Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Traveling far and not so

In order to not succumb to brainless gameplay an thus to waste time with things of which I discover afterwards that I did not have fun, I am trying to think about things I want to do.

Itching was the moment when I was again waiting the n-th time for docking clearance and I saw a player Lakon-6 depart. Slowly, regal, steady. Such a perfect victim for a little piracy. It is just, the Cobras heavy weaponry teamed with a good cargo hold make it the ideal privateer vessel. Somthing to try out, maybe. Me, a pirate? No, not me. Right? Maybe later...

Today I plan to do some more Cobra combat and then continue the trade runs in order to get to the Lakon 6. Why does this feel like just another level grind like in those MMO? I could stop here and just go my ways with my jack-of-all-trades ship. However, my beta play strategy involves that I try out every ship type. Besides, true exploring seems only possible with a vast jump range; only the Lakon-type ships seem to offer this in this beta. Then it is evening and my kid is in bed. Enter the game.

- a very nice random screenshot from the internet; we really should have external camera view for ourselves´ narcism

My Cobra is docked in Aulin and I warm myself up with a trade run of agri-medicines to I Bootis. Then I briefly ponder my options. Screw it, I want a change of scenery and boldly go where I ain´t gone before. LS 3006, Acihaud pops into my mind, this darn mission which I could not complete because of jump range limitations in my earlier ships. So I decide to travel there and see whether some new trade runs or something new I haven´t seen before can be found. I check the galaxy map and calculate that I can take 19 units of fish amd still make it. After launch, I can almost hear the ship computer giggle, of course I cannot make the jump, why, you cheeky buggy galaxy map!

Jettison fish, or redock and sell? In an earlier post, I quoted a player who claimed that some too-far jumps are possible if you cruise a bit to a spot which is closer to the target system. I also faintly remember a topic from the forum where they wonder whether you can supercruise instead of hyperjump to another system, but I am too lazy to look for it, I want to try it out!

Since my target system is not in jump range, it is not listed in the left menu. However, I can click on it in the galaxy map and it is then targeted when you exit the map. Like this, I can aim my Cobra towards LS 3006 and accelerate. And accelerate. And accelerate. I travel about 20 minutes, I Bootis´ sun is already a small speck in my back, my speed is 1020c, still accelerating, apparently limitless, but the discance to LS 3006 does not decline. Is the differency between light years (ly) and light seconds (ls) that big that even 1000c cannot make it budge? I doubt it. Checking back my distance to the IBootis sun, confirms that the game is not working properly here; I can see that my travel is still counted at a fixed ticking of light seconds, even though these should tick by much much faster with the 1000c speed I have reached in the meanwhile. I guess the beta does just not have the code required to get closer to a system which is only supposed to be reached by hyperjump, or the maximum speed of supercruise is fixed way below the 1000c the ship shows me, or even 1000c is so slow that the distance indicator in ly simply cannot really budge. What a pity.

I also notice that there are still unidentified signals (US) popping up. First I am excited; is there something strange and alien to discover this far outside of the system? I do not want to loose my momentum and continue, but after some time my curiosity gets the better of me and I decelerate and drop into an US. Deceleration is surprisingly fast and smooth; I guess this is because I am far from any gravitational body. However, after visiting three US along the way, it is clear that we just have the standard random generator at work here. Well, so much for that, Frontier cannot programm for every crazy idea players are coming up with!

One of the US had me encounter a Lakon Type 9 Freighter with the weird name "Dangerous Waste Collection". I remember that there is a kill mission on the bulletin board for this particular ship. I circle-strafe the ship for a while and it does not jump away. I decide to attack it, screw the "wanted" status, and see what cargo it yields. The fight is long and arduous. My four gimballed C1-lasers which I boasted so much about in my last post seem to take an eternity. Well, shields are off with one charge of the weapon batteries and a bit, but the hull! I target the subsystem "cargo hatch", as I read this would make the ship spill its cargo. However, no matter from which side or angle I attack the Lakon-9, and it is not easy because it freaking turns a lot, too, the cargo hatch does not blow. Instead, the Lakon blows up. I was so focused on trying to damage the cargo hatch that I did not notice how the hull was nearing 0%. Isn´t it a bit weird that a subsystem is still at 90% and the hull is overall at 0%? Shouldn´t each component also degrade together with the hull? No matter, as a nice surprise, when I check I realize that I still have "clear"-status; apparently, this far out of the system is treated like being in anarchy space? Or maybe this ship is a mission required ship, so no penalty to shoot it down, who knows.

