Begin is actually a simulation of a simulator that tests your ability to command a fleet starships. For the first time, you will actually have the feeling that you are commanding a real starship, against real enemy captains.
Unlike almost all other space games of this type, Begin does not employ the unrealistic "quadrant-sectors" or the "Mass Hoard of aliens" approach. Instead, all ships are created equal with intelligent enemy strategy code being used to defeat the human player. For the novice, even a one-on-one scenario can be quite a challenge.
Begin also features four different nations, Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Orion, with the human player becoming the nation of their choice. The program also provides for numerous ship classes of varying design for each of the different nation.
There are not any artificial "difficulty levels" in Begin. If a player wishes for an easier scenario, they may command a fleet of up to seventeen ships against a smaller enemy force. For a more difficult scenario, include more enemy ships.
The object of Begin is (as usual) to destroy the enemy fleet before they destroy you. You will receive an evaluation of your performance at the end of the action. Your enemy is tough and experienced. He will do his utmost to destroy you with whatever fleet you give him.
Begin is actually made up of five separate parts that happen in sequence, introduction, setup, command input, strategy, and movement. A more detailed explanation of each of these can be found in a later section.
The first part, introduction, will happen only once. It will first prompt you for your name. Your name will be used as the prompt for all command input. Next you will be asked which nation you wish to ally yourself with, and the nation of your opponent.
The second part, setup, will also happen only once. Two status displays will be drawn, one of the ally fleet and one of the enemy fleet. At this point you will enter commands to configure the number and class of ships in each of the fleets. Once you are satisfied with the configurations, you may start the simulation.
Once the tactical displays have been drawn the program will be waiting for command input. You may enter commands for controlling your ships' weapon systems, defenses, status displays or for directing your ally ships. Input will allow you as much time as you need to decide your command. You may enter an entire command on one line or allow Begin to prompt you for each part.
After the entire command has been entered, the strategy of all enemy and ally ships is determined. These ships follow the same rules for commands that you must follow. After all ships have determined their strategy, the real time movement is performed.
Real time moves all objects according to the Begin laws of physics. At the end of each turn a cycle is performed which moves all items in sequence one hundred times to simulate simultaneous movement, with the display being updated every ten moves. Your crew will report most of the enemy and ally ships actions during this time, such as who is firing torpedoes and who has been hit. At the end of this cycle, before you are again asked for command input, the tactical displays will be updated.
One time through the above sequence is call a cycle, and is the basic unit of time in Begin. All time is measured in cycles but may sometimes be referred to as seconds, such as three seconds to self destruct.