"The reactor is the beating heart of every ship, the life-force all other systems depend on. A good engineer always listens to his ship and knows when to push her to new extremes. Be bold.” Mauxses Weldon - Assistant Director of Applied Research, W.D. Corp.
The Engineer’s job is to maximize the potential power output for each of the 4 conduits connected to the reactor. The task becomes difficult when total reactor output is smaller than all of the conduits combined, and when reactor temperature overheats the ship, disabling it for a short time. The Engineer is also first responder to damaged or destroyed systems and should be equipped with a repair tool and extinguisher at all times.
The reactor does not blindly expend energy for no purpose. Because of this, the Engineer does not “send” power to the system. Instead they “limit” the amount of power each system can use. The Engineer does this at the reactor screen.
The Reactor Screen
This screen is composed of a temperature gauge, a stability rating, and 5 horizontal bars that fill from left-to-right. See “Core Safety and Meltdown” below for more information on the stability rating. The size of the bars depends on how powerful the currently installed ship components are. The most powerful of the 4 conduits will have the largest bar, and the rest will scale proportionally to that specific conduit. This gives the engineer a quick understanding of how much power every conduit may require.
The four conduits are the top bars in the following order: Engineering, Science, Shields, and Weapons. The bottom bar reflects the total usage of the installed reactor. Simply put, the length of the bottom bar is the total amount of energy the entire ship can use. Each of the four conduits will attempt to take a piece of that bar for their own systems.
The bars fill with blue based on how much power is being allocated. The Engineer can select the limit of how much power each conduit can use by clicking and dragging in the bar to move the white triangle above it. The white triangle indicates the power limit of each component. Setting limits scales the efficiency of any system connected to that specific conduit.
Setting the limit to the bare minimum will effectively disable any systems that are connected to that component.
Each of the 4 conduits is connected to a number of other ship systems:
Engineering - Controls the amount of power that can be sent to the thrusters and warp drive.
Limiting this component will reduce the amount of thrust the ship can produce, and increase the time it takes to charge the warp-drive.
Science - Controls the amount of usable power for the sensors and scanners.
Limiting this component will reduce the ship’s tactical sensor range, potentially allowing discovered ships to disappear from your readings. It will also decrease the effectiveness of any active scans, as well as increase the amount of time it takes to perform one. Atrium regeneration, warp drive calculation and research will also be slowed.
Shields - Controls the amount of power the shield generator can utilize to regenerate any damage to the shields.
Limiting this will slow the shield regeneration process.
Weapons - Controls the amount of power the weapons systems can use.
Limiting this will slow the recharge and reload rate of any ship turrets.
The Auxiliary Reactor Screen
Found in the engineering room and the bridge, this screen’s purpose is to expose the functions and settings of all the auxiliary systems aboard the vessel. These systems are not connected to the main reactor and its temperature.
By default, these settings will be ON. Leaving them on will ensure all of the auxiliary systems remain functional. Turning systems OFF will give the auxiliary reactor a surplus of power. This will automatically be routed to the main reactor and act as a boost in power.
Atrium Healing - Slowly heals crewmembers near the Atrium
Oxygen Gen - Powers the ship’s life support system
Climate Control - Manages temperature / humidity inside the ship (not implemented yet)
Spotlights - Manages the ship’s forward spotlight and those of the turrets
Ship Security - Detects intruders and potentially attacks them (not implemented yet)
Cyber Defense - Uses any installed cyber defense processors to prevent viruses from entering the ship’s computer system
Interior Lights - Manages the lights inside of the ship
Missile Lock On - Drastically increases lock-on speed when turned on.
The Warp Drive Screen
Commonly found at the engineering station on the bridge, the warp drive screen manages the task of preparing the ship for a warp jump. You can start or pause the process at any time. When the warp drive is fully charged and the Pilot has aligned the ship to a sector, the screen will prompt you to engage the drives and jump.
The warp drive screen will also inform you of which sector you will be jumping to. If the ship is not aligned to a sector, the screen will notify you.
