This is a basic guide to get new players on their feet. Any and all experienced players, please contribute! There will be three parts, and a section for tips and tricks.
The Very BasicsEdit
Once the download is finished, open the folder and click on the executable named "asciisec". Then, click New Game. Fill in all the fields - name, full name, and gender - and then continue.
Once it loads there should be a small flashing green dot in the lower right hand corner. That's you. The '#' next to you is your ship. It's called a Tarsus. You can move around with the arrow keys. Try going into a few buildings. Hold 'Tab' while moving to run faster. Once you are done, walk into the building titled the Exchange. Once you are inside, walk into one of those gray boxes. Those are computers. To interact with something, simply walk into it. Look at the screen. In the middle are the commodities. On the top and bottom are managing controls. Buy 50 units of grain by selecting it and clicking "Buy 10" five times, and press 'esc' to stop using the computer. Then, press 'c'. That's the key for your personal computer, called the Quine 5000. There is some very important information on it, like the sector map, trade information, and your missions. Press 'Esc'.
Once you step out of the building, walk to your #. When you bump into it, it'll give you a dialog asking if you want to enter your ship. Choose Yes. This is the inside of your ship. Walk to the front. You should see two gray boxes (ship controls) and two brown lines (chairs). Walk into one of the boxes and choose yes again. You will get a animation of your ship taking off (can be skipped with 'Esc').
Once you are in space, turn a little using the left and right arrow keys. To increase your throttle, hold down the up arrow key. (If you want to go all the way to top speed, press 'home'.) Fly around the planet a little, and then, when you are done, press 'n'. This is your nav computer. If it's not already activated, click on "Current System Map" on the bottom of the page. The swirls are Jump Gates. The symbols that look like oversized asterisks are bases. Click on the base named Pyrdion, near the left end of the map. You have selected it as your destination. Click escape to get out of the nav map. Notice that the display in the upper right screen is showing arrows pointing in a direction and displaying the distance to Pyrdion. Turn your ship to fly left. Once that's done, increase speed to maximum, or 300kps. Once the yellow light on the left side of the screen reading "Auto" lights up, press 'a'. This is your autopilot. If you come out of autopilot, but "Auto" is still lit, then you got interrupted due to a new contact on the radar. Just press 'a' again to continue. Once you come out of autopilot and see Pyrdion, fly on top of the planet. This can also be sped up by holding 'Tab' (afterburner). The planet will transmit, "Standing by for automatic landing request..." Press 'c', for communication. Select who to talk to: "Pyrdion" (skipped if no one else is nearby), then "Requesting automatic landing."
It'll give you a few second animation of your ship landing (skip with 'Esc'). Once you're landed, step outside of your ship and walk to the exchange. Sell your grain for a profit using the "sell" controls at the bottom of the screen. Now, click on 'c' again. This time go to the "Save" button. Click on one of the spaces and type a name for your file. Then press 'enter'. Make it a habit to save after you have done something. You have just made your first cargo run! More about combat and other things in Part Two.
Jump Points and Planet FacilitiesEdit
Now that you've completed your first cargo run, you are liable to be attacked. It'll usually be a ship called a Talon, in the shape of a 'V'. To fire your laser press space. You can only fire in the direction your ship is heading. If you die, load the save you made. Now we will jump to a different system. The system's name is Vortex Prime. Take off, then go to your nav computer and select the swirl named "Jump to Vortex Prime". Once you take off, follow the steps to autopilot to the jump point. Once you're there, fly inside the blue oval. Once you're in the middle, press 'j' for jump. There will be a short animation. You will appear in Vortex Prime. Once there, select the only base in the system, Hooper's Hope. Autopilot there and land. Once you've landed, make a new save on a different file. Even experienced players have lost lots of good progress because they forgot to save.
Walk to the Exchange. You should be getting used to how things function by now. Buy 50 iron. Now that you are loaded with cargo, it's time to learn about the various features on bases. The Shipyard is one of them. Here you can upgrade your ship, and even buy a new one! You already know about the exchange. Another main feature are the two guilds. They are the Merchants Guild and the Mercenaries Guild. The Merchants Guild primarily schedules cargo runs, while the Mercenaries Guild has missions based on space combat. Another two features are the Autodoc and the Hotel. Read their wiki pages to learn more about them. The last couple of features are the bar and the Equipment Store. These two are very important. In the bar the bartender knows of sector news hours before they show up in your Quine 5000. Also, there are a number of Fixers giving you missions and Wingmen, who can be hired to protect and assist your ship.
