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)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Soldier of un-fortune

So, five days have passed since my last game session. One or two tries, but the server was unfriendly and quickly kicked me out and leaving me a red button to contemplate over. Naw, no patience these days.

Also, as already mentioned, my motivation for the game took a little hit these days, mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, next beta, which, if I understand correctly, is also the gamma, or "preview release edition", is going to impact in about 120 hours, including a wipe, so not really something to achieve until then. Moreso, I feel a slight disappointment about the fast release on 16 December, as it seems that no more features are going to be added until release. While the game already transports a fantastic experience, to travel amongst the stars, to steer your own vessel, your own space truck (tm), there is still so much stuff missing, if you believe the design discussion documents and all that grandeur-ish scope which was alluded to (and I do not mean the stuff which was foreseen from the very beginning for later expansions). Yes, Mr. Braben, Elite: Dangerous still seems to be a pretty empty house. It is painted very nicely, but where is the furniture and the curtains?

Another newsletter and some nerdrage in the ED forums about a cancelled feature aka "offline mode" also somewhat spoils my excitement for next weekend´s premiere event. I would rather prefer a completely happy crowd, as it was mostly the case throughout all beta iterations so far. I can see the point from both sides. Probably the communication could have been better handled than hiding this kind of relevations in a letter from D. Braben to the fans, which seemed to be a weird mix of self shoulder padding and further ambiguity (not even clear if the now promised 30 ships are on release or later at an unspecified point in time, which was probably bound to happen anyways if the game is going to be successful on the market).

No matter, the premiere event next weekend will still be my first and only one of that kind and I try hard to not have too high expectations. It would be a pity to be disappointed with all that time, hazzle and money invested to actually get there. Frontier promises a lot of very cool things, though, so keeping my fingers crossed! I really hope for to finally experience Elite: Dangerous with an Oculus Rift setup; it would be an obvious thing to have some rigs ready for the guests.

Oh, and thirdly, rather unrelated, some more exciting games (see, that was ambigous, too!) are going to make an appearance. Assassins Creed: Unity and Dragon Age: Inquisition, to name the most prominent ones for me (the former is already out, but I do not have the time to play it and rather wait for a video with the complete cutscenes - better than many a cinema).

Just to quote my statement which I did on Drew Wagners blog, lest I probably wont find it again.

"In my impression, Frontier seems to be a bit torn between the pressure of the close release and having been lauded up into the clouds due to the fabulous impression of the alpha and beta phases so far.
This makes their newsletter phrasing a bit difficult to process for me as an average reader. On one hand, they want to advertise and point out all the greatnesses of their game (which imo is not really necessary, the game really speaks for itself!), on the other hand they have to manage expectations, which indeed soar high, maybe too high (which, due to the former, they are not doing such a great job with).
In this volatile situation, cutting a feature which obviously has been very important for some players (if you take the refund-poll in the ED forums as an indicator, probably about 10%) impacts like a bomb.
Since I am not affected by the no-offline-issue, I prefer to stand politely at the side lines. I am rather worried about a host of other things which concern other “promised” features (look at the design archives in the forum!) and the game´s longeviety in general (refer e.g. to the endless “endgame” discussion). I am trying to not see this incident here as a foreboding of things to not-come."]

Nevermind. Log in.

 - So, where am I, what am I doing here?

As usual after a longer absence, I need so time to re-aquaint myself with location, ship status, activity mapping. For example, without looking up my previous blog notes, I have no idea why I have come to and am starting in BD +75 58. No matter.

A neighbouring system catches my attention, purely because of the cool sounding name "Hsyen Baji" and it being a high population extraction system. Never saw a high pop extraction system so far. Close to it, there is also another cool named system "Ts´Ao Tikalam" with high population and high tech. And there is Kalkyrielobring; you know what, tonight´s motto is to visit cool/weirdly named systems!

 - Kalkyrielobring. Got that?

And, yep. Kalkyrielobring doesn not only sound cool, it also consists of a cool brown dwarf, literally, which does not even flare but looks more like a garantuan gas planet. The whole system seems reddish, even the ring of the only big gas giant a bit farther out. Since I do not have scanners anymore on board there might be more out there. Yep, there is for example a "wanted" Type 6 spaceship about 3.500 ls out in seeming nothingness. Let´s see if I can interdict it!

