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The Complete Beginner's Completely Incomplete Guide to Oxygen Not Included


Choosing dupes

There's a separate guide, Choosing Duplicants, that covers some basics about dupe selection.


In a nutshell: choose dupes that are good at the things you will be doing. You can pick a category for a dupe to be skilled in by clicking on the icon to the left of the "reroll" button. You can reroll as often as you want.

You will be doing a lot of digging, building and researching. So it's a good idea to have:

  • a dupe that is good at researching, and

  • a dupe that is good at either digging or digging and building.


For your third dupe you can pick whatever you want. A second digger/builder is a popular option. Or a good rancher if you plan on doing any ranching.

Then it's time to get started!


New Hope. (Classic Terra asteroid with DLC, seed: V-SNDST-C-1663240406-0-31)

Press the space bar, look around

The space bar pauses the game. Now have a look around at your new home.

  • Use the WASD keys to move the camera.

  • You can also press the right mouse button (or the middle mouse button) and move the mouse to move the camera.

Specifically, you are looking for any water that is located nearby. We will need to dig our way to water during the first day, or "cycle" as days are called in Oxygen Not Included.

If you look at the bottom left of the screen you can see a row of icons: Base, Oxygen, Power and so on. These are all different categories of things you can build.


The icons are all greyed out at the start of the game. That's because all buildings require resources to build, and you start the game without resources. But not to worry, getting resources is easy enough - you just dig!

To issue a dig command to your dupes:

  • Use the dig icon in the bottom right (the picture of a shovel) or press "G"


Then click and drag across the section you want your dupes to dig out.


Get digging! Digging will create space for your base and give you resources. The darker stuff in the top left is carbon dioxide. I don't want to deal with that (yet) so I dug around it.

​Where you dig is entirely up to you, all that really matters is that we get access to resources. I usually start by digging a 2-3 tile high area in a straight line out in both directions from the printing pod.

When you are ready to get going, press the space bar again to unpause the game. You can pause the game any time you want. There are also three game speed options you can choose between, the icons for them are in the top left.

As your dupes get digging you will see the build icons in the bottom left start springing to life, as you start getting the resources needed to build things.

Outhouses, wash basins, water

Day 1: Outhouses, wash basins and access to water

On the morning of the second day your dupes will go to the bathroom. They will go to the bathroom even if there is no bathroom to go to. So the main goal for the first day is to take care of this impending yellow-water doom.

Basically, day one is all about getting toilets up and running.

While doing that, you can also give a bit of thought to how you want your base to be laid out. I like to have the printing pod in the center with ladder shafts on either side, but that's just a personal preference.


Getting started. Goals for the first cycle: building an outhouse, a wash basin and a pitcher pump with access to water.




Wash Basin

After using a toilet (or an outhouse) dupes will be covered in germs. These germs will spread to anything they touch. So a secondary goal for the first day is to build somewhere dupes can wash their hands to get rid of the germs.


Dupes won't actively seek out a way to wash their hands after using a toilet. So you should place the buildings so that dupes always pass by a sink after using a toilet.

I've been talking about toilets and sinks, but those are actually unlocked through research (which we'll cover later). The first toilets and sinks you have access to are called outhouses and wash basins.

The outhouse is found under the Plumbing icon in the bottom left.

The wash basin is found under Medicine in the bottom left

  • To change it, click on the wash basin or sink and use the Set Direction command.

  • One use for this is to only have dupes wash their hands when leaving a bathroom. (They will get germs from using the bathroom, so washing their hands on their way to using it is pointless.)

  • You can specify that you only want dupes to wash their hands when passing in a particular direction.

  • On top of wash basins and sinks there is a green arrow that shows its use direction(s).

Tip: wash basin and sink "use direction"


Pitcher Pump

You aren't quite done yet - the outhouse and wash basin both need resources to work.


Outhouses need dirt. You will probably have dug up some dirt already. If not, mouseover brown tiles in the starting area until you find dirt and then dig some up.

Wash basins need water. To be able to access water dupes need something called a pitcher pump.


The pitcher pump is found under Plumbing in the bottom left.

