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General Tips for Successful Missions

Play the tutorial if you haven't already. It's short and you'll learn a lot. Also, see our page on the Game Interface & Hotkeys if you're having trouble with the controls.

Check the mission hints in-game by clicking the flashing light bulb icon near the bottom left of the screen.

Do you think the robot can make a decent margarita?Get help for specific objects in the game by left clicking on them or by clicking the question mark icon in the mission briefings, or check the reference library on this site for a complete list of buildings, personnel, aliens, vegetation and resources.

The in-game Bridge Screen includes lots of valuable information about how your base is functioning. Check it periodically. Also, be sure to play with the sound on, since the Blackwater computer will give you verbal updates about important occurrences. (If you are hearing impaired, it's especially important to check the bridge screen and survey your base regularly. Also keep a lookout for that orange exclamation point icon near the bridge button and mini-map. This is the event warning indicator. It means your base is under attack or another emergency situation, such as operatives fighting, is occurring. Pause the game and click the exclamation point icon to go to the trouble spot.)

To find out more about any colonist, left click on her or him (either their figure moving around the base or their portrait in the row at the bottom of the screen) to bring up their colonist panel. Or, peruse the Personnel Roster on this site.

Uncooperative Colonists

If an operative refuses to do what you tell her to do, check the following:

  • If it's a job, make sure she has a skill badge in that area. If not, the colonist will say something to let you know she needs training. Use the library or training pod to train her for that job or try assigning her elsewhere.
  • Only one person at a time can use most equipment. You may notice a message above the selected colonist stating, "In use by..." with a picture of the person currently using the equipment. Reassign tasks as needed.
  • If the colonist is riding on a space bike, wait until he lands and try directing him again.
  • Make sure there are airlocks in place so your colonists can get where you want them to go.
  • If an object has a yellow wrench icon above it, then it needs to be fixed before it can be used. (Place a maintenance post and assign an operative to maintenance duty to get it fixed.)
  • The object or equipment may require resources to function (e.g., mess hall requires base nutrients, restaurant requires processed space chicken, electronics fabricator requires silicon, etc.). Even the cleaning post requires litter. If there is none, you'll see the message "No litter in base" above the post.
  • Resource harvesters need available resources to function (e.g., if there is no more iron visible on the map then the iron extractor won't work). If this happens, the Blackwater computer will give a verbal warning that the resource has been depleted. Place more lights to reveal additional resources. (NOTE: Using the Planetary Scan feature in the Bridge Screen will show the amount of various resources remaining on the entire map.)
  • Most equipment also requires power to function. You'll see a red-and-yellow lightning bolt icon above any object with no power. If you don't have enough power generators to run all your equipment, you'll need to buy and place addtional power plants (available under Engineering Objects). You can also divert power by turning off certain Power Subsystems in the Bridge Screen. For example, turn off lights to divert more power to industrial equipment or turn off industrial equipment to power defenses. Remember to turn those systems back on once you have enough generators in place to power them.
  • If you are trying to initiate conversation between operatives, sometimes you need to try more than once to make it work. Also, an operative working on outdoor equipment will need to go back to the base to interact with another operative. (NOTE: The fine points of social interaction are covered in the Relationships & Romance Tutorial.)
  • Watch the shift clock. When it says break time, your operative will take a break. When it says go to work, she will go, even if she's in the middle of something else. (If she's on break, you can re-direct her to work again, though she may complain about it.) So if your operative 'forgets' to do something because the shift just changed, try again and it should work.
  • Check her mood. If she is too bummed out to work, she'll refuse. Give her some mood-lifting activities to fulfill her needs and get that shift clock back in the green.

Other Helpful Hints

  • If a mission is too hard, try restarting the mission and changing the difficulty setting.
  • Use a few tricks to maximize your credits. These include exploring with the game paused, selling badly damaged items before they are destroyed, buying items to sell in the next mission, etc. These are covered in detail in the section on Selling & Depreciation.
  • Make your colonists more productive by assigning primary and secondary jobs. (See the shift clock for details.) Assign a 'maintenance' type job (such as cleaning, maintenance or medi prep) as primary and an ongoing job (such as mining, power, oxygen, etc.) as secondary. Then when the work shift starts, the colonists will do the first job until everything is cleaned, fixed or prepped, and then switch to the ongoing job. So the drudge work gets done quickly and workers don't stand around doing nothing once they've completed their tasks. (NOTE: This doesn't work with engineering repair. Even when nothing needs repairing, colonists will still go to the repair facility and sit there doing nothing. So you'll need to manage that yourself.)
  • Use cheap, expendable structures to distract enemies while you shoot at them. Small bio domes are best for this, since they cost only 100 credits and can withstand a fair amount of damage. Place a dome (or multiple domes) between your lasers/sentinels and the enemy. Most aliens will concentrate their attacks on the dome, giving your weapons time to work. (These screenshots show the technique.) This doesn't work so well with hovermines or cluster bombs, which damage the domes.
  • For faster android production, use androids to build androids. Since an android's skill level and lifespan are determined by the level of training the cybernetics operative has, just be sure to stop work right before the new android is activated and send in your most highly trained operative to finish the job. Then the new android will have the highest possible skill level.
  • Get "free" training by exploiting a bug in the game. After training an operative using the training pod, immediately send him or her to a library to train again in the same skill. The library training does not use up one of the authorized training programs, so you essentially get two skill levels for the price of one. (Thanks to Jay W. for this excellent tip.)

More useful tips coming soon. If you've got any to share, please send them in.


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