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Your First Game of Silk
By Dutch
For new players, here's how to get started exploring the vast wilderness of Silk!
An Adventure on the Ancient Silk Road
Silk is a game about exploring the Ancient Silk Road of 200AD, in a style that is a callback to the keyboard-controlled, square-based RPGs of the 1980s. Whether or not you remember these classic adventures like Eye of the Beholder or The Bard's Tale, Silk is like nothing else you've ever played before, and as such there's a lot to take in from the tutorial - which goes by extremely fast.

For players who want a little help getting to grips with Silk, or anyone worried they accidentally skipped a step in the tutorial, this guide will take you through the tutorial step-by step, with pictures.
Starting Your Journey

Move between menu options with up and down arrows, or [W] and [S], then press [Enter] to select an option. Start a new game by choosing 'New Journey'. You'll be taken to the Destiny screen.

There are four Destinies to choose from - The Traveller, the Rebel, the Warlord, and the Noble.

As a new player, you should be starting with the Traveller, so hold [1] until you have selected this Destiny. As it says here, you're going to be travelling all the way to the eastern end of the Silk Road, to the edge of Three Kingdoms China, where valuable Silk is the cheapest (and then back again).

Now choose a hero. You will have four choices, each with a different portrait. Press [1], [2]. [3], and [4] to look at them. As The Traveller, you will be a Merchant, so Trade will be your best skill. Taking a Hero with Excellent Trade skills is great, but it won't take you long to improve Very Good Trade, and Heroes that start with Very Good skills often have lots of other skills. There isn't really a wrong choice, so go with the one that feels right to you. Hold the number of the portrait you choose.

You also get to choose a Companion. You will always get a choice of one other class... you start as the Traveller as a Merchant, so your Companion can be a Guide, a Drover, a Soldier, or a Ritegiver. Every one of these is extremely useful, but you'll have a chance to hire the ones you don't get now later, so feel free to follow your heart. As before, press [1], [2], [3], or [4] to look at your choices.

If you're not sure who to take as your Companion, then take the Soldier if you want to fight off bandits or the Ritegiver if you prefer to negotiate, or take the Guide if you want to see a lot of the map and make your provisions last. (The Drover is a great choice for experienced players, but as a beginner you won't necessarily get the value from this one).
Welcome to Roman Antioch
You begin the game as the Traveller on the far west of the Ancient Silk Road: Antioch. The tutorial message tells you to press [Space] to open the roster... you can't do anything else until you have, so go ahead and do it.

You're facing East, which means you'll see whomever you picked as Companion. Tap the [Down] arrow or [S] to turn directly North, to the Inventory.

The Inventory is always at North, and whenever you have a menu open you can go straight to it with [Down] arrow or [S]. This shows everything in your Caravan, currently 2 Horses, 2 Camels, 2 Advisors, xx Provisions, and xx Silver. You're travelling Fast, and are not very heavily loaded with goods. Use the [Left] and [Right] arrow keys or [A] and [D] to move left and right. Turn Right to North East.

At North East you'll see the Hero you chose. Right again is the Companion. That's all there is to see here right now, so press [Space] to exit the Roster.

You will be asked to enter the Caravanserai, so make sure you are facing the tents by using the [Left] and [Right] arrows (or [A] and [D] and move forward with the [Up] arrow key or [W].

Once you're standing in the Caravanserai, press [Space] again to open the Town Menu. We're going to check out whose staying at the Caravanserai who you might hire.

Antoch is a busy Caravanserai, so there will be many fellow travellers here. Take a look at everyone, and especially for any classes you don't currently have in your Caravan.

This Ritegiver, for instance, will be a good fit to the Merchant and Soldier in the Caravan I'm playing in this demo game. Press [Enter] to see what everyone thinks.

Everything that happens in Silk provokes reactions from different Advisors. To hire someone, at least one Advisor must think it's a good idea... Press [1] or [2] to see what your Hero and Companion think about your first hire.

The Soldier is keen to have a Ritegiver - not surprising, since you can make more allies and avoid trouble by performing sacrifices at local temples. Picking this option will hire the Ritegiver - you can tell because there's a Horse or Camel lit up in blue on the Goods bar at the bottom (meaning you'll gain this when you hire them - every Advisor comes with a mount).

Hired! We're done here, for now, so press [Space] to close the Town Menu. We're going to head over to Antioch's thriving Bazaar...
The Antioch Bazaar
Face the Citadel of Antioch itself with [Left] and [Right] arrow, or [A] and [D], then press [Up] arrow or [W] to move forward. Then, press [Space] to open the Town Menu.

Press [Down] arrow or [S] to go straight to the Inventory, at North. We have 200 Silver to trade, and 120 Provisions... with 2 Advisors and no Guards, that will last 60 days, but if we hired a third Advisor it only lasts 40 days.

