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)

Friday, 27 February 2015

Out there again

Following up some of my confusion from the last session, this thread in the ED forum explains how reputation losses work and clarifies some points for me. However, this still does not explain why I got "wanted" by shooting the "wanted" Anaconda from the assassination mission. The prospect of obscure mission or boutny mechanics is not very appealing, so I´d rather do something else.

Considering my exploration stories, an also very helpful guide has even more thourough information, e.g. on scanned profit, than I managed to gather myself.

 - a look at the star color and classifications can help to determine the chances to actually find some valuable planets

During the last sessions I kind of instinctively followed the options I had outlined some time ago. Trading, community events, exploring, missions; check! The action-y last session has a pull of attraction on me, but also showed, this can cost me dearly. While I still have a financial cushion of about 4.4 million Credits (and my Cobra being worth ~9 million Credits), I feel I am closing in towards a point of "spiral of downgrading". I am looking at economic losses over my last seven sessions, whereas the gains where mainly due to three intensive trade sessions. Those trade sessions where only possible with a financial input (ship value plus liquidity for commodities) of about three million Credits (Lakon Type 6) respectively eleven million Credits (Asp). I have to be careful to not cross that line and maybe I should already start to earn again some savings via trading.

Thanks to Colin´s hint, I know now I could sell my Cobra with only little loss if I first manually downgrade it in the outfitting screen. Which liberates enough cash to be back on a comfortable level of trading with an Asp as a 128-ton long range freighter. With it, it should not take long to pile up money for a long-range explorer, for my goal to reach the outer end of a galaxy arm; most explorers seem to go for the galactic center or some nebula, so I want something different. Same thing for a truly specialized combat Viper or an almost equally capable mission Cobra.

As I log in, in comes also the spontanity effect. The first thing I want to do is to participate in the explorer community event Lambda Andromedae. It is still in the News so I should make haste. I am thinking about this in order to get a little bit cheaper Asp later on. Also in the news is that this story about the dead pilot with the ore in his hold actually pointed to a pristine gold site and the gold rush was on in LAWD 26. Well, with the current mining game mechanics, they can do without me. But what is kind of cool is that those community events indeed give me the feel of following a story that matters, whether I participate or not.

Before I launch, out goes the heavy mirrored armor, back a lightweight alloy sheathing, in order to get back to a jump range of >20 ly. I want to grab some exploration data and then travel to Lambda Andromedae. My planned course this time should lead me "up".

- up, upwards, to see the galaxy extending its spiral arms for me at some point... (ahem)

Some systems out I am interdicted by a particular Adder, the first ever NPC ship which I see uses chaff. I first do not get it and wonder why the gimbals buzz around like crazy and my kill scan does not complete. The chaff can be recognized by a kind of confetti trailing the ship. I even have to waste a shield cell because I am so confused that the Adder almost manages to disable my shield.

Systems I pass through like Balie are a typical borderland; one station is fara out there, a pirate station by its faction´s name "Hand Gang of Balie". It seems that at the borders of civilised clusters, many such outlaws have established themselves.

There is another giant star system, Izar, which are nice lightning house systems to aim for. Onwards, upwards, and, yes, my plans went out of the airlock, I am now here purely for the view; I want to see the galaxy´s disc from above.

My experience from previous trips as well as the above guide made it much more transparent and easy for me to determine as to what to surface scan and what not. I pass by a lot of systems and can easily recognize systems with high metal planets, water worlds and hopefully, once upon a time, also earth like worlds. COL 285 Sector OT-Q D5-47 is such an example; I know from the looks that it could provide some yields. And indeed, it has two water worlds of half the size of our earth which are in a twin orbit, both "ready for terraforming". And it is interesting that the outermost planet is also a water world, and terrestrial and of considerable size (6times earth radius) at that. With the rest of the planets being high metal content, this system is more valuable than anything I found ever before! The next system, very close, again is similarly valuable.

- one of three water worlds in this system

However, I am not so enthusiastic anymore as before. First, I am not the first one to discover any of those worlds, but this should not yet diminuish the value of the data too much, as I learned from my last expedition. For the final profit, it is now just a matter how often it has already been scanned by passing-by CMDRs, I guess. Second, I let myself be spoiled by all those reports of incredible frequent earth like worlds; so, water worlds just feel just like second hand now. Indeed, the first thread popped up in the ED forum which lists some discovered earth like worlds. Part of me regrets this; reminds me that I did will to write this blog, in order to capture my initial enthusiasm, the exhilaration of newness, of my "first contacts" with the game´s experience.

I think this is the reason why I just skipped all planning and just went out there again; at some point, all of it will be discovered and bland, and I would like to savour the spirit of true discovery while it lasts.

Besides, I think water worlds look nicer than earth like ones.

Before I can succumb into a too moody mood, a "master" ranked Viper decides to shake me up. It attacks also with a bunch of missiles! How glad am I that I installed one point defense system. However, I still need to use up another shield cell; two are left. And I am not really far out yet. Hrm, at least a good bounty of 21k CR is attached to the final explosion.

 - boom, with credits attached

I am close to Upsilon 5, another giant star, and pay the obligatory visit. Big stuff seems to lure us in, does it? Exploration has me in its gríp again. My original plan was just to take a quicky tour out there, grab the data, and arrive in Lambda Andromedae to turn it in for the community event. However, the prospect of going back now, or hasting onwards with just some advanced scans feels like gobbling some fast food. But this, this is a fine filet steak, and it has to be savoured!

Since I am a bit tired today, I decide to quit here and rather savour these bits afresh in a new session.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Wrestling with an elite-ranked Anaconda

Near a gas giant, Basile. An unidentified signal (US) contains Wraak, a pilot of an elite Anaconda who sometimes is the subject of an assassination mission. No, thanks, I am currently not payed for that, I am rather looking for Imran Jung, the target of the assissination mission which I accepted during my last game session. The fact that Wraak here sits an Anaconda makes me hope that Imran will probably fly a different ship type.

But first, a little warmup. Some Sidewinders in the nearby extraction zone make for a meager breakfast of bounties.

- too easy, more challenge is in order...

After four or five such quick terminations, let´s get down to the business of finding Mr. Jung. I know from earlier experience that you need to look in USs in order to find him. And I also know that the old concept of the US from the beta phase has not changed (lamentably so); they appear randomly in your vicinity, so you do not really need to search for them. So I resort to the same old trick; let the US come to you. Throttling down my supercrusie to 30km/s, I do not have to wait long for the first US to appear. Thanks to me already having minimum speed, it appears very close to me and I can immediately drop into it.

Four US pass by, some with one or two "wanted" targets, but not Mr. Jung. This indicates that he is probably not in this system and I have to look into the two other systems which are mentioned in the mission statement. Engage jump to Gabrani.

The second US already nails it. It contains a "clean" Adder who starts to chat to me the moment I target and scan it. You looking for Imran Jung? Oh yeah, they scanned his energy wake which pointed towards Ari Hesa. Neat! First level of the mission ladder is done. Jumping onwards. Unfortunately, I then also discover that shooting the two "wanted" target from the first US somehow caused a negative hit on my reputation with the Federals. Dear Federation, you and me, we are simply not made for each other, it seems!

In Ari Hesa, I just have to wait a bit, and the second US is my jackpot. Or his. Imran Jung unfortunately also sits in the pilot seat of an Anaconda and is also rated Elite. He could be Wraaks twin-brother, I guess. This will be a very challenging fight. I know that some people boast to routinely kill elite Anacondas, but I have no idea how, since I already got some bloody noses from encounters like this during beta2 and gamma. Although, I am hopeful, since I do pilot now a perfectly combat equipped, all-class-A Cobra (instead of the Eagle I used back then). The challenge is on!

Imran Jung is marked as neutral, so I try to kill-scan him first and while also vertically strafing to get out of his firing arc. With no success; his guns constantly point in my direction no matter how much vertical/forward thrust I apply. This is my standard maneuver of circling an enemy while still being able to face and shoot at an opponent. Well, here it does not work at all. Instead, Imran Jung opens fire and hits me well enough, even if I manage to dodge his plasma launcher (its whitish ball of energy is easy to recognize).

