Introduction

Space Station 13 (SS13) is a multiplayer role-playing game developed using the BYOND engine. In SS13, players take on the role of workers on a space station. There are many different jobs available, and each player chooses one of these jobs and plays a specific role on the station.

Space Station 13 requires very heavy roleplay with other real players online. If you don't enjoy and/or are not good at roleplaying, you probably won't enjoy SS13.

SS13 is played in rounds. Each round starts with everyone online being placed at a relevant location on the station based on their chosen occupation. They are then given various objectives and tasks to complete in their respctive departments.

However, the station is not as straightforward as it seems - there are events that occur during a regular round (or "shift") that interfere with the normal routines of each player, occupation, and department. Some events are randomly generated by the game itself and may happen at any time during a round; some events are chosen based on the server being set in a specific "game mode", and yet other events may happen due to the presence of antagonists on the station who have ulterior motives, which can range from simple mischief, to murder, to complete destruction of the entire station.

Downloading & Installing Space Station 13

SS13 runs through a program called BYOND. In order to play, you'll need to download and install BYOND, create a BYOND account, and respond to a confirmation email.

Complete, step-by-step instructions for how to download and install BYOND are below:

  1. Go to http://www.byond.com/download/ and click on the "Windows" link to download the BYOND installer.
  2. Open the downloaded file to install BYOND on your computer. This guide assumes basic computer literacy. Just keep clicking "next" if you don't know how to use a basic program installer.
  3. Once the installer has finished, go to https://secure.byond.com/Join to register for a BYOND account - yes, you are required to have an account in order to play. Every step of the account registration process is explained on the BYOND website.
  4. BYOND will now send you a confirmation email. You're required to click on the link in the confirmation email in order to activate your BYOND account and play. This email can take a little while longer than you might think (mine took about 10 or 15 minutes), so you'll need to be patient.
  5. Once you've confirmed your BYOND account, open up BYOND on your computer.
  6. Log in with your BYOND account credentials. Once you've done that, click on the (gear) icon in the top right corner of BYOND, and select "Open Location..."
  7. Enter the address for whatever server you want to join in the box that pops up.
      For Russ Money viewers, you can get Russ' server address from his Twitch chat - I didn't want to post it here to respect his privacy. Ask Russ, myself, or another channel moderator to run the !ss13 command for you.


Success! You'll probably have to watch an ad or two in order to actually connect to the server - BYOND runs on ad- and membership-based revenue. Annoying but necessary, unfortunately.

Getting Ready To Play - Character Customization

You'll want to customize your SS13 character so that it doesn't look like the default one. There are a lot of options here, most of which are purely cosmetic and don't affect gameplay whatsoever. Go ahead and change the following options to whatever you want: Name, Gender, Age, Body, Skin Tone, Underwear, Undershirt, Socks, Backpack, Hair Style, Facial Hair Style, Eye Color. If it's not in this list, leave it alone for now.

If this is your very first time playing, be sure to leave the entire Character Preferences section alone, as it's extremely complicated and not at all for new players. Don't even click on the Character Preferences button.

Also, please note that races/species besides Human are strongly discouraged for new players, as they carry very specific (and sometimes very difficult) extra considerations with them. For example, if you were to be a Plasmaman, you would be required to have an internal supply of plasma at all times, and to never expose yourself to the breathable air of the rest of the station. You would also be required to very closely monitor your plasma supply, and refill it before it ran out, for the entire duration of the round. Thus, Human is the most straightforward race/species to play as a new player, as it will not get in your way or prevent you from learning the game's basics.

There are a few other options you can customize:

  • Disabilities: If you'd like your character to have any impairments, such as near-sightedness, deafness, etc., you can set that here. I recommend against these, as they just make gameplay more difficult.
  • Flavor Text: Just a funny little factoid about your character. This will be formatted like "He/She is {flavor text}", so make sure that whatever you write matches that format. Other players will be able to see this if they "examine" your character.
  • Character Records: If another player with a better "examine" skill (such as a medical doctor) tries to "examine" your character, they can see your Character Records. This doesn't have any effect on gameplay, but it's a fun little way to flesh out your character a little more.

After you're finished customizing your character, make sure to save! To do this, click "Save slot" at the top of the Character Setup window.

Getting Ready To Play - Occupation Preferences

Every player in SS13 is assigned a job. Running an entire space station is no small task, so the jobs vary in scope - some are extremely difficult and require lots and lots of detailed work, while others are simply to walk around and interact with people, with no real objective other than to "exist".

For your first game, you'll want to pick one of the latter types of jobs, which will allow you to get used to the game's mechanics, interfaces, and controls.

To see the jobs and your preferences for how often you want to get picked for each one, click on "Occupation Preferences" at the top of the Character Setup window. Each job will show a [NEVER] next to it - clicking on that will raise the likelihood that you will be picked for that specific job. Remember - don't change any of the jobs unless you are sure you want to have a chance of being picked for it.

The following jobs are strongly recommended for brand new players:

  • Civillian: You are literally just a person on the station. You have no set responsibilities or objectives - you can freely go about the non-restricted areas of the station and do anything you want to do. This is the #1 recommended occupation for new players.
  • Janitor: You get to clean up the messes that everyone else makes. Replacing lightbulbs, mopping floors, putting waste in the disposal tubes, and more. This is another fantastic job for new players, as it lets you get used to the item systems, as well as the general layout of the station itself. To see the things you might find yourself needing to do as a Janitor, check out the Space Station 13 Wiki page about the Janitor job.
  • Chef: A straightforward job that lets you get used to mixing ingredients together in order to make another object. To see a list of recipes that you can make as a Chef or a Cook, check out the Space Station 13 Wiki page about them.
  • Bartender: Similar to the Chef, except your main job is to serve drinks instead of just food. Check out the Space Station 13 Wiki page about drinks to see what you can make.
  • Cargo Technician: You work as a supplier for the other departments of the station, filling orders for minerals and supplies and sending them to the appropriate locations using heavy-lifting robots. A fun and relatively easy job! Check out this wiki page and this guide for more information on how to play as a good Cargo Technician.

