So you've never played the game before and you're looking to get started. Sweet. New players are totally awesome and there are a ton of people playing on the servers who love to help you get going. However, even they can't help you if you don't have understanding on how the very basics work. So let's get started on that!
Step 1: Download BYOND
Build Your Own Net Dream (or BYOND for short) is the platform that Space Station 13 runs on. We aren't going to lie - it's pretty bad. It's mostly held together with equal parts duct tape and prayer, and it took numerous attempts to work around the slipshod code to make it so it could be played with minimal latency. You will likely be cursing BYOND at least once. The sooner you get used to this, the better off you'll be.
Step 2: Find the appropriate server
Since the vanilla version of Space Station 13, many servers have branched out in their own ways and developed many different ideas. Many have borrowed code from one another, but most of them are different in some way. Since you're reading up on Goonserv, you're going to want to look for LLJK US 1, LLJK US 2, LLJK US 3 or LLJK EU 4, hosted by the Galactic Order of Oppressive Neckbeards.
Successfully connecting to a server will bring you to the screen shown to the left. It's very likely that you'll catch any given server in the middle of a round. The menu options when you just join are:
Character Setup -- Set your name, cosmetic appearance preferences, and Occupation Preferences, which allows you to choose which jobs you would prefer to have or not have, including whether or not you want to be an antagonist. Until you get a hang of the game you probably don't want to try being one (which is the default) or messing with tricky jobs.
Declare Ready -- Hit this to play. If the round is in the pre-game countdown, you will be assigned a role based on your preferences and placed on the station when the game starts. If the round has already begun, you'll get a popup asking you to pick an available job, and you will begin on the Arrival Shuttle.
Observe Round -- You won't play this round, but you get to fly around as a ghost and see everything that's going on. After choosing this you can't switch to being a player until the next round.
The User Interface is a bit tricky at first.
The left side of the screen is the game window. It is centered on your character. You can move around with the arrow keys, or hit TAB to toggle WASD mode. The right side of the screen is the info box and chat window. At the bottom of the screen is a text parser where you can type in what you want to say, or certain commands.
- To talk out loud, you say "whatever"
- To talk over the radio, you say ";whatever"
- To speak over a specific job channel over the radio, you say ":h Honk!"
- To get help from a mentor, enter mentorhelp and a popup box will appear.
In the game window, left clicking is the basic interaction. It's based on your hands. At the bottom of the screen is your character interface. You have a Right Hand and Left Hand, and the highlighted hand is your current active hand. You can click your other hand slot to switch hands.
How your character interacts depends on what's in your hands, what you are interacting with, and what your intent is-- the four small colored hand icons. Clicking something with an empty hand will often try to pick it up (if an object), use it (if machinery), or shake/grab/punch it (if another player or creature). If you have something in your hands you will attempt to use it on whatever you're targeting. Things in the world react differently to different objects, and if nothing else happens, the default action is to simply hit the targeted object with whatever is in your hand. You will get feedback on your actions in the chat window.
Right-clicking on a thing brings up a menu list of verbs. Common verbs are Examine (gives a description of whatever), Pull, Pick Up, or Drop. Verbs may change depending on the object and how close you are to it.
Equipment & Indicators
The row at the bottom of the screen shows your equipment and inventory. You can click the 'INV' button to bring up/close an extension showing equipped clothing. If you click the 'INV' button with something in your active hand, you will automatically equip it, if possible. If there is already an object in the relevant spot it will switch places with whatever is in your active hand.
Your backpack, belt, and pockets are extra places to store things, simply click an empty slot with your active hand to stow away whatever you've got (if it will fit). Clicking your backpack with an empty hand will bring up a small window showing everything in it.
At the top right-side corner of the game screen is the health indicator. You begin at 100 and your indicator will turn red as you take more damage. If you enter critical health you will occasionally lose consciousness and be unable to interact until you recover. Other Health Indicators may appear adjacent and typically mean that there is something wrong/dangerous about the area you are in.
The other buttons on your main interface--
- Intent Settings determine what you will do when you interact with another person or creature and have an empty active hand. The green hand is Help, which will shake someone up or attempt CPR. The yellow hand is Disarm, which tries to knock something out of someone's hands. The orange hand is Grab, which is aggressive and can lead to choking someone. The red fist is Harm, which will punch or kick someone.
- The small picture of a person is Target Settings, click part of it to choose what part of the body you want to target when you are interacting with another player. You don't really need to worry about this if you're just starting out.
- Run/Walk toggles between movement speeds; you generally want to stick with Run.
- Pull is the top-right button on the bottom right side of the bar. It will be lit with orange around its border if you are currently dragging something, and you can click on it to release the object.
- Resist is the bottom-left button of the bunch, and it has a few specific applications.
- Rest/Stand toggles between standing up or lying down. There's a small delay between hitting the button and your character doing it.
When you join the game you will either be at your workspace (depending on whatever job you've been assigned) or appearing on the Arrival Shuttle. You don't have to worry about doing your job or anything like that. The AI, Security Officers, and the Captain have some obligations to be aware of, but otherwise you're free to wander around exploring at your leisure. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the station map. [Note to new players: The map is a bit out of date. The arrival shuttle is on the north side of the station, above the Bar.] There are maps printed on the walls of the station here and there you can also interact with. In the Arrival Hallway is Murray, a friendly robot who can give a guided tour of the station.
