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Welcome to the Player's Guide. From this point on until Section 13 or the Manual, you will find a continuous stream of information regarding every nook and cranny of the game itself. This information is structured in a comprehensive and sequential manner so that new, "in-game" terms that pop up during explanations do not go unexplained for too long, and so forth.

Objectives of Play:

To aid your teammates in the conquering of target planets and/or star systems via supplying, bombing, dogfighting, transporting infantry, or building.
To improve your own prestige and gain promotion through appropriate actions in the above categories.
To gain access to new ships as you move up the rank ladder, adding more and more impressive abilities to your arsenal.

Your guide to DarkSpace begins here. Read on.

Entering the Game

While looking at the server list, double-click the game you've chosen or click on it and click the Connect button. The client will make a final check for any possible updates, then it will connect to the server and launch the game client.

The first screen you will see is a loading screen. This is a simple preloader for all of the various textures and 3d models the currently active map will be using. Therefore, you will see this screen whenever a Scenario game switches to a new map.

This is the dialog you will see when loading completes. The view will randomly cylcle through different battles, planets, stars, or ships. Clicking "Play" will take you to the faction selection (or spawn selection, if the game you're playing has saved your last faction) screen. This is also where you can log out of the game (Press ESC at any time in game to return to this screen).

Observation Mode

Clicking on "Observe" will take you to the Observation mode, where you can watch the action from afar without actually having a ship in game. You can still enter this mode while in game, but whatever ships you have on the playing field could be endangered if you do so.

The "Next" and "Prev" buttons will cycle through targets manually so you can find specific objects. The middle row of buttons are different camera angles, which can make your observation experience more cinematic, as each camera suits different situations. The "Battle" and "Planets" buttons will set the view to scroll through ships and battle locations, or through the different planets, and the "Auto" and "Lock" buttons function as a toggle for the automatic changing of the camera target.

Choosing a Faction

Almost there! Upon pressing play on the Opening Screen, you have now joined the action...sort of. There are still a few specifics remaining. Your first task will be to select a faction, unless you are playing on a clan server and have a clan affiliation. Before you make this choice, you might want to consider the basic traits of each faction.

Refer to section 11 The Factions for a more detailed overview of each faction, as well as a list of their ships and the requirements for those ships.

The United Galactic Trade Organization

Called "Uggies" or "Uglies" by their enemies, the UGTO fields some of the sleekest and most well-rounded ships. Energy weapons, Proton technology and thick armor result in ships with good protection, and efficient use of their energy pool for weapons.

Pros: Good energy use, Flux and EMP weapons to disable ship systems, large fighter carriers, Armor can be repaired by depots

Cons: Armor by itself has lower all-around protection than shields and repairs itself slower.

The Interstellar Cultural Confederation

The ICC, "Ickies" to their foes, are masters of energy shields and Fusion technology. Slate-grey, angular ships blend in with the blackness of space, and their weapons have the longest range of all the factions. As such, ICC ships excel at holding defensive positions and pounding enemies at range.

Pros: Long range weapons, shields make ICC ships a tough nut to crack, fast firing pulse lasers easily defeat incoming missiles and fighters.

Cons: Recharging shields drain large amounts of energy, light armor leaves ships relatively defenseless without energy to power shields.

The K'luth

The organic ships of the alien K'Luth and the insectoid naming conventions used by humans to describe their ships have earned the K'Luth the nickname "Lobsters" or "Bugs". Psionic and Antimatter technology give the K'Luth significant damage-dealing capacity at short range, and their Antimatter engines and jump drives make them the fastest ships in known space. K'Luth armor is much lighter than that found on comparable ICC ships, but a cloaking device compensates for this deficiency, making K'Luth masters of hit and run tactics.

Pros: Most powerful weapons in terms of raw damage, fast ships, and the ability to move invisibly.

Cons: Shorter weapon range than human weapons, weak armor, weapons and cloaking device has high energy drain.


The in-game options menu allows you to adjust audio and video settings without having to run the client setup program directly from GCQL. The downside is some options may not take effect until the game client is restarted.

The options menu can be accessed at any time during gameplay by pressing the ESC key and clicking the Options button.

Video Mode

Changes game resolution on the fly, click to set.


This interface allows you to choose the level of detail for the in-game textures. Higher quality means better looking objects, but it will require more memory for good performance. Requires client restart to take effect.


This interface allows you to choose the level of detail of special effects such as light from weapon impacts. At the highest setting, LOD (Level of Detail) scaling is disabled.


This slider adjusts the number of particles rendered when observing an explosion. It also adjusts the number of particles rendered when observing an Interdictor or ELF Field.


