TextSpaced: An infinite and shared text-based universe.

Getting Started

If you haven't played a text-based game before, you are not alone, text-based games are not common. We are hoping to change that, however, by dragging text-based games into the present based on modern principles unshackled from the constraints of the past. As a web app, TextSpaced can be played on any device with a web browser, allowing you to pick up and play investing as little or as much time as you want, as the perfect companion where there is always something to do. Moreover, the text-based nature makes it accessible and we are pleased that a high percentage of players are blind, enjoying the game through the use of screen-readers and other assistive technology.

TextSpaced has many concepts you may not be familiar with and terms that are seeded from science and science fiction. This basics section aims to help demystify much of this and explain the concepts from the ground up.

The Basics

TextSpaced is a sci-fi MMORPG, this means you are in one shared universe along with other players. When you start the game you create a character and are given a Shuttle as your starting ship. You play the role of the character within the ship and thus there will be circumstances where you can leave your current ship to interact with the world. The entire universe is a living entity with players and non-player characters (NPCs or computer players) going about their business the same as you. When you start the game you choose an ancestry and you can either choose to be “starborn” where you will be the founder of your new faction or choose to be born of an existing factions colony - a player colony, becoming part of their faction starting at the rank of ensign. Put simply, a faction is a collection of players operating under the same name. The general aim of TextSpaced is to make your faction successful in a way you and your faction see fit.

The universe itself is infinite but for ease of understanding is one dimensional - you can think of it as an infinite ribbon where the zero position is the centre of the galaxy and both ends continue into infinity. A position-based system is used by the game to convey where you are, it might read something like #11106.40, meaning you are 11,106.40 light-years from the centre of the galaxy. However, in most circumstances, a more friendly name will be shown in the form of a system name and body name but a position number will always be your absolute position.

Movement in TextSpaced is measuring in light-years, or LYs and each ship has a maximum range it can travel in one ‘FTL jump' and how quickly it can regenerate travel charge used, consuming fuel in the process. The range is measured in LYs, such as the starting Shuttle having a range of 2 LYs, meaning it can move 2 light-years instantly in a single FTL jump. The charge cycle is measured in minutes, a charge cycle of 5 minutes for example means a ship can recharge 0.1 LYs every 5 minutes in real-time. This type of instant travel is called faster-than-light or FTL and can only be performed if the destination is a system, however, you can also travel at sublight speeds to any system or position you require. Travelling at sublight speeds consumes no fuel and simply takes time depending on the sublight speed of your ship, the Shuttle can travel at 0.2 LYs per minute.

A system can either be a solar system or another type of system with bodies and is where structures can be built. The space between systems cannot be built within although you can travel to any position between systems if you require, most commonly this can be needed for missions. The bodies within a system can be all sorts of planets and other spatial oddities and the systems vary in size. Structures can be built on stable ground or around stable bodies and structures provide services to the entire system, such as a Merchant Station structure providing the “trading commodities” service, so that commodities can be traded in that system. The system itself might have been given a name as well as the bodies within that system, this is what is shown when navigating and when within a system.

Layout

The layout of the game is persistent and uses a menu and window based system. At the top of the screen is a large heading letting you know where you are. If you are not in a system this will read as a position number, if you are in a system, this will read as the body you are orbiting followed by the body type and which system the body belongs to (where a body is a planet or otherwise). For instance “New Earth. Garden World, New Sol” informs you that you are orbiting a garden world called New Earth in the New Sol system - this is the same format wherever system and body names are mentioned. It is worth noting that whenever you are in a system you will always be orbiting a body, when you arrive either by FTL travel or sublight travel, you will always be orbiting the systems star or anchor point by default.

On the right edge of the screen are “tidbits”, these are useful pieces of information related to your current location split into 5 categories. The first is bodies and will state the rarest body in the system followed by how many others there are. The second is an indication of how many exotic commodities there are in the system that could be mined, with the most exotic being state. The third category informs you of how many other ships there are at the location, with the strongest ship being listed. The penultimate category is related to structures and will inform you of how many structures there are in the system with the strongest being listed first. The last category of tidbits is around adrift cargo and will inform you of any adrift cargo that can be recovered with the most exotic being listed first.