Provisions are at North East, and are always cheap. Let's look at everything in the Bazaar before we make any plans, though.

We already have plenty of Silver, so we don't need this. Silver gains in value as you travel east, and is wanted everywhere, so it's a great trade good.

Wool is extremely cheap in Roman territory, because there are plenty of Sheep farmers across the Empire and the Mediterranean sea is a warm region. Like Silver, Wool gains in value as you travel east, and it'll never be cheaper than it is here in Antioch or another Roman Citadel.

Spices are cheap in the lands of the Kushan Empire, to the east, but they are quite expensive here. We probably don't want to trade for these right now.

Silk comes exclusively from the Han Empire, at the furthest eastern end of the Silk Road. That makes it very expensive here in Antioch... that said, every Roman settlement will go crazy for Silk, so trading for a little can be good for greasing the wheels of diplomacy...

Horses and Camels are both extremely expensive, but they only have Horses here at Antioch. You have enough Mounts, so you don't need any more, but it might be worth seeing what your Advisors think all the same....

At North West, right before the Inventory, Antioch has a Cattle Market. You can auction livestock here, but you ought to have a Drover if you want to get a good deal. Head back to the Horses by pressing [Left] arrow or [A].

Press [Enter] and your Advisors will pop up. Use [1],[2],[3], and [4] (if you have that many Advisors!) to discover what they think about trading for Horses in Antioch.

The Merchant Hero on [1] in the game shown here thinks it might be possible to get 2 Horses for 1 Camel here... that's not a guarantee that it's possible, but it's interesting... What does the Companion think? Press [2] to take a look.

The Soldier Companion here is keen to trade Camels for Horses, even if it isn't a good trade. Soldiers always want more Horses, because cavalry is so much more effective than infantry. Let's make the trade - hold [1] for the Merchant's option until it switches to the Trade window.

If you can get 2 Horses for 1 Camel, you might want to make the exchange: use arrow keys or ASWD to select the trade amounts, and press [Enter] to accept. If not, you can press [Esc] to back out of the deal. You can keep trying to make new deals as long as you like - don't make a trade you're not happy with!

Now we have no Camels, we're a little swifter - Very Fast, as quick as any Caravan can travel in 200AD! True, we can carry fewer goods now, but we can always buy some Camels later when we need them.

Do think about whether you need more Provisions before you leave! Two months of supplies is great, but with 4 or 5 Advisors, those 120 Provisions only last 30, or even just 24 days. Running out of Provisions for three days loses the game, so keep an eye on them!

We're just about ready to set of: press [Space] to exit and we'll get our bearings.
Finding Your Way East
Now you've finished in the Bazaar, you're asked to leave Town. So find a direction to move into (anywhere but back to the Caravanserai) and move forward with [Up] arrow or [W].

When you're not looking at a menu, [Down] arrow or [S] causes you to make an about turn, so remember that if you need to look behind you at any point.

Now you're out of town, [Space] will open the Roster again. Do so...

Then use [Left] and [Right] arrow, or [A] and [D], to turn to North East where you can find your Hero. As the tutorial says, you have a Task displayed here (and will do all the way through the game). It's asking you to buy 200 Wool bolts, within 3 days. That should be easy enough... Exit the Roster with [Space].

We're almost done - it's asking for you to open the map with [Tab], so go ahead and do this.

Every square of the three million miles of wilderness in Silk appears as a square on the map screen. You can see your current location as a flashing square. You can move the map around using the arrow keys or ASWD, and you can zoom in and out with [+] and [-].

When you're done, press [Tab] again to close the Map Screen.

If you need to find your facing to navigate, remember you can use [Space] to open the Roster to read the compass at the bottom of the screen.

You might as well complete your first Task before leaving Antioch, so head back to the Citadel and press [Space] to open the Town Menu. Then use [Left] and [Right] arrow, or [A] and [D], to find Wool. Press [Enter] to start trading.

Remember, you get to choose what happens in Silk, but at least one Advisor has to want something for you to do it. Fortunately, your Merchant Hero will want to trade Silver for Wool, so you can use [1] (or whichever number slot they appear in) to begin to trade.

Use the [Left] and [Right] arrow keys or [A] and [D] to change your offer until it is worth 200 Wool. If it looks like you're being offered a bad deal, you can use [Esc] to back out and try again, as many times as you need to.

Press [Enter] to confirm the trade and there you go - Task complete! Everyone in the Caravan gains experience for completing tasks, in this case, experience in Trade.

Next time you're in the Roster, be sure to check the Hero's slot so you can see the new task you've been assigned.

Before leaving Antioch, you should save. The game is saved every time you visit a Friendly or Neutral settlement, and at every Caravanserai (even if it is Hostile). Remember this when you're visiting places that aren't pleased to see you - you can always save the game at a Caravanserai.