For the pitcher pump to work the hose thingy underneath it needs to be in water. (If you have set a dig command under your pitcher pump but dupes aren't digging it, they probably can't reach the dig command - build a ladder segment nearby.)

If a dupe is germy when they pass a wash basin or sink they will automatically wash their hands. But:

  • Only one dupe can wash their hands at a time at a wash basin or sink. If there are none free, dupes will not wait their turn. They happily run on and start spreading germs. To avoid this, build one wash basin for every outhouse.

  • Dupes will not intentionally look for a wash basin or sink after using an outhouse. You need to design your base so that they automatically pass one. A common way to do this is through door permissions.

​Controlling dupe movement using door permissions

When you have built a door (found under Base in the bottom left or by pressing "1") you can change its settings. One thing you can do is set a door so that it can only be passed in one direction.


If you build your outhouses on one side of the room and wash basins on the other, you can have the door on the side of the outhouses to only let dupes in, not out. That way dupes will pass a wash basin regardless of which direction they entered the room from.

Tip: making sure dupes wash their hands

Once dupes have filled outhouses and wash basins with dirt and water you can give yourself a pat on the back - disaster averted!

Cleaning up an oopsie

If you didn't quite manage to avert disaster, you will have yellow puddles start spreading in your base. Not to worry - you can clean up such messes.

  • To have dupes mop up "accidents" select the Mop command command in the bottom right and then click and drag across any puddles you want to mop up.

If any of the accident got into your clean water supply, germs will spread in your clean water. The easiest solution for now is to abandon that body of water and dig your way to a new, germ-free water source (*cough* or reload the game *cough*).


It is entirely possible to decontaminate germy water (in fact, we'll cover it later in this guide), but that's more of a mid-game thing.


  • For more on germs, see "Tip: germ basics"

  • You can use priorities to force certain things to be done first, like building bathrooms. For more, see the tip on priorities.

  • A germy dupe spreads germs to things they touch - ladders, machines, beds etc.

  • To see germs in your base, click on the Germ Overlay in the top right. (Or press F9.)

  • If a dupe is germy, click on the dupe and then use the "Move to" command to make them run past a wash basin to wash their hands.

  • If germs manage to spread in your base you can have dupes disinfect things using the Disinfect Buildings button on the bottom right. (Or press "I".)

  • If germs are a constant problem, check to make sure:

    1. you have a wash basin for every outhouse, and

    2. dupes must pass a wash basin after using an outhouse.

Tip: germ basics

You can set two types of priorities:

  1. Building Priorities

  2. Duplicant Priorities

​Building priorities affect what order dupes will do tasks like building, digging, supplying resources to outhouses or wash basins, etc.

Duplicant priorities make certain kinds of tasks - digging, building, etc. - more (or less) important for individual dupes. We'll look at duplicant priorities later in the guide.


To make sure your dupes get outhouses built during your first day, you can raise the priorities of the dig & build commands needed for that.


To change priorities, click on Priority in the bottom right (or press "P").

The default priority of tasks is 5. Choose 6 (or higher) for the necessary dig & build tasks to make sure they are taken care of first.

Priorities also affect the everyday maintenance of buildings. After 15 "visits" an outhouse will be out of order until emptied and restocked. To avoid future "accidents," you will want your outhouses to be emptied quickly. Also, to avoid the spread of germs you will want your wash basins to always have water.

It is highly recommended to raise the priority of your wash basins and outhouses. (I use 8 for outhouses and 6 for wash basins. But just make sure they are above your default values.)

The PANIC button. You can assign something "Top Priority." This will put the whole colony into alert until it is taken care of. (They will still sleep when tired, though.) This setting is marked "!!" in the priority selection screen (or press "P" and then "0" to select something to make top priority).

A note on priority creep. Speaking of default priority values, you might be tempted to keep raising more and more priorities to "get things done quicker." We've all tried this. It hasn't worked for any of us. Once everything is priority 9, nothing is priority 9.

Tip: getting the right things done first using Building Priorities

Room bonuses and planning out your (early) base


Hatches. As you dig you will uncover small critters called hatches. Don't worry, they won't attack. (But they will eat your resources.)

The first day is the most hectic; once bathrooms are up and running you can calm things down a bit.

