Once you’ve downloaded the ZIP file for your platform, unzip it. The Windows releases should make a folder, with a .exe file in it – run this. The OS X release will unzip to an app bundle, called “bf”. You might have to right-click and select “open” to run it the first time, otherwise OS X will helpfully inform you that the file came from an unregistered developer and cannot be opened. In both cases, you’ll have to confirm that you are willing to run a program from the scary Internet.

Once the program opens, you are greeted with the main menu:


Since this is the first time you’ve played, the “play game” option is greyed out – you have to generate the world. You can either use cursor keys and enter or the mouse to select options. Select “generate the world”, and wait (it takes about a minute on my development box). You’ll see progress while you wait – it will generate a heightmap, divide the waters from the Earth, place civilizations, have them spread for a bit, and then generate your starting region.

Once it’s done, you’ll be back to the main menu with “Play Game” available. Select it to start playing.


first-lookYou will be presented with the main game display. The major parts of this are as follows:

  • The very top shows the current date and time, Jan 01 00:00.
  • Next to it is a display of how much power Cordex (your character, the ship’s AI) has remaining. You just crash-landed, so the answer is not very much – but this will quickly go up once you get going, as the ship’s RTG and solar panels kick in.
  • On the top-right is a display of your available cash (in “mega-credits” or Mcr). Currently, cash is used to bribe other civilizations into not killing you. It will gain more uses later.
  • Below this is the global mode menu. You start in Play mode, but can also select Design (for designating building, mining, etc.), Units (listing who is on the map), Workflow (to order your settlers to construct things), Civs (other civilizations you have met).
  • Below this, is the map. The game is truly 3D, very similar to Dwarf Fortress. You can move the camera around with the cursor keys (shift to go faster), and change z-level with < and >. If you mouse over a tile on your current layer, a tool-tip will tell you about what’s there. Now would be a good time to scroll around a bit.
  • Lastly, a display says “SPACE Unpause, / One-Step”. Most of the time, the game will run all the settlers concurrently for you when the game isn’t paused. You can press space to pause or unpause the game. Pressing / advances time by a single step, which is useful if you want to see exactly what is going on.

civsSince we’ve just arrived, it’s a good idea to find out who else is here. Either press C (for Civs), or select “Civs” from the menu bar. You should only see one or two civilizations at this stage at the game. If you’re lucky, you aren’t at war with them! You can see how they feel in the left-most box. In the example, the National Socialist Sidhe of Ramirez are neutral towards me.

You can click “negotiate” to open a dialogue with the civilization. This is a placeholder for a much more detailed system later, but for now you can spend Mcr to not be at war anymore, or tell a civ to “die in a fire” – and immediately go to war.

Press Escape to exit this dialog.

unitsNow would be a good time to learn about the settlers who made it to your escape pod. Press U, or select Units from the menu bar. This panel has three tabs: Setters lists your people, Creatures lists any wildlife in the region, and Natives lists sentient being in the region. You can click “GO” next to anything to move the camera to it. Next to settlers, you can click “CONTROL” to enter “Rogue Mode” and control just that settler (more on that later in the tutorial). You can click any settler’s name to see a panel describing them, listing their current equipment. It’s an ugly panel – very much a placeholder for future code.

Have a look at your team, and hit Escape to leave each panel.

building-a-campNow, we should build a camp. Settlers can sleep in the escape pod’s cryogenic beds, but they will be (when the code is written!) happier to sleep in a real bed. The escape pod comes equipped with nuclear camp fires and personal survival shelter kits. Press D (for Design), or select “Design” from the menu bar. It offers choices of DiggingBuildingTree cutting, and Guard Posts. You want to select building – so press B or click “Building”.

The right panel will show you everything you currently know how to build – and for which you have the required components. This box will fill up as you do more in-game. Notice that the map screen has collapsed to a single Z-level (you can still move it with cursor keys and < >). Select a Nuclear Camp Fire, find a z-level with ground available, and you can click on the map to place it (green means you can build here, red means you cannot). I went ahead and placed some tents, too. You start with two campfire kits, and six tent kits. Press ESC to return to play mode. If you unpause the game (with space) you can watch your settlers put your camp together.

You’d probably like to do more than just go camping! Return to Design mode, and select Tree Cutting (with either T or by clicking it). Once again, the view collapses. Left click on a tree to select it for chopping (right click to clear the designation). Unpause once again, and settlers will find axes and chop down the lovely trees.

Once the trees are gone, return to Design mode, and Building. You can now build a Sawmill. These convert wood logs into usable wooden planks. Go ahead and build one, ideally near a source of wood. Unpause, and a settler will grab a wooden log, build the sawmill, and automatically start converting wooden logs into planks. (You’ll also have offcuts, which you can use in a Charcoal Burner).

workflowOnce the sawmill is running, you can build a Carpentry Workshop. Once complete, it’s time to order some Work – press W (or select Workflow from the menu). You will see a list of items that you can currently build with the available workshops and materials. It’s a queue – your settlers will plough through whatever tasks you list.

I chose to Replicate Small Energy Cell (this costs power), and to make a couple of Atlatl and Darts.


Next up is the Mining interface. Return to Design mode, and Digging. This is a lot like the Dwarf Fortress setup – you can dig stairs, tunnels, ramps, channels, etc. Eventually, you will get some usable rock – and can make a Stonecutters (which converts boulders into usable stone blocks). This will open up a lot of other building options.

Finally, the Design -> Guardposts feature. In this mode you can click to select a guard point (and right-click to remove it). A settler (if they have a ranged weapon and ammo – they start with it) will guard that point. This is useful if you are under attack – you can strategically place settlers to hold strongpoints/killboxes and defend your base.

At this point, you have enough to get started! One more thing: as soon as you build a butcher’s shop, settlers will start hunting/killing wildlife.