Jan 05, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Natural Selection?

Natural Selection is a hybrid first-person/real-time strategy game. There is a resource model, a tech tree, structures, and upgrades, just like a traditional RTS (like Starcraft or Command and Conquer). It is mostly played in first-person, but one player can become the Commander and play from a top-down perspective.


What will I need to play?

You need a Pentium II 400 mhz machine CPU (or equivalent non-Intel), 32 megabytes of RAM and any graphics accelerator supported by Half-life. Software rendering support is not currently planned. You also need an internet connection, a keyboard and a mouse. Windows 95 and above are supported.

Lastly, you’ll need to install Steam and own a copy of Half-life 1 or Counter-strike retail(boxed version). Counter-strike:Condition Zero, Half-life Source and Counter-strike 1.6won’t work. You should be able to buy Half-life 1 or Counter-strike retail for around $10/£5/€7.


What are the objectives?

The aliens must kill all the marines and their infantry portals. The marines must kill all the aliens and their hives. That’s the only goal. Aliens start with one hive and can build up to two more. Marines start with no infantry portals, but they can build them immediately once the game begins (for a cost).

How do I join a team?

All players start in the “ready room”. You pick your team visually, by walking through one of the doors. To leave a team, press F4 twice or type “readyroom” in the console. If you ever want to join a team using a command, you can type “jointeamone” or “jointeamtwo” in the console.


What is the pop-up menu?

All players on both sides (except the Commander) can access their pop-up menu by holding down their right mouse button. Hold down the right mouse button, and your cursor will appear. Move the cursor over the desired option, then let go to perform that action. Letting go off the menu will not perform any action. The menu can also be used by clicking once to open it, then clicking again to select an option.


Do weapons have alt-fire?

There is no secondary fire on the weapons. The visual pop-up menu is bound to the second mouse button by default. This is a trade-off to allow many more options in the game without having to bind extra keys.


How do I build structures?

The marines and builder-aliens (called “Gorges”) build structures by looking at the base of the structure and holding their use key. They will see a progress bar showing the building’s current state. Structures must be built before they become active.

On the marine team, only the Commander can create structures, and any marine on the ground may build a structure once it’s created. On the alien team, only Gorges can create and build structures.

If multiple marines hold the use key on an unbuilt structure at the same time, it will build faster. The same goes for multiple gorges with unbuilt alien structures.


How do I get more ammo?

Aliens never run out of ammo, they only run out of energy (see below).

Marines can get more ammo by receiving it directly from the Commander, or by walking up to an armory and holding down their use key. The armory is a generic green building, but there will be an icon super-imposed on it. Just try holding your use key on many different buildings until you see your ammo going up and you hear a clicking sound.

Ammo can also be found near the guns of your fallen teammates, which will be on the ground near where they died.


How does the resource system work?

The resource system is relatively simple, but there are a few rules to know.

1. Marines have no individual resources, only team resources. Aliens have no team resources, only individual resources. Only the Commander can spend resources for the marine team. Aliens can use resources to change into a new lifeform or build structures (resource towers, upgrade chambers and hives).

2. The marine team starts with 100 resources. Every alien starts with 25 resources.

3. Resources are most reliably collected by building resource towers on top of an empty resource nozzle (a circular disk on the ground with a nano-steam coming out of it). Once a tower is built, it awards the owner’s team one resource point every four seconds. For aliens, this gets split evenly among all players.

4. Finally, when any player kills an enemy, they are awarded 1-3 resources, randomly. For marines, this goes to the team resource total. For aliens, this goes to the individual alien that made the kill. These resources are often referred to as RFK (resources for kills).


Is there location-specific damage?

Currently, there is no location-specific damage. This may change in a future version.

It says my base is under attack…where?

If you’re the Commander, just press your jump button, and you’ll go right to the alert. If you’re an alien, spin your view around until you see a red halo. This is a teammate or friendly structure that’s taking damage.


Can you play marines vs. marines or aliens vs. aliens?

The current release doesn’t have these scenarios, but the game is designed to support it, technically. This may or may not be supported in the future. These alternate gameplay modes won’t “take over” the original modes, so if you don’t like the idea of these modes, you won’t have to play them.


Can I use the NS textures, technology, etc. for my own use?

No. The team has worked very hard to create the NS universe. Please don’t e-mail or post asking to use our textures, models or technology for other projects. You can, however, use any artwork from NS for an NS fansite, or NS community resource.

You may never use anything from NS to make money, nor may you ever state or imply that any NS assets were made by anyone other then the NS team. Any inappropriate use of any NS content will be pursued aggressively.

How can I become a Playtester?