The bottom right of the screen contains communication channels split into log, system, faction, SOS and spotted. The log channel is a complete log of all actions you perform in the game, including events that might have happened while you were away from the game, additionally, you can type into this channel to write your own log. The system channel is for chatting with other players in the same system and similarly the faction channel for chatting with players in your faction. The SOS channel is an automated channel that contains SOS messages sent from combat and the spotted channel is for combat or adrift cargo spotted by other players in the local area. Upon login, a sound will play once if the channels contain new messages and you have sounds enabled, this is accompanied by a flashing indicator and label.

The primary navigation toggle can be found at the bottom left of the screen and opens to reveal different sections of the game that when clicked will show windows for that section.

Broadly, the first section that bears your name is all about you and your skills. The cargo section is about the cargo you are carrying, adrift cargo and locating cargo. The command section is about remote commands such as structure comma and reviewing faction karma. The computer section contains facilities to search for people and review information, such as the codex. The crafting section is where you perform all crafting and fabrication. The engineering section is where you can review blueprints to ultimately build structures. The helm section is centred around navigation and your local system and contains many ways to find a destination. Missions as expected contain missions available in a system as well as quests you can partake in. Preferences are a non-game section where you can set volume levels and manage your account. The services section is for using the available services at a system such as trade services or amenities. Finally, the tactical section is for reviewing your tactical status and defining your combat deck.

Navigating

An activity you will do often in TextSpaced is finding a destination and travelling there, this could be for various reasons but commonly is to location systems with services that allow you to trade.

Navigation can be done entirely from the helm window and when you open the information panel at the top of this window informing you of your current ship, its current charge and fuel level. The first group of this window is “local” and details bodies within the current system and ships at the current location. Both of these items can be clicked to view more details about them and like most things in the game, have contextual options to perform actions. Commonly, you may need to change your orbit to a different body and this can be done by selecting the orbit option for a body row.

Below the local group is the “nearby” group that lists all of the local systems relative to your current position. Each row within this group tells you the system name, how far away it is and if a faction owns it. Clicking the system name will give you more details about the system (if known) and clicking the faction name will provide details about the faction that owns the system, if applicable. At the bottom of this list of nearby systems is a search field that allows you to search for any system by name with fixed suggestions given for NPC systems. This group also contains the first instance of the “engage” button, that when clicked confirms travel.

The travel confirmation message informs you of your current FTL fuel levels, your charge level and the time it would take to travel to the system at sublight speeds (not using fuel). This allows you to decide whether to use instant FTL travel and consume fuel or spend time travelling at sublight speeds. Once you confirm to engage in either sublight travel or FTL travel you will travel to the destination. During sublight travel, you are informed of your progress both in terms of remaining time and distance but can stop at any time if you wish.

Below the nearby group is the “sublight” group which contains options to explore and the option to travel to a specific galactic position. Travelling to a position is not something commonly done and only really performed by power-users, the explore option is however very useful. Using the explore options you can choose to explore in the negative direction or positive direction. Once in this mode, your ship will automatically travel in that direction at sublight speeds until a system your faction has not discovered is found, in which case your ship will stop there. This is a very useful activity for new factions as the galaxy can provide all sorts of wonder and bounty.

The last group of the helm window is the “services” group, this allows you to filter nearby systems by the services they provide. For example, if you require the port trading service as you wish to buy weapons for your ship, you can select the port trading service to view systems that provide this service. Clicking the engage button will show the same travel confirmation as mentioned before.

What to do first

The Shuttle you start in is a bad ship, it has a low FTL range and will not survive long in combat. You should aim to purchase a new ship as soon as possible and to do this, you will require credits. The ship to aim for is the Battlecruiser, it is civilian design and has no skill requirement. The Battlecruiser costs 150,000 credits and the best way to make credits is to mine and sell the commodities you mine.