This slider allows you to set the relative length of ship/missile/fighter engine trails. Experiment to find your own favorite setting. At 0%, there will be no trails visible. For the most part, this change is purely cosmetic and should not change performance.

Music Volume

This slider adjusts the volume of the in-game music. Requires client restart to take effect.

SFX Volume

This slider adjusts the volume of the in-game sound effects.


Displays a list of game functions and their corresponding key commands.

To change a key command, select the command and press the Remap button, then press the desired key or key combination.

NOTE: It's a known issue that the displayed key list is inaccurate. This is a feature from an earlier time in darkspace's history which was removed many versions ago. We will get this list updated to the accurate key commands as soon as possible.

Choosing a Spawn Location

Once you have selected a faction, you will be brought to the ship spawn screen. This screen provides a visual information about the general territory controlled by your faction, as well as locations of active shipyards and the factional home gate (if the current server has it).
The territories are determined by locations of the planets controlled by the various factions.
Shipyards and the home gate are are indicated by white icons on the selection map.

On the left of the spawn screen is a large list of ship models which can be built by your faction's shipyards. The names of the ships may be in white, grey or red color, which indicate whether the ship can be built for you or not.
White text indicates that you have the required rank and badges required for the command of the ship, as well as sufficient technology and resources available on the selected shipyard.
Grey text indicates that the shipyard does not have enough resources or the technology level for construction of the selected ship.
Red text indicates that you do not have the required rank and authority, or you do not have the necessary badges and accomplishments.

Note :- When playing in the rank-limited servers, the availability of playable ships is limited to those which do not require a rank higher than the server's limit. Ships requiring a higher rank will have their names displayed in red text, and cannot be launched from the shipyard.

The spawn screen map focuses on a pre-selected spawn location, and also shows nearby shipyards (if any). To select very closely-located shipyards, or those present in distant star systems, you can control the direction of focus by holding down the right mouse button and dragging it. The level of zoom is increased using the Z key, and decreased using the X key. To change the shipyard in focus, double-click on another shipyard in view.

When choosing a spawn location, you can opt to spawn at the Home Gate or at a shipyard. Each shipyard choice allows you to examine the resource caches of every planet, which you will understand more about as you continue reading.

Rank-limited Areas

Certain parts of the metaverse server are designated for lower ranked players, this includes Ursa Minor, which is the default spawn area for all new players. These areas have a rank cap in place, above which you will not gain any points for any prestige-awarding actions.

There are 7 zones within the metaverse, called constellations or clusters (not to be confused with planetary clusters).

Andromeda - K'luth home territory. No rank cap.
Cassiopeia - ICC home territory. No rank cap.
Lacerta - UGTO home territory. No rank cap.
Procyon - Stronghold for an unknown mechanical race. No rank cap.
Rogen's Rift - Haven for pirates and other renegades. Max rank of 1st Rear Admiral.
Sagittarius - Most contested space in the metaverse. No rank cap.
Ursa Minor - Designated newbie area and default spawn area. Max rank of Lt. Commander.

Choosing Your Ship

Depending on your rank and accomplishments, your faction's central command will allow you a range of warships and support craft to choose for commanding. As flexibility is vital for any fleet, you are not limited to a single ship that you "own". At any time, you can return to a shipyard or home gate and select a new ship. To select a new ship, locate a planet with a shipyard on it (CTRL+Y will target the nearest shipyard), and then fly within 250 gu of the shipyard (or orbit the planet using O). With the shipyard targeted, click the docking button twice, or press CTRL+U twice, to return to the ship selection screen.

While the central commanders have attempted to provide effective ships for the fleet, they also realize that individual commanders may prefer alternate loadouts. While the shipyards cannot yet construct ships to individual specifications, you may store your ships in a personal storage "garage".
These garage ships may be launched from the shipyard they were docked at, or launched from another shipyard or from a home gate. Each ship class has a unique role, which will be detailed in the next subsections.


The scout is designed as a mobile and discreet tactical support ship. Scouts possess a high-performance jump drive capable of reaching distant planets quickly and efficiently. Specialised reconnaissance scouts can quickly locate and place beacons on enemy ships, allowing retreating ships to be tracked and destroyed.
Scouts also perform as expendable decoys. An agile scout near an enemy planet can distract planetary fire and lure enemy warships away, and creates oppurtunities for the fleet to perform crucial troop landings or bomber raids.

Despite possessing mediocre firepower and posing little threat to larger warships, it proves itself to be a vital component of a balanced fleet and for execution of devastating tactics.