We are always looking for good playtesters to help us improve the game between public versions. Playtesters are always selected in one of two ways. The main way to become a Playtester is to make mature and insightful posts on the forums. We look for beta testers to balance the game, but also want them to help direct the future of Natural Selection.

The second way to become a Playtester is to create a map for NS that looks promising enough that we start playtesting it internally. These mappers automatically become Playtesters, whether their maps are later accepted officially or not.


What’s this “first-person strategy” stuff?

This is the heart and soul of Natural Selection. The game is a hybrid real-time strategy game (RTS). There is a resource economy on both sides. A team’s resources dictate whether a player can respawn after death, what weapons a team can buy, what upgrades can be researched, what lifeform an alien can morph into, and more.

The marines can have one player on the team that can use the command station. This command station allows the player to view the world from a top-down perspective, just like an RTS. He can research technologies, buy weapons for teammates, resupply ammo, and more. He can also select “units” (which are all real live players) and give them orders. For instance, he can lasso select two players and right-click on a balcony in a nearby room. The Commander and both players hear a “move to waypoint” order, then the players on the ground see their new waypoint. If they move to that area, the waypoint disappears and the order is completed.

In this way, the Commander can deploy forces, equip players, and even micromanage battles to get an advantage. He can also decide how important individual battles are, and choose to spend as many (or as little) resource points depending on how important he perceives the encounter to be. Seeing all of your “little people” and having a responsibility for them is a wonderful feeling.

The NS team feels that the commander mode in NS brings teamplay to the next level.


What do the icons on the scoreboard mean?

 Developer – A member of the NS development team.

 Constellation Member – Someone that has donated money to the NS team.

 Playtester – Someone that helps test upcoming versions of the game.

What are you doing to stop cheating in Natural Selection?

Steam uses VALVe software’s Anti-Cheat support (VAC).

I found a cheat or exploit, where can I report it?

The NS development team takes cheats and hacks very seriously. NS has full VALVe Anti-Cheat (VAC) and Cheating Death support, to combat hacks. If you have found a downloadable cheat, cheating site, or exploit, please send all relevant information to a programmer at Valve and they may address it.

What’s the deal with the Commander?

The marines need one player on their team to play the Commander role. A player chooses to command by walking up to the command station (it’s already built at start of the match) and pressing his use key. There can be only one Commander at a time, and he plays the game from a top-down RTS view, while everyone else on the server plays from a first-person view. The Commander can only see what his teammates can see.

The Commander can spend the team’s resources on technology buildings, new weapons, upgrades for his marines, turrets and more. He also plays a large role in combat, as he can resupply his troops mid-battle. The Commander cannot be killed while using the command station. The command station can be destroyed, however. If it’s destroyed, he will suddenly appear next to it, then vulnerable to damage.

The “eject” command (use the pop-up menu, move up) allows players to get rid of a malicious Commander (so another teammate can take over). While it’s possible to play a game without a Commander, it will be very short and is not recommended.


How do I create squads, and which squad is best?

Any marine may be placed in only one squad at a time. Squads are designated by the numbers 1 through 5, and only the Commander may assign his marines to a squad.

To assign marines to a squad, hold your duck key, and press any number key from 1 to 5. That will create a squad and tell the marines on the ground that they are now part of that squad. To then select all of the marines in that squad at once, simply press the number key you used to designate the squad.

Squad 5 is best.

How do I get access to new weapons?

The marines can only get new weapons if the Commander researches and buys them. For the Commander to equip marines, he must create an armory and manufacture new weaponry, which they can then pick up near the armory.


What are these big blue circles on my screen?

The moving circles are aliens that are detected by the Motion Tracking upgrade.

The unmoving circle is an order that the Commander has given you. The order will blink and tell you what the Commander wants to do and where to go. Following orders and performing tasks for the good of the squad and team is what being a Frontiersman is all about.


I want a better weapon and heavy armor to kill all the aliens! Should I keep pestering the Commander until I get them?

Commanders find it frustrating to hear a soldier’s repeated pleas for better weapons and armor. Check to see how many resources your team has (at the top of your HUD) before asking for anything. The Commander has many obligations to the team, all of which require him to spend resources, and weapons and armor don’t come cheaply.

If the team’s resources are over 100, it might be appropriate to start asking for equipment. Remember: a Frontiersman is there to serve his Commander and try to execute his battle plan. If you don’t want to follow orders and support the Commander, go command on a different server or join the alien team instead. When you’re playing as a soldier on the marine team, you’re pledging to follow orders, even if it means your death. Get in the spirit of it!

How do the aliens “wordlessly communicate”?

