Getting Started Tutorial

This tutorial provides a step by step guide to starting a simple, self-sustaining colony. It’s written to help brand new users learn Outer Colony and build their first successful settlement!

Table of Contents
Starting a New, Single Player Game
Generating a New World
Faction Selection
Pre-Embarkation Configuration
Selecting an Embarkation Site
Deploying Starting Machinery
Constructing Shelter
Designating Initial Rooms
Moving Your Socialization Area Indoors
Connecting Structures to the Power Grid
Setting Up Sleeping Furniture and Basic Furnishings
Beginning to Mine
Ore Refining: Obtaining Metals and Metalloids
Manufacturing Additional Equipment
Synthesizing Fabric
Manufacturing Essentials: Furniture, Food, Drink, and Attire
Further Building, Providing Individual Rooms
Constructing a Landing Zone, Trading, and Recruiting Migrants
Free Form Construction, Expansion, Building Defenses
Prepare Yourself, Advanced Topics

Starting a New, Single Player Game

From Outer Colony’s main menu screen, click the Single Player button, at the top left of the window.


On the next screen, select the Start New World option to create a new world. Worlds are where the action in Outer Colony takes place, and you’ll have to generate one in order to play.


Generating a New World

Next, you’ll see the world generator screen. This is used to generate new worlds. There are tons of neat options to explore here, but for now, leave all the settings alone, and click the Generate New World button, near the top right of the window. This will generate a small world.

Once a world has been generated, you’ll want to identify a good spot for building your colony. Switch to the biome display by choosing Display: Biome from the display drop down box, near the top left of the screen.


Tropical dry forest, magnetite, and komatiite / basalt / QBR – an ideal start!

To look for a good starting location, click on the map to view details about areas in the world. For the easiest starting spots, I suggest a warm biome with moderate rainfall. Savanna and tropical dry forests are ideal for farming. Look in the Selected Area Info box on the right of the screen, and pay attention to the resources present. You’ll want to make sure that there’s at least one good ore for metals and one for metalloids.

Ideal metal bearing ores: Argentite, Bauxite, Braggite, Calaverite, Carnotite, Cassiterite, Chalcopyrite, Chromitite, Cobaltite, Galena, Goethite, Impact Crater Rock, Magnetite, Sperrylite, Sphalerite, Titanite

Ideal metalloid bearing ores: Basalt, Essexite, Komatiite, Obsidian, Quartz Bearing Rock, Trachyte

You may have to generate several worlds until you find a perfect starting spot. Once you’ve found an ideal location, click the Embark button at the bottom right of the window.

Faction Selection

After world generation, you’ll see the faction selection screen.

Choose your colony’s faction and archetype culture and click Next. You can find out more about the Core Worlders, Clans of Dagoroth, Surssians, and Kelgonians here.

Pre-Embarkation Configuration

After faction selection, you’ll see the the pre-embarkation configuration screen.


Here, you can customize your starting personnel and equipment. If you’re embarking in a warm biome, you can leave the default configuration alone and click the Embark button at the bottom right of the window to proceed.

Selecting a Landing Site

Next, you’ll be presented with a view of the world.

Tip: To navigate to the site you identified during world generation, click the World Map button, from the toolbar on the right side of the screen. This is the button that looks like a projected globe,shown here:


From this screen, click the area you want, then click the Warp to Selected Zone button to move there.

Once at the selected area, click the Select Embarkation Site button. This is the one that looks like a spaceship. Finally, click the spot on the world where you would like your crew to land. A shuttle carrying your team will appear, land, and drop off your starting colonists.


With your colonists on world, you’re now ready to start building!

Deploying Starting Machinery

Heavy machinery is an important part of any colony, as it’s needed for power generation, material processing, manufacturing, and more. Each colony starts with a few pieces of equipment, and I recommend deploying these right away so they can begin to function. We’re going to deploy several power plants, an ore refinery, and an equipment manufacturing station, which will all be present in your starting stockpiles if you left the default embarkation configuration alone.

