After my successful mining operation, all intel about the required pristine mining location is in place, so it cannot hurt to do another one. This time, I can stack a few missions about methanol monohydrate, which strongly hints at its availability only in ice asteroids. Conveniently, the same pristine location in Bhare offers said ice asteroid rings. I also make sure to have enough drones/limpets available and filled my cargo hold almost totally up. Arriving in Bhare at the ice ring, I first confuse methanol monohydrate with methane clathrate, and of course, the former is super rare to find. I have to waste a lot of prospector limpets and go back to a station to restock before I have unearthed the required 16 tons of them.
In order to be not too lonely during my ventures, I made use of my new casual player guild´s teamspeak, Blue Venceance. I had met those guys via my forays in Dreadnought, but after I had launched a forum post about Elite, some likeminded players emerged. As it turns out, two of us had time and leasure to form up a wing. What do you do in a wing? Well, missions are not shared. There is a trading bonus when doing it in a team, but the real fun is, of course, combat. Previously, I had found a conflict zone in Koviac and even one or two missions attached to it. That´s where we go now. My wingmate sports a fully equipped Anaconda, me in my Vulture.
Our first drop goes not so well. I am there first, and as soon as I choose my side of the conflict, three red dots immediately open fire on me. My wingmate drops in, draws quite some fire, too, but thus gives me the moment I need to escape into supercruise. I can repair quickly at the next outpost, but it turns out that there are no large pads for the Anaconda, so he has to jump into the next system for his repairs.
In the meanwhile, I approach the battlefield again and more cautiously, by first boosting away from the fray, then choosing my side, and then carefully picking one red dot which is already surrounded by three green ones. Much better. Like this, my side quickly gets the upper hand and once my wingmate is back, we are in for a stroll and pick our enemies off, one by one. After about half an hour, I have about half a million Credits in combat vouchers and I have a million Credits in mission rewards. Not bad and a nice result for that particular game session.
However, in the meanwhile, the community has realized that the most cash comes from Skimmer missions. There is also the bad habit to stack missions artificially, by logging in an out, which makes the mission agents respawn said missions. You can stack up to 20 missions like this, each of them between one and two mission Credits worth (friendly or allied status required), and finish all of them by shooting a maximum of 12 skimmers. I don´t like this fact, as it causes inflation and makes other mission types inferior, thus limiting the game experience.
The next time I log in, there is no wingman available and I am still sitting at about 7 million Credits of cash. I still want to do my efforts with the engineers and need more savings, so I grudgingly resign myself back to Mula Wendes, my mission base for planetary skimmer missions. Since my spacecraft is just a means of getting my down to planets, I buy again an Imperial Eagle. It sports the fastest availabe boost speed, a good cockpit view, can carry a Scarab bay, and it is cheap, in case I should loose it.
I don´t artificially stack missions, but what I do is, at the end of my game sessions, accept missions and combine them with the newly available ones once I log in for a new game session. I always choose missions for two locations, do one location and fly back and stack missions for the other location before I do them. Like this, on a good night, I make 18 million credits for destroying just 12 skimmers in one location. Sometimes, I intentionally earn less and stack missions from those agents whom I am not yet friendly or allied with, in order to get them there, too.
Some missions take quite some time, because all those points of interest consist of mineral accumulations. A lucky hint from the community makes me realize, I see points of interests better and earlier if I fly higher up and zoom my scanner far out (page down button). It is still a bit annoying to search for suitable locations, because the game does not render them far ahead enough; sometimes, they just pop up when I have already passed them, and just a lucky glance sideways makes me aware of them. I wonder how many wrecks I might have missed because of this. There is an option in the graphic menu about pre-rendering surfaces, but I don´t notice much difference in this behaviour even once I crank it up to maximum. I would like to see outposts and especially wrecks much farther ahead from above. Right now, the safest way to discover them is to fly at 1 km and do a circle while in the zone of a point of interest. This gives the game enough time to make an outpost “pop up”, but it costs time. I hope that Frontier can do something about this, maybe introduce some more hints on the ship scanner, as the surface scanner in the Scarab already does.
One particular game session, I also have quite some trouble with the HTC Vive. I made use of a tip in the internet, to increase supersampling so that I have a sharper view, which is especially good for reading tiny letters in the HUD. However, my Nvidia GTX1070 does not have the power to render more than x1.5 without a severe drop in framerates. The result is negligible, the true improvement starts at about x2.0, but my tinkering causes quite some grey-outs and crashes. They always happen, once in a while, but the supersampling clearly amplifies this issue. I really hope that Frontier still works on improving the HTC Vive experience in particular!
Once I have found an outpost, at one point, while I am in my Scarab jeep, there are suddenly explosions all around me. Looking up, I see that “clean” Adder, which followed me for some time, attacking first me and then my parked ship. I just make it back in time into my ship as its shields fail. A bad starting point for a close-surface dog fight, and having just two fixed pulse lasers does not make this easier. I get away just barely. Taking flight from an Adder is a bit humiliating, but I like the fact that you are never really safe.
On my next try, my ship gets attacked again while I am far away in my Scarab. The attacker appeared only after I mounted the Scarab, and I am too far away to do anything. In my haste to scramble back, I veer and somersault and arrive only to find a burned out shipwreck. It is suddenly an interesting experience, alone on a rocky planet with no means to escape. Maybe with some later patch will introduce player ship crews, and I will be able to play this through and send a distress beacon to alert nearby players for help. Right now, I only have the option to self destruct. I did well by choosing a cheap ship for these missions. I now have lost only about 110.000 Credits, as opposed to the two million Credits, which my Asp´s insurance would have cost.
After these events, I play more cautiously and send my Imperial Eagle away while I drive on the surface. Some more “skimmer runs”, and my cash is up to 70 million credits after just one more game session. I don´t want to do this grind for long, just needed a cash safety net for some efficient other missions. I could now think about high efficiency mining in a Python, some trade missions, or just try out the T7 for the first time, maybe combine this with finally finding and bringing 200 landmines to Liz Ryder, so that my engineering venture can finally begin.