The Elitist, Part Five: Hunting Dogs

Brendan continues his life as space misfit in our Elite Dangerous Diary. In this final entry, he finds himself settling down among the stars with a steady delivery job. But how long can the simple life last?

There she is, the Asp Explorer. A gargantuan beast of a spaceship, she is able to blast every wannabe outlaw out of the sky and still jump 10 lightyears to drop off one-hundred tonnes of coffee to some jittery, caffeine-starved miners two systems away. Able to function both as a military vehicle and a civilian transport, she is the interstellar equivalent of a Land Rover. Standard fittings include multi-cannons, heat sinks, point defence turrets. Average engine mass of 500 tonnes, power usage threshold of 17.00mw. She is wonderful. I watch as the Asp veers over my head, out of the docking bay and into the black beyond. The Asp is not my ship. No. This is my ship…

The Lakon Type-6 Transporter. Aka, the Cosmic Lorry. A great, shuddering bulge of rectangular metal, sporting a decent cargo hold and not much else. There are those who sing the virtues of the Type-6, referring to her compartment size as if it were some great interterrestrial booty ripe for the twerking. I don’t see it like that. To me this thing is a chain, an anchor. I have been flying the Type-6, it seems, for a century. Ferrying superconductors to one system and progenitor cells back again. I have never Googled what either of these items are. All I care is that they net me a 180,000 credit profit for every round trip – more than I have ever earned in a steady trade route. More than I have ever heard anyone earning.

My days are slow. I make a cup of hot chocolate and rev up the old lorry’s engines. I jump from Canis Venatici to Canum Venaticorum, two systems so similarly named that even translating them from the original Latin does not help to identify one from the other. Both names mean “Hunting Dogs”. I suppose one name is the genitive case, if you read Latin and care about that sort of thing. I don’t.

I jump from Canis to Canum and back again. I drop off my cargo and do the same thing a dozen more times. Sometimes I take a detour to the backwater Ivanchenkov colony, to sell them robotics and take cheap scrap back to the Dogs. When I’m there, I sometimes stop to look down on the planet below, it’s cracked volcanic surface wrinkled with canyons, glowing with fire. I frown at Elite’s lack of planet-landing features and the time it will likely take to implement these things. Hopefully, when I can finally go down there, to the surface of LHS 2691 A2, it won’t simply be a cosmetic add-on. I hope to God there will be something to do.

I leave the backwater and carry on my trucker’s life. From Canis to Canum, from Canum to Canis. In reality, the constellation I currently inhabit is a regular target of SETI’s radio telescopes. One of the stars nearby, Chara, is so like our own sun that scientists hope it harbours an Earth-like planet. I myself have never been to Chara. There is no demand for superconductors there.

From Canis to Canum. Back and forth, back and forth. I have raised my bank balance from 900,000 to just under 3.5 million credits. But life in space has not gotten any better. I fit out my lorry with bigger cargo holds, I strip away the shields and add an Auto Maintenance Field for on-the-hoof hull repair. I strap a point defence turret onto the roof, so anybody launching missiles will be disappointed when they burst impotently, metres away from my naked hull. I do all this in one of the spaceports and I picture myself as a mechanic on a dolly trolly, sliding out from underneath the Type-6’s engines, wiping my hands down with a blackened rag. But really, all I am doing is tinkering with the game’s semi-penetrable outfitting menu.

I jet out of port with my new defensive upgrades, yearning for someone to come and interdict me, to pull me out of warp and start a scrap, the thrill of escape, the heart-thumping fear of rounding on an aggressor and firing all cannons in a fit, because even space rats fight in corners – just like the old times!

But nobody ever comes. Back and forth I go, dropping off the progenitor cells, picking up the superconductors. Back and forth. 180,000 credits. More money than I have ever made. Woohoo. I guess.

The space cops of Canum know me well. Gone are the days when the security were my worst foes. Now, they practically nod me past with barely a scan. They appear as green, ‘friendly’ blips on my sensors. In fact the whole of Janifer Port appears green, because I have done so many odd-jobs for the Bureau of Canum. The port hovers above a rocky world, capped with ice on either end. Sometimes I stop here too, looking down (up? sidelong?) at the icecaps and the clouds. This planet has an atmosphere of… whatever. It doesn’t matter, I can’t land there. And even if I could, I have grinding to do.