The frigate is a light warship which improves on the firepower of scouts at the sacrifice of speed. Constructed by both shipyards and Home Gates, these are cheap and effective weapon platforms which maneuver into positions quickly and unleash constant and wounding damage on slow transports, vulnerable engineers and large dreadnoughts.
Their high speed and extended arsenal of utility devices and weapons helps them to intercept enemy warships and fighter squadrons attempting to attack the main fleet.
Frigates have been known for their daredevil's endurance as they can kite enemy cruisers easily, avoid munitions at close ranges and use their fast-charging jump drives to re-position themselves constantly.


The destroyer is a medium-class armored warship which attempts to balance speed and firepower. Armed with cannons and torpedo launchers, they are able to deal stable damage to enemies of all kinds. Their speed allows them to patrol the star systems, pursue enemy attackers and evade larger foes.
As escorts, their heavy armor and array of weapons helps them shield the bulky dreadnoughts from saboteurs and fighter squads, and allow the larger ship to focus on its primary mission.

Destroyers are capable ships in the right hands, and a skilled commander can make a destroyer into a potentially lethal weapon.


The cruiser is a powerful medium-class warship which is heavily armed and armored. Featuring an expanded laser battery, heavy cannons, numerous torpedo launchers and heavy-duty engines and reactors, the cruiser is the first true stand-alone warship capable of engaging and destroying any and every threat in space.

Standard cruiser warfare involves pursuing smaller ships at near-maximum speed and barraging them with cannon fire and laser attacks; whereas against dreadnoughts they employ use of their maneuverability to dodge attacks and strafe their sides and rear with explosive torpedo attacks.


The dreadnought is the allerogical symbolization of power and fear in space warfare. The gigantic hull and State-of-the-Art fusion engines allow for usage of a vast array of weapons, beams, reactors, devices and heavy missiles. The Dreadnought is capable of annihilating any military warship or installation with frightening ease.
Certain modifications of dreadnoughts also perform as versatile fighter platforms, which can engage enemy ships at every range. Other versions act as command centres of the faction's admiralty which are used in co-ordinating fleet maneuvers and tactics for wars.

Despite the fear they strike into enemies, these mammoth spaceships have been overwhelmed on a number of occasions by squads of smaller warships working together to exploit its weaknesses, chief among which are both mobility and accuracy.


The station is a humongous space installation which is used in large-scale wars and fleet invasions. Bearing the strongest of the weapons, devices and experimental worm-hole charge drives available to the military, these priceless commitments are primarily used for co-ordinating and supplementing the fleet in defending and attacking key planets and enemy fleets.
Chiefly available in three purpose-built variants, a station may be used for

  • Repairing and re-arming many warships at once and attacking ships using heavy missiles.
  • Directly fighting enemy ships at close and medium ranges using countless laser batteries and core weapons.
  • Fighting enemy ships of all kinds at medium and long ranges using vast fighter squadrons.

Supply Ship

No serious invasion fleet travels without a supply ship, or a fleet of them. While these ships have little offensive power, they are often considered priority targets on the battlefield. These ships have the ability to repair hull and armor, and fix damaged systems. As if that wasn't enough to turn the tide of battle, they can also rearm depleted ammunition stores and refuel jump drives. With a few supply ships around, your fleet will last a lot longer.

Engineering Ship

The engineer ship is the most important ship a faction's government possesses. These ships are used specifically for colonisation, terraforming and construction projects.
Engineers house a special cargo bay solely for assembly and deployment of space-to-surface and space-to-space construction drones, which can both process and transport resources over short distances to build colony domes, giant synthetic food farms, large-scale research labs and space-borne platforms.

Engineers sacrifice armor and engines to make room for the construction drone bay, and are limited to a modest point-defense armament for intercepting the occasional infantry transport pods.


A transport is a slow and lightly-armored spaceship which is purpose-built for carrying infantry and construction materials through the expanses of space. A standard transport is deemed sufficient for carrying numerous battalions, or for enough resources for complete colonisation of an entire planet.
As a result of the massive space devoted to cargo, these ships are light on armor and armament, and require escort warships to be able to reach planet orbit and survive enemy attackers.

Extractors are a military modification of the civilian transports which are very lightly armored, have minimal point-defense laser batteries and house many mineral extraction mining beams.
These refitted space ships are used for mining the surface of planets and, occasionally, asteroids. The resources gathered are spent in the colonisation of planets and the construction of platforms and warships.

The Basics

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
General Planetary Structures: All planetary structures can be paused or scrapped using the interface in the lower right.
Barracks: Barracks can be set to produce either Infantry or Heavy Infantry.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.


