YOU ARE THE FLEET COMMANDER
TRAVEL TO SOLAR SYSTEMS
Utilise the Cascade Core to enter breach space. Conduits between systems are dangerous, and many ships have gone missing since the dawn of cascade technology. Breach gates throughout the Near Earth Territories provide focal points for re-emergence into normal space, which minimises the risk. The conduit doubles as a loading screen whilst the next system is generated.
ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION
Re-emerge into normal space at a system beacon or still-functioning breach gate. Departure from this system depends on locating further beacons or gates throughout the system. Each departure point leads to a different solar system, presenting a non-linear path for the fleet to take on its journey, with room for re-playability as you explore previously rejected or missed system options.
CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS
Zoom out to the tactical map to see what planets, moons and other POI are present in the system. You will need to explore more thoroughly by sending out scout ships or drones launched from your carriers, with the tactical picture filled in as you gather information about planet types and surface sightings, ultimately seeking out the resources you need to keep the fleet functioning.
SAFETY IN NUMBERS ?
Do you divide the fleet? Keep everyone together? The answers to these questions depends on what you hope to find in the system. If there are several juicy mining options, you might want to split the fleet up into smaller groups which can work autonomously together. Either way, it's time to send the fleet into the system proper.
TAKE WHAT YOU NEED TO SURVIVE
PLAN YOUR SURFACE EXPEDITIONS
Fill in your knowledge of a planet surface by performing scans from orbit, with different scan types able to detect life, minerals or technology. Once you have a better idea of what is down there and where you need to be, decide on a landing location and staging point for your ground operations. Launch the dropships from your carriers to deploy units to the ground itself.
UTILISE YOUR SUPPORT UNITS
Support units come in numerous types: some ferry units to and from a planet surface, others ferry cargo between ships of the fleet, whilst yet others are built for passenger transfer. Support units are not controlled directly, they are queued up for tasks as you request them. If a carrier only has two dropships and you want to land four ground units, you'll need a return trip for each!
Whilst there are several ways to gather resources from surface veins, the one you'll use to get things kickstarted is the Golem unit, a walking mech suit that can lay foundations for buildings and actively mine basic ores such as coal, iron and quartz. The rate that resources can be gathered depends on the tools used and the base resistance of the mineral. Every unit has its own inventory and maximum storage capacity, so you'll need to keep this in mind as you harvest!
BUILD GROUND BASES
Your stay on a planet may not be permanent, but since fuel, ammunition and food supplies are physicalised items, you're going to need a home base to operate out of and expand your reach. A ground base can also give your passengers an opportunity to get out of the cramped interiors of the fleet. Build defensive positions, generators, refineries and fabrication plants as required.
EXPLORE THE REMAINS OF THE COLONIES
Mining isn't your only option for gathering the resources you need. Exploring abandoned cities and colony ruins can pay off just as well for finding the things you need to survive. Find blueprints for the technology you'll need to thrive, luxury items, salvage units and parts, and even survivors hiding out. But not all those you come across will be friendly...
ADAPT YOUR TECHNOLOGY TO MEET NEW THREATS
MODULAR SHIPS & UNITS
Your assets start from a basic Structure type, with each structure offering the ability to house a certain number of modules or attachments, and describing the base defensive properties of the ship or unit itself. From there, you can choose to prioritise how you make use of the available free space, and make choices that directly impact your resource consumption. More weapons mean more drain on power reserves; more storage space means less everything else!
TAKE A BREATH WITH ACTIVE PAUSE
With the fleet potentially spread throughout the solar system, and surface expeditions happening simultaneously across multiple worlds if so desired, you might want to pause the action for a moment to consider the tactical situation. Continue to give commands during active pause, and watch these commands be executed as soon as the normal flow of time resumes.
PEOPLE ARE YOUR MOST VITAL RESOURCE
Ship modules and equipment need to be manned, fighter craft require pilots, and construction projects need engineers. You can make use of drones for some tasks, but trained personnel are at the heart of your fleet and its chances for survival. Scientists develop new technology, marines make use of your weaponry, and medics deal with injuries and keep everyone healthy.
Make a discovery by finding something new and interesting, be it an unknown mineral, plant, fauna or artefact. By acquiring or capturing samples of this substance, you can then allocate scientists to projects designed to find new applications, and enhance existing ones. Each new sample can lead to several branches of technology being opened up, and entire trees of research upgrades can be missed if you don't find enough time to explore what's out there!
FIGHT TO DEFEND THE LAST OF HUMANITY
Space battles generally take place in orbit of a planet, with the fleet capable of moving freely around the orbital sphere to intercept any would-be aggressors. Fighter craft are more nimble than the capital ships of the fleet, which require more time to adjust course and re-position themselves. Weapons platforms and space stations can also be thrown into the mix, with most gun batteries utilising projectile ammunition and guided missiles.
Engage in conventional RTS ground combat where necessitated, with surviving factions local to a planet not taking kindly to you encroaching on their scavenged territory, or just outright believing you to be 'the enemy'. Units can be tailored to a specific tactical function, and new units built to replace those that are lost. But parts take time and materials to construct, it's better to avoid losing assets wherever possible!
FIGHT A REARGUARD ACTION
Eventually 'the enemy' fleet is going to find you and enter the system in pursuit. Once this happens retreat should be your immediate concern-- evacuate your expeditionary forces, take stock of as much resources as you can, finish building materials and parts, and begin to rally your people towards the next system departure beacon. You can work to slow them down if you need more time to assemble the fleet, but defeat is inevitable. Flight is your only recourse!
AND SO IT BEGINS ANEW
Hopefully your time in the last system was worthwhile, and you managed to build or fabricate some much needed supplies, food, fuel or ammunition to keep your passengers fit and well, and to keep faction unrest from brewing over. Power cores need to be kept alight, structures need to be maintained, and expeditionary forces will need to be replenished. If not, well, maybe the next system will provide a better opportunity than the last...