After a few moments I am already without shields, wasted all my shield cells, and no matter what I steer, I always seem to be hit. Damn turrets. Boosting out of firing range, he sends some missiles my way, but I can evade them. Going back into the fray, I first have to deal with his firing arc and again take enough hits to take out my shield again. Since I try to get him into firing position, most of his hits land on my front. For the first time I realize that the cockpit seems to be a seperate hit zone. My canopy is cracking and I hear warnings about the condition being damaged and then going critical. I must break off, at this stage my hull is already at 60% and I did not even scratch the shields of the Anaconda.

Docking in Atwater Port, I pay 8600 CR reparature costs, and 2400 ammo costs (the shield cells). Despite me being aware of the very challenging situation of a single Cobra versus an Anaconda, I am a bit baffled. This is an Anaconda? Its thrusters make it turn rather like a perfectly outfitted nimble little Eagle!

Next try. I am skipping though some US until Imran Jung appears in one. This time, I skip a kill-scan and fully concentrate to circle-strafe out of his gun sight. This again goes horribly wrong, even when I try to roll and vertically move on his horizontal axis. This Anaconda follows effortlessly. What the hell? And to top it off, I even manage to catch the white ball of plasma from his first bowside barrage, instantly killing my shields. Ai.

I guess I am very lucky that I installed a mirrored armor alloy, which is especially good versus lasers. Besides the plasma launcher, Imran Jung´s Anaconda sports only beam lasers. Like this, I can continue without shield, as my hull withstands an enormous amount of the Anacondas firing lasers. However, my canopy does not seem to be as reflective as my ship armor and my ship computer calmly informs me soon again that it has critical status.

Suddenly, two security ships jump in. Neat, they can help distract his fire and whittle him down. I am not worried anymore of them kill stealing, Frontier has tweaked the settings so that it is no problem anymore to score the decisive final hit for yourself. However, Mr. Jung seems to be not that stupid. Energy surge detected and a few seconds later he frameshifts out. Grrrrreat.... otoh, with my critical canopy, 70% hull, I had already lost this second encounter, anyways.

This time, I pay ~3,000 CR for reparature and ~1,300 for ammo. I am irritated. My quad-gimballed-pulse-laser setup still did not help getting the Anaconda´s shields down, even though they are supposed to be strongest versus shields. A visit to the ship outfitter is in order. Out go the class 1 pulse lasers, in come two class 1 cannons. Unfortunately I have not enough power grid to accomodate class 2 beam lasers and I do not want to kick out some of my class A outfits to free enough power grid to do so.

The feedback from the ED forum is that cannons have been made weaker since beta, but on the other hand, they are meant to be and supposedly indeed are more effective against big targets.
While in the outfitting screen, I also flip to the decal menu and find a new decal which was not there before; a skull design. This probably came into my inventory because of the pirate mission from my last session, which I abandoned and instead joined the pirates. Good to know that the supercruise to that pirate station across 460,000 ls actually brought a meaningful reward! I briefly consider putting it on, as a symbol for the seeming suicide mission I am currently on...

- morituri te salutant

Onwards to the next encounter with Imran Jung, after some few US have passed. I am very well aware that I should set the setting in the right menu "report crimes against me" to off. This is what I did. Now, on to the dance! I adapt my tactic and do not try to circle-strafe anymore, and instead use a mix of blue speed and max speed to get to and stay behind my enemy. It goes way better now. The cannons are a huge help, even agains the Anaconda´s shields, which I indeed manage to break down this time. However, I again have to heavily rely on my reflective armor, as the Anaconda quickly busts my shields after I ran through all my four shield cells. The reason for that is the goddamn turrents. No matter from which angle I face the Anaconda, at least one laser beam finds me.

I get also even more irritated because the cannons do not seem to fire consistently. Sometimes they go off, sometimes they don´t; in the hectic of combat I am unable to find out why that is. A later test in undisturbed environment shows, they should fire alright about each 3-4 seconds. Well, in combat they somehow don´t; in hindsight, it is probably because I have a trailing target view, so sometimes I might think that they are on target when in reality it is only the gimbals from my pulse lasers buzzing around the targeting reticule?

Nevertheless, thanks to the cannons and my changed flight patterns, I indeed manage to whittle the Anaconda down to 50% hull, while I still have about 60% hull.

In are jumping two security ships, which I realize only the moment when they turn into red blinking blips. WTF is going on here!? What are they doing here, firsthand? And why are they shooting at me?!? There I no way that strayfire of mine could have hit them, my guns are all gimballed and on spot! I have to clear the grounds; my canopy is again the culprit and I doubt that I could sustain myself against two more enemies. Once in calmer waters, I realize that I am indeed shown as "wanted".

- victory is so close, until something makes me "wanted" and the random generator decides to throw some security ships in the fray

I pay 5,000 CR for repairs, 5,000 CR for ammo and again 1,200 CR for a new stash of shield cells. Then I launch, and realize too late that I forgot to pay off my bounty. Some more minutes pass for re-docking and rectifying this mistake.

Next try. Once I find him again in an US, I immediately open fire on the Imran Jung´s Anaconda, still neutral, but that should not matter since it is shown as "wanted". But this time I payed attention, and I immediately notice that the system flags me as "wanted"! Aha! Bug!!! I nevertheless continue the combat, since the scenery is not joined yet by security forces. I am again seeing an improvement, because this time I manage to whittle Mr. Jung´s vessel down to 37% hull strength. Then the typical flash from a disengaging frameshift drive, and two security Eagles are joining the party, again. Damnit, what is this? They are still shown as neutral, so I still hang on to the Anaconda like a terrier on a bulldog. But all of this weakened my concentration; the Anaconda turns into my direction and accelerates, I accelerated, too, because I wanted to get quickly past his bow. And we collide.

1% hull left on me. Alert, alert. On top, the security ships now did scan me and turn red, too. OMG today is really not my day, is it? Frankly, with things going wrong as they to, I am surprised that I actually get away. Maximum energy to engines allows me to quickly get out of range and not even a laser turret hits me. Amazing.

- close escape, closer not possible

Landing at Atwater Port is now a critical maneuver, too, because the numerous security ships could pick up my "wanted"-scent anytime. So, it is a good thing that I boost very close and rush through, because the moment I enter the station, my computer informs me that I was fired at. Phew!

My repair costs this time are 14,000 CR, 5,000 + 1,200 for reload. BTW, the reqard for this assassination mission is 150,000 CR. Profit is slowly waning... Impatiently I launch for the next round and have thereby AGAIN forgotten to pay off my bounty. Arrrrrgh! And just to add injury to the insult, the security ships apparently have been waiting for me and instantly open fire the moment I leave the station. Boost away, enter supercruise, drop back, re-request docking, fast approach... sigh.. the minutes pass with just nonsense. I should have never been marked as "wanted" firsthand. And, besides, my "wanted" price is how much? 300 Credits! This all seems to be so much out of proportion.

Finally, I can seek out Imran Jung once more. Thank god, he always appears quickyl in an US and I don´t have to skim though many of them. I never move away much from the station in supercruise and just throttle down and wait for an US to appear. It is almost like Imran Jung is awaiting me there for another round.

It is interesting; once I start getting annoyed or impatient, my piloting skills immediately drop noticeably and considerably. Cannon fire seems to be still erratic, still no idea what could be the reason; I even check if the reason could be some too-emtpy capacitors from my pulse lasers, but they are filled enough. Confusing, irritating. Still, I now routinely manage to get the Anaconda´s shields down and I immedeately set out to do so once more. The events so far did have this effect on me, and thus it takes just moments to again loose shields. I don´t bother, since my armor can hold out quite some time.

But this time, I have become too reckless and emotional about the whole business. All these inconsistencies in between, the fact that an Anaconda outturns a Cobra even when trying to fight with three pips for engines. Well, in short, I just screw this one up badly and collide into the Anaconda´s broad side. The game algorythms dispassionately reward me with total destruction.