Information Windows: The seven green buttons at the top-left of the screen are used to -
  • Activate the guide pointers of the current screen (F1)
  • Switch between the three information screens (Tactical - default, Navigational - F2, Planetary - F3)
  • Open the four information windows (Chat log - F4, Profile statistics - F5, Active mission - F6, Ship enhancements - F7)

Chat bar: Clicking the button or pressing Enter opens the chat bar. Type a message and press Enter again to send the message to the rest of the players.

System Repairs: When the hull of your ship is being attacked, some systems may become damaged. Your ship crew will repair them sequentially, in the order of oldest to latest. This part of the screen shows the integrity of the damaged systems, and the order of repair.
In case you need a certain system (example - jump drive, repair drone, ion engine) repaired as a priority, you can click on the system in the list to make it the first system in the list.

Contacts: The colored diamonds on the screen are used for selecting space objects. Depending on the color, a given contact may be friendly (green), neutral (yellow) or hostile (red).
In DarkSpace, a neutral contact may be space debris remaining after a ship explosion, an uninhabited planet not under the governance of a faction, inter-stellar transfer gates or even a densely populated and defended planet belonging to rebel groups. A neutral contact should be properly assessed to determine the utility of threat presented by it.

Ship Systems: This part of the tactical screen lists all the systems present on your ship. Taking the above screenshot as an example, this UGTO transport has 2 active ion drives, a partially recharged tachyon jump drive containing 2875 fuel units, a pair of charged lasers and 5 plates of Standard Armor, of which 2 are slightly damaged.
In the systems list, a charged device appears green. When activated, its device icon appears white. When the device is cooling down and recharging, the icon becomes dark and a flashing blue progress bar appears on the icon.

Ship Cargo: The cargo bays are used for storing resources, infantry and ship enhancements when they are loaded or collected. The type of ship being flown determines the number of cargo bays available for storing items. In this case, a UGTO transport has 7 infantries loaded in 7 of its 10 cargo bays.

Motion indicators: These are the two clickable bars that indicate your ship's current heading and velocity. These can be controlled with the keyboard, but also manually with the mouse for finer adjustments.

Ship Status: These three bars display the percentage of hull integrity, currently stored energy level, and signature statistics for your ship. Your ship is destroyed when it reaches 0 hull. Devices use energy to function, and weapons for recharging. The activity of your ship and its hull class determine your ship signature, which are further affected by sensor activity from other nearby ships.

Target Window: This part of the screen is used to assess the status of the currently selected target. In this screenshot, we have selected an NPC K'Luth 'Stinger' destroyer, whose hull is at 70% integrity and overall armor covering is at 36%.
When you select a contact, the target window displays the name of the contact, the faction currently owning it and its classification. The hull integrity, overall shield strength and armor covering are displayed for ship contacts. The control level, structures present, infantry, and the resources cache are displayed in case of planet contacts.

Clock: On the top-right corner of the tactical screen is the server clock. It displays the time elapsed since the current star map has been online. When playing on scenario servers, it also display the time remaining before the server switches the current map.

Note that many of these panels (such as system repair, ship systems, chat bar, cargo bay) can be toggled using the buttons on the screen. Also, entire clusters of panels can be switched off by using the toggles in the corners of the screen (use Numpad 1, 3, 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 a brief 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 an enemy ship selected, so the "Follow" and "Shadow" autopilot modes are visible. Information regarding the ship's identity, faction, model, ship class, hull, armor and shields (in case the target has them) are also displayed. This window is an easy way to get information on whatever your target may be.

Navigational Interface

The navigational interface is a screen which is used for plotting jump routes near planets, assessing distant targets and viewing the movements of friendly and enemy groups. To assist in these functions, it comprises of the star map, lists of space contacts, various filter options and a list of assets owned by your faction. 900px
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. To leave this screen and enter the tactical interface, press the Esc key or F2 hotkey.

Elements such as the target window and the information windows are present in every screen, as they are vital towards assessing targets and receiving information.

