This is the unoffical FAQ for Skyrates. The offical Website's Manual is rather out of date, so the wiki has created an Alternative. The offical tutorial is still a good starting point, and the ingame tutorial/help button will help you with the most common tasks.
- A full Skill Point guide as well as brief descriptions and an attribute chart of every ship in the game are available.
- If you still have a question to ask, ask on the Help radio tab in the game; players are always happy to help! You may also as question on the on the Skyrates Forum, particularly the Flight School section.
- You can also check elsewhere in the Skybrary, where a lot of useful game mechanics, game tips (including Combat and Trading) and Skytopian history have been recorded.
- For some roleplaying (RP) aid, check out the Roleplay guide.
Several Player-created Tools are available. Other useful tools are:
FAQ primary creditEdit
This FAQ and structure originally came from work by Kyra / alliisara.
What level of technology exists in Skyrates?Edit
Skyrates is at a kind of steampunk level. Higher tech versions of lower tech, somewhat akin to post WW2, and very much like the TaleSpin kind of technologies. There are no guided/seeking missiles at this point, nor robots, nor jet engines. See Skyrates Tech for more details.
This depends highly on how good you are at combat, and the current quality of the trade routes. The best method, in fact, is a combination of both. However, a casual player should focus on trading, as combat is very time consuming. Missions are not a good primary source of income, though some have decent payouts.
Why is the gameplay so slow?Edit
Skyrates was originally an experiment in sporadic play, and many of the players do quite well checking in only occasionally.
What happens if I leave the game?Edit
The game continues running, even when you're not logged in! So set up your Queue, and come back when you can.
What happens if I run out of money?Edit
If a player has 0 cash remaining they can no longer purchase trade goods, and may not have enough money to service. However, since your plane can never actually run out of fuel or ammo (see Condition) a player may always hunt for pirates no matter how little money they have, and then use their winnings to purchase trade goods, service their plane, and resume playing normally.
Why are there so few places to go?Edit
I can see a skyland, but it won't show me its name! And I can't plot there!Edit
The grayed out skylands are the ones you'll unlock with the next level of Flight License. If you want to fly to them, you'll need to buy the next level of that skill.
How do I rename my plane?Edit
In the window to view your plane's stats, there is a small pencil to the lower-right of the aircraft's current name. Click this, and a box will pop up that lets you type a new name. Click the checkbox when you're done, and the name is changed immediately.
Can I run out of fuel?Edit
No. Planes can not run out of fuel, they instead slowly gain Condition Effects until they are repaired. One's plane should never become stuck and cannot be damaged beyond repair in Skyrates.
Can I transfer funds between accounts?Edit
No. This is intentional. With the ability to transfer funds come a whole lot of ways to abuse the system. Besides, Skyrates is about the journey through the tiers; it wouldn't be any fun if you could just jump into the high-level plane.
Why isn't there X feature? I asked for it and the Devs said "not now"!Edit
The devs are really awesome, but also really busy. A lot of their time is spent fixing bugs, which leaves them less time to work on new features, and what time they do have is spent on big changes. They do this on their own time, for free, so don't hassle them. =P
How do I plot multiple flights?Edit
Once you've plotted a course to a skyland, click on the skyland to bring up more options. You can queue trades, service, queue a hunt, etc. Once you've set up what you want to do on that skyland, you can then queue a flight to another skyland by clicking on the other skyland. You'll get the option to plot a flight there, and it'll add it on to your planned queue. Make sure that you click "Update" or "Start", though, or it won't change your queue!
What plane should I get?Edit
Why don't the crew members/missions refresh when I land?Edit
Crew members and missions only refresh when you land on a different skyland. So if you've been hunting and land on the same skyland you left, then you'll see the same crew members and missions as were there before. Visit another skyland to reset them.
Which goods are worth more?Edit
Goods start out cheapest at "12 o'clock" with wood, and become more valuable as you go clockwise around the circle. In general, it's worth more to do a trade route with a good further around the circle. There are three separate "quality levels", shown by the color change for the section, and there are distinct price-jumps between the different groups.
Which types of trades are best?Edit
Price changes over "color" values are relatively flat, and purple to red trades are obviously the best. Just remember that one "color" drop should be roughly equal to another, so a two color drop trade that takes X amount of time is about equivalent to a four color drop trade that takes 2X amount of time. Despite this, purple to red trades are especially good as those colors are by far the most stable, so you can plan further ahead and worry less on purple to red routes.
