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Wednesday, October 10, 2001
Alien Nations: A Short Tutorial
3:34 PM | IMG News | Comment on this story

Several of our readers have expressed some confusion about the Alien Nations demo posted earlier today; frankly the included documents don't give you much to go on. So we decided to whip up a little tutorial to get you started.

The most important concept to remember is that Alien Nations is closer to Majesty than to Warcraft II. You have little direct control, if any, over your minions; all you can do is make general suggestions that guide them in certain directions. So, in order to get them to do something you have to either provide the means or the motivation.

When you start the demo you have a healthy amount of money and nothing else. The first thing you should do is make a dwelling, as each dwelling will generate three new workers for you. Just click on open ground and you will get a menu of possible buildings on the right-hand bar. Click on the picture of the dwelling and then drag the red image of the house around until it turns green. One click and your Builder will automatically start building it, while your Transporters carry lumber and stone from the town hall.

Once the dwelling is complete, assign some of your Transporters to collect food (one per dwelling should be enough.) To do this, click on a Transporter and then find a bush with berries nearby. Control-click on the bush and the Transporter will harvest the berries and continue doing so until they are all gone. To assign any citizen to any task, click on them and then on the object you want them to work on -- but be aware that each worker has a very specialized skill set, and they will only do what they are trained to do. So for instance a stone mason will only go to work if you control-click on some stone, while a Transporter can gather food, transport materials to a construction site (control-click on the building in progress) or go train to become another type of worker.

The next step is education -- you must train your workers in order for them to complete more complex tasks such as farming, harvesting timber and even enforcing the law. Build a School next. Once this is constructed, click on it and you will get a list of possible positions your Transporters can train to become. Train a stonecutter right away; once he is trained control-click on the stone at the top of the map and he will quarry and carry stone. Then train a Scholar.

Meanwhile, now you need a Laboratory. Build this close to your town center, as it is a very valuable tool. The Scholar you trained will automatically go to the building and take up residence there once it is complete. After it is built, you need to dedicate some of your town's income to Research in order to actually produce some results. To do this click on the town hall and then on the tiny image of a line chart in the menu below the map. Drag the Research ring up to 20-30% and the motivation ring to about the same amount.

Build some more dwellings, as you will need a bigger workforce. Research lumber and hunting right away, then agriculture and mushroom farms. Train a lumberjack and assign them to cut the trees around city, and the hunter's job is obvious -- killing the little animals that romp around this landscape and converting them to food. To research, chose a category from the list and click on the light bulb. Don't waste money on the lookout tower, as you won't be attacked during the demo level. The pace of how quickly the research goes is directly determined by the amount of your town income you invest, so if you want things to go faster just increase that amount -- but don't run into the red!

As with most RTS games, each technology you research will open up deeper tech trees to explore. As your populace gets more numerous and more educated, they will demand taverns to relax in and newspapers to read. Keep an eye on your school, as the list of possible careers will grow with your research. Remember, each building needs at least one operator to function -- the Tower needs a Scout, the Tavern needs a Landlord and the Newspaper needs a Newsman. You will also need several warehouses to hold the stuff harvested by your farmer, stone masons and hunters.

If you run out of money, don't despair -- just cease building and shut down any buildings that are not currently active at the time (except for actual housing). As your food and wood stores increase, so will your income. Don't forget to invest some money in Motivation, or you will have idle and surly workers on hand. Slow, steady growth is the key -- if you overbuild and overspend, you will pay for it later.

Although the game is not Carbonized, it seems to run quite well in Classic, so OS X users shouldn't shy away. Make sure and report your experiences with the game in our Forums, along with your tips and tricks.

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