 - Lakon Type 9 freighter. About 3.5 million credits.

With the experiment ended, I sell my fish in Aulin and jump empty to LS 3006. I am a bit disappointed. For four nights, this system marked for me the shores of an unreachable, far away island, and it turns out to be a plain system, nothing special, not even some exotic trade goods. I continue to Acihaud, and there it is the same. The same stuff as in the "starter systems" where I had lifed so far, the same plain random bulletin board missions, the same space station designs, hell, even the suns largely look the same. And less lucrative trade options on top of it. I check the galaxy map for trade routes, consult Slopey´s tool, but I cannot help to judge: this part of the galaxy is BORING!

Change of plans, then. Back to the core systems. I do not feel like patroling, especially since I already had this part during my cruise into the empty void. I nevertheless do drop into some US along my travels, old reflexes from being a completionist and pack-rat in other games. My weapon setup turns out to be disappointing. There is a Cobra which actually manages to escape because my freaking gimballs seem to be off target half of the time, so I waste precious weapon energy. Same happens then with an Eagle; it was yellow at first, with "clear"-status, but it wanted my fish and attacked me. I was so embarrassed when it warped away; I have the faster ship and more firepower, how could I let this happen!? To top it all off, I engage a Viper with "wanted" status, and this pilot just flies circles around me. At 5 km, far out of any weapon range. And I cannot get close. Even my desperate try to switch flight assist off in order to have permanent top boost speed does not change this situation.

I am disgruntled and I finally dock in Aulin. I do not have the cash for better weaponry and I certainly do not want to continue this embarassing wanna-be way of the hunt. Some more trade runs around the already known good trade routes, and I have finally enough cash to buy a Lakon Type 6. Wohoooo!

- This is not the Lakon Type 6 freighter. Need screenshot!

What can I say? My notes on the next two hours become painfully short. I succumb again to the trade grind. At first, my cash is too short to fill up the 100 units of my cargo load, but this issue is soon alleviated. After some time I discover that, also selling off even the loaned weapon, I have a crazy long jump range. I found only out a bit late because the left menu apparently has a limit to how many reachable systems it can list and the galaxy map has become nearly useless, displaying a crazy thick web of jump lines which obfuscates quite everything. I can make a one-jump trade route between Morgor and Aulin, and the profits are nice! Morgor (some kind of metal the name I forgot; disadvantage of having a tool doing the notes for you), Aulin (some high tech stuff the name I forgot), Morgor, Aulin, and to have some variation at least, I consult Slopey´s and switch to Morgor, I Bootis, Morgor, I-Bootis (why, fish, of course!), Dahan. My profits per run vary from 20.000 - 60.000 Credits, with the best sale for Titanium from Dahan to I Bootis.

At some point I loose it all. Almost. Thank god it happens at a time where I already had my cash account  buffered up again. While waiting for being released from the landing pad for launch (Lakon ships apparently need to be put into the hanger first in order to be turned, then go back up), I alt-tab to Slopey´s tool. When I tab back, my ship is released and suddenly gets a crazy fast impulse which accelerates it sidewards right into the station walls. Oh noes! The ship survives and spins crazily and I wrestle to contol it, however, controls do not respond, the ship touches a pillar, spins around and crashes again into the station wall and finally blows up. Whoops.

 - still life

Some tense moments, because I had read in the forum that there is a bug which prevents you to claim insurance and you go back to the starter ship. No, I am lucky, the Lakon pops up as an insurance option. Super cheap on top, since I do not have any equipment fitted, some 1200 Credits (maybe also a bug, because too little of the 5% fee I read about in the forum). However, 100 units of Titanium are gone, which basically invalidates my last four trade runs. I still count myself lucky that it happened while I had enough cash so I can just continue by business.

At 2 am I end this session. I have now 320.000 Credits and realize how painfully far away this is from buying the next big ship, the Lakon Type 9 for 3.5 million Credits. Grind, grind, do I really want to do it? We will see, next time. Over and out.

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