I lost money on my trade, even though they were different colors! How come?Edit
If the prices are too close, you may still lose money due to taxes! So be careful, especially before you have a trader or skill points in the tax-reducing skills. One color drop is generally safe for low-taxed goods (but far from high profit), whereas highly taxed goods you will want a greater color difference.
How does the Trade insurance work?Edit
In your Options area (lower right button), in the Options tab (upper right), there is an option in the middle of the screen for Trade Insurance Wanted which should be selected by default. When selected, you will not purchase any goods that are deep into the red range due to a run on the market. It will still buy at certain shallow red levels, so losing money is still possible. With the removal of "infrared" pricing, there is no reason not to enable this.
How do I know how much something is selling for when I'm planning a route?Edit
Clicking on the "Show Cargo" button in the lower left will pop-up a screen with all the trade items on it. You can mouse over a sklyand and a ring will grow showing you the relative amounts of a commodity on a skyland. Also, if you click on a particular item in the "Show Cargo" panel, the skylands will change color to reflect this amount, giving you the ability to compare multiple skylands at once. The only time you can see the exact price is by asking the trader at a Skyland.
Why aren't my queued missions clearing?Edit
After restarting Skyrates, you will notice that missions completed on your flight plan aren't cleared, preventing you from using that space to trade on an updated flight plan. This is a bug and the workaround is to open and then close your mission list and then do something to update your queue (e.g. opening and closing the trade screen, adding and cancelling a new flight leg). Missions on your flight plan should then be cleared correctly, allowing you to queue trades properly.
Is it possible to make too much money?Edit
Yes, it appears that you'll eventually hit a bug. Speculatively, this will occur shortly after selling goods worth a total of 2.1bn throughout the round. The bug will give you an error screen any time you do anything and will prevent you from earning/spending any more flight or trade points, but you can still play the game. As most active players focus on inf running, few players ever reach this point.
What happens when I get shot down?Edit
Pirates of Skytopia are actually quite nice...due to a few current issues in the game, losing a combat will not cause you to lose cargo. Your armor and ammo will be back to full for the next fight, however. If you have crew, they will be temporarily upset and not perform as well.
What if I blackout in combat?Edit
If you use all your Gumption meter, both the combat screen and your radar will go dark, hiding any enemy planes. You will also be unable to turn until you recover some of your Gumption meter.
Help! I keep losing! How do I get away without spending all that money?Edit
If you find yourself in a combat you'd rather not fight, you can flee by flying far enough that all the enemy planes leave your radar area and then clicking Flee when it appears. Be careful, as they will chase you most of the time, and some planes take a long time to stop pursuit. Still, fleeing is free, and you still get partial reward and possibly Gun Mods for any kills you made.
What about if my Skyrate runs into some combats while I'm gone?Edit
If you make it back before your Skyrate finishes a leg of his/her flight, then you can manually fight or flee all the combats that are queued up. Otherwise, on landing, the game will Autoresolve all your combats.
On March 2, 2008, the devs clarified how the autoresolver works in this thread. In particular, the autoresolver "takes into account your Skyrate's plane, your Skyrate's plane upgrades, and your Skyrate's combat skills." It does not take into account your record in previous combats.
Why are my combats so hard?Edit
There are several possible reasons for this.
• Are you carrying any missions? Missions increase the level of combats that you fight, even cargo missions and Treasure Hunts. If your combats are too hard, try dropping a mission or two.
• Do you have any skill points in Combat Infamy? Combat Infamy increases the level of the combats you face. Unfortunately, you can't give it back once you get it. Fly to somewhere that has a lower danger level until you are better at combat.
• If it's not one of the above, you're in an area that has a higher danger rating. Click the "Show Danger" option, and go to someplace that's less black.
How many levels do missions add?Edit
First of all, all missions add levels, even non-combat missions. So even if you're carrying a Treasure Hunt or cargo mission, you'll still get harder combats.
• "Low" danger missions add 2 levels
• "Medium" danger missions add 4 levels
• "High" danger missions add 6 levels
Are there any hotkeys for the maneuvers?Edit
Yes. The maneuvers are hotkeyed to the numbers at the top of the keyboard:
* to determine the direction of sideslip, barrel roll or wingover, start turning left or right before hitting the hotkey, otherwise it will be chosen at random.