To make credits mining you must first find a system that is not claimed by a faction, the easiest way to do this is to use the service filter at the bottom of the helm window. Choosing the option for "mining permitted" will show any unclaimed systems that have commodities to mine, or any systems owned by factions that have permitted mining. Once within an unclaimed system you should review the local body information, this is found at the top of the helm window, and you should find a body that states it has commodities (if none at present repeat the process and find a different system). Clicking a body that has commodities will show its information and further done the window, list all the commodities within the body and a mine button next to each one. Clicking the mine button will begin mining which is an idle activity that will stop automatically once your hold is full. Once your hold is full you will need to locate a system where your haul can be sold for credits. To do this, at the bottom of the helm window filter systems by the “trading commodities” service and navigate to a system listed with this service. If you choose to be the android or clone race you should avoid systems owned by TransGov, as they deem androids and clones illegal and you will not be welcome or be able to trade (if you have forgotten your race, it is noted at the top of the computer window).

When you arrive in a system with the trading commodities service you should open the cargo window by selecting it from the primary navigation. At the top of this window, it lists the cargo you are carrying aboard your ship, next to the commodity you wish to sell, open the contextual menu and select the sell option. This will open a confirmation where you can see how much you are selling your commodity for and decide in what quantity you want to sell it - completing the sale will give you the credits stated. You can now repeat this process to gain more credits.

Once you have enough credits to purchase a Battlecruiser you should head to a Civilian Guild system that has the “ship trading” service, usually, this would be a system named “Oiko”. Once in a system with the ship trading service, you can open the services window from the primary navigation and see the ships on sale within the ships group. When you purchase a ship you are not automatically placed in command of it, it will instead be parked at the location you purchased it. To switch to your new ship you should open the command window and find the group named “parked ships”. The parked ships group lists all ships you have parked regardless of their location, selecting the contextual menu here gives you the option to command the new new. Optionally, once you are in command of your new ship, assuming this new ship has ship bays, you can stow smaller ships within the bays. This can be done by visiting the same parked ships group and sleeting the option of “stow” instead.

Once you have a larger ship with a bigger hold, you can begin completing missions. You will find missions in most owned sectors and the missions to look out for are “raw material” missions that simply invalid delivering commodities in much the same way you minds them. To complete a raw material mission, first, review the mission details by selecting them from the missions menu and then attempt to locate and mine the specified commodity. Once you have mined the correct quantity of the commodity, return to the mission location and select the step option to “unload cargo”, this will complete the mission and give you a credit reward.

Going Forward

Mining is the safest and easiest way to make money to begin with, but there are many different ways you can prosper. Completing missions for example can provide a good return, but failing to complete missions on time will result in your mission completion rate declining (resulting in futurue higher deposits) and loss of karma with the issuing faction.

Trading is another good avenue, as its rather risk-free other than having your credits tied up in goods. To trade, simply find a system offering something for a low price and sell it in a system offering more - this will of course require you to perform some research.

Lastly, for new players, charting and gathering on planets can also provide a good return. To chart a planet, simply find a system that has no owner, travel there and choose the action to chart the planet form the contextual options. Charting takes around 8 hours in real-time but once complete it will reveal what abundant consumables can be collecting from the planet via gathering. Gathering is started in the same manner and is a continuous idle activity until the consumables are exhausted or your hold is full. Once you have collected some consumables, you can sell these at any system that provides the trading consumables service.

For more help, feel free to join our Discord server to converse.

reviews

  1. Roverto Renteria

    Kumar L

    I have to admit... this has totally blown me away, the game HUD makes it feel like I'm a future pilot, the music is awesome and it runs at a pace I can play it... I am so stunned about this.

  2. Karoly Hemm

    Sarah R

    The interface and the accessibility of the game is amazing.

    Unlike similar games, I never found myself stuck once regarding to navigating the interface.

  3. Karoly Hemm

    Jamie S

    This is the most beautiful text-based game I've ever seen.

    It's a masterpiece.

  4. Corey Bailey

    James A

    I look forward to playing this game every day.

    I don't understand how this huge game can be free. Keep up the fantastic job!

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