See the item placement section of Room Designation and Item Placement tutorial for details covering how to place items in the world. You will want to set up both of your wind generators, both of your solar generators, your ore refinery, and your equipment and heavy machinery manufacturing station so that they’re all next to each other, in a group, as shown here:


With this machinery set up, you’ve got a small power grid and the machinery required to refine ore and manufacture more complex machinery. The basics you need to move forward are all set up.

Constructing Shelter

Next, you’ll want to construct shelter to get your colonists indoors and protected from the elements. You start out with a few light structures, which are portable and easy to deploy. Following the steps in the light structures tutorial, construct your all weather shelters in the positions shown below. Note that they need to be deployed on level terrain (covered below), but your landing area is leveled by the drop ship.


Your first two light structures, deployed.

Designating Initial Rooms

Now that your first two structures are built, you have to specify how they can be used by your colonists. The next steps involve viewing elevation data, viewing specific Z levels, and generally understanding world structure in Outer Colony. To this point, we’ve been viewing the world from the top down, but we’ll be using different views to issue orders and explore the world. If you’re not yet familiar with how 3 dimensional space works in Outer Colony, read this tutorial before you proceed.

We’ll want to work with the inside of our two buildings next, so check the View Interiors option in the view controls, near the minimap in the top right corner of the screen. This will show you what’s inside your two buildings, like the view below. Click the View Elevation option, too, to see the absolute altitude of (the Z level) of what’s shown from the top down view.


Viewing elevation data and interiors.

You can see that both buildings are empty on the inside, and that they’re occupying Z level 51. Using the view controls, switch to the Z level that your structures occupy (in my case, 51), by selecting View Z Level and typing 51 into the corresponding text box. Now, you’ll see a view of the 51st Z level, with levels below shaded in light gray.


Viewing a specific Z level.

Using this view, we’ll first establish communal rooms inside each structure. This will designate the interiors for use by all your colonists, rather than having them belong to specific people. See the room management tutorial for details on how to designate rooms, but you can do this by selecting the room designation tool, clicking a space inside a structure, and choosing the Communal Room option. Do this for each building. You can check that this worked correctly by clicking the Advanced View Options button, which looks like an eye, and selecting the Room Data option.

This will show rooms in green, while showing non-room areas in red. If you specified the rooms correctly, your colony should look like the screenshot below:


Your first two communal rooms, correctly established.

Once you’ve verified that the rooms have been established, you can open the Advanced View Options menu again and select None to return rendering to normal.

Moving Your Socialization Area Indoors

Right now, your colonists are still milling about outside, potential in the cold or rain, like my example here. You’ll want them to spend their time indoors for a variety of reason, using the structures you’ve just created. Colonists spend most of their leisure shifts and free time in their private rooms or socialization areas. Socialization areas are designated places where your colonists can gather to socialize. One of these is created by default when you first embark, but it’s made outdoors as a mere placeholder until you can establish someplace better, like we did in the step above.

You can read the area designation tutorial for more details, but for now, we want to create a new socialization area indoors and then delete the existing socialization area, making our NPCs gather inside. While still in the Z level view, open the Advanced View Options dialog again, and select View Area Designations. This will show you where the existing socialization are is, like the image below:

Use the are designation tool, which looks like a tiled, green circle, to create a socialization area inside one of your structures. Make sure you’re on the right Z level view, select the tool, and left click + drag your mouse over the interior of the building. When you release the mouse button, the Designate Area window will appear, as shown below.


Leave the top option of Create Area Designation selected, and choose Socialization Area from the list. Click OK to create the new area.