Can I change the maneuver hotkeys?Edit
If you want to change the maneuver hotkeys, you'll need to get a program that lets you write your own hotkeys. There are several such free programs for Windows, but we've been having trouble finding such programs for Mac and Linux. If you know of any programs, let us know.
How does the Auto-resolver (AR) work?Edit
As outlined by a developer forum post:
It takes into account your Skyrate's plane, your Skyrate's plane upgrades, and your Skyrate's combat skills. Also, rather than just going off of a simple combat level number, it actually generates planes to fight against you and does several volleys back and forth.
As an aside: I say above that all of these things are your Skyrate's because in our design, you and your Skyrate are not the same (which is why he/she calls you "boss" all the time). When you're in a manual combat, you're taking over the controls from your Skyrate and teaching her how to fight, which is why she earns CP from the fight which can be spent on combat skills.
AR fleeing has been changed to an option. (see next entry)
When does the Auto-resolver (AR) flee?Edit
The auto-resolver will flee when you reach a certain percentage of your base armor remaining (not your current). Although this was previously one (1) armor, there is now a setting in your Options which defaults to 50%. For example, if you fly a Hades with 10 armor, this means that the AR will automatically attempt to flee any battle it enters when you have 5 armor or less. In your options area (lower right button), in the Options tab (upper right), there is an option in the middle of the screen for Autoresolver Cowardice which should be 50% by default. Setting this adjusts the armor level at which your AR will attempt to flee. Note that as you change planes, this value will be quite different, and as you get more armor, you may want it lower if you like the income.
How do I earn Flight Points?Edit
Flight Points (FP) are earned at the rate of one (1) flight point per 30 minutes of actual flight time. Flight time includes travel between skylands, waypoints, and hunt time. If you're sitting at a skyland, you are not earning FP.
While flight points are one of the fastest set of points you will gain as you start the game, it is important to note that they're scarcer later on. Although you start slow with Trade and Combat points, they both accelerate as you get faster, better, further out, whereas FP will collect at the same level throughout your time.
How do I earn Trade Points?Edit
Trade Points (TP) are earned at the rate of one (1) TP per 3,500 in total trade profits. Trade profits are your revenues (sales income) minus your cost of goods (prices you pay to get the goods. TP come from your totals, so every small trade profit you make will build towards your next points. (You do not need to get the whole 3,500 in a single sale.) If you take a loss on a sale for any reason, you will not lose your existing TP, but you will not gain any new TP until you get back up to the next 3,500 mark above your previous point.
Income from combats and missions have no effect upon your trade profit, and therefore will not gain any TP. Purchasing anything other than trade goods (guns, planes, upgrades) will not effect your profit either.
TP will often start off very slowly as you work up to the levels where you can get greater and greater income, but will be easy to obtain even without a strong trade focus later in the game, and will be acquired very rapidly if you focus heavily upon the trading aspect of the game.
How do I earn Combat Points?Edit
Combat Points (CP) are earned from manually resolved combats, or occasionally from auto-resolved combats. CP are gained at a rate related to how many levels of pirates you take out during a combat(Different planes have different values). Auto-resolved combats may only give one CP per combat, but higher level combats are more likely to give one. Early manual combats will give you one (1) CP only, but winnings can progress as high as eight(8) CP at higher levels.
Just as with TP, CP will start off somewhat slow (although they're easier to acquire early on than TP, due to patrols and combats en route.) As you progress, they will be very easy to acquire if you focus on doing manual combats, but can never be obtained quite as fast as TP at the high end, due to the maximum per combat combined with the requirement of manual action.
Factions and InfluenceEdit
What are factions?Edit
Factions are groups of people who join together for camaraderie and common purpose. The basic function of a faction within the game is as a grouping that determines where the influence from any missions you run will be applied to. However, factions can also be a source of information, chat, history, and role play. Factions will not effect missions offered, your ability to gain personal influence, or ability to play the rest of the game in any way whatsoever.
You are part of Flight School [Yellow Faction] when you join the game.