- 319,917 Credits less; double of what this mission would have earned me

The time for this session is up, but I do not want to leave like this. It is only after I dropped into five more US before I realize: destruction of my ship terminates the contract. Noob, I knew that already. So, this is defeat; Imran Jung slapped me around and into the ground and stomped mightily on me. For once, Elite: "Dangerous" shines through. Although I would have wished less confusion from obscure "wanted" game mechanics and weird cannon behaviour to enjoy the challenge more.

All in all, this was a very, very challenging game session, which served to reach - and collide with - the limits of my piloting skills. Good night and log out!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dumbfired missions

A video like this is sometimes what I need to get back into the mood for Elite: Dangerous; it features a very challenging escape of a Lakon Type 6 from a pirating CMDR in a Cobra. This guy is successful in a situation where I miserably failed during my action around Yembo, some game sessions ago. It is all about a tactic and the proper equipment, and this video entertainingly shows some good tricks.

Atwater City, Ari Hesa. So here I am in my misery about the astounding financial stupidities at the end of last session. What I need now is some venting, some target practice. Or even more immediate some moment-to-another gameplay. So I accept two fetch missions, without knowing where to source the stuff, trusting on the databases in the internet to tell me so. But, Ari Hesa is a white spot in the databases which I know (Thrudds Website, Slopeys Best Price Calculator). Grrrreat. Thank god I do find 14 hydrogen fuel very quickly in the neighbouring outpost. However 2 tons of personal weapons might be more difficult to source.

Back in Atwater City, there is another mission to hunt 5 pirates in Ari Hesa and another codified system. No idea how they work, am I supposed to drop into unidentified signals (US) and see what I get? Well, the internet tells me to try US, the nav beacon at the sun, whatever. But it does not tell me how to differentiate between just "wanted" targets and the pirates which will qualify for this mission. This was like this already in the beta and gamma versions of this game and I guess it did not change.

Wait, something interesting happens. As I travel to Gemar Station and look for the commodities for my other mission, on a hunch, I drop into an US. A lonely Lakon Type 7 is there and I start do kill scan it, because its status is "clean" so far. Suddenly, the pilot chats to me, asks to not attack and kill him and instead come to Fung Landing, claiming he was innocent. Wow. I read about these changing mission goals and am mighty pleased to finally encounter one myself. I continue my kill scan, which, completed, makes my decision to abandon my hunting mission easy: This particular pilot is very obviously one of the "pirates" sought, but it has no bounties on it whatsoever, which means I would have lost status by attacking it, incurring a fee on top of it.

Gemar Station has not the personal or non-lethal weapons or food cartridges I need, so my next stop might be as well Fung Landing. This station is not in this system, but a mission marker in the navigation menu shows me which system I have to go to: COL 285 Sector GS-J C9-5. Oh, wrong, it leads me even further, to EWE, Tong, Skegasaei, and, finally, waitaminute.. looking up the galaxy map, a course is plotted across at least 20 systems! What is this? The reward for going there and doing so is stated in the updated mission description; 1525 Credits. This is in no relation to the effort of such a long travel! Is there something more waiting at the end of the tunnel? Well, I have to find out now, but I suspect just another red herring waiting for me in the end. And in the meanwhile, the mission counter for my other missions is ticking... one hour left.

The thing is... according to the system map of the final nav point, Fung Landing does not even exist in that system. My only hope is that the mission marker will show me the right way and not just abandon me in the middle of nowhere. In the meanwhile, I use my advanced scanner on all those systems on my way. Some exploration profit at least to be made just by doing this trip. And there I thought I would have some dogfight action...

- end station of the falsely plotted course

Finally there, it happens as it must, the mission marker is gone. Last try, I will dock at every station here and see whether I can still finish in this nonsense properly. Kennedy Port; no, but at least the food cartridges for my other mission. Herjulfsson Orbital; nope.

I abandon the mission. And, clicking the "abandon" button, you know what happens? The mission updates again and now mentions also the system where Fang Landing is supposed to be!!! It is in Gabrani! This is the whole way back, right next to Hesa Ari! The mission marker which lead me here was a bug, obvious now. Way to go, way to go...

I don´t think I can keep my two fetch missions with the weapons anymore; 39 minutes left and still no idea where to source them close by. Oh, how the completionist within me does suffer! But my reputation with the Federation is screwed, anyways, so who cares.

During my trip back, in between I nevertheless search Thrudds website for close systems which could source me the commodities. Yes! 24 minutes to go and Asaro Dock in Koledo has the stuff! This is a race, now! 20 minutes left... 16 minutes as I arrive back in Ari Hesa, yes, made it! Now the same for the non-lethal weapons... 50 minutes left. Amarak is four jumps away, gogogo. And I make it again, all missions completed!
This was a very chaotic ride. Thinking about it in hindsight, I guess the in-game trading map of the galaxy map might have helped me better to locate stuff. The internet data mainly is about finding out precice price levels of commodities.

I accept a new mission: Kill Imran Jung, ~150k CR. Let´s see how I fare. In the meanwhile, I make way to Fung Landing to finally see how a "turncoat" mission plays out. Arriving in Gabrani, I have to laugh again, because Fung Landing actually is 464,700 ls out there... while travelling there I can go fetch multiple coffees (the real life one, not the commodity...), or even go to bed? Sometimes, the hickups in the design of this game are amazing. Where is the goddamn in-system jump which they inteded to do?

Once I arrive, I get the promised 1525 CR and am told that I should be grateful that I do not get a bullet between my eyes and that I can stick around and wait for the boss to have something for me to do if I want. Oh yeah well, welcome to the pirates... ARRRRRH. And my reputation with the Federation is going down again.

 - ARRR, washing my hands off innocent pirate blood

A last trip tp Mbera, which according to the galaxy trade map is supposed to sell food cartridges, to bring it back to Ari Hesa. Good to note that Litke Orbital also offers personal weapons and battle weapons, there, it was there just around the corner, but me was hopping halfway across the galaxy, thanks to incomplete data.

After this run, the game session is over. And I am over, too; this must have been the most unmotivating, non-sensical game session I ever had with Elite: Dangerous... I took missions without a clear goal or direction, like a dumbfire missile, jumped cluelessly through about 100 systems and followed red herrings, earned almost nothing in the process. Some 50k Credits thanks to regular advanced scans on my way, but that´s about it.

In order to also implement my first and last idea for this session, I go hunting for bounties in Basil, an independent system. After about five kills and 60k CR as bounties within 15 minutes, I log out close to the ring planet with the extraction site which was my hunting grounds.

- going for some satisfying explosions in this pile of dust

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

This clearly went wrong

Naddodur Terminal, Yembo. I was still in the same game session from my last blog entry. Very tired after this long way back, tired from analysing the data, from typing my story in this blog. What I should have done, is log out and get some sleep already. What I did is to hang on and dawdle in the internet and in the game without sense. So the following story happened.

From this thread in the ED forum, I gathered that there must be quite many earthlike worlds, which I just did not find yet. One system in particlar, Myriesly RZ-DE D13-2140, even seems to have five of them! I have to admit that reports like this relativise my pride in my little successful venture from the last two sessions. Then again, this guy had started his expedition on 18 January, so he was out there about a month (and playing each evening as he wrote). His income was an astounding 43 million Credits. Even if I scaled up my 700k Credits gained from two game sessions out there up to, say, 22 days, I would only  have earned only about 7.7 million Credits. All those seeming more frequent earthlike planets, which eluded me so far, must be worth quite a bit, then!

The Galnet news read that the Sirius Corporation offers sizeable monetary rewards for explorer who bring data to them at Nourse Orbital, Lambda Andromeda. If I just had seen these news earlier! However, according to this thread in the ED forum, the goal is already almost through. The forum thread tells also that the News on the ship-building seem to be another red herring or bug.

I was not sure what to do next, maybe some trading again so that I can re-afford a well equipped Asp? The 5% bonus from the community event saves me 300k Credits on buying the Asp here. This is what I promptly did, after all, my blunder with the reputation gain at this station for just one faction instead of the whole Federation, was because I wanted to profit from this discount.

After the sale, this left me with about 9 million Credits to outfit it. Then I had to realize that the shop here only offers a class 5C frameshift drive. Then I also realized that I already missed the sleek red design of my Cobra. And on top, I realized I did not really feel like trading.