Once you've customized your occupation preferences to your liking, you can go ahead and click Save Setup at the bottom of the window, then click Declare Ready to show everyone else on the server that you're ready to play. You can also click View the Crew Manifest to see who else is online.

If you've decided that you really don't want to participate as a character, and you just want to observe what everyone else does during the round, you can click Observe - but be careful, because if you click this you won't be able to jump back in and play as a character until the next round. Rounds can last over an hour, so be sure you're making the right decision!

Playing The Game - Controls

All right, you're in! The round has started. Now you're probably wondering how to control SS13. The controls for the game are a bit weird, but you'll get used to them pretty quickly with some good practice.

The first thing you want to do is press TAB on your keyboard. This will toggle "Hotkey Mode", which will make all the controls easier and much more familiar to you.

Assuming you're in Hotkey Mode, here's a table containing the basic controls for SS13:

Key(s) Action Description
W A S D Movement Move forward, left, backwards, and right.
Q Drop Drops whatever item is being held in your active hand.
E Equip Equip whatever item is behing held in your active hand.
R Throw Toggle Turns throwing mode on or off. While on, you throw whatever item is being held in your active hand instead of dropping it when you press Q.
T Say Opens a window that you can type into in order to chat.
T + ; Common Say Allows your chat messages to be seen by everyone on the server, not just the people on the same screen as you. NOTE: To do this, you need to press T and then ; (semicolon) one after the other - not at the same time.
T + : Department Say Allows your chat messages to be seen only by people who are in the same "department" as you - for example, Engineering or Security. NOTE: To do this, you need to press T and then : (colon) one after the other - not at the same time.
O OOC Chat Opens an "Out Of Character" chat window - this will let you talk to other players without being in-character.
F, G Cycle Intents Cycle through your current "intent". More on this below.
Z Activate Activate or use whatever item is being held in your active hand.
X Swap hands Switches between your left and right hand being active.
Shift + Left-Click Examine Examine and get details for whatever you clicked on.
Alt + Left-Click List Open a new tab with a list of all the items that are at the location where you clicked.
Ctrl + Left-Click Pull Pulls whatever object (or person) you are standing next to. NOTE: Only works if you are standing next to the object.
Delete Stop Pulling Stops pulling whatever you started pulling earlier. NOTE: This is the key that actually says "Delete", NOT Backspace.

Playing The Game - Intents

SS13 has various intents that you can express as your character, which lead to you performing differing actions when interacting with various people, objects, etc. As a quick example, if your intent is set to "Help", then you will give people hugs if you click on them with empty hands - but if your intent is set to "Attack", then you will punch them instead.

The concept of intents may take a little while to get used to. Below is an outline of each intent (there are four) and how it genrally changes the way in which you interact with people and objects on the station.

Here's what the intents look like: Intents GIF

Starting from the top left of that image, here's an explanation of what each intent is:

Intent Color Description
Help Green Helps people. This can mean you're trying to wake someone up, help them stand (both of which require an empty hand), give them CPR (to keep them alive if their status is critical) or medication, or simply give them a hug. Trying to help someone with an item equipped will usually just make you hit them with the object, which will lower their health based on how harmful the object you hit them with is.
Left-clicking yourself with the Help Intent gives you a brief self-diagnosis - it isn't much, but at least you can check which parts of your body are hurt. Finally, Help intent also allows you to walk through other people instead of bumping into them.
Disarm Blue Disarm will attempt to disarm another player by removing whatever harmful object is in their hand, and/or stunning them onto the floor (which can sometimes result in them falling unconscious). Disarm has the highest chance to disable your target without physically harming them much (or at all).
Disarm tends to be the most useful for ensuring that you survive an altercation with another player, and it has plenty of offensive use in larger fights.
Trying to disarm someone by clicking on them with an empty hand will either push them down for about five seconds - buying you precious time to secure your escape - or make them drop their weapon, which WILL make them a lot less dangerous and turn the tables if they were carrying something particularly robust, like a circular saw.
Grab Yellow Grabbing someone will place a hold on them. Grabbing them again will put them in progressively more advanced holds: passive, aggressive, hands, and neck.
A passive grab is used to make people follow you, but they can break free by simply moving in another direction. Aggressive is essentially the same thing, but the person you have grabbed must try to resist in order to weaken your hold to a less advanced stage (provided they're not disabled) and escape.
Hands is similar to aggressive, but you can throw them onto tables or across the room.
Neck will move them onto the same tile as you, knock them to the ground and cause you to move much slower. While you've placed a hold on someone's neck, they will slowly lose oxygen, but you can press "KILL" (which will appear on one of your hand slots at the bottom of the screen) to speed up the process. You must have an empty hand slot to attempt to grab someone!
Harm Red Harm does the most damage to another person or object, and will put whatever you are attacking into a critical state more quickly than disarm. It's most useful when your victim is already disabled somehow.


This guide is still a work-in-progress - if you're seeing this, you've reached the end for now! Check back in the future for more content.

If you have any suggestions, click the Contact button at the top of this page. Thanks!