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5.5 The Basics
5.5.1 In-game Help
By pressing F1 in game, you can access the in-game help interface. This interface will overlay instructions and explanations on your screen to remind you of the function of each item on your display. This is a great way to refresh your memory about the in-game controls and interfaces.
5.5.2 Basic Ship Control
DarkSpace currently supports two different navigation control schemes, rudder and arrow.

The rudder system is controlled from the left of the keyboard, using the keys Q, W, A, S, and D. The reason the controls are called "rudder" controls are that you can set a turn speed for your vessel and it will remain turning at that rate until you center the rudder again.

The A,S,D keys control the rudder. To turn left, press the key on the left: A. Hold it to increase the rate of turning. The D key sets the rudder to the right, and the S key centers it so you fly straight. Q and W are used to decelerate and accelerate your ship, respectively. The velocity bar is clearly indicated on the bottom of the screen. You can manually control your speed on this bar using your mouse to move the slider.

The arrow keys also control ships, however are not based on a rudder system. The moment you release the left or right arrow, you will stop turning, The up and down arrows are used to accelerate and decelerate, respectively.

Tip: The number beneath your velocity bar indicates how fast you are traveling in "GU per Second". A G.U. stands for "Galactic Unit" and is the standard unit of distance in DarkSpace.
5.5.3 Context Actions
In addition to normal keyboard controls (outlined in a )later chapter), DarkSpace also uses a context-sensetive system for mouse clicks while on the Tactical View (the default view).

In short, hovering your mouse cursor over an object or icon will display options for interaction, as well as a tool tip at the top of the screen that lists the available actions. As a rule of thumb, left clicking will target, right clicking will perform an action.

For world space objects, like planets for example, left clicking will target the object under your mouse cursor, and right clicking will tell your ship's autopilot to orbit the planet. Ships can be followed, shadowed (if you're holding the Shift key), attacked or repaired

Similarly, for weapons and other gadgets on your ship, left clicking will target a device, allowing you to set/change a grouping key for that device, right clicking will turn stuff on or off, fire weapons, and transfer shield energy, depending on your selection.
5.5.4 Orders
Orders are a sub-set of the context system.

Players can issue an order by targeting a friendly player or AI-controlled ship, and hovering the mouse cursor over another object. Depending on the object under the cursor, ships can be ordered to Move/Go To, Attack, or Defend.

However, players can only issue orders to ships of an equal or lower rank. For AI-controlled ships, they have rank equivalent to what's needed to fly that ship.
This means that to send an order to an AI Assault Cruiser, a player would need to be Vice Admiral rank or higher, and a Captain will be unable to issue orders to an Admiral.

Additionally, orders may only be issued while in the Navigation or Engineering/Planet screens.
5.5.5 Contacts
Ships, planets, and other objects in the game are referred to as contacts. Besides planetary structures, contacts are shown in three colors: Red, Yellow and Green. Green contacts are friendly objects. Yellow are neutral. However, please note that DarkSpace has a different take on neutral forces than most. Neutral forces, such as planets, ships, space monsters, and the like are hostile to ALL factions. Any cargo items floating in space will be yellow, and will turn green if claimed by a friendly, or red if claimed by an enemy. Red contacts denote one thing, and one thing only... the enemy! Any red contacts on your screen should cause you to sit up and take note. A simplification of your goal in DarkSpace is to eliminate every contact listed in red. Several planetary structures have their own color codes, and these are best learned by observing the structures on friendly planets.

Many subclasses of contacts exist, each offering different options for interaction.
o Vessels: Whether scout or station, vessels offer the same types of interactive options. You can follow them, setting your ship to stay as close as possible. You can shadow them, which is similar to following, but keeps a greater distance. You can even unload infantry or cargo onto them if you are close enough.
o Fighters/Missiles/Bombs/Infantry Landing Pods: Fighters and missiles provide few possibilities for interaction. Your only real interaction is to shoot them if they belong to the enemy.
o Planetary Infantry: Ground based infantry can be issued orders in the lower right of your screen when selected. They may be set to focus on attacking enemies, stay in place to defend a spot, or raze buildings. Additionally, you can disband infantry on your own planets. You can also load friendly infantry onto your ship.
o Cargo: Cargo pods can be loaded onto your ship by pressing the "L" key, and unloaded onto nearby targets like infantry or sold to starports.
o General Planetary Structures: All planetary structures can be paused or scrapped using the interface in the lower right.
o Barracks: Barracks can be set to produce either Infantry or Heavy Infantry.
o Starports: Starports are used to transport resources around a system. Pressing "Ctrl+U" with the starport selected will load resources into your cargo, which can then be unloaded at another port by pressing the "U" key.
o Shipyards: Shipyards can be used to dock your ship and to spawn new ships. To dock, select the shipyard ("Ctrl+Y"), and use the structure ("Ctrl+U"). You will have to use it twice to confirm the ship exchange.
o Asteroids: Asteroids can be mined by any ship with a mining beam. They can also be tractored or shot. They cause heavy damage to any ship that runs into them, or any planet they crash onto.
o Planets: Planets can be selected directly, as well as selecting the surface spaces on the planet. You can orbit a planet, or unload cargo onto a surface space. Engineers can build structures on surface spaces.
5.5.6 Tactical Interface