So I re-sold the Asp and bought back a Cobra. Re-fitting everything with class A components failed regarding the trusters and a fuel scoop. So I tiredly went on a shopping tour again, through some systems. After a visit to two different systems I found what I wanted. It was just weird that my cash seemed to be less than it was before I followed my mislead whim and bought the Asp. Fact was, I just had 4.1 million Credits left, and with my Cobra from before, I had had 6.4 million Credits. I dearly hoped that I did not just throw my cash away with this little confused buy-and-sell deeds? Maybe I had bought some more exensive components? No idea, I though my old Cobra had been also all-class-A-equipped...

Then I caught a posting in the ED forum which talks about a 10% loss when selling a ship. Let´s see, the value of my Asp was about 15 million, and my Cobra was about 9 million. This would mean 2.4 million loss. Roughly this amount indeed did correspond to the difference in my cash level. So it was kind of official for me that I just had thrown 2.4 million Credits out of the window.

You know what is annoying me? Obscure information! Buying and selling ships and equipment was reimbursed 1:1 all the time through the beta and gamma game, maybe even at launch, and at some point, Frontier apparently snuck in that 10%-loss "feature"!

All in all, with the destruction on my first expedition and this shopping session gone horribly wrong, I now had incurred losses on two sessions, which will have to be re-earned, by trading best profit routes roughly two sessions, more sessions if I follow other activities instead. It also means that I have to look on overall four sessions without any economic gain. I am so glad this is just a game and not real-life! I guess if I was a self-made entrepreneur, I would probably quickly land on the streets...

For my gameplay, this revelation also means I am now practically stuck with my Cobra, because there is no way I can switch ships to an 128 ton long range Asp freighter anymore without incurring a financial loss of about 1 million Credits. Sigh.

So, this is why I hereby swear to in future leave a game session when it´s done and don´t hang on when I should have known better. Some things just don´t go well, especially when you undertake them when already too tired.


Out there. Going onwards with my plan to visit HIP 110021, then heading back "home" and analyse the data as to its profitabilty.

Am I a lucky son of a bitch today. The next system, COL 285 Sector PZ-O C6-9, is completely unexplored and again contains another water world, and some mineral rich planets.

- argon rich atmosphere, carbon-water based life

Upwards, onwards! A little deviation around here is in order, since it seems to be an area with a bit more of non-brown dwarf systems. The twin star system which I arrive in, with a red dwarf and a brown one, could yield good results, at least concerning the planets orbiting the former.

Interdiction during the fuel scooping process. A Federal Dropship. Damn it is getting hot here. I cannot evade the interdiction, probably because that damn ship type has very good turn rates as well. And indeed, the resulting dogfight makes me work a lot. First, the ship stays neutral and I use this occasion to squeeze off a kill scan. 24k CR of bounties await me on this one. It starts firing but misses, I retaliate. Some furious circles are ensuing.

- just finished scanning about its bounties, now the dance can start!


This time, I am very attentive to keep my shield well sustained, so I do not dare deviate too many pips to the engines. A jolt of panic surges when, on a close pass-by in order to get out of the Dropship´s firing arc, the missile alarm goes off. Boost! My Cobra´s superiour speed carries me out of range of those blinking white triangles. They soon stop to blink, so it seems they were just dumbfire missiles, anyways. Huff. I misselect the subtarget and am distraced in finding the power plant amongst the list. Again cracking laserfire, but my shields hold just fine. Just to be on the save side, I spend one of my few shield cells. After a while I realize that, although this bigger, heavier Dropship still manages to constantly outcircle me, its fire power seems to be negligible. It has probably too many pips in engines... Anyways, its destruction comes suprisingly early; I had lost track of the status of my subtarget. Boom. This battle alone so totally validates my ship choice and equipment for this second exploration attempt!

Some 9 planets surfaces scanned, they yield only icy rocks and I jump onward. The next system was already discovered by CMDR Fambaa, so I do not bother. I switch to a fast pathing in the galaxy map, and directly jump to my last target which I had foreseen for this expedition, HIP 110021, already discovered by CMDR Tequila. After I am done with re-scanning everything, it is time to make home!

- this water world has a co2-atmosphere, carbon water based life and "is a candidate for terraforming"

A white star system catches my attention. CMDR Sinoe Patton was there, but he did not scan the last outer ring planet. However, this one looks in the system map as if it had ice caps. Definitely worth investigating. Well, ok, it was worth a try, but this turns only out to be another icy planet.

Most white or yellow star systems on my way back have already been explored. Fine with me, I just move on. COL 285 Sector JS-T D3-64 is still unexplored and I make use of this fact and discover a lot of metal rich planets. I should remember that there are still a lot of white star systems around here and maybe come back later.

I am interdicted on my way back, and this makes me realize that, apparently, every interdiction takes away a bit of my hull strength. The Viper gets hit hard by my pulse lasers at its bow part, and it hastily jumps away.

- lots of fuel scooping required on a fast path back home

On my path, the galaxy map shows another depiction of a huge star, 52 Cygni. I think this is worth getting sidetracked again. And then there is 31 Vulpeculae, which has a little surprise, namely an independent outpost. Indeed far out from civilisation, it is owned by "The Blue Mafia", those are most certainly pirates; they export slaves, gold and palladium and import fruits, grain and animal meat. I guess this would be an ideal starting point for a career as a pirate! With my valuable data aboard, I do not dare to get close right now; besides, I want to drop off my data in a Federal system, in order to repair my reputation with them.

The fast path route from here only leads via brown dwarves, no thanks, I need scoopable stars, preferrably. So I deviate to a white star, a bit below the plane. Close to it, there is also Heria Pared, a name where I cannot find a real life correspondant; probably a system used in one of the science-fiction stories? Anyways, there is also an outpost here, controlled by independent "Super Comms Services". It offers the same export/import market as the pirate outpost, just silver instead of slaves.

CMDR Afleabyte (a name which is fun for English language people, I guess) and CMDR Kryphinzclo (a name which is fun for German language people, I guess) have discovered most systems here, notable one probably earth like. I want part of that share and go for it. However, it is just a metal rich planet, albeit worth terraforming.

I am then finally in Federation space, Duwar system. Weird enough, it is said to be a terraforming system, but there are no planets to be terraformed. Huh, whatever. I jump onwards, Dundbhai, also Federal space with only outposts, and again onwards. Where to? Well...now it is time to get back where they have space bars and celebrate! And I have in mind one particular in Yembo, Naddodur Terminal, because I get 5% off all drinks there!

Touchdown! My first successful expedition has ended. Commander Falkenherz, an interview please? Uhm. How is life out there for an explorer. Uhm, calm. Dangerous. Can you tell us more, commander? Well, all I want to say at this point, I need a shower, and be aware that all our civilisation is just like fleashit in the sea. Thanks, baba.

Aaaand here is the data, from roughly 100 systems.

- COL 285 Sector UZ-P D5-60: 38,155 CR; did not note it down
- COL 285 Sector HH-V D2-43: 70,574 CR; this was the previously unexplored ("virgin") system which I took as nav point, which had lots of metal rich planets and one water-world;
- HIP 110021: 73,400 CR; this was the system which had lots of metal rich planets and one water-world but was already explored by another CMDR. The planets No. 4 and 5 yielded ~17,000 CR, no idea why that is so much higher than other mineral rich worlds (maybe because they also had a particular atmosphere?)
-  COL 285 Sector PZ-O C6-9: 27, 237 CR; a virgin system with lots of mineral rich planets and a water-world
- COL 285 Sector JS-T D3-64: 37,606 CR; a virgin system with a lot of metal rich planets
- COL 285 Sector FY-H C10-35: 20,707 CR; I have no notes about that one; first discovered by CMDR Ysron Starr, I am sure I did not surface scan much of it. System view is there but no planetary data displayed. The three last planets (gas giants) around star "A" yielded ~3000 CR, again I have no idea why. Weird.
- Pegasi Sector SF-U A4-D: 3,258 CR; this was the brown dwarf system which got explored by me as first explorer. Ahem, I guess I did it for the fame.
- COL 285 Sector OH-M a23-D: 4,964 CR; this was the comparable brown dwarf system which was already explored by another CMDR.
- COL 285 Sector JB-O A22-2: 5,366 CR; another virgin brown dwarf system which I completely surface scanned down, the same goes for COL 285 Sector UI-T A 19-D: 5,152 CR
- COL 285 Sector KN-T D3-64: 19,042 CR; this was the system with the terrestrian water world at the end of my last game session; the profit for this is bit disappointing

The data breakdown shows me the following facts:

- advanced scan of a planet: 250 Cr
- surface scan of a star: 200 - 1260 CR
- surface scan of asteroid belts: 0 CR
- icy planets: ~400 CR
- mineral rich planets: ~2900 CR
- water world or any planet "ready for terraforming" (latter seem to earn more): 12,000 - 26,000 CR

As I cash in the data, a window pops up and I get bonus cash for "first discovered" systems, which ranges from 500 to 1600 Credits. Neat! What I am not entirely sure is, whether the bonus is just for objects which I also surface scanned or whether an advanced scan already is enough.