Keep in mind, charging the warp drive can cause a noticeable spike in your ship’s EM signature. If there are enemies nearby, they may be alerted of your presence and attempt to intervene.
Under dire circumstances the Captain and Engineer can perform a “Blind Jump”. During a blind jump, the warp-drive dangerously enters warp without proper calculation or charging. This leads to unpredictable and perilous outcomes. Performing a Blind Jump is incredibly risky, with results that can range from the following: warping to a sector within the ship’s warp-range, warping to a random sector anywhere in the galaxy, ending up too close to a star or being destroyed immediately. It is not recommended unless every other option has been exhausted.
The Coolant Screen
While called the coolant screen, it does quite a lot more than cool the reactor.
Coolant is specifically designed to lower or slow the rise of reactor temperature without having to reduce any output. The controls are fairly straightforward:
Off - The pumps are off, and no coolant is being used.
Low - A small but steady stream of coolant is entering the reactor. Temperature should be slightly slowed or even decreasing. The Coolant reserves will be depleting slowly.
High - A large stream of coolant is entering the reactor. Temperature should be drastically slowed or decreasing. The coolant reserves will be depleting quickly.
You can buy more coolant at a trading station. When the coolant reserves have been depleted, the reactor will no longer be cooled.
he Jump Fuel window refers to the amount of fuel capsules onboard the ship. A fuel capsule is required for a ship to jump to a new sector. After jumping to a new sector, a fuel capsule will automatically be expended. Any programs that are in the charge slots will also be charged.
Alternatively, the Engineer can manually load a fuel capsule into a program charging station and charge programs without having to jump to a new sector. Select “Load Fuel” and click on the lever next to the capsule. Expending fuel capsules for jumps and program charging may lead you and your crew to become stranded in a sector when all fuel capsules are exhausted. An observant Engineer should notice the small supply of fuel and attempt to buy more at the next trading station.
If there comes a time when your crew is stranded in a sector, you may have no choice but to send a distress signal to nearby sectors.
The Distress Signal window is used when a crew is unable to warp jump. There are a number of different signals that can be used. Many of these signals have security features which help send specific messages or alert specific people. Flip between the various signals installed on the ship by clicking the up and down arrows. Activate a signal by pressing the ON button. To switch signals, you will first need to turn the active one OFF.
General Distress Signal: By far the most basic signal. Every ship is equipped with a general distress signal. When used, almost anything may show up. It has no security features and anything with long-range scanners can detect it. It is mostly used by civilians, and pirates have been known to head towards general distress signals due to the easy plunder.
Union Distress Signal: Specially designed for officers in the Colonial Union. Union officers may use this signal to alert fellow officers of an emergency.
WD Distress Signal: A secure signal created by the Wolden-Dorf Corporation. Alerts any WD vessels nearby to the emergency.
Black Noise Distress Signal: Created by the Alliance of Gentlemen, meticulously crafted to look like there is no signal at all. Only fine tuned sensors can detect it, and it is used amongst the Gentlemen exclusively.
Some trading stations allow players to purchase and install new signal frequencies. It’s often illegal work since many of the signals are private and secure, but alternate signals could prove to be useful to certain types of crews.
DEV NOTES: The Black noise distress signal is not implemented yet. Trading stations do not yet sell signals. This system is still early.
Core Safety and Meltdown
When the ship’s reactor reaches a critical temperature, an automatic safety system turns the entire ship off momentarily and rapidly cools the core. While the ship is off, you are vulnerable to enemy attacks. The Engineer may choose to disable this system at the Core Safety Toggle station. After the lever is pulled, the green light will turn red and the ship will no longer deactivate itself when reaching critical heat.
By doing this, the Engineer can effectively push the ship farther than the designed limits and keep it running for a bit longer. The reactor can only stay in critical heat for a short amount of time. Eventually, the heat will begin to deteriorate the integrity of the core, causing it to become unstable and meltdown. This is represented by the stability rating to the left of the temperature gauge on the reactor screen. When the stability percentage reaches zero, the core will overload and must be ejected or else it will explode and destroy the ship.