Space Contacts: The map shows the position and type of detectable contacts in the visible area using icons. The class of a ship contact is denoted by their class icons.
Navigational contacts: This is a list of nearby planets, stars, jump gates, worm holes and nebulae. The contacts available on this list change according to the location of your ship.
Friendly and Hostile contacts: These are two lists which show allied and enemy ships within sensor range. Pressing 'A' toggles the visibility of NPC ship contacts on this list. The toggle hotkey for these three lists is 'N'.
Interface Commands: These buttons assist in the usage of the navigational interface. It has the buttons for zoom, centering on target, activating jump drive for selected target and toggling NPC ship visibility. The last button is used for opening a list of filter options. Filter options are explained in the upcoming section 5.11.6.
Factional Assets List: This is a list depicting the number and type of warships owned by your faction. This list also states basic information regarding planets and the presence of various planetary utilities.
Inter-stellar Routes: Jump gate pairs and worm hole pairs are connected to each other by light blue lines. (Not shown in picture)
Ship Commands: Allied ships and their objective targets are connected to each other using coloured lines. The colour of the line depicts the type of command given to the ship. Pressing 'Y' toggles the visibility of these lines. (Not shown in picture)

Planetary Interface

To access the Planetary Interface, select a planet and click on the Planets button on the top of the screen or hit "F3". 900px The Planetary Interface shows you detailed statistics on any selected planet under your faction's jurisdiction. These stats provide you the perfect source of information for building a planet properly, which has been thoroughly explained in Planet Building. The screen also shows you a list of all structures on the planets and the infantry defending it. The enlarged visuals of any selected structure is shown in the target window. A list of nearby planets and whether they are friendly, neutral or hostile can be viewed at the bottom of the screen.

This screen is available for viewing statistics of enemy-controlled planets as well. In those cases, information regarding enemy infantry, planetary structures and their statuses will not be visible. You can still command friendly infantry to move to various parts of the planet, by selecting one of them and right-clicking on a planetary diamond.

In the planetary interface, elements such as a flashing red border for indicating enemy presence and the target window for detailing on selected targets are present. Other elements such as the chat bar and information windows are present as well.

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.

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.
Team chat sends to every member of your fleet/clan on the server. Fleet chat will show up as teal.
Yell sends your message to all nearby players, including enemies. Yells show up in red.
Target sends your message only to your currently selected target (if it's a player), and shows up in light blue.
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.
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.

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.

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.
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.
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.
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.


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.


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.

Managing Your Starship: Speed, Signature, and Energy

Piloting a ship in DarkSpace involves a number of trade-offs. Engines and Generators produce energy, but use some of it to move. The faster you are moving, the more power is drained. On many ships, it is impossible for the engines to produce as much power as it takes to keep all systems running when your ship is moving at full speed. This includes charging your jump drive, running your sensor devices, and firing weapons.

Your ship's signature is based on three factors. The first is what class of ship you are flying. A station is a LOT easier to spot than a scout. The second is how much energy you are using. If you are traveling at full speed and recharging all your weapons, you are going to stand out. The signature is a numerical representation of how easy your ship is to detect. A higher signature means you can be detected from further away. The third factor is any external effects on your signature. If you are running ECCM's, your signature will rise. Likewise, ECM's will drop it. K'Luth cloaking devices will mask all speed and ship class related signature as long as it has power to function, including weapon recharge and external influences to affect its signature. A nebula will drastically reduce the signature of all ships within its boundaries.

Modifying Vessels

After playing with the default ship types for a while, you may find yourself thinking "If only I had better engines" or "If only I could replace this missile with a torpedo, this ship would be invincible!" While the second thought is a bit too optimistic in terms of invincibility, DarkSpace allows you to purchase alternate devices for your ship, which may be exchanged for an existing component.

To be able to change weapons or other devices on your ship, you'll need to be in orbit of any friendly planet that has enough resouces and technology to produce the device you with to install.

For example, let's look at how to swap a railgun.

For this example, we took an ICC dreadnought and swapped a Railgun for a Gauss Gun. Select the weapon in your components list with a right-click. Above the target info box on the right side of the screen, you'll see one or more green icons showing your replacement options. If the icons are displayed in red, it means you do not have enough resources or technology on the planet, or that you are not orbiting a planet at all. Hovering your mouse over the device will display a tool-tip that lists what the device requires in order to be mounted on your ship. If all the conditions are met, simply choose from the available replacement options (just a Gauss Gun in this example), and it will be loaded onto your ship.

Most new devices that you install starts off uncharged and out of ammo. You'll have to orbit a planet, or rely on supply drones to load fuel and ammo for you. Armor and shields will recharge at the normal rate.

Additionally, to replace shields or engines, you must deactivate them, to disable an engine or shield to be swapped, left click on it in the components list. You'll see the color change from white to green as soon as the deactivation is recognized by the server. Please note that left-clicking on a weapon, jump drive, or non-reactor special device will use that component instead of deactivating it. Using these techniques, you can refit many components of your ship, and build your perfect fighting craft. DarkSpace offers a dynamic environment, and any components mentioned here may change in future releases.