The Tactical Interface, while seemingly complex and daunting at first glance, is a very comprehensive control center for your ship's movements. This is DarkSpace's default screen; you will emerge from any jumpgate or shipyard in this mode. Above is a screenshot of the tactical screen, broken down into several sections by text indicators. The small-font "Contacts" labels should give you an idea of what the previous section of the Manual went over.

o Ship Systems: The most prominent member of the Tactical Interface is the systems display. This row-by-row, ordered sequence of systems gives you the rundown of what's charged, loaded, activated, running, and all of the opposites thereof on your vessel. The screenshot shows a few drives (lower left), then a Jump Drive (with fuel indicator at 10,000), and the rest of the ship's systems with shields at the uppermost section.
o Cargo Bay: This is where any resources, infantry, or spare parts are loaded into your ship. Depending on the ship you are flying, you only have room to carry a certain number of items. All cargo will show up as a blue box in this empty row on the screen.
o Vessel Control Bar: These are the two clickable bars that indicate your ship's heading and velocity. These can be controlled with the keyboard, but also manually with the mouse for fine adjustments.
o Vessel Status: Displays the hull integrity, energy output, and signature statistics for your ship. These interrelate to each other in ways you will shortly be reading about.
o Target Control: The "Next Target" and "Target Parent" buttons, shown as blue upwards and rightwards arrows, are used to target specific systems on nearby ships, or to re-target the main ship when you have a device already selected. The button below those allows for advanced target selection, such as selecting the last distress call's location or the closest starport.
o System Repair: If any systems become damaged, you can use this area of your screen to monitor their autorepair rates and you can control which system gets repaired first. For instance, if you become heavily damaged and your jump drive goes out in addition to your lasers, but your lasers are first in line, you may consider it a priority to repair your drive first so you can escape. Clicking on a device here will move it to the front of the line so that it will be repaired first.
o Communications: This is where all chat takes place after pressing "Enter" while in-game.
o Data Windows: These are the button toggles for the data functions, F1-F6 (Help, Navigation, Planets, Chat, Profile, Mission)
o Clock: Onscreen indicators of how long the server has been running.

Note that many of these panels (such as repair queue, systems, communications, cargo) can be toggled using the buttons on the screen. Also, entire panels can be switched off by using the toggles in the corners of the screen (use Numpad 1, 7, and 9 as shortcuts), to give you a very clear view of the game without anything on your screen.

Remember that any button within the game can be pointed at for an explanation of its function. Target Window

This screen will appear on the Tactical Interface when an object is selected. Depending on the type of object selected, you will get different information and options to interact with the object. The screenshot shows a planet selected, so the "Orbit", "Lock", "Camera", and other buttons are clearly visible. Information on the planet's faction, population, units, structures, and defenses are also displayed. This window is an easy way to get information on whatever your target may be.
5.5.7 Navigational Interface

To access the Navigational screen, click the Navigation button on the top of the screen or simply hit "F2". This will open up a map of the system you are in and show you the orbit paths of planets, the routes of transports, and the positions of players. Note that enemy ships, just like on the tactical screen, are not readily visible. The "Fog of War" keeps them hidden until they are in sensor range of a player or planet.
If an enemy is detected in range of your ship's scanners while you are viewing this screen, the screen edges will flash red to warn you of the threat.

Hit ESc on this screen or hit F2 again to return to Tactical mode.

Some elements of this screen, such as the Data Bar and the Target Window, remain in the same place as they were on the Tactical Screen. The Data bar is a constant part of any screen in DarkSpace, as the information it offers is to fundamental to gameplay.
o Vessels: This is a list of all members of your faction, or detectable enemies, within a 250,000 gu range. They can all be targetted from this list.
o System Objects: On this list, all nearby stars, planets, and jump gates will appear. Note that some planets have flags on their icons. These flags denote objective planets in Scenario servers.
o View Controls: Use these buttons to control the view of the Nav Screen. Spacebar can be used to center the camera on your ship. You can also activate filters that deactivate certain portions of the icons on the interface. The rest of the controls mirror those outlined in the upcoming 5.6.8 section.
o Faction Statistics: This shows the name of your faction (including the tag of your fleet, if you are on a fleet server and a member of a fleet), and the number ships that your faction controls, as well as Planets and the numbers of various important structures such as Starports and Shipyards.
o Routes: Light blue lines linking systems denote Jumpgates or Wormholes.
o Orders: You may see numerous lines inscribed across the map. These indicate attack, defend, capture or scout orders that ships may be following.