There are a few different things to get working on next. You will need a source of oxygen, a source of power, and a source of food.


You can also improve the quality of life of your dupes by building them beds and a dining room.


Some of the things you'll be building need to be unlocked through research, so you'll also need a research station.

Anything you build can be deconstructed and rebuilt somewhere else, so you don't need to be too concerned with where you build things. And as you play more and more games of ONI you will start developing a personal preference for where to put things. But when planning out your base it's a good idea to keep room bonuses in mind.

Rooms that fulfill certain criteria can get bonuses to specific things. What the bonus is varies depending on the room type. You can see a list of the existing room types by clicking on the Room Overlay in the top right (the picture of a bed).


Let's get back to building. The next thing that can go wrong in your base is oxygen. Meaning you will run out of it.


Around your starting area you can see green tiles that give off bubbles. This is something called oxylite, which releases oxygen. There is enough oxygen and oxylite in your starting area to keep you going for a few cycles. But let's not wait to find out exactly how many.

You can produce oxygen, but that will require power. So before we sort out the oxygen supply let's sort out power.

Room Bonuses
  • You can click & drag to measure out a distance. Then right-click to cancel.

  • An easy way to measure distances - like planning out a floor of a certain length - is with the dig command (bottom left or press "G").

Tip: measuring distances

Power 1: hamster wheel & battery

The battery needs to be connected to the hamster wheel.

  • Use Wire (also found under Power) to connect the socket on the hamster wheel to the socket on the battery.

Laying wire will dig up earth tiles but will not destroy duplicant-built tiles. So if you want to keep your base tidy by hiding your wiring (and what kind of monster wouldn't want that?), build floor tiles for the wiring to go along.

Power, part 1: the hamster wheel and battery

Your first source of power will be the manual generator, more commonly known as the hamster wheel.

The hamster wheel generates power while a dupe pedals on it. As soon as the dupe stops pedaling, the hamster wheel stops generating power - and any machines hooked up to it stop working.

For machines to continue working after a dupe stops pedaling you need to add a battery to store power.

  • Build a Manual Generator (under Power, bottom left)

  • Build a Battery (also under Power in the bottom left)


Hamster wheel and battery. Connected using wire.






Hamster wheel, Manual Generator

Oxygen: the Oxygen Diffuser

There are several machines that can produce oxygen. They each use different inputs, different materials, to make oxygen.

How to produce oxygen will depend on what asteroid you chose to start on. For your first playthroughs, I'd recommend choosing an asteroid that has algae. (If you chose the first asteroid in the asteroid selection list, it will have algae.)

Look around your starting area for algae (green tiles). You can mouseover a tile to see what it is.


  • Build an oxygen diffuser (under Oxygen, bottom left)

  • Using wire (under Power), connect the oxygen diffuser to your power grid

The oxygen diffuser turns algae into oxygen. It will produce 500 g/s of oxygen. A standard dupe uses 100 g/s of oxygen, so one oxygen diffuser can supply enough oxygen for 5 standard dupes. (But a little extra oxygen production is a good thing.)

Dupes will fill up oxygen diffusers with algae automatically, you don't need to do set any specific commands for it. (However, I usually change the oxygen diffuser's priority to 6 to make sure it gets done.)

Oxygen Diffuser

Oxygen Diffuser


Oxygen diffuser. It turns algae into oxygen. Placed near a ladder to help with oxygen flow up and down the base.


Storage Bin

The placement of the oxygen diffuser isn't hugely important, but putting it near a ladder system going through your base will make it easier for oxygen to flow.

As long as your oxygen can spread out at least somewhat from your oxygen diffuser, you don't need to worry about pumping oxygen around your base. (That would also require a lot of power.)

You can save some dupe travel time by storing algae near the oxygen diffuser. To do this,


  • Build a Storage Bin (under Base, bottom left) near the oxygen diffuser

By default, storage bins don't accept any materials. To change this, click on the storage bin. You can set it to accept all materials or any combination you want.

  • Change the storage bin to only accept Algae, found under Organic


The storage bin. Very useful, but first you have to define what can be stored in them.

  • There are a number of different gases in Oxygen Not Included.

