General Technical Issues are covered by a later section. On this page:
3.1.1 What does the hard difficulty level change?
From the manual - all your equipment must be made before it appears on your new ships, your colonies generate less income, you start with less credits, and your spacecraft shields are weaker. Aliens are more aggressive and tend to make better decisions, in theory making them overall more challenging opponents.
3.1.2 The computer voice is annoying. Can I turn off?
Yes. Toggle it on/off via the options screen (press Esc or O). You will still get important audio cues for things like new messages, but you won't be told continually which screen you are looking at.
3.1.3 Why aren't buildings being repaired when I turn auto-repair on?
You probably do not have enough spare cash to repair damaged buildings. Use this option with care.
3.1.4 Are there multiplayer or free-play modes?
There is no multiplayer support. There is no specific free-play mode - you must first complete the initial storyline and missions. Once you have completed these, the game becomes more open-ended.
3.1.5 Can I stop the CD-ROM being accessed every time I look at the Equipment and Research screens?
Yes. If you have enough hard drive space, try copying folders Eq_anims and Eq_animw from Disc 2 into the main game directory on your hard drive.