- "first"

Total earning: Roughly 700k CR. Not much, I had hoped for about 2 million Credits, about half of what I would have earned by just trading in roughly the same amount of game time. Like this, I just got back roughly the loss from my first failed expedition. Ah well.

On the other hand, my reputation instantly jumped now to "friendly". Wohoo! Then I realize my mistake: Unfortunately, I forgot that Yembo is not affiliated to the Federation. All my reputation gain catapults me on "friendly" for Yembo Interstellar, and that faction only. I be damned, that went very much wrong! I so much needed that rep boost for the Federation!

Ah well, at least I know that you can jump up in reputation very nicely by doing one or two exploration sessions. That´s it for this session; I think I have learned a lot.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Go get ´em!

Under Construction, New Yembo. This is one of the moments where I am so damn glad that I am writing this blog. Even though my exploration attempt was so rudely crushed and every cartographic data from eight hours of travels is gone, I still have two blog entries which will continue to tell the story, the story that I was there!

However, all the systems which I was proud that I got there first will never bear the label "discovered by Falkenherz" now. I do not have neither the resources nor the motivation after this setback to go out again. I had my drink. Several. Musing, cheers, refill, I would have to downgrade to a cheaper ship in order to not become totally bankrupt, I tell the bartender, a nice lass. Well, she says, why don´t you do it? Or I could pour you another glass...

You know what, I say, yeah, I guess this is what I am going to do. I just don´t accept getting smacked in the face like this by a freaking random encounter and then run away crying. Yes, this is what I am going to do: Downgrade to a cheaper ship, screw the superb cockpit view of the Asp, re-visit the systems which were noteworthy and revisit those, and only those, and come back, alive this time, and finally learn how much exploration is actually worth doing in terms of credits earned from an previously entirely unexplored system! That´s my boy, go get ´em, says the lass; but I am already outta the door.

In order to downgrade, I have to find a system with a shipyard, preferably one which sells either the Hauler or the Adder. The latter allegedly was made for exploration, so lets have a look at it. I only had flown it once briefly as it first came out during the gamma phase. Six jumps I need to get to Yakamu, Lyell Port. It feels weird to fly the Asp now, with only 1000 Credits cash available and the knowledge that another accident will devoid me of this asset worth 15 million Credits.

There you got the problem: Each with a class A frameshift drive, the Asp has a range of 28 (25 laden) ly the Adder only 19 (18 laden) ly. Why is this ship should be good for exploration escapes me. Even the Hauler has a better range of 21 (17 laden) ly. Basically the only thing better than the Hauler is that it can jump farther with a full cargo hold. But I do not need cargo when I want to explore. I am probably missing something, but as it looks, a Cobra might be a better choice with 22 (20 laden) ly jump range and its combat capability on top. Beggars can´t be choosers, but there is no way I go out there again without proper combat capabilities. Sad but true.

- this time, a more... agressive... explorer setup

A Cobra it is then. 15 million cash are reimbursed upon selling the Asp, I feel better now. But the equipment is sorely lacking here, so I have to do a little outfitting tour for my new Cobra. It is a triple-A outfitting tour, and after my Cobra has every module classed as "A", my cash is down to 5.7 million credits. The full programme, full combat capacity inclusive kill warrant scanner. Those pesky explorer pirates will suffer! Only the heavy military armor I skip because of itts burden on my jump range; the Cobra´s class A shields, together with a shield cell bank, should be more than sufficient.

My first nav point: Revisit COL 285 Sector HH-V D2-43. Áfter the first jump, I scoop fuel and wait for an interdiction for a test run. An Eagle approaches. Good. And a few moments later I am so glad that I did submit to this test. The moment I deploy my weapons, my power grid is overburdened and leaves me defenseless. At 86% hull, I finally manage to get something up and running and make the Eagle finally explode. Back to start, repair and re-setup my ship. And of course I had forgotten to buy charges for my shield cell banks, anyways. Noooooooob!

Setting now my power grid priorities properly, my Cobra should be good to go. I was 7% over grid capacity, but setting frameshift drive (2%), scanners, cargo hatch (3%) and fuel scoop (2%) to a lower priority compensates. After repairs, I am finally ready to go.

After four long range jumps, I go back to short range, more economic jumps. Fuel is already at 1/3 capacity and the last three star systems had non-scoopable brown darves or white stars. Exploration has started, again! A little while later, I have altogether now jumped through fifteen systems and not a single one of them had a fuel-scoopable star. Definitely a reminder to plan your fuel carefully!

Finally, a yellow star apprears. Greedily my Cobra sucks up its helium emissions, or whatever my ship´s tastes are. It takes a while, maybe I should have bought a fuel scoop for a bigger ship slot.

The large number of either white or brown stars I ecounter in this "pegasi sector" is amazing. Many systems bear the name of CMDR Ren or Rotsenburg, so I am practically following their footsteps.

One interdiction by a "dangerous" Cobra makes me work for my money. Oh, I forget to kill scan it, and so I actually work for no money. But I realize again, another lesson I had forgotten, that the class1 weapon mounts are useless for fixed weaponry and that a quadruple laser outfit sucks the capacitors emtpy far too fast. As a consequence, I disable them and keep them only as emergency backup in a seperate weapon group.

- you can come at me now, I am prepared! (I think)

After a while, I finally am back into unknown territory. It appears that, IF I survive the voyage THIS time, Pegasi Sector SF-U A4-0 will get the honor of being labelled as first explored by me. All objects here are rock or ice planets, oh well. I guess you can already take a hint from the way a planet is shown by your holodisplay.

Another of the myriad systems I visit, COL 285 Sector OH-M a23-0, is comparable in size and composition, but it has been first explored by CMDR The Mariner. I nevertheless surface scan everything, so that I can have a comparision of what a "virgin" system brings more, money wise, in comparison.

- ...brown dwarf...

Next jump, a telephone call almost destroys my Cobra. I answer the call during the jump, get caught ... and just in time I hit Escape and escape to the main menu. Next time I log in, heat has neutralised but quickly mounts again because my Cobra got parked awfully close to that brown dwarf. I get away with 119% heat, close to the threshold of 125% where my ship starts to get damaged.

COL 285 Sector JB-O A22-2 is the next unexplored system which I completely add to my data. Brown dwarves with ice planets seem to be the most frequent setup in this particular arm of the galaxy. Which is a bit weird because I did not have this impression during my last two sessions. There were much more (valuable) metal rich planets on the - now lost - route I had taken.

A cheeky Eagle pilot tries me, with a routine end of the fight. At least this time, I think of kill scanning the pilot before.

- ...brown dwarf...

COL 285 Sector UI-T A 19-D is another completely unexplored brown dwarf system which I scan down. Unexplored systems become more and more common, the more out I am. Of course. This game really makes you feel the vastness of space. Experiences like this confirm for me so much that humanity´s most important task is to get ready to go out there and actually use all this abundand energy and vast resources instead of just cuddling together and bashing each others heads!

- finally, a white star which is also fuel-scoopable!