Next, we have to delete the existing area. While still viewing the correct Z level and with the area designation tool selected, left click and drag over the tiles that contain the old socialization area. This time, choose Delete Area Designation from the Area Designation dialog, and select Socialization Area from the list (indicating that you want to delete the selected socialization area). This will remove the outdoor socialization area, causing your colonists to move to the new one, indoors. When this process is done, your colony should be looking like the image below, with only one socialization area and all of your colonists indoors.


Since we don’t need to view areas anymore, you can open the Advanced View Options window again and select None, returning rendering to normal.

Connecting Structures to the Power Grid

Next, you’ll need to connect your structures to the power grid. With access to power, powered equipment that’s inside rooms, like lights and machinery, can run. To connect your structures to power, follow the steps described in the free form construction article on your Z level view to build power lines from your power plants and machinery to your structures, as shown in the screenshot below. Make sure that the power lines are adjacent to each building’s exterior.


Connecting buildings to the power grid.

Setting Up Sleeping Furniture and Basic Furnishings

By now, a few hours have passed since your colonists landed. While colonists won’t take any leisure time for a while, eventually their work shifts will expire, and they’ll need a place to sleep. If no sleeping furniture is available in any rooms, they’ll sleep on the ground, which will be uncomfortable and yield bad experiences and harm moods. As such, you’ll want to deploy the cots that you have as soon as possible.

While still viewing structure interiors on their Z level, use the item placement tool just like you did for setting up the heavy machinery to deploy the cots. You’ll want to place them in your secondary structure, the one that does not contain the socialization area. Without a socialization area, this will be a quiet room, ideal for the communal sleeping space.


Cots deployed in the second structure. Your colonists will sleep well here when they eventually need to.

Beginning to Mine

Now that your colonists have basic shelter and a place to sleep, we need to start producing items that the colony needs. Many essential raw materials are obtained by mining, which is covered in detail in the mining tutorial. In order to mine effectively, we’ll have to identify the location of useful ores underground. Use the tile inspection tool and the Z level view to explore underground levels by specifying Z level values below the surface (in my case, levels of 50 and below), until you’ve found one that contains a cache of ore.


Once you’ve found a good level, select the mining tool (the button that looks like a jack hammer) from the toolbar. This will cause mining meta-order tools to appear, including the Construct Mine Shaft tool. Return to the top down view, click the Mine Shaft Construction tool, select a location for the mine shaft, and follow the instructions in the mining tutorial to issue mine shaft construction orders down to the desired Z level.


Issuing orders to construct a mine shaft that extends to Z level 47.

Orders to dig out the necessary tiles and build stairs will automatically be issued. When completed, your mine shaft’s stairwell will extend down to the desired Z level. Return to the Z level view, and once the stairs have reached the desired Z level, select the Issue Mining Order tool (the jack hammer button) again. This tool is used to specify locations to mine by clicking and dragging it across tiles.


Workers mining underground.

Follow instructions in the mining tutorial to mine tiles that contain ores. Extracted ores will automatically be transported to appropriate stockpiles.


While some of your workers mine for ore, you can set the rest to work growing crops. By the default embarkation configuration, you’ll start with seeds for 3 types of crops: zronen (an easy to grow grain), xen berries (a high sweetness fruit), and grennage (an easy to grow vegetable).

From the top-down view, select the Plant Crops tool, click and drag across tiles, and select the species to plant to issue crop planting orders. Follow the instructions in the farming tutorial, and your farmers will start to till land and plant seeds.


Farmers tilling ground and planting seeds.

Grain is the most essential sort of crop for providing basic sustenance, so be sure that, at a minimum, you plant some zronen to start. The temperature and precipitation levels in a warm biome should be sufficient for seeds to grow without irrigation, and once the plants have sprouted, grown, and matured, orders will be issued to harvest the crops automatically.

Ore Refining – Obtaining Metals and Metalloids

Once your miners have transported ores to your stockpiles, you’ll need to refine the raw rock to obtain the metals and metalloids you need for manufacturing. Since we set up an ore refinery in the machinery deployment step above and it’s connected to our power grid (which, by now, should have generated enough power), everything is ready for refining.