Note that the lists can be toggled by the "N" key, which activates the toggle button on the bottom right.
5.5.8 Planetary Interface

To access the Planetary Interface, click on the Planets button on the top of the screen or hit "F3". The Planetary Interface shows you detailed statistics on each and every planet under your faction's jurisdiction. These stats provide you the perfect source of information for building a planet properly, which will be explained in thorough detail in a later section of the Player's Guide. The screen also shows you a list of all structures on the planets (in addition to enlarged icons of the structures on the actual surface, as labeled), and the infantry defending it.

This screen is also available for enemy-controlled planets as well. In those cases, much of the planet information will not be displayed, instead you will be able to order any friendly infantry units that may have been dropped on to the planet by left clicking on the desired unit, and then right clicking on one of planet hexes.

Like the Navigational screen, many elements remain from the Tactical screen in this Interface, and also like the Navigational screen, the screen edges will flash red to warn you to the presence of nearby enemy ships.
You can hit "F3" or Esc to return to Tactical.
5.5.9 Communicating in the Game
One of the most important skills in the game is communication. A fleet that does not communicate is a fleet that meets destruction. To bring up the chat bar, press the enter key.

o By default, your chat is set to "Faction". This means that the messages you send go to every player on your faction. Faction chat shows up as bright green.
o Team chat sends to every member of your fleet/clan on the server. Fleet chat will show up as teal.
o Yell sends your message to all nearby players, including enemies. Yells show up in red.
o Target sends your message only to your currently selected target (if it's a player), and shows up in light blue.
o Occasionally you will see a bright yellow message. This is a scream, a method for staff to send a message to every player on a server.
o Server messages will show up in white or light grey.

More often than not, you may find that chat comes in too fast to read. DarkSpace automatically keeps a log of chat messages sent and received. To access this log, press the F4 key. You can scroll through the message log and move/resize the window using your mouse. To close the log, press either F4 or ESC.
5.5.10 Camera Control
While DarkSpace does not offer a true first-person view out the front (top, side, wherever the bridge should be) of your ship, it still offers a variety of camera options. By default, DarkSpace will focus your view above your own ship, and facing your current target. If you have a friendly unit selected, you can transfer the camera view to their ship by pressing the "c" key. To switch back, you must have the same ship selected before you hit "c" once more. Please keep in mind that all distances shown are distances from YOUR ship at all times.

You can rotate your camera view by clicking and holding the left or right mouse button and moving your mouse. You can zoom with the mouse wheel or by pressing x/z.

The camera also has several fixed modes, these modes can be cycled through with the "TAB" key.

o Target: This is the default setting, the camera will stay locked on your current target unless you rotate it manually with the mouse cursor. Pressing after manually rotating the camera will return it to Target mode.
o Tactical: This high angle mode centers your ship at the bottom of the screen and will track your current target, giving you a top-down view of the area between you and your target.
o Follow: This mode locks the camera in a forward facing position, which turns as you turn, similar to a First Person view. Unlike other modes, this one is fixed, which means it wont rotate to track targets, which can seriously reduce your view of action around you.
o Free: This mode is automatically switched to when rotating the camera with your mouse. It will hold the last position set until changed to another mode.

5.5.11 Sensors
All ships are equipped with basic sensors to allow detection of planets, space debris, allies, and of course enemy ships. The scanner device may be equipped on ships to increase the detection range for planetary structure, combat wreckage, mines, bombs, and other such objects.

This game bases detection ranges on a ships's signature. Larger ships use more power, and generate a larger signature. A ship with a large signature can be detected at a longer range than a ship with a low signature. A signature of zero or below cannot be detected with sensors, though it may still be visible to the naked eye.

ECM devices and anti-sensor bases reduce the signature of all ships in a radius around the device. Nebulae have the same type of effect, reducing the signature of everything inside them. ECCM devices and sensor bases raise the signature of nearby ships.

In addition to increasing the object detection range, scanners also increase the signature of the ship which is using it. Beacons can be placed on ships to boost their signature. Each beacon lasts for a limited time, and adds 20 to the target's signature while active.
5.5.12 Grouping
Grouping is a feature that allows two or more players create a temporary fleet of sorts. Groups give players the ability to closely monitor their team mates and share earned prestige. It should be noted however, that prestige lost is also distributed amongst group members.

To create a group, simply target a friendly player and click the "invite to group" button near the player portrait on the bottom right. If your invitation is accepted you will see your ship icon appear on the top right along with your new group mate's. Group leaders are designated by the yellow font and are allowed to invite and remove group members. Group can also promote group members to group leaders.

To join a group, one must receive an an invitation. Once invited, a message box will prompt you for an acception or declination. In addition, one may remove themselves from a group by clicking the "Remove from group" button on the lower right hand corner next to their own ship portrait. You can bring this portrait up by clicking your own ship icon in the navigation screen on group roster.

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