Finally, I am back at one of the nav points from my first exploration attempt, COL 285 Sector HH-V D2-43, and I re-surface-scan all its high metal planets. Now I am indeed curious what this data is worth, seeing now that there are so many more useless brown dwarf systems out there! What I realize now is that I instinctively did a right approach on my last trip; just skip all dark red stars in the galaxy map, they have only icy planets, anyways, and jump to yellow orange or white stars.

- ... oh, what is this? A water world,  ammonia based, I wonder how that looks like on the surface!?

Huh, I had forgotten that this system also contains a water world, with carbon based water life; or did I even overlook this, last time? I find it unusal that this planet is the third last out there, normally, the habitable zone is much closer to a star. But, of course, this particular star is huge. Well, I think getting myself to come back here after that huge setback was the right idea! No it is only a matter of bringing this information here back in one piece... how far should I still go out and explore and take the risks?

Spurred by this success, I also want to re-visit HIP 110021, which also contains a water world. It is already scanned by another CMDR, but I want to see exactly the possible difference in worth.

On my way there, a lot of red herrings, uhm, brown dwarves. I resist the urge to scan all unexplored ones and focus on reaching stars which have different colors in the galaxy map. One such system is COL 285 Sector KN-T D3-64. It has a white-yellow primary star, but there is a secondary, orange star about 26,000 ls away; the interesting thing is, the first planet, as seen in the system view, looks blueish and seems to have clouds. This piques my interest to undertake the long trip in supercruise. My suspicions are confirmed. It turns out that I have found my first terrestrial water world, i.e. with an earth like atmosphere and carbon-water-based life! Yiphieeh!!! I wish I could name it!!!

- Water world! And actually water-based, at that!

I think with this success I should leave this game session. And probably, please, not screw up the following one. Best thing would be to bring the data back before trying anything fancy. Log out.

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Almach, also known as constellation of Andromeda. From the wikipedia entry on Gamma Andromedae B:
"It was later discovered that γ2 Andromedae is itself a triple star system. What appears as a single star to the naked eye is thus a quadruple star system, approximately 350 light-years from the Earth." 
Tired as I was at the end of my last extended session, this system still deserves a little bit of sight seeing; did Frontier accomodate a that accurate representation? Not exactly, it seems. Here in the game, Almach is a orange-ish giant star and Gamma Andromedae B is a class B blue-white star, not a triple star system itself. A gas giant about 22,000 ls out complements the system here. The scales are impressive; once I am those 22,000 ls out, the blue-white "huge" star, which impressed me so much at the end of my last session, is but a tiny speck, while Almach itself still is of considerable size.

- relativity sometimes needs you to take a step back out

Onwards, towards the Pleiades. It is also annoying that everytime I target an astronomical object in the system, my plotted course resets itself and I have to go back into the galaxy map and re-plot it.

The next system, Synuefai XG-W C28-12 [must be a typo, cannot find it anymore!] has a T-Tauri type star, very young. And indeed, I cannot scoop any fuel from it. There are six huge planets here which have to be gas giants. They are unexplored, so I give in again to my completionist side. Which, after all, yields a very nice surprise; the second gas giant accomodaes a water based life form of carbon based algae. I wonder how much a discovery like this is going to be worth.

Then the catastrophe happens. Interdiction, I am sloppy again typing my blog, and it is NOT the small EAGLE I had seen on my radar before I had alt-tabbed into my blog notes, but a FREAKING BIG Imperial Clipper! Routine kicks in which thankfully makes me not waste precious seconds. I realize that it rated "harmless", so I go for it. Bad decision? I don´t know, it should have been doable.

 - Imperial Clipper - the bane of my existence

It goes well for some rounds, the Clipper is down to 70% hull and I still have my shield. But an Imperial Clipper has a terrible fast turning rate, as well as a very good speed and acceleration, and I frequently get into its firing arc. The Asp is clearly an inferior ship in comparision. But the pilot is crappy "harmless", so I should habe been able to emerge victorious. Then the Clipper does the dreaded "full reverse" maneuver, I hit boost to get again quickly close and below of its guns. The STUPID Clipper again accelerates bowward and holds firing position towards me. So, what does happen when to ships accelerate towards each other and both want to keep the other in their firing arc? Right. They collide. And because that freaking stupid Clipper even managed to tear my shields down in the last moment, and my ship was already battered from the last encounter (only 44% hull left), it happens as it must.

Dumbfounded I stare at the screen. My ship got destroyed. By an NPC ship. Sigh. I feel so humiliated. There goes the life of an intrepid explorer. There goes the ore which I had so painfully extracted and scooped in during my travels. I wonder, is my exploration data, accumulated over two long game sessions, now lost forever, too? This would be hard to swallow.

But first, my resurrected persona has to deal with a case of almost bankruptcy. I can only rebuy my ship by taking a huge loan of 160,455 CR. I guess I am lucky that the allowed maximum still is 200,000 CR. But this will be a huge hypothek on my earnings for a while.

I "awake" back in "Under Construction", New Yembo. And indeed. Visiting Universal Cartographic in the station menu, all exploration data is gone. I don´t believe it. About eight hours of travelling, exploring and surface scanning, valuable high metal content planets, a water world, a gas giant with water based life forms, all are gone, wiped out.

And I also realize that my full surface scan of New Yembo has dramaticall dropped in value. Was it at 135k CR two sessions before, it is now only worth 2,825 CR. I should have guessed that the naming contest would entice a lot of CMDRs to fly this way.

Well, I guess I am lucky that I am not back to the starter ship, a crappy little Sidewinder.

I need a drink.

Going out there

Under Construction, New Yembo. (Neat.) The news tell of a new conflict, where the Federation attacks a supposed pirate system, Nijotec. In the meanwhile, the conflict in the Empire which was hinted at by some earlier news (Falisci) seems to still be under the hood. But this is far away from where I am. Today, I want to try out some mining; it has been a while. But I suspect it will not capture me too long. The commodity market doesn´t have any mention of high value minerals, so I fear that mining here will not yield much wealth, anyways.

I opt to go into the New Yembo 7 metal rich ring. 1600 ls, on the other side of the sun, well chosen... 15 minutes later, with an amazing load of 1 lepidolite and 2 uraninite, I am outta here.

 - mining for the poor

Instead, maybe some exploration of the surrounding systems would bring a pristine source? And, no, I am not writing down the ridicilously complex system names! COL 285 Sector GQ-R B 19-3. There, I did it. And I am moving on, as everything here already has been discovered and marked for that according commander.

After four or five jumps, I have entered the first system which still has unexplored planets. As I start to explore them, I get interdicted by an Asp. I do not have a kill scan so I do not get a bounty for destroying it. How inefficient! After the fight, I drop my plan to surface scan and jump onwards.

Two systems later, again some unexplored planets. Again I try to scan their surfaces, and again I am interdicted, this time by a Viper. It explodes rather quickly, after a short dance of flickering laser fire, even its powerplant, which I always chose as a subtarget, still hat some points left; weird. I assume that I got a lucky hit into the cockpit.

First mistake: Overheat after fuel scoop and jump init. Hull is down to 98%. I am not even far out yet and my hull is already scratched.

- received a sunburn from those nice twin stars

After several jumps I am finally and indeed there where no one has been before. No CMDR has been here before, because there are no names attached to any planet. So, COL 285 SectorSM-Y B 15-9 will have the first honor of bearing my name as an explorer! The distances are horrible, though. 3000 ls out, the farthers on the other end 6000 ls, so I skip the outer ones.

The next few systems are already "taken" by intrepid explorers, and then I find another virgin system. I commit once more to scan down all planets there; COL 285 Sector LA-C B 13-3. Whew. This is getting a bit tedious; the last planet is 16,000 ls away. I think to be a good explorer, you need a second monitor and a good music or video playlist... I gotta stay high all the time...

For comparision of the possible profits, I re-scan a system which has already been discovered by another, CMDR Tequila, namely HIP 110021 3. There is a blueish planet and guessing right, this is reveiled as a water world after a surface scan.

After a while I cannot help but feel confirmed that any completionist will die out here of old age, never having mapped all systems and planets. Imagine the countless numbers of Asps with some skelletal remains of CMDR floating out here...