  • The main ones you will come across in the early game are oxygen and carbon dioxide. And possibly some chlorine and hydrogen.

  • To see oxygen levels - and other gases - in your base, click on the Oxygen Overlay in the top right. (Or press F1.)

  • Over time, gases will settle in their own layers: hydrogen rises to the top, oxygen below it, then chlorine and at the bottom your carbon dioxide.

  • Dupes don't like being in chlorine or hydrogen, but they won't take damage from it. So you don't need to be overly careful or worried. (Just don't tell them I said that.)

  • You can improve gas flow in various ways. An easy one is by having a somewhat spacious ladder shaft (or several). Instead of building a ladder with rooms immediately on both sides, leave an empty space on either side of the ladder. (Dupes can jump over one tile.) The extra space will improve airflow and also be useful for fire poles (Weeee!) and gas vents later in the game.

Tip: oxygen and gas flow

The research station, the research tree and the laboratory room bonus

Lots of useful stuff needs to be researched before it unlocks. One of the rooms in Oxygen Not Included is the Laboratory. A laboratory gives a bonus to research speed.

The room requirements for a laboratory are that it needs to have a light source and two research buildings.


At the start of the game you only have access to one research building, but you will unlock more soon. As for the light source, that you already have: the printing pod.

You can select the light overlay in the top right (the icon that looks like a light bulb, or press F5) to see light sources in your base.

Reseach staton

Research Station

Work done in light gets a "Lit Workspace" buff, which is a 15% speed increase to the work being done.

On the immediate right and left of the printing pod there is enough light for it to count as a lit workspace. So now:

  • Build a Research Station (found under Stations, bottom left) next to the printing pod.

  • Connect it to your power grid (with wire)

The research station requires dirt to actually do the research. So it isn't a bad idea to:

  • Build a storage bin (found under Base) near the research station.

  • Set it to store dirt (found under Cultivable Soil)

We still need one more research station to qualify for the Laboratory room bonus, but in preparation for that you can build doors and walls to create a room for your research stations. (If you're impatient to get the room bonus you can just build a second basic research station. Two of them also qualifies for the room bonus.)


The printing pod. It gives off enough light to count as a light source and gives a "Lit Workspace" buff nearby.


The research station. Once we build a second research building in the room it will qualify for a Laboratory room bonus.

There's a bunch of useful stuff that is unlocked through research. To conduct research, first open the research tree. This can be done using the research button in the top right or by first selecting a research station and then clicking on the research button that pops up.


The research tree. This pic is from the Spaced Out DLC. (Not to worry - it isn't as intimidating as it might seem.)

The research tree looks a bit different in the base game and the Spaced Out DLC.

With the research tree open, just click on something to start researching it. You can also click on something further down the research tree and all the necessary research required to get to it will be selected automatically.

Before starting research I will set duplicant priorities, to make sure my researcher does the researching.

Duplicant priorities versus Building Priorities

When dupes choose what to do, Duplicant Priorities come before Building Priorities.


By way of example, let's say we have a row of outhouses that need emptying. They are all set to priority 9 because things are about to go sideways. A dupe with a raised digging priority will keep digging - regardless of the Building Priority of the dig commands. A priority 1 dig command will win over a priority 9 command for anything else if the duplicant has a raised priority for digging.


Check "Enable Proximity"

There is a curiously well-hidden box that you will want to check fairly early on: Enable Proximity. Click on the cog in the upper right corner of the Manage Duplicant Priorities screen to find it. It makes dupes focus on closer tasks first.


Priorities. This is my standard setup while I only have three dupes.

Tip: Duplicant Priorities

When you are ready to start doing research it's a good time to set some priorities for your dupes. You can open the Duplicant Priorities menu by clicking on Priorities in the top right.

Here you can tinker with individual dupes' priorities for various tasks. You can raise priorities, lower priorities, or entirely forbid dupes from doing certain kinds of tasks. (Using the left & right mouse buttons.)

How to set your priorities will depend on what dupes you chose. Change priorities accordingly - research for researchers, building and digging for builders and diggers, etc.


Note: Later, you can grow your base to have enough dupes to have them focus on only one kind of task. But for now you will need to make sure one of your three starting dupes also takes care of the hamster wheel - so the base stays powered. And that someone empties and cleans the outhouses when they are full - so you don't have accidents.