The material refining tutorial describes ore refinery thoroughly, and it should be consulted for details. To refine ores, select the Material Processing tool, choose an ore, and specify the quantity you want refined. Use the Encyclopedia Tool to determine which materials are yielded by refining which ores when making your choices.


Issuing an order to refine 80,000 volumetric units of magnetite, which will yield iron.

A worker will calibrate the ore refinery and deposit the necessary materials for processing. After time, the ore will be converted to elemental metals and metalloids, and these will automatically be carried from the refinery to a nearby stockpile.

Manufacturing Additional Equipment

Manufacturing items is an extremely important part of your colony’s progression, and a variety of new machinery will be needed to make all the things your colonists will need. Follow the manufacturing tutorial to manufacture the following items at your equipment and heavy machinery manufacturing station. These additional pieces of equipment are needed to synthesize important materials and manufacture other essential items:

  • Water Vapor Extraction Station X 2 (or more)
  • Fabric Synthesis Station X 1
  • Furniture & Consumer Goods Manufacturing Station X 1
  • Food & Drink Manufacturing Station X 1

Once manufacturing is complete, place all of this new equipment such that it’s connected to the power grid. Take care to place your food and drink manufacturing station so that it’s adjacent to the water vapor extraction stations.


Deploying the second group of machinery in preparation for more advanced manufacturing.

This connects it to your water vapor extraction stations, which comprise your newly built water grid. Over time, the water vapor extraction stations will draw moisture from the atmosphere, creating potable water that can be used in manufacturing and consuming power in the process.

Synthesizing Fabric

Next, we’ll use the fabric synthesis station we deployed in the previous step to produce fabrics. Fabrics comprise an important class of materials that are needed to manufacture many essential furniture and attire items. Follow the material synthesis tutorial to issue orders to produce fabric by clicking the material synthesis tool, selecting a fabric to synthesize, and specifying a quantity to produce.


Issuing material synthesis orders to produce mineral wool from basalt.

Manufacturing Essentials: Furniture, Food, Drink, and Attire

At this point, the colony has sufficient infrastructure to manufacture most bare necessities to sustain your population. It’s wise to start monitoring your colony’s supplies and other metrics, manufacturing food and drink, and deploying additional power plants and water processing infrastructure as necessary. Your starting supplies should last quite a while longer, but as your population grows, infrastructure requirements will increase rapidly.

As the first world day draws to a close, your colonists’ work shifts will start ending, and they’ll begin to partake in leisure activities. To support leisure activities and keep your population’s happiness high, you’ll have to meet various requirements. Furnish rooms as well as possible by manufacturing high quality furniture from luxurious materials, like precious metals. Build datanet terminals and deploy them inside powered, communal rooms. Your colonists crave media, and if there aren’t enough datanet terminals to facilitate media production and consumption, they will become unhappy. You’re going to need bedding to furnish individual rooms, which your colonists will need once they start getting married and forming families.

To meet these needs, I recommend manufacturing the following items as soon as possible:

  • Datanet Terminals – Satisfy media-related needs.
  • Furniture to Improve Rooms (Potted Plants, Chairs, Tables, Sculptures, etc.) – Improve room scores.
  • Simple Bed – An easy to manufacture but good quality sleeping item.
  • Simple Lamp – All of your rooms need lighting during dark hours, or room score is vastly degraded.
  • Sets of clothing that include at least shirts, pants, and footwear – Needed to clothe newly born people.

Now rooms have better furnishing, after the second wave of manufacturing. Note the lamps and interior lighting.

Deploy these items in existing rooms and your starting colonists should be satisfied during their first leisure period. Your colonists should harvest the first crop of zronen soon, too, and at first, I recommend manufacturing brown bread as food and bottled water as drink.

