One of the best/worst things about the game is that failure has consequences. If you lose your ship, you lose it and everything in it – there’s no reload or roll-back. If you’re careful you always have enough money to cover an insurance claim; that allows you to rebuy your ship and equipment at a fraction of the cost but you’ll still lose anything you’re carrying or have accumulated as data since leaving port.
But as long as you’re cautious you shouldn’t die too often, right?
When you start you have a basic ship and a small amount of money. As I needed to get money from basically nothing I ran a mission to get some seed money and then kitted my starter ship out with a mining laser and a refinery. Mining with basic kit is slow going;
- First, find a decent asteroid field.
- Next fly close to an asteroid and slice off a bit of rock.
- Open your cargo scoop and fly at the rock while keeping it in the scoop cross-hairs for collection. This can take multiple attempts as the scoop is below your screen and targeting system is oblique to your direction of travel. Don’t be frustrated as the rock bounces off your hull time after time, this is perfectly normal.
- Once collected the ore needs to be processed to get refine one mineral out of the list of minerals in the asteroid chunk. This will provide a fraction of 1 tonne of ore.
- Mine and retrieve more rock chunks until you get a full tonne of ore which is then placed in the hold.
- Repeat until hold is full or sanity is lost.
Rarer minerals (like gold) are more valuable but are both harder to find in asteroids and are only in trace amounts in the asteroids (so you need more chunks to get a full tonne). After hours of mining I’d mostly filled my meagre 4 tonne hold with gold and platinum; this was worth a kings ransom to me and I was keen to finish and get back.
Hard Lession #1 was realising it’s important not to hit the wrong button on your new 102084803 button joystick at a critical moment. I engaged my booster and my tiny ship barely made a dent as I blasted into the multi-million tonne lump of rock at point-blank range.
Shock and horror didn’t take long to set in.
But I knew where the asteroids were and now I needed to recoup my losses! Important not to think about all that lost time and it’s REALLY important to remember where you boost button was and not to DO EXACTLY THE SAME THING AGAIN.
After finally getting some money from mining my new cunning plan was to trade rares in my shiny new Cobra. Rare cargo is only available at a few select stations and it’s sell price scales massively with distance; if you sell it more than 160 light years away from where you bought it you can make loads of money.
My ship had a maximum jump distance of 10 lightyears though so it was a long, slow trip. I occasionally looked things up on the web while travelling to alleviate the boredom. I run Elite in borderless windowed mode so I can still see what’s going on while I read (so I’m perfectly safe, right?) on the other monitor. One time when I came out of warp I was barrelling towards a massive star (they’re realistically modelled so there’s loads of variation on size, heat, colour, gravity. In other circumstances this would have been awesomely cool). I was wrenching at the controls as the heat on my ship hit critical and the klaxons were going off telling me to pull up, FOR GODS SAKE PULL UP!
What’s going wrong why why can’t I move what’s happening is this a bug OMG OMG OMG
The Elite Dangerous window didn’t have the focus. So while I had minimised the web-browser the input from my joystick wasn’t being sent to the game.
I’d been playing a bit more but I was a bit leery of trying bounty hunting as I was more than aware of my ability to get myself killed without the addition of homicidal space pirates. Still, it was an appealing thought going out hunting in my Cobra like I did 30 years ago in the original Elite.
I spent some money and got some cool lasers (they actually DO go PEWPEWPEW). Some defenses, power upgrades and better upgrades and I was set. Off I went!
One of the best places to hunt is at Resource Extraction Sites. They’re the rings around huge gas giants, made of millions of asteroids. Miners go and try and scrape a living and pirates turn up trying to scrape the miners. Opportunities for heroic counter-piracy abound!
The gas giant was big. I mean, really big. The site I had flown to happened to be in the dark side of the planet and I soon arrived. But I started hunting anyway.
I’ve got headlights, right?