A core meltdown is a very dangerous event. The crew must act fast in order to save the ship. When a meltdown sequence initiates, the reactor screen will no longer function normally. It will display a meltdown timer approximating the moment of the core implosion. Attached to every reactor is a core eject lever. Flipping this lever will eject the core through the bottom of the ship.
Once the core is ejected, the reactor is dead. It no longer exists in the ship components and there is no power going to any conduit. In order to fix this problem and fly as far away from the ejected core as soon as possible, the Engineer will need to use the auxiliary reactor screen to route new power to engineering.
Once engineering has power, the pilot must fly away from the core to avoid as much damage as possible from the core implosion. This is a complex task and must be carried out quickly if the ship and crew have any chance of survival.
Ship Startup Sequence
Every ship is equipped with a Switchboard. This wall mounted device acts as an on/off switch for the entire ship. Turning the ship on requires a six step process, and five of those steps occur here at the Switchboard. When the ship is offline, all screens and systems are disabled. The only screen still on is the Startup Screen seen above to the right.
The Startup Screen will prompt the crew on how to start the ship again with the following steps:
1: Pull the first lever (left)
2: Boot the Ship OS on the Startup Screen
3: Pull the second lever (middle)
4: Prime the warp core on the Startup Screen
5: Pull the third lever (right)
6: System is active. Perform a manual override at the main computer screen to allow access to other systems.
The startup sequence will not work unless the steps occur in the correct order. However, the system will prevent you from performing the steps out of order.
Turning off the ship is a much easier task. Pull the first lever and all power will be immediately cut.
Rebooting the ship is very useful when infected with a virus. Viruses can insert themselves into a ship and cause many harmful effects. Rebooting the ship effectively purges any virus, but takes time to get the ship online again.
There are EMP weapons that can shut down a ship within range of the device. Keep an eye out for these types of weapons.
When a ship is abandoned or in a neutral state, its components can be targeted for extraction. The ship salvage system allows players to select specific components from an abandoned ship and attempt to pull them into their own ship’s cargo.
Extraction is risky, however, as it has the potential to destroy the target abandoned ship along with all of its components. Some components, such as reactors, are more difficult to extract without destroying the target ship. A percentage is displayed on the bottom of the extraction screen, illustrating the chance of success for salvaging each component. Multiple extractions can be performed, but if the ship is destroyed during an extraction, it will not drop scrap.
Installed Component Upgrader
The Installed Component Upgrader can usually be found near the engineering sections of each ship. To use this system, click the arrows to cycle through to the desired component. You can then see the before and after component stats, as well as the required amount of processed scrap to perform the upgrade.
In the upper-right corner of the system you can see the total amount of processed scrap you have. In the Lower-left corner you can see the required amount of processed scrap needed to perform the upgrade.
When you are ready, click "Upgrade" and that component will immediately be upgraded. Its level will be increased by 1.
Some important things to note about the system:
- To upgrade a ship component you must be in a sector with a repair depot.
- The maximum level to which you can upgrade a component is 10.
- Certain components are inherently better than others, so keep that in mind when deciding to upgrade. For example: a level 3 Adelaide Thruster is still less powerful than a level 1 Racing Thruster.
- Certain components (like programs and viruses) cannot be upgraded.
- Currently certain ship processors do not improve when upgraded.
- This ship system cannot be used to upgrade components in the cargo area.
- You must have the appropriate talent in order to perform the upgrade.
To process scrap you must have a scrap component in the cargo section of your ship. Approach the scrap object in the cargo bay and hold “R” to begin the process. To successfully process the scrap you must release “R” at the right moment when the progress visuals meet with the white line.
When you succeed, one processed scrap will be added to the ship. You can view the total number of processed scrap by looking at the upper-right corner of either of the upgrade stations.
Only crew members with the Item and/or Component Upgrader talents may process scrap (The Captain, Weapons Specialist and Engineer start with these).
Each crewmember can fail to process scrap three times per jump before they are prevented from any more attempts.