You're all set to strike out east! You still have much to learn about the world of 200 AD, but you're ready to begin exploring for yourself. Good luck - and beware the deserts!
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Seb_Joel Jan 15, 2020 @ 12:37pm 
You're welcome :)
Dutch  [author] Jan 15, 2020 @ 11:55am 
Thanks for the kind words, Seb_Joel! Yes, use the map often! It's an exploration game, and it's expected that you'll use the map to orient yourself.
Seb_Joel Jan 10, 2020 @ 11:22am 
Excellent guide for any beginner, thank you for every detailed explanation with a picture each time. My advice for any player is that you constantly have to use tab key and check for the map, as you could change way each time you look at the roster and also, as there are a lot fo deadends that require that you regularly look for a convenient path.
Dutch  [author] Oct 2, 2019 @ 9:18am 
Hey David!
Just to say: v1.5 (which is shipping shortly, and should be the 'final' version) supports Arrow Keys and Enter to control Advisor choice, as you more or less suggested it should. Once we discussed it, we realised we should probably have done it that way sooner, but 1,2,3,4 is so embedded in the way we play it now we couldn't lose it. But we will support both forms of control.

Thanks for drawing attention to this!
david Aug 15, 2019 @ 8:20am 
Arrow + enter is as much a UI mechanic as point and click (or swiping like Reigns).

I probably wouldn’t have chosen Tutorial because I couldn’t figure out the arrow + enter UI… but if I had been able to click it I almost certainly would have.

And I think if you’re unlike everything else, you need to give the player some indication of that. I was super lucky when one of my QA testers came up with an entirely broken mental model for how things worked, because it pointed out how our assumptions were so different, and I could address this.

At the same time, I understand the need to ship.
Dutch  [author] Aug 14, 2019 @ 11:49pm 
I'm afraid the interface won't be significantly changing at this point... we don't have the time or budget to make significant changes, and the blind testing did not reveal any significant problems with players learning the interface. (Of course, this was only ever a sampling process and it's never perfect.)

May I ask: if there had been a 'tutorial' option on the first menu, would you have chosen it, or would you have just started the game?

We are always looking for ways we can get players up to speed faster without undercutting the experience of the game, and there is the potential to add a tutorial to the Steam version after the Switch version ships. I guess we were counting on the manual doing this job, but of course "nobody reads the manual". :(

Thanks again for your continued feedback! It is appreciated.
Dutch  [author] Aug 14, 2019 @ 11:49pm 
Hi David,
When you're hiring someone and Horse highlights, that's because that Advisor comes with a Horse. Every Advisor comes with a mount, either a Horse or a Camel.

The game is often confusing when players first encounter it; it's really not like anything else around today. But most players seem to get to grips with it within their first half hour of play.

I personally wouldn't count arrow and enter as a 'mechanic', as it's just part of the front end. And I confess to being surprised at this being confusing, as it's a standard interface system that most games support. I guess we never took into consideration players who don't use the keyboard in the front end, perhaps because blind testing didn't reveal any problems with this... Sorry for all the confusion this has caused you!
david Aug 14, 2019 @ 9:04pm 
broken up for length
1. Arrow + Enter for a menu item (this is confusing because you expect to click on a computer)
2. Number to view person, hold to select that person. (This is confusing because i expected to use the arrow key and enter to select a person, having just learned that.)
3. Move around (this is confusing because you seem to travel through the area, not into it)
4. Number to view a recommendation, hold to act on it. (This is confusing because what they suggest is not clear, especially if they recommend not doing anything.)
david Aug 14, 2019 @ 9:04pm 
Would have been 1.2 on Mac. (The biggest Mac/Windows difference I’ve noticed in Unity is with scroll wheel sensitivity, and you don’t have to worry about that one!)

I think part of the problem was that the UI is not clear, however. Some of them have no course of action, it seems. With others, it is hard to tell what they actually recommend. A horse highlights? That doesn’t have anything to do with hiring someone.

The interface might be exactly like your inspiration but it’s not like any game I have played, and if you think you need to keep it, I recommend going into excruciating detail explaining it. There seem to be at least 4 mechanics, all of them confusing:
Dutch  [author] Aug 14, 2019 @ 12:10pm 
This sound like a bug or set of bugs... Holding a number key should always cause an Advisor's portrait to grow bigger until the course of action they propose is taken. Also, there should be a background behind the Advisor after you press their key.

Can you confirm your OS and which version you are playing (the version number is on the title screen)? We are having a lot of issues with the Mac version in particular... we've not developed for Mac before and are mostly relying on Unity to help us out.

Again, sorry for the problems - but that's what a Beta is for!

Thanks for your support!