This is accomplished through a few mechanisms. Aliens can always see each other. This means aliens can really play off of each other spontaneously and without having to give orders, type, or sometimes even talk. For example…

An alien is about to attack a group of marines. Just as he’s about to attack, he notices another alien crawling through a ventilation shaft towards the rear of the marine base, and so he waits a few seconds instead. Then, just as the other alien is about to emerge to flank the marines, he decides to attack simultaneously from the front. This will promote coordinated action by the aliens, but without forcing them to stop and communicate.

Aliens can also use the pop-up menu to communicate certain messages.


When I’m an alien, what are all these glowing circles everywhere?

This is the alien “hive sight”. It allows the aliens to know more about the status of their team, via the communal hive mind. These circles show you friendly aliens or structures that are under attack, or enemies that have been “marked” via Parasite.

What is the yellow bar indicator on the right side of my screen?

That’s your current energy. All alien abilities cost energy, and if you don’t have enough energy to perform an ability, you can’t do it. The only way to get energy back is to wait while it slowly replenishes. The adrenaline upgrade will speed your energy recovery rate, as will standing near a movement chamber.


How do I crawl on walls?

Alien players always spawn in at a hive and as a Skulk. The skulk has the ability to crawl on walls and ceilings. Just look up a wall and move forward. It takes some practice (and some getting used to), but good players will learn to use it to outflank their enemies and move quickly across the map.

Wall-running can be disabled by holding the “crouch” key. This can be useful for dropping to the ground or in conjunction with the leap ability.


What does a Gorge do?

Gorges can create alien structures to grant alien powers and upgrades to the members of his team. These structures can also be used for defense and for spreading the alien infestation faster. These builders are less focused on combat, but get points and status by killing enemies with their offensive structures, and by building structures. They can also spin webs and heal themselves, their teammates, and structures.

Some people have nick-named this alien “Pudgy” or “Piggy” because of the extra bulk he needs to produce the alien structures. It’s not his fault; it’s a genetic thing.


How do I fly?

The Lerk alien can fly, just by tapping and holding the jump key and looking in the direction he wants to fly. This works much like a first-person Joust (TM). Note that flying costs energy.

I’m an alien, and some of my weapons are disabled. Why?

Aliens get access to new weapons in the form of additional abilities that come from building more hives. Weapon category 1 is always available, and weapon categories 2-4 are only available when aliens have hives (each of the three hives unlocks the next category).

Be sure to keep your hives protected to keep your abilities. As an alien, use your hive sight to see where the alert is. Marines are oblivious to hive sight alerts.


How do aliens get more hives?

Only Gorges can create new hives.

They do this by finding a hive location (look for a translucent hive hanging from the ceiling; hive locations are also visible on hive sight). Once a gorge finds an empty hive location, he can use his pop-up menu to create a hive (left->left->down) if he has at least 40 resources. It then takes 3 minutes to gestate. As the hive builds, a progress meter on the HUD of every alien shows its progress, until it finally swings down and activates.

Active hives heal nearby aliens, allow for more upgrade chamber types, increase the aliens’ spawn rate, and unlock new abilities.


How do alien upgrades work?

Gorges can build all sorts of structures. They can build offensive chambers (turrets), resource towers (only on nozzles; these gather resources for your whole team) and upgrade chambers.

The upgrade chambers include defensive chambers, sensory chambers and movement chambers. Each one gives your team access to a new upgrade. When an upgrade chamber is built, all aliens on your team have the option to choose one of three upgrades from that chamber’s upgrade category. Once they make this choice, they cannot change their mind until they gestate to another lifeform or die and respawn.

The more upgrade chambers, the more powerful the upgrade earned from it. For example, one defensive chamber would allow aliens Level 1 “carapace”, “regeneration” or “redemption”. If a builder now builds a second defensive chamber, it would automatically change their Level 1 ability to a Level 2 ability, making it more powerful. The alien team can have up to three levels of each chamber upgrade.

The aliens are not restricted to building just three of any type of upgrade chamber, but only the creation (or destruction) of the first (or last) three influence the level of the upgrades the aliens have taken from that chamber category.

Each upgrade chamber also has a secondary ability. Defensive chambers heal nearby players and structures, movement chambers allow aliens to teleport back to the nearest hive and “energize” nearby players, and sensory chambers cloak all nearby players and structures and reveal nearby marines.


What does Parasite do?

The Skulk has an ability called “parasite”. Unlike the “bite” primary weapon, parasites are sent from any distance.

When the skulk hits an enemy with it, that enemy becomes permanently marked. All aliens will always be able to see where that player is. It also does a small amount of damage.

Parasites are a powerful coordination tool. Parasite important targets to increase the chance that one of your brethren will attack it.


How does Charge work?

The Onos has the ability to charge forward. Activating this ability allows the alien to move very quickly and do massive amounts of damage to any enemy player or building he touches. Just activate it once and you will be charging until you run out of energy.