At some point again an entirely unexplored system. Lots of asteroid belts, and since those tend to confuse the scanner and throw them into an endless loop, I want to drop in and see whether it could be valuable. Hm, not too bad. The first asteroid drops about 12 chunks with a good concentration of silver. And the next one has a tiny bit of gold, and the one after a bit more of gold. That´s better. However, what is confusing that there seems no way to "tag" the asteroids which I already depleted. As it happens, the next asteroid I target does not contain any ore anymore, so I must have been at that one already.

 - golden aura

Nevertheless, after a while, I am getting impatient and want to move on. The Credit per hour rate is still not so high that it would be worth extended efforts. But still, 4 tons silver and 3 tons gold is nothing to be ungrateful for (=~50k Credits).

While traveling onwards, I find it a bit difficult to maintain a direction. After I while I realis...

WOW. wowo. damnn. Interdiction. A Dropship, ranked deadly. My shield (measly class 3C ones!) melt the instant I am dropping out and deploying weapons. Desperate, circling, but it also got turrets. Crackling noise of laser energy melting my ship´s light alloy and hacking it apart with a host of multicannon´s pellets. One thing is clear; if I boost away in a straight line, I am done! So circling circling it is, all the while the Dropship´s turrent is gnawing at my ship. Thank god, the turret is only on its upper (lower?) side, so my shield batteries at one point get a break to do an emergency recharge. I grind my teeth and activate supercruise, still circling. Damn, the Dropships gets some distance; if it turns towards me now I will be done for. Hull 44%! But shields are up, will they hold? I am counting my insurance already. Then the Dropship initiates another circle; my frameshift drive is blocked by the Dropship´s mass. So, I break away, having a close eye on the holo display in order to gauge the Dropship´s heading. As long as its nose does not point towards me, I should be fine. Come on, come on. And after what seems an eternity, the countdown kicks in, right the moment when the Dropship is back on an attack vector. My shields hold, 3 ... 2...1 and... I survived. Whew. Hands shaking.

 - close encounter

With the damage sustained, travelling onwards is risky. Scanning the next system helps calming myself down. I have come this far, and going onwards is somehow compelling. But I sure will have a closer outlook on the scanner; all those pesky Eagles and Sidewinders made me become unattentive.

The next systems are consisting of purple brown dwarves; lots of them out here. There are only icy rock planets to be expect here.

... where was I. Ah, yes. So, for exploring, I would love to be able to target astronomical objects in the system map view. I tend to screw up the optimal order in terms of travel time without any overview on where exactly the are located relatively to each other. And for my jumps, I would also have a mechanism to tag systems as already visited. As concerning finding a proper heading, I realized that I am heading towards a nebula. The Horse Head Nebula, no less. (That´s about the only nebula I knew already from my little knowledge about astronomy).

I am still suffering from my completionist sickness and scanning almost every system I visit; after all, there could be some cool surprises, somewhere, somewhen... but in this virutal reality, I should probably just scan the system and move on, if some of the planets do not show the betraying blue earth-like colouring. Water worlds and earth like worlds should be worth a bit more than the average bunch of rocks. But there are also systems with a lot of metal-rich planets, e.g. COL 285 Sector HH-V D2-43, with all nine planets. I am curious what their data is going to be worth.

In the next system, a moon with a golden tint catches my attention, but getting close reveals just a standard piece of rock.

 - not the golden egg I was hoping for

Some systems later, I am attentive enough to spot a Python and make away in haste. I can rest in systems where Sidewinders roam about; there rarely seem to appear more than one ship. And frankly, even that one ship I got rather consistently per system is already bordering on improbability...

As I am slowly inching closer to the Pleijades, the second name I now from astronomy, it being a stellar birth place, something catches my eye in the galaxy map; Almach consists of something huge blazing, probably a supernova? I have to see this.

 - inferno awaiting?

However, even four light years away, the last system before Almach, the speck which is Almach seems to be too small to be really a supernova. Nevertheless, I am tense as I initiate the jump. On arrival, I am greeted by an immensive greenish-white star. So this is it, a spectral type K giant star. The star name revealed after a surface scan is surely a known one in astronomy, Gamma Andromedae B.

With my curiosity satisfied, I have to end this session. This blog entry is already an accumulated report about two full game sessions; exploration is indeed a bit slow paced, but I have to admit, it has an as hypnotic effect as the trade grind, while still being more interesting but less profitable.

- finally found the green ending =)

Friday, 20 February 2015

Exploring New Yembo

Explorations as reported in this thread in the ED forum are fantastic adventures. I wish I had the time and patience to do something like this. But my playstyle is much more "jumpy", I need to be able to frequently switch from trading to combat to explorations. Nevertheless, I love this report! It is also paired with quite some knowledge about astronomy which I am missing. Maybe one day, the game gives me the occasion to learn some real life facts about our galaxy.

Una, Hoard Orbital - Amahu, Clifford Station: 5 minutes. The retour takes a bit longer because of 2100 ls to cross from the central star to Hoard Orbital, but it is surprisingly negligible: 6 minutes overall. In between, I make a habit of scourging the database for new alternative routes. A good route for a large ship like the Lakon Typ 7 would probably be LTT 15278, Zholobov to Tetonang, Yaping, as both stations seem to have large landing pads, according to Slopey´s database.

Once I am ready, i.e. still have enough cash for a full load of palladium, I buy the class 5A frameshift drive for my Asp and switch to an alternative route from and to Amahu, which brings a bit more of a profit: Amahu, Clifford Station (palladium, 1640 CR/unit) to LTT 15278, Zholobov Enterprise (performance enhancers, 1193 CR/unit).

An interdiction by a security ship robs me of 3% hull=9700 Credits repair costs; another reason to have shields, but I am too greedy! These ancounters happens more often than I wish. Trying to evade interdictions definitely has become more difficult since gamma.

 - my latest trading hub

During my trade routes it becomes apparent that a new landing pad bug has appreared; sometimes the landing navigational aid does not appear, you have to aim and set down by eyeballing the proper touchdown position, which is rather difficult without shields if you do not want to scratch your ship hull.

After a while, my cash is 4.3 million Credits again, I get bored and decide to look up the community event in Furbaide, Effinger Port, where basic medicines are required in order to quell a deadly disease. So I load up with basic medicines and plot the course. It is a bit away from where I am, so an upgrade back to the 32 ton-fuel tank is needed in order to do the trip non-stop. Unfortunately, I realize only after launch that I would have needed to fuel up after installing the fuel tank and I have to take a pit stop nevertheless.

In Furbaiden, Effinger Port, I am a bit confused. There is no community mission displayed in the bulleting board and, moreso, basic medicines are in supply here (although at zero at that moment). This is so typical for the ambigous state of Elite: Dangerous. Full of red herrings and bugs and you never know how something is supposed to work. So, I sell the medicines, which are then for sale at a supply of 128 tons...

Well. Let´s see the system where the space station project from Yembo is going to be built soon, instead! I first need to reconfigure my ship for safer long range travels, i.e. weapons and shields, and scanners, while we are at it. My four million Credits melt away too fast; only a measly class 5C shield is what I can afford if I also want advanced and surface scanners and a good fuel scoop. Maybe I should also equip a refinery for some mining, if I should be chance encounter one of those "pristine" platinum asteroid belts (yeah, fat chance, but you never know...). I am taking a risky approach: Only 473,918 Credits are left when I am done shopping, and the rebuy value for the insurance of my ship is 669,893 Credits. Which means, if I get attacked and destroyed, I am in debt to the maximum allowance 200,000 Credits. Of course this will not happen to me. Right?

 - good to go on an extended trip

As I start to plot the course, I can already see that the target system, HIP 101110, had been renamed to New Yembo. Neat! So it is really about time to visit it before it finally gets settled!!! Off we go!

The first three systems are still inhabited, some ships patrolling around there, inclusive some CMDR Cobras, but then I am already out in the unknown. Once I realize this, it feels weird. Empty systems. No civilisation, it is the wild wild west. I am tempted to stop by and scan everything I encounter; however, I would never arrive at my destination, there is simply too much to take in. Besides, so far all objects were already marked as discoverd with some CMDR´s name (a feature which got introduced with one of the game updates).