How do I join a faction?Edit
To join another faction, you must first make you way out of the cluster of skylands where you start off, until you reach the Capital Skylands, which are easy to notice as they have colored names, corresponding to each faction. Except for Echo, access to the Capital Skylands requires Flight License level 2 or higher, as well as a plane with the range to reach them (any Tier 2 plane will suffice for any of the five capitals). Echo can be reached easily from the starting area (and it's possible to start the game on Echo) so you may join the Independents in Tier 1, or even in Tier 0 if you start in the same cluster with Echo.
You then fly to that faction's 'home' skyland. You can ask at the Council (icon to the far right) about the faction at any skyland, and will be told where to go for the controlling faction there. At the capital, talk to the Council and select the faction button to join that faction. Keep in mind this decision will have repercussions. You are able to leave the faction that you join, however, once you leave, you may not rejoin that faction (except for Independents) for 30 days. Talk with people in chat, find the group you really want to be with. You may want to look over the History to consider if you want to join for historical reasons or Factions for one author's perspective on each.
The Azure League capital is Islo.
The Jade Hand capital is Eltsina.
The Crimson Armada capital is Fuseli.
The Earthen Order capital is Lhasa.
The Court of Violets capital is Arcadia.
The Independents capital is Echo.
The Flight School has no capital.
The Hidden Fleet has no capital.
The Pirates have no capital as such, but Tortuga's name is black as that is traditionally their home.
With the introduction of the Independent faction, Flight School no longer has a capital, and no longer can gain influence under its own flag. Both the FS and Independent "factions" have a few restrictions, including;
- Neither faction may gain influence for the faction, and thus cannot plant their flag on any Skyland.
- Neither faction has a "Faction" tab for chat.
- Neither faction has a private subforum on the Skyrates forums. The Flight School forum is public.
Nevertheless, individuals in either faction may still gain influence for themselves, and may become governors of a Skyland.
As a few final notes; once you have left Flight School, you may never return to it, and the Hidden Fleet and Pirate factions cannot be joined. They do not have capitals, and next to nothing is known of the Hidden Fleet.
What is influence, and what is it for?Edit
Influence is used to change the flag on a skyland, or acquire the "Leader" spot, also called governor. At this time, this has no known effect on any actual function of the game, it merely has a visual and conceptual effect. Even without statistical changes, there are a large number of players who consider the 'influence' game as important, and all factions have a some active contingent if you are interested in joining the action.
When you complete missions, your influence for that mission is added to your factions total influence at the skyland you acquired the mission at. In addition, it's added to your personal total influence, and personal influence at that skyland.
The faction who acquires the greatest total influence at skyland gets their flag flying over that skyland on the map. (Click the 'show flags' option to see these.)
The individual who acquires the greatest total influence at a skyland gets their name in the leader board for that skyland, on the rankings influence page.
What are missions, and what are they for?Edit
At each skyland, there are three people to talk to in the Tavern. The moose (left) gives out some basic missions (usually trade), the mayor (middle) usually gives out trade missions, but some combat missions, and the badger (right) gives out combat missions.
Each mission contains some degree of money and/or Influence reward. Usually there's a combination of both, but some missions only give one or the other. Combat missions will require a certain number of kills (not levels or CP, just actual plane kills, regardless of their level.) Trade missions will require that you carry a certain quantity of cargo to another skyland. There are also some special missions like the Treasure Hunts, which will not tell you specifically where to go, you must travel to find them.
Each of these missions will complete when you've accomplished them (kills, trade/treasure hunts upon arrival) and there is no need to return to the location you acquired the mission at. Note that some missions have a penalty if you lose a combat, and have various text to inform you of this.
Missions can be a source of income if you lack a decent trade option at the skyland or do a lot of combat, and treasure hunts can be handy if you want an option at spare cash.
Missions are the only source for acquiring influence in the game.
You can carry a maximum of three missions at a time.
Why aren't there any missions available?Edit
The game will never show a mission that you cannot accept and, in lower tier planes, you won't have enough cargo space to make them show up. Furthermore, most of the Lion's missions require Skyland Trust and/or Trade Prestige.
Some missions also require that you have completed another mission at least once; however, when you have completed the prerequisite mission once, it should be unlocked everywhere.
If you have just started the character, there will be no missions available until you have completed at least one flight.
Is there a limit to how much influence I can earn?Edit
There is no hard limit, however, you will lose 2% of your influence each day, e.g., at 5,000,000 influence, you will be losing 100,000 influence per day.
