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To enter building mode, one must first found a Ship! To do this, either enter your drone ([,] by default), and break the mouse ([Shift] by default), and click on the little flag icon in the top right. After confirming and paying the founding fee (based on the number of ships currently in your fleet - it's always 500 of a metal resource plus a nominal monetary value).
Once you have a ship and are in control of it, press [B] (by default) to open the Build screen. To exit Build mode, press [Escape].
In single player, opening the Build screen will pause the game and surround your ship with a gray box and white lighting environment. In multi-player, the game will not pause and you will need to construct your ship using the lighting that's available in the sector you're in.
It is recommended to build new ships near a station of some kind, since you will need Engineers to man the engine blocks and the ship may fly very slowly without these requisite crew.
In the Build screen, you will see several notable additions to the UI. On the left hand side, you have a large toolbar containing all of the operations and modalities required to build complex and beautiful vessels.
The tools available are as follows:
- Grid Size: The size of the XYZ grid in meters, used for placement only.
- Scale Step: The size of the grid when scaling objects. Used for scaling only.
- Grid Space: You can select local coordinates, global coordinates, or two special snapping options. Block Center forces your next block to attach to the center of the block under your mouse cursor. You can also disable the grid with this drop-down.
- Mirror: These 3 check boxes will duplicate and mirror your changes to the other side of your ship based on a given axis. The origin of the grid planes can be changed with the X Y and Z buttons on the toobar below.
- Match Block: This causes the selected block to match the one under your cursor in the appropriate plane. For example, if your mouse is over the top of a block, the relevant plane is the Y plane, so your block will be scaled automatically on the X and Z axes, and you can adjust it's height on the Y axis manually
- Match Shape: Like match block, but it does not allow custom adjustment on the relevant axis, instead matching the block beneath your cursor on all 3 axes.
- Neutral Editor: Enable or disable the gray box with build-friendly lighting (available in singleplayer only)
- Highlights: You can have the Build screen show block damage or highlight turret placement for you in the main build screen. Useful for large ships!
- Paint Blocks: You can apply the selected color to blocks as you build, or after the fact. This swatch shows the currently-selected color.
- Select Blocks, Rectangle Select Blocks: Allows you to select multiple blocks at once, for example to use the Merge Blocks tool.
- Transform Blocks: Instead of adding a new block, urns the block under the cursor into the selected block type. Useful for upgrading Framework block sections after your ship is built!
- Repair Blocks: Repair individual damaged blocks by clicking
- Merge Blocks: Select a equilateral rectangular section of identical blocks (including color!!) and click this to merge them into a single monolithic block
- XYZ Move Axis Mirror to Selection: Select any block [MMB] by default, and select one of these to set the mirror origin plane for that axis. Useful for mirroring around a specific part instead of the whole ship!
- Transform Entire Ship: Allows you to upgrade/downgrade size or recolor the entire ship. Removes all turrets when used! Useful for redoing turrets, as you can just recolor the craft, add new turrets, and add any color accents after.
- Rotate Entire Ship: Did you build your ship sideways? Never fear! The Rotate Entire Ship button is here!
- Hide Specific Blocks: Does not work as stated, this actually shows only the selected blocks. For example, set it to Generator to see only Generator blocks.
- Enter Turret Design Mode: With a Turret Base selected, you can design a custom turret for it using this button! Turret Design Mode uses all of the same blocks and controls as the regular Build Screen.
- Choose Color: Lets you select a new build color, after which you can click any block to change it's color or add new blocks with this selected color.
- Open Predefined Shape: Lets you select from a set of pre-defined block shapes for a single block. Generally of little use.
- Open Block Stats: Shows a screen with the size of the currently-selected block.
- Repair Ship: Lets you repair your ship for a slightly higher fee and resource cost than that found at a Repair Dock
- Saved Designs: Opens a screen showing all of your saved designs and allows you to save your current ship. The save file will take the name of your ship, so you don't need to define it manually.
Stats are displayed on the right pane. These are updated with each block that is placed and will show how each additional block will affect the ship. Some important notes about statistics:
- Statistics are based on the current comprehensive state of your ship, including turrets, power states, crew requirements, attacking pirates, missing blocks or anything else that affects it.
- Green and Red are used in addition to + and - symbols to show improvements and penalties to the ship stats based on your next change. These are not always 100% accurate predictions, as the ship status may change as a result of your next Build action.
- The number of maximum fighters is a range because fighters can have varying sizes. The minimum size of a fighter is 1 and the maximum is 8.
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Materials can be selected during the build process. These materials will scale both mass, effectiveness, and strength for each block.
The following shortcuts are for default configuration:
- Spacebar: This will display the block/turret menu while held down.
- Middle Mouse Button: This will allow you to select a specific block.
- RMB: Rotate Camera around object.
- F: Focuses on the selected block.
- CTRL + Z: Attempts to Undo.
- CTRL + Y: Attempts to Redo.
- Q: All scale slow, drag mouse.
- R: Rotate Block, rotation model will appear over block.
- W: All scale fast, drag mouse.
- A: Length scale, drag mouse.
- S: Width scale, drag mouse.
- D: Height scale, drag mouse.
- C: Select color.
- Z: Mirror Flip/Rescale block. Useful for corners and triangles.
Note: Deleting too many blocks per undo/redo level can cause the function to stop working for the current build session.