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3.2.1 What command screens are available? Why don't all the F-keys work?

The interface is slightly bewildering, with different screens designed with similar buttons in completely different places. You can walk between different rooms on your command ship, which is pretty at first, but ultimately wastes time. Consider using F-keys to navigate between screens. Certain screens can only be accessed once you have achieved a specific rank. Here is the full list of screens:

3.2.2 How do I change the speed?

Use the arrow like controls in the top left of the screen, or press 1, 2, or (later in the game) 3. The button in the corner of the screen freezes the game (as does pressing Space), but still allows you to issue commands and make changes within the game. Ground battle speed can pre-set on the options screen (Esc).

3.2.3 How do I switch between colonies from the surface view?

Either (1) use +/- to cycle between colonies (these keys work from the Colony screen within Information, and are useful for browsing through your empire to look for problems); (2) click Planets, pick a new planet from the list, and then click Colony or press F3; or (3) click Starmap or press F2, click on a new planet or use the Prev/Next buttons top right, and then click Colony or press F3.

3.2.4 Why can't I zoom out? How do I view the whole map?

Initially only a small part of galaxy is visible. As you gain further ranks more of the map will become available. By Admiral the whole map can be seen. The starmap has three different mouse modes - Normal, Scroll and Zoom. Scroll enables scrolling when clicking the right mouse button. Zoom changes the left mouse button to zoom in, the right to zoom out.

3.2.5 How do I view messages?

Go the bridge and select the panel on the right of the screen. Click play, then click on the message. Don't be alarmed by the tendency of characters' speech to not match their mouth movements :-/ .

3.2.6 Can I communicate with aliens and other shipping?

At Grand Admiral rank you gain basic diplomacy features - see Aliens and Diplomacy below. In battles you can communicate with opposing ships by using one of the screens in the bottom half of the battle interface. Select the text box screen by using the buttons on the far left or right of the screen. Then click on the first line of text to start a conversation (in some cases there will be a choice of text). Such communication can be done whilst the battle is paused.