How does mood affect influence?Edit
If a skyland's mood is high, then the controlling faction gains a boost to influence earned there. Conversely, if a skyland's mood is low, all other factions gain a boost to influence earned there.
The mood at a skyland starts high and worsens over time and there is currently no way to raise a skyland's mood.
Faction capitals are unique in that they always have a Celebratory mood when controlled by the appropriate faction. If a capital is taken over by another faction, then it will begin Rioting.
Can I join the Pirates or Hidden Fleet?Edit
Not at this time. They are NPC factions that provide a challenge for factional control of skylands. If either of them manages to take over a skyland, all other factions are reduced to zero influence. Conversely, when a skyland controlled by the Pirates or Hidden Fleet is taken over by a player faction, both the Pirates and Hidden Fleet are reduced to zero influence.
Can I join multiple factions?Edit
No, you cannot be part of more than one faction. You may leave a faction by becoming Independent at Echo, however, you may not rejoin your old faction for 30 days.
How do I get a crewmember?Edit
Crew are citizens that you can find hanging around in the tavern by talking to the Moose. They will improve your actions in a variety of ways, and can be wonderful assets and friends. Planes can have multiple crew slots, although some very early planes cannot carry crew. Within the same tier, you will find variations to max crew, so take a look at that when you're shopping.
In general, the first crew of a type is the most effective, and adding a second of the same type will provide some improvement, but not nearly the level of the first. (See Crew) Mechanics operate independently, and can provide an ever increasing amount of armor regeneration.
Crew options on a skyland work like missions and patrols, and are determined when you land at a new skyland. They will not change until you've landed at another skyland and come back. (Hunting, waypoints, etc do not change this.) The crew members that you see will not necessarily be seen by someone else landing at that skyland while you're there, as they will get their own selection set.
Crew have happiness ratings (a.k.a. morale) that vary from angry to "King Slime Happy" (the happy with the crown, or the maximum happy.) These ratings can alter how much you get out of their abilities. You can choose to split your profits and bounties (combat income) with them, and if you do it will only be split when they're less than king slime happy.
Crew level up from activities related to their functions, and have a daily income based upon their level.
I have an open crew slot! What type of crew member should I hire?Edit
There are four kinds of crew members you can pick up: Trader, Mechanic, Diplomat, Navigator
Planes can have different quantities of crew members, crew will join you on a new plane if there is room. If there is not, you will have to drop crew members until it matches the plane you wish to acquire.
Crew members gain experience as you do things that they can be involved in.
You will choose crew members based upon what kind of improvements you would like in your play.
What do each of those do?Edit
Trader: helps increase your profits by reducing the taxes you pay to buy or sell goods, and helps you collect more money from combats won.
Mechanic: Helps slow the effects of Condition decay, and makes your plane a little bit tougher in combat.
Diplomat: Provides significant increases in both money and influence gains from missions, and reduces the costs of bribes if you wish to bribe out combats. Also helps avoid cargo theft on combat loss by hiding goods.
Navigator: helps increase your speed between skylands with two new flight options: risky and safe. Flying risky will greatly increase the number of combats you will encounter on a flight (great for combat or combat income) while flying safe will greatly reduce the number of combats you will encounter on a flight (great for low combat traders, or dangerous unattended queue routes.)
Navigators are universally useful, and are often suggested as an early crew member, although any of these can be useful for you.
Navigators are the most difficult crew member to locate, but this doesn't mean you wont see plenty of them. However, it is quite common to not see one for long stretches, and if this is when you start looking, it can be frustrating.
Although there are a few ways to look for them, one of the simplest and earliest areas with a higher likelyhood of having a Navigator is around Tehras, Earthbreach, and Islo. Note that these are not the ONLY locations to find them in, just good places to check when you can't fly very far yet.
Why are my crew members mad at me?Edit
Your crew members' morale is affected by a large number of factors, including how their "personalities" interact with each other. The thing that angers them the most is being shot down and hurt in combat, whether via autoresolver or manual.
I didn't lose any combats, and they're still mad at me!Edit
Crew members with incompatible personalities are a great source of frustration in this area. Another thing that will make your crew unhappy is lack of action; winning a manual combat or two fixes this one. In general, putting points into the skill Leadership will make your crew happier as well.