  • The hamster wheel priority group is "Operating"

  • Wash basin and outhouse maintenance is "Tidying"

You can either raise those priority groups for some dupe or have a "general purpose" dupe without individual priorities, who will instead decide what to do based on Building Priorities.


Whatever you decide, it is a good idea to raise the Building Priorities for the hamster wheel (I usually have it on 6), the wash basin (I usually go with 6) and the outhouse (I have it on 8).

Beds, sore backs and the Barracks room bonus

Dupes will get a "Sore Back" debuff (-1 athletics for half a cycle) from sleeping on the ground.

  • To avoid the debuff, build each dupe a bed - called a cot - found under Furniture in the bottom left.

(The debuff isn't really a big deal and, to my shame, I often let my dupes sleep on the ground for a cycle or two - or "a cycle or two" - before getting around to beds..)

Beds, temporary


There are various room bonuses for bedrooms. The bonuses get better as your bedrooms become more luxurious.

The first room bonus you can get for your bedrooms is the Barracks room bonus, which gives dupes +1 morale.


Morale isn't a big deal early in the game so you don't really need to worry about it now. But morale will become more important later on, as you start assigning skill points to your dupes. (Low morale leads to stress, which leads to other unpleasantness.)


A bedroom. It's simple, but it qualifies as a "Barracks" and gives a room bonus of +1 morale.

​​If your goal is to as soon as possible avoid the Sore Back debuff you can build cots in temporary locations. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding where to put beds, even temporarily.


Dupes will not sleep well if their sleep is interrupted. For standard dupes (certain traits affect this), their sleep is interrupted if:

  • It is too bright. For instance next to the printing pod, or if there is a shine bug nearby. (You can access the Light Overlay on the top right or by pressing F5.)

  • They are sleeping next to a snoring dupe


Too bright. A shine bug will interrupt sleep.

If you have a snorer, called a "loud sleeper", leave two spaces - the width of a cot - between their bed and other beds. That distance is enough that their snoring won't bother those sleeping nearby.

Interrupted sleep will lead to an Unrested debuff, which lowers a dupe's immune system and increase their stress. (It's not a big deal, but worth avoiding in the long run.)


You can assign beds to specific dupes by clicking on the bed. This is useful for instance to make sure a loud sleeper sleeps in the right bed.

Food basics


The starting area has a decent amount of food. The red stuff growing around your base is Muckroot. Dig it up for easy calories.


Muckroot. Calories ready and waiting.

​By default dupes won't harvest any of the plants growing around your base. You can change that so dupes harvest either some or all of the wild plants. To do that:

  • click on the Harvest button in the bottom right

  • select either enable or disable harvest in the tool filter

  • click & drag over the plants you want to apply it to


To harvest or not to harvest. Use the harvest icon (bottom right) to decide.


Basic Farming. Found at the top left of the research tree.


Planter Box


Mealwood Seed

Wild plants will keep you fed for a while, but sooner or later you will want to have some food production of your own. To get that up and running you'll first need to do some research.

  • Research Basic Farming, found in the Food research branch

The research won't take that long. When done, you can build the Planter Box (under Food, bottom left).

Mealwood only grows in temperatures of under +30C. When deciding where to plant, you can use the Temperature Overlay (top right, the thermometer) to get an overview of suitable areas.


  • Build (at least) 5 planter boxes for every dupe you have

  • Plant Mealwood Seeds in them

To plant, select a planter box, select what you want to plant in it, then click "Plant."

​Note: After setting one Mealwood seed to be planted you can select the planter box and use the "Copy settings" command to issue plant commands for other planter boxes. (So you don't need to plant them all individually.)

You might not have enough Mealwood seeds to fill all planter boxes. Don't worry - harvesting can yield new seeds, and you will also unearth more seeds as you expand your base.


You can also get a seed by digging up Mealwood that is growing around your starter biome. A benefit to this is that they will grow more quickly if planted compared to when growing wild. You can click on a plant to compare "Wild Growth" and "Domestic Growth."


(The downside of domestic growth is that such plants require fertilizing, but that's not something worth worrying about now.)