Device List

For a detailed list of all the weapons and other ships devices, please refer to the Darkspace Database's entry regarding Ship Systems.


Enhancements are a new addition that modify certain aspects of your ship, such as speed, firepower, or energy usage.

Enhancements are randomly dropped when a ship explodes, and randomly assigned to a player from all players that recently damaged the ship. Awarded enhancements are sent directly to the player's cargo, if they have room for it. High-grade enhancements can be purchased with credits, which can be bought with real-world money in the Online Store or by subscribing by following the [Subscribe] link in your profile.

Purchasing Enhancements

Enhancements that are available for purchase can be found by clicking the Buy button, located above your stored ships display in the Ship Selection screen. From this menu, the stats of an enhancement can be previewed and the enhancement added to your garage with the Buy button. Players are limited to holding up to 50 items (not including ships) in their garage at one time.

Enhancements that have finite Durability slowly take damage when your ship is destroyed. When the durability reaches 0, the enhancement is Permanently destroyed. Current durability can be viewed at by pressing [F7] and selecting an enhancement.

Fitting and Refitting

With an enhancement in your cargo, clicking on its icon will display a tool tip which list the effect the enhancement will have on your ship, a -2% decrease in energy usage for lasers, as one example. If you wish to install it, with the enhancement selected (by clicking on it), press the Use Item button, which has a wrench icon.

To manage your enhancements (once you have some installed), pressing F7 will toggle the Enhancements window, this window will display all your installed enhancements, and the cumulative effect on your ships. Hovering your mouse over the icons in this window will display the names of installed enhancements.

Because you may only install a maximum of eight enhancements at any one time, per ship, this window can also be used to remove enhancements. Left click on an enhancement's icon, the window will change to show just that enhancement and its effect, and also display a Remove button, pressing this button twice will remove that enhancement, permanently.

There's a handy table of the current enhancements in Tactics & New Players » » Unofficial Player's Guide to Enhancements

Gaining Prestige and Checking Progress

Prestige is the DarkSpace variant of the concept of 'Experience Points', 'Ranking Points' and similar concepts used in other games. In DarkSpace, prestige is awarded for doing activities and tasks which benefit your faction's progress and inhibit the growth of the enemy factions. A list of categories which contribute to the calculations involved in determining a player's prestige are given below, as well as categories which are used for measuring a player's general performance.

Note: Categories marked NCC are Non-Contributing Categories which do not award or penalise the value of the player's prestige in any way.

Bonus Prestige: This category shows the amount of prestige which has been awarded to you for completing special or miscellaneous tasks, such as winning in contests, emerging victorious in Scenario missions, participating in DarkSpace events etc.
Ships Damaged: This category keeps a track of the total damage that have dealt to enemy ships. Dealing damage to armor and shields is much less prestigious, compared to damaging a ship's hull.
Ships Captured: This category records the number of times you have captured an enemy ship. Capturing a friendly ship which was previously captured by an enemy faction also adds to this category.
Planets Damaged: This category records a numerical amount of damage you have dealt to an enemy planet's economy, infrastructure, population and military by dropping infantry or bombing the planet.
Planets Captured: For successfully gaining control of a non-friendly planet, the participating players are awarded points in this category.
Friendly Fire: This category keeps a track of how much damage has been dealt by you to your own teammates.
Units Repaired: Spending time repairing ships in a supply vessel will award you points in this category.
Construction: Building structures on a planet award you with points in this category. Scrapping a structure result in reduction of points. Replacing a structure give points equal to the difference of value of the newer structure from the older one.
Kamikaze: This category keeps track of the damage dealt to enemy ships from the destruction of your ship. Kamikaze damage is dealt to all ships present within a short distance from the dying ship.
Self Destructs: This keeps track of the number of times you ordered your ship to self-destruct. Destroying yourself from the splash damage of your own weapons also contributes to this category.
Jumps: For every successfully completed jump, you gain a point in this category. Aborted jumps, jumps stopped by interdictors or crashing into a planet while jumping does not contribute to this category.
Planet Collisions: This category keeps track of the number of times your ship was destroyed due to collision with a planet or star.
Scout: For every beacon successfully placed on an enemy ship, you earn a point in this category.
Resources Lost: This category records the total value of resources which were lost due to the destruction of your ship. A part of this value is subtracted from your prestige.

