In order to play the game there are a few basic elements to understand.
- Time The game runs continuously even when you are not connected. DarkWorld has its own time scale. In DarkWorld the smallest unit of time is a day. The game is designed so that 3600 game days or 9.8 game years pass every hour.
- Resources There are five types of resources in the game: metal, fuel, colonist, drones, and droids. Metal is obtained through mining and is a finite resource in the game. Fuel is produced at different rates on different planets and is an infinite resource in the game. Colonist, drones, and droids are produced on colonies located on inhabitable planets, the rate at which these resources are produced depends on how inhabitable the planet is. Drones fight in space and droids fight terrestrially
- Communication Communications in the game do not occur instantly. If a ship is two light years from your home planet, it will take two game years for the message to reach your home planet.
- Links You can create communication links between your colonies for instant communications. Each link consumes fuel from the two colonies it connects. The longer a link is the more fuel it consumes. When a ship explores a planet it will send its messages back to the home planet through the closest linked colony. Also unlinked colonies will communicate with the home planet through the closest linked planet.
- Planets During your explorations you will find habitable and uninhabitable planets. You can currently only create colonies on habitable planets. In the future colonies created on uninhabitable planets will require fuel to sustain themselves.
- Perspectives Each player has their own view of the world. Their view of the world comes from messages sent back by ships exploring the universe. This is important to keep in mind, you will receive notification of events minutes or hours after they actually occur. For instance, assume another player colonizes a planet that one of your ships is observing. Your ship will send a message reporting this and you may not receive the message for minutes or hours.
- Ship Building You can only build ships at colonies located on inhabitable planets. Each ship requires a certain amount of time, fuel, and metal to build.
- Orders Ships are given a list of orders like : explore planet x, explore planet z, explore planet y. Once a ship is given orders it will refuel and start carrying out the orders. Since ships travel at the speed of light, it is not possible to send new orders to a ship once it has left.
- The current battle system is very simple. Suppose you attack an enemy colony using three Carriers each containing 10,000 drones and that the enemy has one Carrier containing 10000 drones and 10000 Drones on the colony. In this scenario you have 30,000 Drones and the enemy has 20,000 drones. Therefore you have a 30,000^2/(30,000^2 + 20,000^2) = 3^2/(3^2 + 2^2) = 9/13 or 69% chance of winning. If you win then all of the enemies ships at the planet will be destroyed and some of your ships and drones may be destroyed. When you lose, all of your ships are destroyed and some of the enemies ships and drones may be destroyed. The metal from all ships destroyed during battle falls to the planet where the battle occurred.
- When your Carriers are orbiting and enemy colony, that colony can not build ships or Drones.
- Land battle is very similar to battle in space except that no ships are destroyed. Suppose you send 4 exterminators each containing 10,000 droids to attack an enemy colony that has one Exterminator containing 10,000 droids and 10,000 droids on the colony. Here you will have a 4^2/(4^2 + 2^2) = 16/20 or 80% chance of winning. If you win, the enemy colony is destroyed and you may lose some droids. If you lose, then all of your droids are destroyed but your ships are not destroyed. Squaring the force size to calculate win probability was inspired by the article Mathematics in Warfare by Frederick William Lanchester, there is short description here.