What is a wing?Edit
A Wing is a group of players who have joined together. Within a wing, you get your own wing chat tab where members may privately chat while online. The wing has no effect on any activity in game otherwise.
You do not need to be in the same faction to join a wing.
How do I join a wing?Edit
Currently the only way to join a wing is to create one in the My Skyrate -> Wing tab, or to accept an invite from another person.
Where is there a list of current wings?Edit
Wings has a section where you may add your own wing, but the Skyrates website currently does not display a list of wings.
Where can I look at my current wing/accept applications?Edit
At the top of the window, the 'My Skyrate' tab will take you to the location where you can manage your wing.
How many people can be in a wing?Edit
It seems to not be limited in the current version of the game.
How many wings are there per skyland?Edit
Wings no longer have a per-skyland limit, as they do not appear on that Skyland at the moment.
How do I start my own wing?Edit
You may start one any time from My Skyrate, in the Wing section. You do not have to be on the island you wish to base the wing at.
Chat and ForumsEdit
The forum is directly linked to your ingame characters, so logging into a character for the game means that character is logged in to the forum.
What do the different colored names in chat mean?Edit
The colored names in chat are based upon the faction the person is in. They correspond primarily to the nine basic factions and a couple special types: Azure League [blue], flight school [yellow], Jade Hand [green], Crimson Armada [red], Court of Violets [purple], Earthen Order [brown], Independents [orange], the developers [grey names], and test/special characters [white names].
Beige text with a colored >> is an emote. Type /me before text to send emotes.
Is there a way to ignore a person in chat?Edit
You can ignore a person with the /ignore command. This will stay in place until you've reloaded or logged out and back in. To ignore "NOTME" you would type: /ignore NOTME
If the person has more than one name (like, say, "Really Annoying Person"), then to ignore him/her you would type: /ignore "Really Annoying Person"
Is there a friends list?Edit
The Forum currently supports a limited friends list, you may access it by logging into the forums and checking the User Control Panel or by clicking the profile of the person you wish to add. You can see when a given person is online on the forums, but not whether or not they are logged into the game.
What else should I know about the radio?Edit
This page goes into a lot more detail.
Can I change my name/avatar?Edit
Currently, you cannot change the name or avatar yourself. However, the devs are very friendly and helpful, and will be glad to change a name or avatar for you if you ask them nicely.
Organized here by their common nicknames, here are some error messages you may see in Skyrates and possible troubleshooting steps. In almost every case, clearing your browser's cache, waiting a few minutes and reloading the Flash client usually helps.
1/3'ed (one-third'ed)EditWhen the loading bar gets "stuck" about 1/3 of the way through, you've been "1/3'ed". The Skyrates server is up, but it's not accepting your login credentials (to log you into the Flash client) or is unable to accept them. It usually rights itself within about 5 minutes, but if you're unable to login after that long, make a post about it in the Bug Reports section of the Skyrates Forum.
Policy'edEditIf a message about a Policy File appears, your access to Skyrates may be being blocked by a firewall.
SnowconedEditThis one usually indicates that the Skyrates server has gone down or that you've lost your connection to it. Follow the moose's advice: try again (but you usually don't have to wait more than 1 minute).
What is a reset?Edit
Periodically, all players are put back to the beginning - as if they just started playing the game.
Oh noes! A reset sounds awful!Edit
This isn't a bad thing! You get to start over, try a different way up the Tiers, and remember that everyone else is in the same boat! So you'll get a chance to really compare yourself to all the top players. Plus, without resets, the game would get old once everyone all had their top planes. It's also a good time for the devs to add major new changes that would break the game if added in the middle of a round.
What happens in a reset?Edit
A reset often involves a lot of changes to the game, such as a rearrangement of the skylands, new skills, and other changes. The devs tend to put in major changes at resets. Also, everyone gets sent back to the "beginning", like a new member.
Will I keep my name/money/plane?Edit
In a reset, the only thing you'll keep are your characters' names. In all other ways, you'll be back to a brand new player - all experience points gone, money reset to 10k, and a CR-4P for your plane.
How often do resets happen?Edit
There tend to be at least several months between resets. The current round (2.8) started on November 4th, 2013. The devs will also let everyone know when a reset is pending, so you should have a couple weeks' warning.
When will the next reset be?Edit
Unknown. For the time being, there's not much to go on other than the current round's start date.