Games Played: This keeps track of how many times have you joined the Scenario or Metaverse server.(NCC)
Time Played: This records the time you have spent in game, measured in seconds.(NCC)
Ships Destroyed: This maintains the number of times you have destroyed an enemy ship. Points of this category are awarded to players who delivered the final damage to the enemy ship. (NCC)
Deaths: This tracks the number of times your ships have been destroyed by an enemy faction or planet. (NCC)
Credits: This value is a count of the credits presently stored with your account. Credits are bought from the Online Store, and are used to buy in-game items. (NCC)

All of these statistics, as well as your current rank and prestige, can be accessed by navigating to the player's profile page. When in-game, these statistics can be monitored in real-time by opening the Profile Window when piloting a ship (Hotkey - F5).

The value of any player's recorded prestige can be received by using the following syntax in the in-game OR GCQ Lobby chat bar:-
/Who [@PlayerId|PlayerName]

Rank and Badge Requirement List


Midshipman: Starting Rank
Ensign: 40 Prestige
2nd Lieutenant: 80 Prestige
1st Lieutenant: 160 Prestige
Lieutenant Commander: 320 Prestige
Commander: 640 Prestige
Captain: 1280 Prestige
2nd Rear Admiral: 2560 Prestige
1st Rear Admiral: 5120 Prestige
Vice Admiral: 10240 Prestige
Admiral: 20480 Prestige
Fleet Admiral: 40960 Prestige
Grand Admiral: 81920 Prestige
Marshal: 163840 Prestige
Chief Marshal: 327680 Prestige

Note: All badges are based on cumulative points, with the exception of Privateering and Navigation badges, and the amount of points received per action may vary.

Navigation Awards

Bronze Navigator: 50 Jumps
Silver Navigator: 500 Jumps
Gold Navigator: 1000 Jumps
Platinum Navigator: 5000 Jumps

Combat Awards

Bronze Combat: 50 Ships Damaged
Silver Combat: 500 Ships Damaged
Gold Combat: 1000 Ships Damaged
Platinum Combat: 5000 Ships Damaged

Support Awards

Bronze Support: 50 Units Repaired
Silver Support: 500 Units Repaired
Gold Support: 1000 Units Repaired
Platinum Support: 5000 Units Repaired

Bombing Awards

Bronze Bomber: 50 Planets Damaged
Silver Bomber: 500 Planets Damaged
Gold Bomber: 1000 Planets Damaged
Platinum Bomber: 5000 Planets Damaged

Transport Awards

Bronze Transport: 25 Planets Captured
Silver Transport: 50 Planets Captured
Gold Transport: 100 Planets Captured
Platinum Transport: 500 Planets Captured

Engineering Awards

Bronze Engineering: 50 Construction Points
Silver Engineering: 500 Construction Points
Gold Engineering: 1000 Construction Points
Platinum Engineering: 5000 Construction Points

Privateering Awards

Bronze Privateer: 25 Ships Captured
Silver Privateer: 50 Ships Captured
Gold Privateer: 100 Ships Captured
Platinum Privateer: 500 Ships Captured

Miscellaneous Awards Note: Star awards include Combat, Bombing, Transport, Support, Engineering and Navigation badges only.

Bronze Star: All 6 Bronze Medals
Silver Star: All 6 Silver Medals
Gold Star: All 6 Gold Medals
Sirius Combat Medal: Bronze Combat, Bronze Bomber, and Bronze Transport
Defense Medal: Silver Combat and Gold Engineering
Star Fury Medal: Silver Bomber and Silver Transport

Key Command List

Comprehensive list of keys and their functions.


A Rudder Left

Left Arrow Turn Left

D Rudder Right

Right Arrow Turn Right

S Center Rudder

Q Decrease Throttle

Down Arrow Decrease Throttle

W Increase Throttle

Up Arrow Increase Throttle

J Start/Abort Jump, Activate Wormhole Device
Wormhole Devices available only on stations and command dreads

Shift + J Emergency Jump

O Orbit Targeted Planet

Alt + Y Toggle Yaw Control


E Target Nearest Enemy

R Target Nearest Friendly

F Follow Target

G Shadow Target

H Target Last Distress

Ctrl + Left Click Create Target at Cursor

Ctrl + J Target HomeGate

Ctrl + P Target Nearest Starport

Ctrl + R Target Nearest Depot, Target Nearest Supply Ship

Ctrl + Y Target Nearest Ship Yard

[ Decrease range at which IFF contacts are displayed.
IFF stands for Identify Friend/Foe, in this case, the color-coded <> on all targets.