  • Most foods have a "freshness" value

  • Freshness decreases over time


  • How quickly freshness decreases is determined by:

    • the temperature food is stored in

    • the atmosphere food is stored in

  • A Refrigerator slows freshness decline but does not stop it entirely

  • The Refrigerator is unlocked in Agriculture in the Food research branch

Tip: food freshness



​​Note: polluted dirt can have germs. Transporting germy things gives dupes germs. So it is a good idea to have the compost behind a wash basin. (I usually put my compost with my outhouses.)

Composts: dealing with polluted dirt

Your outhouses will produce polluted dirt. by researching Basic farming you will have unlocked the Compost (found under Refinement in the bottom left).

The good news is that dupes can use a compost it to turn polluted dirt into dirt. Any food that spoils can also be thrown in the compost. The bad news is that composts generate a lot of heat.

We will cover how to keep your base nice and cool later in the guide. For now, if you are worried about heat, you can also just not put any composts in your base.


Compost. Tucked away behind wash basins.

  • There are three kinds of research in the base game. (The Spaced Out DLC adds a fourth kind.)

  • You don't need to remember what they are called, but it does seem like the kind of thing that should be included in a guide. So:

    • Novice Research

    • Advanced Research

    • Interstellar Research

  • Each kind of research requires its own research station.

    • Novice Research is conducted on the Research Station (available immediately)

    • Advanced Research is conducted on the Super Computer (unlocked under Advanced Research in the Colony Development research branch)

    • Interstellar Research is conducted in the Virtual Planetarium (unlocked under Computing in the Computers research branch)

  • Each research station requires a different material to conduct research.

    • Novice research: Dirt

    • Advanced research: Water

    • Interstallar research: Data Banks

Tip: research basics (base game)

  • Some research stations have skill requirements:

    • The Research Station has no requirements, anyone can use it
    • The Super Computer requires the Advanced Research skill (1 point in the research skill tree)

    • The Virtual Planetarium requires the Astronomy skill (3 points in the research skill tree)

  • All research stations, once unlocked, are found under Stations.

  • Data Banks, which are needed to conduct Interstellar Research, are gathered by sending rockets fitted with research modules into space, to uncover and explore planets.


  • Interstellar Research is only necessary for the more advanced rocketry-related unlocks. Meaning there is no rush (or need) to get into rocketry if you don't want to. (That said, there are some so-called "space materials" that aren't available on your starting asteroid. But they are only necessary for advanced builds.) (Basically, by the time you are ready to start building them, sending up a few rockets will be no big deal.


  • The first two kinds of research are the same. Just dirt and water.

Tip: research basics (Spaced Out DLC)

Advanced research

Advanced Research: the Super Computer

To keep improving your colony you will need to do a lot of research. The research station you have now can only do novice research.

The second kind of research, Advanced Research, requires two things:

  1. a Super Computer and

  2. a dupe with one skill point spent in Researching


Super Computer

You unlock the Super Computer through researching Advanced Research in the Colony Development branch of the research tree. (You will need to research Employment first - you can't skip over research. But that's OK, we'll need that, too.)

When the research is finished,


  • build a Super Computer (found under Stations, build it next to the printing pod)

  • connect the super computer to your power grid

This will complete your research room and give you the Laboratory room bonus: +10% work speed. The reserch stations are also next to a light source, giving you a +15%  Lit Workspace speed bonus. So your research room now gives a total of +25% to research speed.


Laboratory. The room bonus and light source give a combined total of +25% research speed.

By now your dupes have probably started getting their first skill points. (If not yet, then soon.)


Whatever dupe you have chosen to be your researcher, spend their skill point in the Research branch of the skill tree to unlock the Advanced Research skill. Then they can use the Super Computer.

Something to consider: While you are still powering your base with a hamster wheel, power equals dupe time. For now, consider sticking to research you know you need either now or soon. Once you move on to coal power, feel free to go research-nuts.

(Disclaimer: I rarely follow this advice. I usually go research-nuts from the start. It leads to more frequent brownouts, particularly during the night. But I haven't found that to be a big deal.)


It's a start. Power, oxygen, bathrooms, bedroom and research room sorted.




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