I soon have to start scooping, after I realize again that not every star is suited for this; I do not want to get stuck in a system with a non-scoopable star. And then, rather quickly, I have already arrived in New Yembo. The huge primary star blazes in a beautiful velvet-blue-white fire!

- normally, fuel scooping is not possible at white stars

My advanced scanner reveils 40 astronomical objects. Let´s have a look around and finally make my detailed surface scanner work! There is another player Asp, as well as numerous ships. Damn, I guess I am too late to be one of the first-comers! I try to contact the other CMDR but I am rudely interrupted by an interdiction. Good that I installed some weapons, after all! My class 2 pulse lasers make short work of the NPC Cobra. Then I am off exploring.

There is a belt very close to the star, my ship heats up considerable in order to get even close. My scanner scans it once, twice, thrice, then it is finally labelled. The system map shows it as pristine, but, alas, only of the rocky type i.e. there should be no metals to be found in there. But scattered around the system, every ringed planet is littered with exctraction sites. It is fun to explore this new system thouroughly, knowing to be a spearhead for its stettlement. I am so glad I stopped trade grinding, this is a change of play style which I did not realize I needed!

I am slightly dissappointed that there is no "pristine" ring or asteroid belt, but there are quite some "metal rich" ones. As my last step for this game session, I land on the space station, which is still labelled "Under Construction". And it indeed only consists of the barebone, attached with a hughe rocket engine.

 - it seems the core of the station has just arrived

The market is of course still small, so no good trade opportunities yet. Selling the data from my scans, Universal Cartographics pay me 43k CR for the systems on my way here, and offer 135k for a full scan of Yembo, but I need to be 20+ ly from here to actually being able to trade that data.

In the meanwhile, Frontier has launched a nameing contest in order to find a good name for the starport. I tried to participate, but the confirmation Email did not make it through. Aquaeus Port.

Time is up, logout.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

A bit more of trading

Apparently, the BD+03 2338 conflict is done. It also appears the discount-rewards of the community events are bugged and do not work at all at the moment.

Re-reading my cash levels, they do not show much without knowing about all my assets. E.g. I did a lot of shopping in the outfitter in between. I discovered that the rightmenu gives you an overall view of your wealth.

Also some information I gather from forum discussions; considering the cooldown of the frameshift drive after an interdiction, the mechanics seem to differ depending whether you are interdicted by a CMDR or a NPC ship. The cooldown is removed when interdicted by a CMDR, apparently to make up for the increased difficulty to get away from the unchained human intelligence and skill.

Before the Elite: Dangerous, I launch Slopey´s Best Price Calculator. But suddenly, it self-updates automatically and I curse as I see that it re-applies the default settings, which is set to "auto-update". I cannot interrupt the process, so I am now saddled again with the full galaxy wide database as it is gathered by all participants. If I delete it, again, then my hand typed data will be also lost. With this, my attempt to play with only my own notes is destroyed; there is no way that I am going to start to re-take notes from scratch, again. However, this is a coincidence of a sort, because I was planning to check for alternative route gathered by the swarm, anyways, in order to gauge and verify which profit ranges are in general possible. For example, Thrudds website shows this:

Gliese 868, Reilly Enterprise (Palladium)- Tsim Binba, Kopal Orbital (Prog.Cells) 3023  (40 ly)
Timbarichs (Fischer Orbital) 112ls Gold → Atfero (Patry Dock) 187ls Imperial Slaves 3011 (20 ly)

When I ask Slopey´s database, these routes do not appear. Instead, I can find e.g. this
Atfero (Patry Dock) (Impereal Slaves) - Graudika (Kidd Plant) Beryllium, total 348k CR (17 ly). However, this one is in Emire space.

Sigh. Ok let´s play the game and skip the part which causes work and frustration.

Naddoddur Terminal, Yembo. The bulletin board has a surprisingly well payed fetch mission: 76,000 CR for 3 ton of palladium. Take this, as I know exactly from where I can buy it cheap.

 - good source of palladium there

After resolving the mission, I am headed back to Yakabugai, looking out for "wanted" ships on my way. Instead, I am intercepted myself by a Cobra classified as "dangerous", shortly before Serebrov Station. This enemy does not only fly better, it for sure has more fancy maneuvers in its repertoire, amongst them the dreaded "I-go-into-instant-reverse-thrust", where it is practically bound to get me into its firing arc. While this moment is only brief, if you realize this in time and boost quickly ahead, even a brief moment is dangrous for the Eagle with its paper-thin shield (even class A3 shields are ripped like said tissue). Thus, the Cobra gets me into its firing arc one time, dealing high damage, but thanks to a fast initiating of boost, the shields hold, barely. After that, I manage to stick to its tail, target the power subsystem with my three gimballed multicannons, and some moments later (really thick armor it has, too), the Cobra explodes at 18% hull and I have a 30k bounty voucher (kill scanned).

 - boom

Back in Serebrov Station, Yakabugai, I realize that my Asp already values 8.5 million Credits with the installed upgrades. As a warm up, I do a few trade runs. According to Slopey´s database, it is 276k CR per roundtrip.

The news have a new community goal, where we are asked to transport basic medicines to Furbaide, Effinger Port. But first, I want to work for a better frameshift drive, i.e. I need to accumulate 6 million Credits.

Since I have now the full database from Slopey´s, I should test it. GAT 2, Thomson Vision (performance enhancers) and Amahu, Cliffort Station (palladium) should bring 348k CR profit for a round trip. Let´s see, they are only about 27 ly out. But first, I want to sell my Eagle. No use to uselessly tie up my wealth when I start to go out into the galaxy! Entering Serebrov Station, a hasty CMDR collides with me. Since I have no shields, I am down to 88% hull and receive a hefty repair bill of 38k Credits. That´s the price for flying risky with a no-shield setup, I guess.

Arriving first at GAT 2, I have to laugh. Thompson Vision is 19.000 ls out there, almost 10 minutes flight times in supercruise. It seems I have to adjust the seach paramenters in Slopey´s Best Price Calculator! So... how about: Una, Godwin Port (progenitor cells) - Amahu (Clifford/Burbank/Kondratyev). So be it. I take performance enhancers with me to fly not empty, and they bring in nice 930 Cr/unit at Clifford Station, Amahu.

But my real choice starts with palladium from Amahu, Clifford Station, which bring 1587 CR in Una, Hoard Orbital (which, though, requires a travel of 2145 ls); the retour is only 970 Cr/unit, though.

- a fellow trader

CMDR Kytar is on my route, at least he docks or is blocked docking at Clifford Station. He docks before me, and, well, he takes his time. He is from Russia, if this explains anything (jesting). After a while, I explain to him that there is only room for one ship on those small outposts; he then wishes me good luck and apparently logs out; I can finally land. In hindsight, it comes to me that he lives in a country which is not exactly in line with our ideals in the western world. Suddenly, I feels kind of creepy; here in the internet, in the game, we are all equals in an equal world, a kind of comrades and friends; while outside there is so much problems and difference. It is easy to forget this; maybe even good to forget? Maybe the internet, and games like this, slowly teaches humanity that their squabbles over resources does not really matter, but the advancement of civilisation as a whole? That would be my wish, at least. Strange thoughts, this is probably what I deserve when I set myself willingly on repeated 2100 ls trips...

Actually, concerning the distance of Hoard Orbital in Una, I do not mind the longer travel time of 2100 ls. It is the perfect distance for a short switch to the desktop, to analyse data, write notes or read some news in between.

An alternative route would be from Clifford Station (which has high supply in both gold and palldium) to LTT 15278 (Zholobov Enterprise). It requires 3 jumps with my current frameshift drive, but once I upgrade it, it should be also a mere 2-jump route. I check this already because the supply in Una is only medium, and that alternative route should still have high supply (if the data from Slopey´s tool is current).

After some round trips, my cash is about 5 million Credits and another game session has to end. A pity that time doesn´t allow to both trade for a while and then check out some events. Yes, real life can sometimes be annoying! My current cash is 6.4 million Credits, my wealth overall is 15.8 million Credits.