] Increase range at which IFF contacts are displayed

, Object Parent

. Next Object

Alt + A Order Attack Target

Alt + C Order Capture Target, Toggle Contact Diamonds
Capture if Enemy targeted, Toggle Diamonds if Friendly or no target

Alt + D Order Defend Target

Alt + S Order Scout Target

Alt + X Cancel Order

%t Note: this isn't a key-command, but rather a variable you can use in the chat box. Typing %t as part of the message will fetch the name of your current target.
For example, you could type "hey everyone, lets all attack %t" and the resulting message that other players see would be something like "hey everyone, lets all attack Joe Station McPlanet-Campy".


Mouse 1 Select Target

Ctrl + Mouse 1 Target Point

Spacebar Alpha Strike

Shift + Spacebar Manually Detonate All Weapons, Toggle Point Defense

1 - 9 Use Group

Shift + 1 - 9 Detonate Group Weapons, Toggle Group Point Defense

0 Remove Selected Device From Group

B Fire Bombs, Drop Mines

Shift + B Manually Detonate Bombs, Mines

Ctrl + B Toggle Point Defence

I Toggle Interdictor, Station Area Reload

N Launch Fighters

Shift + N Recall Fighters

V Use Flux Wave, Use Pulse Wave, Toggle Cloak

Shift + H Send Resupply Distress

Ctrl + H Send Attacked Distress

T Toggle Tractor Beam, Fire Beacons

Shift + T Deactivate Beacons

Y Repair/Reload Target

Shift + Y Repair/Reload Self

M Toggle ECM

P Toggle ECCM

K Toggle Scanner

Ctrl + S Toggle Shields

Numpad 2 Transfer Shield Energy to Aft

Numpad 4 Transfer Shield Energy to Left

Numpad 5 Tranfer Shield Energy to Full

Numpad 6 Transfer Shield Energy to Right

Numpad 8 Tranfer Shield Energy to Fore


C View Camera

X Zoom Out

Z Zoom In

Mouse 2 Rotate Camera

MouseWheelUp Zoom In

MouseWheelDown Zoom Out

Tab Cycle Camera View

Alt + T Take Screenshot
Saved as 000000xx.tga in your Darkspace folder, where xx is the image number.


G Toggle Mining Beam

Ctrl + D Self Destruct
Press twice to initiate

L Load Infantry, Load Cargo

U Unload Infantry, Unload Cargo
Also Transfers Infantry/Cargo to other Players

Ctrl + L Toggle Planet Lock

Alt + P Toggle Profiler
Shows Ping and Framerate

Ctrl + U Use Ship Yard
Press twice, must be within 250gu

Ctrl + X Scrap Building, Disband Infantry, Remove Device, Eject Cargo

/ Toggle Shield/Armor Status, Toggle Turn Indicator, Allied Shield/Armor Status

Enter Type/Send Chat

ESC Play, Observe, Log Off options

F1 Toggle Context Help

F2 Toggle Navigation Screen

F3 Toggle Planet Management Screen

F4 Toggle Chat Log

F5 Toggle Player Profile

F6 Toggle Missions

F7 Toggle Enhancements Display

Numpad 1 Toggle Ship Status HUD

Numpad 3 Toggle Target HUD

Numpad 7 Toggle Communications Console HUD

Shift + Numpad 8 Set Throttle to Full

Shift + Numpad 2 Set Throttle to 0

Shift + Numpad 4 Set Rudder to Full Left

Shift + Numpad 6 Set Rudder to Full Right

Navigation Screen

Alt + A Order Attack Target

B Toggle Orbit Paths

C View Camera

Alt + C Order Capture Target

Alt + D Order Defend Target

E Target Nearest Enemy

F Follow Target

G Shadow Target

H Target Last Distress

I Toggle Ship Icons

J Jump to Target

K Toggle Grid

Ctrl + L Toggle Planet Lock

N Toggle Contacts List

O Orbit Targeted Planet

P Toggle Planet Icons

R Target Nearest Friendly

Alt + S Order Scout Target

Ctrl + T Transfer Credits

Alt + T Take Screenshot

X Zoom Out

Shift + X Instant Zoom Out to Maximum

Alt + X Cancel Order

Y Toggle Ship Orders

Z Zoom In

Shift + Z Instant Zoom In to Minimum

Spacebar Center Map on Target

Enter Type/Send Chat

Ctrl + Left Click Create Target at Cursor

ESC Return to Tactical

Numpad 1 Toggle Ship Status HUD

Numpad 3 Toggle Target HUD

Numpad 7 Toggle Communication Console Hud

MouseWheelUp Zoom In

MouseWheelDown Zoom Out

Mouse 1 Nudge/Drag Map, Select Target

Mouse 2 Rotate Map

, Object Parent

. Next Object