It's time to buy a simple character combat weapon. Walk to the Equipment Store and activate the shop screen by interacting with the gray box. Once there, buy a knife, for defense. Once that is done, click 'e', for equip. On the right are flaps you can access for equipment manipulation. If it has not already happened, wield your knife by dragging it to your right or left hand slot.
Now walk to your ship, save one final time, and take off again. Loaded with iron, fly back to Basin. Once you land, save and sell your cargo. You should be getting used to this. Two more pieces of advice: One, check out the Tips & Tricks at the bottom of the page, and two, explore Ascii Sector! You are a privateer after all!
This part contains no fixed steps to follow, but rather a compendium of useful information.
First, buy a Cargo Expansion with your profit to be able to transport more cargo at once. Later maybe upgrade your Tarsus's armor or add a missile launcher. Or, even better, save your money to upgrade to a better ship as soon as possible. (E.g. a Galaxy is a nice all-rounder: still affordable, fast afterburner, good cargo space (only Ulysses and Drayman have more, but they're slower), when fully equipped powerful enough for Mercenaries missions and buying contraband on Pirate bases. Or, if you only want to fight and not trade, try an Orion.) In that case don't invest in your Tarsus at all, because that money would mostly be wasted. A new ship starts from scratch without any extras, you'll even have to buy a new Jump Drive, so you definitely need to hold back some money for that or you're stuck. Also, don't waste money buying upgrades like Engines, Shields, ECM or Scanners in single stages. To buy a higher stage you have to sell the old one, which loses half the money you paid for it. Instead, save your money until you can afford the maximum allowed stage. Except guns: the big ones drain too much energy to be useful anywhere but on huge 3x3 ships. Try Meson Blasters.
While you're still in a Tarsus, try not to engage in combat. The systems marked blue on the map are Confed controlled and thus mostly safe. Also think about joining the Merchants Guild. Fixers and Merchant Guild missions are the best to start with. Wait until you have upgraded your Tarsus before joining the Mercenaries Guild. Also, do not solely rely on missions for trading. You sometimes earn more credits by trading yourself. Check the sector news for interesting commodity advantages.
Buy those commodities your current planet/base has a large surplus of (often >1000), because they will be cheap and earn you money when you sell them elsewhere at the normal (=index) price. On agricultural planets that's usually grain, generic foods and wood, mining bases often sell iron, gems and tungsten cheap and refineries have lots of advanced fuels, but also gems. It makes no sense flying from one mining base to another, because things cost the same there, gaining no profit. Check your Quine 5000 → [Sector] → [Trade]: this records the top exports (cheaper than average) and top imports (more expensive) for every base. Sell the top imports or buy the top exports to make money. Start with cheaper items, like grain, iron, wood, tungsten. Once your ship's cargo space becomes the limiting factor rather than your funds switch to more valuable items like gems, advanced fuel.
Merchant guild missions expect you to buy the described cargo with your own money, you get paid only after completing the mission. The cargo cost will amount to approximately half of your promised pay, don't accept a mission if you don't have that much. The other half will be your profit. When upgrading your ship never forget to keep enough cash to buy new cargo.
Always check the bar for Fixer missions which lie on your way. Even if they don't pay much, you need to build up fixer reputation to one-and-a-half 'spaces' in your Quine, then they start offering you contraband missions which can be extremely profitable.
Tips & TricksEdit
- DON'T PANIC! (And remember your towel.)
- Check out the Quick Ship Reference.
- Your initial Tarsus should have an afterburner from the start. If yours doesn't then your version of Ascii Sector is outdated, download the newest release (currently 0.7.2) from the website.
- Explore the wiki!
- Make a account on the Ascii Sector Forum, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
- A quick money making guide can be found here.
- SAVE SAVE SAVE! Save every time you land to avoid losing any credits/cargo/etc you've picked up.
- Check out the quests or the Things to see and do page.
- If you get into a shootout with multiple hostiles, there's no shame in moving out of their line of sight. Every enemy that's trying to get a better angle is one who isn't shooting at you.