Further Building, Providing Individual Rooms

By now, the first world-day has probably passed, and your colonists have had some time to socialize with each other and develop relationships. Depending on the sorts of people you have, romantic relationships may have developed, and couples may even have gotten married. When this happens, they need individual rooms for their families, or they will become upset. Now is a good time to view your colony’s burgeoning social network. From the menu bar at the top of the screen, select Information -> Colony Social Network Visualization. You’ll see your colony’s social network graph, which may look somewhat like this:


The social network graph of a young colony.

Note the husband and wife links, as well as a boyfriend and girlfriend link. The married pairs will demand their own rooms for building their families. From the menu bar at the top of the screen, select Information -> Colony Requests to view the requests that your colonists have logged.

We’re going to need to provide rooms for these two married couples. Also, once a pair get married in my colony’s parent culture (Surssian), they might reproduce, so a child care area will be needed soon. We’ve got to build more. To make this happen, do the following:

  • Decide where to build your new structures and level the terrain there. Structures have to be built on level terrain, so use the level terrain tool (covered in the mining tutorial) to level a wide area for the new buildings.
  • Deploy the remaining light structures, just how we did with the first two earlier in the tutorial.
  • Manufacture some chemistry set toys. Children benefit from playing with toys, so we’ll get these ready for the first generation born in our colony.
  • Connect the new structures to the power grid by building power lines.
  • Furnish the structures with sleeping items (like beds or cots), give each a lamp, give rooms a Datanet terminal (if you want their owners to be able to access and create media from home), and furnish the rooms with luxurious items.
  • Deploy extra bedding and the chemistry sets to the room you intend to use as a child care area.
  • Create a child care area designation inside the room that you want to use for this purpose.
  • Create a communal room inside the building that’s being used for child care.
  • Create individual rooms inside the other buildings, assigning them to the colonists requesting rooms in the requests window.

After the second wave of building, your colony will look like this.

Population and wealth will soon start to grow, and further steps will need to be taken to provide more housing, more elaborate building, and defense of the colony.

Constructing a Landing Zone, Recruiting Migrants

Interacting with the rest of the galaxy via trade and migration are very important aspects of a colony’s progression. To facilitate this interaction, your colony will need a landing zone that’s large enough to accommodate spacecraft, and we’ll build just such a landing zone next. Detailed requirements for landing zones can be found near the bottom of the Area Designations article, but in general, do the following to build one:


An XRT shuttle arriving at the landing site, carrying the first trade mission. Note the area designation view, showing the landing site in green.

By this point, I’m usually ready for a population boost from the next wave of migrants. Read the trade tutorial and engage in trade to acquire currency, materials, and items your colony needs. Read the migration tutorial and follow its steps to recruit your next group of colonists, as this population boost will greatly increase the productive capacity of your settlement.

Free Form Construction, Expansion, Building Defenses

At this point, you should have a sizable work force, ample resources for construction, and the capacity to expand. Concurrently, you’re facing a growing social network and expanding requirements of food, drink, housing, and more. You’ll want to start building in as efficient a manner as possible to accommodate these growing needs and to free up resources for defense and prestige projects. At this point, I usually engage in the following activities:


By the end of the first spring, the colony is established and off to a good start!

If you’ve made it through this tutorial, you should now have a small, but functional and largely self sufficient colony. Congratulations!! But don’t rest on your laurels, as you’ll now need to prepare yourself for the exogenous challenges that lie ahead.

Prepare Yourself, Advanced Topics

At this point, your colony is sufficiently large, wealthy, and established to attract the attention others. A variety of events, some fortuitoussome unpleasant, and some in between, will start to occur in and around your colony.


A shipwreck near my colony’s borders.

You’ll want to make sure that your colony is prepared to deal with emerging threats and to take advantage of opportunities. Explore these advanced topics to grow and shape your colony into the sort of civilization you want, so that you can survive against the many challenges of life in the galactic periphery:

Posted in Game Design