carry many resources, so you will need to make a few journeys around the system to collect all of the freely available surface resources to bring back to your home planet (or build a freighter).
The planet management screen for a planet colonized by the player looks a little different. Details of the colony are on the right and there may be a shipyard present on the left (the home planet has a shipyard, other planets need to build one if required).
The colony section shows the colony reserves of the main five resources (hover each to find out more about them) and the rate at which they are being mined (if they are). Further to the right shows the civilization populations, the science power and credits generated by the colony, along with the power supply and consumption rate.
Colony populations and happiness
A colony is affected by its happiness (not all civilizations are affected by happiness e.g. Syntis). It affects population growth and normal colony operations. If happiness becomes too low, population growth stalls and rioting can begin (which can lead to the destruction of colony structures).
Hovering the population will reveal data related to happiness, employment and population growth.
Clicking a population will open their management screen where you can adjust the tax rate and view more details on the population's happiness. Clicking the I icon next to happiness will show a breakdown of the contributors to happiness.
If there is a second civilization populating the planet, they will be listed in the above image next to the other population. You can toggle between them by clicking.
Some structures are undesirable e.g. mines. To counter their negative impact on happiness, desirable structures can be researched and constructed (researching social psychology unlocks one such structure).
Structures require citizens to operate correctly. If there isn't enough population to operate all colony structures a labour shortage occurs. Each civilization has a certain tolerance for a labour shortage. Once this is reached, colony structures will fail until the population grows to a significant level or a structure is dismantled.
Likewise, if there are too many citizens and not enough structures to provide employment, unemployment levels can decrease happiness.
Structures and other objects in the game can be recycled/dismantled. This will destroy the object, but return a large proportion of the resources used in construction back to the colony.
If priorities change suddenly, or a unit is no longer required, recycling can come in very handy.
The army size is determined by the number of constructed military bases. Each military base constructed adds a number of defensive troops to the army. If the planet is invaded, the army will attempt to fend off the invasion.
If no military bases are constructed a colony will not be entirely defenseless if invaded. A proportion of the population automatically form a home guard which will contribute to the defense of the colony (in addition to any army present). The size of the home guard is affected by happiness.
Your home planet has each of the main five resources ready to use in its stockpiles. These resources are enough to enable you to build a small number of structures and ships only.
Additional resources will be required to expand. They can be collected from the surface of other planets or extracted from within a planet by constructing mines.
Most planets will only have a couple of resources available. When evaluating a resource deposit for mining, also consider the density. A low density means a mine will extract at a lower rate than if the density was higher, so the presence of a resource alone might not make it suitable for mining.
A colonized planet will have structures which can be viewed by clicking the constructed structures button from the main planet management screen. For each structure, the number in the top right indicates the tech level and the number in the bottom left the quantity constructed.
Structures consume power. When a colony's power supply has been reached, additional power generators need to be constructed to be able to construct additional structures.
Additional structures can be constructed by clicking the construction queue icon on the main planet management screen or one of the empty structure construction slots. Hover a structure to find out more or click to select it. More structures will become available as they are unlocked via research.
If a resource is lacking for the construction of the selected structure, it will be marked with a red warning triangle in the cost to build section.
Personnel states how many citizens are required to operate the structure. Depending on the size of the population, construction can either reduce unemployment or increase a labour shortage.
Commonly used structures
- Mines: are used to extract mineral resources from the planet
- Laboratories: decrease the time it takes to complete research
- Farms: increase the population size that can be supported and boost growth rates (more citizens increases income)
Before leaving the home star system to explore, it's a good idea to first fully scout it.
- Are there any native populations?
- Do any of the planets have a good resource supply that should be mined?
- Are there any surface resources that can be freighted back to the home planet?
One important consideration when deciding if a planet should be colonized for the purpose of mining, is whether the planet's environment would be hospitable to your civilization. If not, colonizing the planet would result in the citizens quickly dying.
It is possible to later research efficient terraforming which will enable you to gradually adjust a planet's environment to that preferred by your civilization which will enable them to thrive.
Leaving the home star system
Ships and fleets can be sent to explore other star systems. Ships are able to travel at warp speed without using fuel (free warp) but progress is slow. Using fuel (olzine), fleets can move much faster. To use fuel, ships need to be equipped with fuel tanks which need to be filled with olzine.
Once a valuable planet has been identified, the next step would be to colonize it to be able to take advantage of its resources (mining) or any native population (apply a tax).