That was Big Mistake #1 but Big Mistake #2 was attacking an Anaconda after letting a few successes against Sidewinders go to my head. To re-iterate, I’d won taking on ships quite a bit smaller than mine and so decided (flush with success/greed) to try and take on the largest ship in the game. Imagine a starling attacking a gunship and you’re pretty much there.
On my first pass his guns stipped my shields and started destroying my hull. Evasive maneuvers ASAP! I engaged boost and tried to speed away. Woohoo! Eat my dust!
Hang on, where are the stars?
Dogfighting a warship in an asteroid field where the asteroids are basically invisible=very bad idea.
Right, so no fighting in areas swarming with invisible death-rocks. From then on I’d only fight in areas lit well enough to comply with EU directive #387576 (“Acceptable Light Levels For Bounty Hunting in a Asteroid Field where Mining is Taking Place, Part 3”).
Paid the piper (or rather, the insurance company), got my previous ship back and then flew back out to a new (well lit) resource location. Scan the enemy, find out who’s wanted and take them on. I made a bit of money turning in the bounties and everything was going well. Normally the local police would helpfully assist with the fighting; they DID seem a little aggressive in their pursuit of justice though.
And by ‘a bit aggressive’ I mean ‘homicidally malevolent’. After a police Viper dived in front of me while we were chasing a felon I accidentally tagged him with a laser. At that point the police read me my rights (“You’re dead!”) and blasted me from the sky. It all happened so quickly I was too slow trying to run away (Viper lasers don’t mess around).
Lesson learned; don’t try to mess with “The Man”. Bounty hunting was going well for a while, then I shot a police Viper again. I quickly boosted away, shut my hard points and shifted into warp before they killed me.
But I was a wanted man.
To get rid of your wanted status, you need to dock in space station owned by the offended parties and pay the bounty. What makes this slightly more tricky is that they’ll shoot you dead as soon as they spot you.
The way around this is to dock without them scanning you, which involves getting as close as possible floating in a de-powered ship (so there’s minimal heat signature). If you turn flight-assistance off your ship maintains any forward momentum it has when your not using thrust.
I lined up 8 km away from the entrance, turned off flight assist, thrust forward then shut everything down except for life support. It was pretty eerie, floating forward in silence at first but then I got quite into the peaceful, quiet approach to the station.
At least until I got close, realised I’d not lined up my approach well, failed to turn my engines on in time while panicking and gently tapped the station with my shields turned off.
Back to bounty hunting in my new ship. It didn’t take too many hunts until the same thing happened again; I accidentally clipped a police Viper that flew in front of me and all the police in the area decided I was a higher priority target than the pirate with multiple death-sentences. Time to practice my silent docking.
This time I cunningly opened my gun ports to allow me to use the cross-hair to line up my approach. Flight-assist off, a quick boost of thrust, full shutdown and I was floating forwards. I remembered to turn my engines back on with plenty of time and used my thrusters at the last minute to correct my approach.
But my thrusters seemed woefully underpowered; every attempt to correct had barely any effect at first followed by wild, swinging movement when I was trying to stop. Soon I was stuck in the wire-mesh around the station entrance. Once I realised I’d forgotten to turn flight-assistance back on (full Newtonian flight is hard) until it was too late.
Hello Mr Policeman, that’s a particularly shiny spaceship…
After another few trips I was again the victim of a police stitch-up. This time when I came to smuggle myself into the station I set everything up perfectly. I drifted towards the docking slot (perfectly lined up) while chanting “Don’t forget thrusters or flight-assist. Don’t forget thrusters or flight-assist”. Ironically, I wouldn’t have needed either as I’d lined up so well I was drifting into the station without needing to adjust my course.
As I got close to the entrance I couldn’t believe how well it had gone. Woohoo! Time to see which docking bay I need. That’s funny, why isn’t it showing me the docking ba….
Trespassing detected! 30 seconds to comply!
I’d forgotten to ask for permission to dock so the station was going to blow me out of the sky. You can’t ask for permission that close to the station so I desperately pulled up, catching myself in the webbing again.
Hello, again officer.
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
Vernon Sanders Law