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Q. I connected to the game, but I'm not sure where to begin. How do I play this thing?

When you enter the game, you first will be asked to provide a name for
your character. Then you may select a home empire, either the Federation,
Thargoid, Independent, or Unclassified. You may also select an
occupation: TRADER, NAVY or POLICE. You will see a letter of congratulations,
and for those who selected Trader or Police the following screen will list a
few ships that are available for you to buy so you can begin your career.
You have only 200000 credits with which to buy one, so you will basically be
limited to the Cobra, Krait, Adder, Viper, or *puke* Yugo. Offer a few hundred
credits or so below the asking price. Learning how to bargain will save you a
few bucks! Naval officers will be automatically assigned a Corvette.
Once you purchase you ship, you will be faced with a screen that is
blank other than the status line at the top of the screen and the MAIN> prompt.
Typing '?' at almost any prompt will get you a list of commands.

  If you are a trader, type "t" to purchase some cargo. Try to buy something simple at a
low price first, like food at 1 credit or minerals at 7 or less. Police and
Navy should not buy any cargo. You're not being paid to trade! Instead, police officers
should buy whatever fuel and/or equipment they need, then jump to the next planet.
Scan vessels using your advanced sensors to see if they carry any contraband. You
may attack them if they do. Turn in any seized narcotics at the police station
(PO command at the MAIN menu). Naval officers should follow their orders, given to them
when they jump. Attack any enemy vessels. 

  Enter 'j' at MAIN> and you will see a list of planets in jump range. Choosing a planet 
will cause you to activate your hyperspace drive and leap into orbit around it. You will 
want to type 'l' to land. If a ship attacks you, fire missiles or your laser at it. If your
adversary abandons ship, you may board it and take the cargo if there is any
available. If you have a mining laser, you may also fire it at asteroids to
mine them for minerals or gold. If you have 1000 credits, you can board a
starbase to replenish fuel, missiles and energy. Once you land on the planet,
you may sell or buy more cargo if a trader, or turn in contraband if a police
officer. Various equipment may also be purchased on the ground.

  If another ship demands to board you, you may Send the word "accept" or
"refuse", or just remain silent and stall for time. If you're quick, you may be
able to outrun them before they become impatient and blow you to bits. :-)

  You will want to buy a few items within your budget to sell at another planet.
Since the object is to buy low and sell high, you will want to keep track of
what is a low or high price for each item. For example, minerals can range from
5 to 16 credits a ton normally. You will not be very successful at first, but
eventually you will know what is a fair price for most items. On the way,
you'll encounter somewhat unfriendly pirates who would like to take your
hard-earned cargo. Show them what it's like to be on the business end of a
laser. Enemies who abandon ship can be boarded and relieved of their cargo.
Abandoned vessels can also be towed to a starbase if you have a tractor beam
and repaired or sold for scrap.

  Galactic Police officers have the advantages of a steady paycheck and a free
space vessel, which is replaced even when abandoned in a war zone. However,
they may not trade, except to sell items confiscated from renegade pirates.
This task is made easier by using your sensors to scan other vessels' holds.
Contraband may not be sold, but must be turned in at starbases or on the
planet in exchange for a small bonus and points toward a promotion. Officers
may also dock for free at starbases. GalPol salaries increase as you gain in
experience. You may only be a police officer on Federation planets.

  Officers of the Imperial Fleet also get a steady paycheck based on performance
and start with a relatively powerful Corvette-class vessel. However, they may
not trade, although they can sell any cargo "liberated" from enemy vessels. You
cannot purchase a new ship- instead a more powerful command is assigned to you
when earned. In addition, you must follow orders to patrol certain planets when 
received. You may dock for free at starbases. Your salary increases with your
victories. You may only be in the Navy on Federation planets.