Your job determines your access level, which determines what doors will or won't open for you. If you get trapped somewhere, you can ask the AI for help over the radio.
- say ";AI, please open this door!"
To move, use your arrow keys, or toggle WASD in the toggles tab on the right side of your screen to use the WASD keys to move instead. To open a door, just walk into it, or click on it when you are standing next to it.
What's Going On Here???
The average goonstation round goes as follows:
- Players are assigned their jobs.
- Some players are assigned to be antagonists. There is a variety of them, including stealthy traitors, spell-flinging wizards, DNA stealing changelings, and nuclear operatives trying to blow everyone up.
- Players do... whatever. They might do their jobs. They might wander off and explore space. They might mess around and build stuff. They might run gimmicks.
- Antagonists do... whatever. They might work on their objectives. Or they might just cause chaos. They're free to do whatever, including harming/killing other players.
- At some point usually the emergency shuttle will be called to evacuate the station. Once it leaves, the round is over.
Even as you're getting used to the basics, shit may be going down. You may deal with environmental hazards, like gas leaks, fires, hull breaches or whatnot, or hazards from other players. Security may hassle you for wandering into a restricted area, other players may react violently if you barge into their workplace, and there are plenty of antagonists around causing mayhem. Until you have an idea how you should act, you should generally just try to run away, call for help, and don't worry too much. The worst thing that can happen is you die-- but even so, you can still observe the round, chat with other dead players, and play once the next round starts.
- If you are trapped somewhere and want to just give up, you can use the suicide command. If you are in critical health and want to hurry up and die already, use the succumb command.
When you're ready to start figuring out what you should actually be doing, you have some resources:
- Experimenting (may result in disaster)
- This wiki
- Talking to other folks in your department
- Asking for help over the radio
- Asking for help using mentorhelp. Mentors are there to answer whatever gameplay questions you've got.
If you're being griefed or killed unjustly you can ask for help with adminhelp. Admins won't tell you straight-up if the person who is hurting you is an antagonist or not but check to see if it's justified.
Good jobs to start out as:
- Staff Assistant - You have no responsibilities or obligations whatsoever. You're also generally ignored.
- Barman/Chef/Chaplain/Janitor - These jobs are all simple and few (if any) will mind if you don't have a clue what you're doing.
- Botanist - The rest of the station tends to forget that hydroponic exists, and the botanists are usually relaxed people who don't mind idle chat while they wait for their weed to grow. It's a good place to hang out and learn from others without having any expectations to meet.
- Mechanic/Scientist - good jobs for experimenting with systems, and have no particular essential duties.
- Miner - getting suited up might require a bit of practice with the interface, but once done, you can freely explore the asteroids.
- Lawyer/Barber/Tourist - "jobs of the day", of which one may be available on any given day. These resemble Chaplain or Staff Assistant in that they are low-access, zero-responsibility, roleplaying roles.
The following jobs have standard duties, but they are not difficult if you consult their Wiki pages or other players in the same job:
- Engineer - expected to start the engine, but only one Engineer is usually needed to do this, and otherwise the job is relatively free.
- Chief Engineer - combines Engineer, Mechanic, Quartermaster and Miner with a bit more access and some new toys, but no extra duties. Some Engineers might decide to treat you as if you're in charge, but you don't have to be.
- Geneticist - expected to clone the dead, but otherwise relatively free, and DNA sequencing is quite easy and unlikely to disrupt anyone else.
- Roboticist - expected to provide power cells for robots and make people into cyborgs.
- Head of Personnel - you control everyone else's job and access assignments. You don't need to do anything, but you'll probably be asked to do plenty!
Eventually you might want to be:
- Captain - Surprisingly you don't have to be really competent to do this. Your only real obligation is to protect the nuclear authorization disc in your pocket. Don't be an officious jerk cause no one likes those. Other than that, you get to explore everywhere on the station and do basically any job activity you want.
- Cyborg - You get access to everything but your interface is different than normal and you're expected to follow the AI Laws, meaning you can't hurt anyone, even if they're attacking you!
- Quartermaster - You're expected to manage the station's budget and attempt to turn a profit; it's a good idea to have an idea how storage and manufacturing work.
- Medical Doctor or Medical Director - expected to heal the wounded; this is more complicated than other duties and your patient can die if you screw up. Medical Director combines Medical Doctor, Geneticist and Roboticist.
Jobs you should avoid for now:
- AI - AIs have a lot of annoying restrictions and if you don't know what you're doing expect everyone to scream & hurl abuse at you.
- Security Officer - The job that invites the most scrutiny, is often in the most danger, and really sucks for everyone if you are terrible or don't really get the "mood" of Goonstation. Don't pick this as a starting player please!
- Detective - similar to Security Officer and so probably not ideal for a starting player.
- Boxer - all you can do well is punch people, and that'll just get on their nerves.
- Clown - actually, come to think of it, you should probably avoid this job forever.
- Head of Security - for the same reason as Security Officer, and can't actually be picked by starting players anyway.
Note that there is no skill system in SS13. Any player can do any job and operate all equipment on the station at full competence; your job only determines the areas of the station you have access to and the equipment you start with.
One last thing
Make sure you've read the rules! The rules will change depending on what server you are playing on and allow everyone to have fun. Not reading the rules is A BAD IDEA. Here are the rules for LLJK servers.