Before being able to construct a colonization vessel and attaching a colonization module to it, the technology colony deployment needs to be researched.
Unlocking this technology will enable you to use a colonization hull and the colonization module. Once a colonization vessel has been constructed, it can be ordered to move to and colonize the target planet. It is automatically filled with 2,000 citizens once construction is complete.
While it can be a good idea to reduce costs early in the game and adding only the minimum required ship parts, adding a cargo hold to a colonization vessel could speed up development of the planet to be colonized, by carrying the minimum resources that would be required to construct the first couple of structures.
Colonization consumes the colonization vessel, so target planets for colonization should be chosen carefully. If there was a native population a tax rate will need to be manually applied.
Before constructing a ship, a blueprint must be designed using the ship designer (accessed via the main UI at the top of the screen).
To begin blueprint design a hull must be selected. Not all parts are compatible with all hulls, and only those compatible with the selected hull will be shown.
For example, in the above image a colonization hull has been selected and the colonization module attached. If another hull is selected, the colonization module wouldn't be available in the parts list.
Once additional colonies have been formed, constructing a freighter will make moving resources between them much easier.
Clicking the shipyard icon on the planet management screen will open the available blueprints that can be built by the shipyard.
Ordering construction of a ship is similar to that for structures and multiple ships can be added to the construction queue. Newly created ships appear in orbit of the planet.
Once you begin playing, it won't be long until you spot movement from other players. They could be making a multi-hour journey to explore a neighboring star (high probability of being seen), or very brief journeys between planets in their own star system (very low probability of being seen). If you've noticed them, it's likely they've noticed you - or will do very soon - and not all players will have peaceful intentions!
Defending your home planet
When it comes to protecting your empire, it pays to be proactive, particularly with your home planet. Waiting until you see an enemy fleet a couple of hours away could have disastrous consequences!
The four primary defensive strategies to consider are:
- Building military bases
- Placing military fleets in orbit
- Laying minefields
- Intercepting incoming enemy fleets
To successfully capture a planet, a ship must reach a planet's orbit, defeat any ships also in orbit, and have their invading assault troops overwhelm any home guard and army (defensive troops related to military bases) the planet has.
Building military bases
Building a military base will provide your planet with trained defensive troops that will automatically attempt to fend off any invasion (a home planet starts with a military base, but you will need to unlock the technology to build any more). The more there are, the harder a planet will be to capture.
Placing military fleets in orbit
It's a good idea to have an armed fleet either in orbit of your planet or at least close by. Before any assault troops can be launched to start a ground invasion, any fleets in orbit of the planet need to be defeated.
Fleet guard mode
A fleet will automatically attack an enemy entering the same orbit. If there are multiple fleets defending an orbit, the strongest fleet will attack first.
Minefields are an excellent defensive solution but can take a long time to gain access to via research. Minefields can be detected and swept by the relevant ship parts.
Intercepting incoming enemy fleets
The most proactive measure you can take to protect planets is to intercept any possible invaders before they have a chance to get close.
Patrolling your borders will enable you to spot a potential issue early. If you have time to head them off, then you can intercept and hopefully either deter them from encroaching any further, or defeat them in a battle!
If it looks like you might not be able to reach them in time, you might have to send your patrol directly to the planet. If your fleet arrives in time, it can fortify the planet from its orbit. If you're too late, and the worst-case scenario has already happened (your planet has been conquered), if your fleet has a population onboard, you can at least launch a countering ground invasion of your own in an attempt to take back your colony!
Conquering a planet
If another civilization is proving to be a thorn in your side, conquering a significant planet of theirs would have huge upsides:
- Neutralize the threat
- Annex the population, infrastructure, income and resources
- Gain notoriety and the respect of other players
Launching a ground invasion
Conquering and capturing a planet can be achieved by launching a successful ground invasion. If the planet has a large population, conquering it will require a very large invasion force of assault troops.
To be able to launch a ground invasion, you need to equip a ship with an assault troop carrier and transfer citizens to it to serve as assault troops (at the moment, defensive troops related to military bases are separate, but we intend to make troops a single resource which can be used to defend or attack).
For a ground invasion to succeed, a ship with assault troops on board needs to reach a planet's orbit, which should be clear of any defensive fleets, and overcome the army + home guard that are defending the planet.
How long it takes for the invasion to succeed or fail will depend on how balanced the invasion force is versus the defending colony. You'll get a notification letting you know when it's over - and possibly a new planet to rule! Just make sure to do a better job holding on to it than the previous ruler...