Gameplay basics and how to have an enjoyable experience with the current version of the game.
Getting Started with I.T.C.
First time you get started, there is of course the tutorials that give you insight into game mechanics.
The barebone summarization is that you set up routes between colonized worlds, buy ships that fly along these routes and, according to the specifics you set up for your route, take supplied goods and deal with the distant demands. All while you are making a tidy profit and expand operations.
Knowing the mechanics, you pick between Pre-Defined* game and Custom Game**
*single player, AI, cash and Sol preset, score will be tracked and recorded in ranking system at 10/25/50 year progression
** single player, AI, cash, systems, starting system selectable. Score not tracked.
In the games current state, random starting systems are VERY random. It generally causes a slower progression and I recommend keeping standard starting system Sol for your first few games.
Do note that Custom Games with high amounts of systems have extended loading times - With max settings expect anywhere from 1-5 minutes load time, depending upon local hardware performance.
Upon entering the game proper:
Game will start at 01/01/2050 and will not be paused, so take a moment to click the pause button (Or press the spacebar) to make those first day orders.
There will be a Homeworld (Earth), 1st colony (Luna) and 2nd colony (Mars) per norm and these will be your inital targets of exploitation.
Luna provides a solid base income for starters without demanding to much investment. Out of your avaliable starting ships, the Doeing 909, 919 or Spacebus D500 will all earn their own with ease.
TIP: Rockets are also a great way of making money, but a short-term way which requires some forethought when used. Excellent for deploying colonists or snatching up limited supplies!
TIP: I highly recommend specialized setups no matter the ship model- A ship with almost only food or almost only water can be reassigned to new routes as soon as demand has been met.
TIP: You will be able to run 2 ships per 1 gate at this distance, keep that in mind for your strategy.
All colonies have a rather low demand at first which means that simply supplying food & water will only get your company so far. ( Right now, consumer goods are barely cover fuel costs, save yourself the hassle and avoid trading them for now. )
There is also the precious Machinery good. It pays off heftily with each delivery and lets colonies develop. The development level of colonies affect how much food and water they supply on their own so do bear in mind that you will make less profit on your food & water supply when you develop the colonies. Definatly needed sooner or later as population grows and the demand for food will be far greater than the supply. It comes down to how long you are hoping to play.
The way to enhance demand is to provide the colony with additional colonists, expanding their numbers. You can do this in multiple ways. Initially rockets with 1st rate seats do the trick just fine though before long you'll want ships handling steady transit.
NOTE: All wares will 'transfer' some reputation from their origin to their destination. This can explain why your Earth-reputation is dropping down and is useful to know to build on developing worlds. Reputation affects gate-rent costs so it is an important aspect to manage!
There are many individual variations which can be used so don't be afraid to experiment!
TIP: Keep an eye on fuel costs for ships, you will likely want to get rid of inital vessels in favor of more fuel-efficent craft.
TIP: The loan & bond mechanics as it is adds a lot of interesting aspects, don't be afraid to experiment with if you can use these to your advantage. Loans can be repaid early to avoid interest costs and bonds cost very little over time. Use them to your advantage.
Expansion Beyond Luna, Mars & Profits
Once the earlier endevours in the game has passed, more colonies will be popping up - Either because the government bealives it to be a good idea or because you decide to invest your hard-earned cash into motivating a colony at a plantetoid of your choice.
There are multiple reasons for you to take an active part - The government does not always colonize worlds that are interesting or indeed even sustainable.
TIP: Venus rarely seems to be a target for the government colonial program, so this is a great place to spend your cash for a first colony.
As a rule of thumb, the inner orbiting planetoids are most profitable since their orbits will not cause huge lengths of travel, resulting in a maintainable steady supply with a managable number of ships.
In the standard Sol system, examples of these are Mercury and Venus. Easy and swift to grow population wise, they can rapidly become hefty sources of income, far greater than that of Mars.
The Jupiter cluster is as far as the inital vessels can supply at a profit, in case you have a rapid playstyle you should be aware that going beyond that will not be within profit margins for a long time.
Going Beyond Starting System
This is still very much under development so it is a hard and gritty task supplying frontier worlds to try and develop them. Feel free to try it, you might just have gotten lucky. Still, if you really want to go Interstellar and damn it all, there are some things you can do to improve your odds!
- Upon starting a game, pause and check the nearby systems. If you do not find at least 1 high habability planet (that's 80+) in a nearby* system, restart until you do.
- You should give Europe & Titan (Or their dilithium-stacked equivilent) some early attention to ensure dilithium production is stable and can be refined well ahead of the warp-capable ships arrival. That's in 2062.
- When trying to colonize far and beyond, it is important to develop colonies early to ensure that the food supply does not run out before your efforts come to fruitation. Pardon the pun.
- There is an event which currently breaks upon saving & loading so it is best to play until Februrary 2058 in one go to make matters a bit easier for yourself.
- Security stations in new systems are one of the best early on investments you can make there. You are not limited to 1 per planet, get at least 5 and things will be A LOT easier.
- Be mindful of your fuel production, the interstellar supply lines require quite a few ships to get stable. I've generally found that with 2 refineries, I'll always stay ahead with enough dilithium supplied.
*Nearby is right now down to your local settings. There is no measurement tool. For me, my ships can travel about 3-5 cm's (1-2 in.) worth of screen. If a ship insist on "Waiting for dilithium" even though there is an ample supply, that propably means your route is beyond it's reach.
Known Issues, Workabouts and Quinky Dinkys
Some small but useful things to know about how the game acts, be it normality or because of something that is planned to be altered in the future.
- Game lacks measurements and the visuals are very incosistant between systems. Only way to figure out distances right now is sending ships, rockets or some such. Alternatives are in the pipeline.
- Playing with the ship list open can cause a bit of stutter, though this has been greatly improved since release and is now not really noteable until you get 100-200 ships. Pausing while accessing shiplist will help with performance. There is a substantial shipscreen redesign being done right now!
- The maintainance shacks at level 2 and 3 sends out repair ships. They do not do so with proximity in mind, so for now I recommend only uppgrading at central planetoids to avoid watching repair ships creeping across the system. It saves a bit of frustration.
- Supply of Raw Materials is a bit unique as when colonies develop, they will reserve a stash of raw materials to produce their own consumer goods. So raw materials can be troublesome to trade with, even from high-production worlds such as Mercury.
- Route commands for specific goods seems to 'copy paste' when you go from one destination to another and select the same good, even other routes. This can be used to your advantage if you have lots of routes and want to prevent dilithium fuel from being picked up from Earth. Needs to be considered if setting up lots of routes in one go though as it can easily mess up your intentions.
- Year numbers for when ship models are released as well as the yearly reports aren't right at the moment. It will be fixed at some point, low priority stuff since the graph contents are correct.