StarDrive is a 4X, real-time strategy game. 4X stands for "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate", and these "X's" tend to represent the various phases of the game. The overall objective of the standard game is to conquer/control the galaxy. This can be accomplished through militaristic and/or diplomatic means.
Beginning a gameEdit
When you start a new game in StarDrive, you are prompted to choose a race (depicted in the image below). There are eight races in the game, displayed on the left side of the screen.
Near the top of the screen, basic information about the selected race will appear (empire name, race name, and home system). Also within this information box is the flag that represents the race. You can change this flag by clicking on the left or right arrows to either side of the flag's graphic.
Each race has unique traits that confer specific bonuses and penalties. These traits have a large impact on gameplay and serve to differentiate the various races in the game. The box on the right side of the screen shows which traits have been selected for a particular race (red and green text, below "Points to Spend: 0"). Information about what the traits affect is located in the middle of the screen. The traits are separated into three main groups: "Physical", "Sociological" and "History and Tradition". Clicking on the corresponding tab will display the traits in the respective categories. Here, again, the selected traits for a particular race will appear in red and green text.
- Race customization
- If desired, the traits for a race can be changed to create a customized race. A race can spend a total of 8 points in traits. Each trait has an associated point value (either positive or negative). You may select any combination of traits so long as the sum of the points from the selected traits equals 8 and no opposites have been selected (I.E savage and timid).
Finally, game options are located near the upper right corner of the screen. Here, you can select galaxy size, types of solar systems encountered, number of opponents, and the game mode. Once you've chosen your desired race and game options, click "Engage" near the lower left corner of the screen to start the game.
At the start of the game, you control one planet. It is the one that you see in the center of your view (example screen below). Typically, now is a good time to pause the game, get your bearings, and do a bit of planning.
In the top left corner of the main view screen is a pair of icons - a beaker and a couple of coins. The beaker represents your research and the coins show how much money you have. In the top-middle of the screen are buttons that allow you to access the shipyard, empire and diplomacy screens. There's also a button to access the main menu and the button with the "?" opens the help screen. In the top right of the screen is the StarDate, which represents how far along the game has progressed (it starts at 1000.1). The lower right corner of the screen shows the galaxy map. The white box on the map represents the entirety of your current view. In the example image above, the view is zoomed in quite far so the box is very small. Zoom out by scrolling down your mouse wheel to better see the aforementioned box. The icons on the left side of the galaxy map (house, hammer, planet, etc) access various screens that allow you to manage your ships and colonies.
See controls to find more information about how to access the various game screens, how to control ships, and navigate the main view.
Access the research screen by left-clicking on the beaker icon in the top left corner of the screen.
Your first priority of starting a new game should be to take a look at your technology screen and decide what you want to research. You can choose from a wide variety of technologies that will help define your playstyle. If you want to strengthen up your military then you might consider researching new ship hulls or weapon technologies. Alternatively, you could research new colonization technologies to help you expand your empire.
An example of a good starting research order is: Missile Theory, Industrial Foundations, Interstellar Governance, Aeroponics, Biospheres, and then Corvette Hull. But don't feel compelled to strictly follow this example. Player preference and focus plays a large role in deciding research order as do starting racial traits.
Once you have decided what to research, it would be a good idea to start learning about your galaxy. Send out a scout ship to explore the galaxy, or do it yourself with your starting ship. You can do this by selecting the ship and ordering it to travel to the nearest star outside of your solar system. This will reveal the planets in that solar system, to view the quality of the planets you must send your ship into range of them. You can also follow the recommended practice of ordering your scouts to auto-explore, you can do this through the ship command window.
Early scouting is key to finding suitable planets for your empire to colonize. You may also uncover anomalies in your galaxy which can be utilized to your empire's advantage. As you explore you will encounter alien races that are competing against you to control the galaxy. It is up to you to decide how to deal with them. You can speak to the alien races in the diplomacy screen to make deals with the aliens, to trade with them, to war on them, or just to find a little bit more about them.
When first starting out it is important to be selective about which planets to colonize. A fertility value of 1.0 means that 100% of your colonists would need to be farming to produce enough food to support themselves (not counting racial traits). If you have a planet with high fertility it may be worth it to transport food from there to a planet with low fertility and high richness.
Make sure to pay attention to the three main attributes of a planet: fertility, richness and maximum population. The higher the population the more resources that can be produced on that planet each turn (and the more food that planet will consume).
Once you have your first colony up and running it will be important to make sure it has the resources it needs to grow, including food, production, and more colonists. It is very important to assign freighters to transport colonist and resources to your colonies.
Represented by coins in the top-left, your economy is the net balance between maintenance, taxes, and trade. Your tax rate will directly convert production and research efforts into credits per turn, but will negate them in the process. Remember to avoid debt at nearly all costs, as rebellions will begin to break out across your entire empire.
Everything you build has maintance costs including: buildings, troops, ships and subspace projectors. Don't build every building on each of your planets, be selective. Some building will increase your economic gain dirrectly while others may do so indirectly. However, some will simply cost more than they improve the economy depending of the attributes of the planet.
Eventually you will very likely find yourself in a war. Don't forget to research new military technologies and to design bigger and better ships in the shipyard when the new technologies become available. Also remember, having a weak military makes you a more applealing target to some of the more aggressive races.