I arrive still in time, the reason being that the NPC caught itself in the gavitational proximity of the gas giant, which I do not have data for for a lack of any scanning equipment. And again, my interdiction equipment does not work. "Out of range", even though I am within a mere millions of meters. Weird. I am too impatient to wait until my prey has cleared the gravitational well in order for my interdictor to hopefully work again. So I drop into an unidentified signal.

 - As it turns out, interdicting a victim which is close to a planet is a chore; maybe a valuable lesson?


A Type 9 freighter waits for me, and it wants to sell or buy red crystals. However, there is no communication or trade option to do trade with it. Instead, I note that one of my few "friends" back from beta1 pop up in the friends-list. CMDR Finn Lazoreyes, and he indeed spots the dim chat lines and replies. We have a brief chat about the current status; turns out he is in the starting systems and bounty hunting and he reports most alliance members to be spread far an thin throughout the galactic pill. From that converstation, I also gain that the interdictors are indeed influenced by gravitational wells, so their range is ultra short when very close to a planet. Go figure.

In the meanwhile, I jumped back to BD+75 58, because I realized I had some bounty vouchers there. Arriving there, however, I do not find any station; nor planets. No scanner yields no stations, go figure. I try to follow some ships but none leads me to a station. A lone hauler drops from supercruise and I follow the wake he left. As I start to scan his cargo, it almost instantly jumps away, seemingly through the closeby planet. I scan the wake and follow; my jump direction is exactly the opposite direction, but the hauler is indeed also there in "Dyaushis". Yes, it is the night of funny system names.

- That hauler jumped right through the planet, I swear!

 Docking at the trading outpost here, there is nothing to note, all is low supply or demand. I think it is time to get back some scanning equipment. Wake scanning and all this pirating does not make seem to make sense, except for the feeling of being a pirate. Combat experience and bounties are higher and faster to get without it, anyways.

Jump to LHS 1101, the system which started my successful road of trading in order to get the Asp which I am still flying now. On my way to Bondar City, I spot an NPC Asp. Those ships usually have a high bounty associated, plus it is a challenge to have an equally strong opponent. I stick to its six and fire my interdictor once in range. However, this is the first NPC to elude me. The red "escape" bar rises really fast, even though I manage to stick my target to my reticule for most of the time. I am baffled.

Reangaging supercruise after the cooldown, but the Asp has vanished. There is an Impereal Clipper, but not wanted. A pity, I did not have this kind of a challanging opponent yet!

Docked at Bondar City, LHS 1101, I spot a haul mission for 128k CR, but I am not sure if the target station, "Buchli Station", is not one of those small outposts where I cannot land. Before I can verify this via the galaxy map, the mission board has refreshed and the potential opportunity is gone. I finally outfit my ship with an advanced D-scanner and a detailed surface scanner, needing to sell all other scanners in order to have the cash to do so. I just keep the interdictor, so I can pull out some wanted ships on my travels.

Next jump, back to BD+75 58, to finally cash in my bounty voucher. Unfortunately, the system continues to elude me, or rather, pull my leg. Even with the advanced scanner, there is no station in this system. Apparently those vouchers are not cashable, then.

 - hunt for a Federal Dropship

Instead, I look around for "wanted" ships and finally spot a Federal Dropship. Good! A challenge, and probably not too difficult, as the pilot is rated as "harmless". Interdiction works out and dropping out, I have the usual unavoidable ramming of the victim. I stick on target and open fire. Damn, the power settings have weapons on zero. Some precious seconds fiddling with the system and the Dropship used this moment to spin me towards its frontal guns. my shields are gone and my hull is at 84% before I can apply vertical trust and get out of this predicament. Moments later, the Dropship explodes under the combined energy of both beam lasers and four multicannons. The bounty is just average; 4000 Credits. And, of course, no cash because I am still in that darn stationless system. Great. Time to move on.

If there was time, but my game session has to end. As a summary, this session had me play the soldier of fortune, just following my ship bow´s directions and not really getting something out of it. But it felt good to be back under the stars!

- Awesome setting; now, scanning for a plot...

Still a bit missing a conclusion, I jump a few systems further down into the void. Cephei Sector KR-" B 1-2: Empty. Balmus: 12 objects. Suraci: Industrial, all scanned. Cephai Sector MX-U B 2-8:8 objects. I am starting to scan then, and stop. What am I doing here and why am I doing what? I am missing sense and purpose. Better wait for a new start, then? Or fly back to the core systems and have some combat practice? To be seen next time!

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