In Canis there are no green blips. The Crimson Cartel own the station where I drop off my cargo load – Kornbluth Station – and they only offer dodgy missions involving stolen goods, or less-profitable mineral runs. I turn the Cartel down every time. I have found the best money-making route in the known galaxy, why would I leave that? I float out of Kornbluth’s blinking gateway and hover above the station’s rotating bulb.

There is a city below, skyscrapers and apartment blocks with winking yellow windows. I wonder what the Crimson Cartel is like to look at. Who are their leaders? And do they rule the revolving city with a Mafia-like grip, unstable and edgy? Or do they have a more measured rule? More importantly for Elite’s ambitious future, I want to know if I will get any sense of the place at all, or any sense of the people, when I am finally allowed to walk behind those windows. The game is so much a space sim, so much a computer screen, that the upcoming human element worries me. In fact, now that I think about it, a lot about Elite’s future worries me.

I steer away from the bulb of lights, automatically flicking my destination lock back to Canum. I can see the twin gas giants that hang in space nearby. Both of them have a ring of icy rocks, except you can’t see the nearest planet’s ring because Kornbluth orbits at exactly the latitude of the belt. The hoop of ice is so thin that it doesn’t appear, even as a tiny line around the planet.

All this atmosphere and down time allows me to think. Elite is a brilliant game. I love it to bits. I wouldn’t have played 90+ hours of it if I didn’t. But come the day of its release, it had better deliver. It better be rid of all the annoying bugs (the flickering dashboards, the way the landing bay options sometimes default to ‘Launch’ even though you have only just landed, or the banjaxed Friends and Private Group system, which just plain doesn’t work). And it had better have more to it than this, or at least more ways to make a decent dime. Not for the sake of obsessives like me, but for the sake of the punters who backed the game ages ago – people who must have in their minds an image of the game set out in that Kickstarter video. Because I’m not sure if that game is all here yet and Frontier have only a month left to put the wax on. This plateau I have encountered between ships, for instance, is less “game” and more “second job”.

Right now, it is simultaneously capable of both stunning beauty and inescapable boredom. I have taken part in adrenaline-fuelled dog-fights, terrifying near-crashes and lethal pursuits. But I have also taken part in 15-minute journeys through an eventless vacuum, travelling in a straight line long enough to take go and make a curry. It is saying a lot when I, the worst multi-tasker in the known universe, will only play Elite if I am able to listen to the radio at the same time.

At Janifer Port – that green-hued, jolly place – I spot another human player, piloting a Cobra. He wobbles into the station and starts to land on one of the docking bays. It has been a long time since I saw another person. For a moment I think I may be too far away from the central systems for real people to visit, but my galaxy map says I am only a handful of jumps away from the systems where new players start. I have been doing the Canis-Canum run for so long, it just feels like I have gone a long way. I direct my comms at the human ship.

“Hailing,” I say. “Come in.”

His ship freezes in mid-air. For a while, there is nothing. I rev up my engines and leave the station. This is how it always is. Nobody really talks in Elite. Nobody ever —

“thanks”

I pull back my thruster and come to a halt. Backer #45155, as he is named, is responding. And he is giving me thanks.

“What for?” I ask.

“you said come in as i was docking”

Ah. I had meant “come in” like a radio operator’s “come in”. Like, “come in, Apollo” or “come in, Bowie”. But Backer #45155 had taken it as a literal invitation to my adoptive space port. I glossed over the mistake and we got to talking. What trade routes was he doing? How much cash was he making? Did he like Elite?

“i love it,” he said. “can’t wait to see what they add”

I guess that’s the general feeling, out here in the inky black. We all love the game but it just doesn’t feel finished. I suppose that’s because, well, it isn’t. I looked at my bank balance and at the route to Canis. I looked at the hologram of Janifer station on my dashboard, friendly and safe and sickly green, its twin arms twirling round a single cuboid chunk, like some giant rotting shish kebab.

I broke. 3.5 million credits deep into my savings for the Asp, I gave up on the dream. I dipped into the money and visited the station’s shipyard. I bought an Eagle, a Viper and a Cobra. But still, having a garage full of spaceships didn’t feel like enough. I wanted more, I wanted to use them. So I emailed Pip.

The plan (although Pip didn’t know it) was to head out to a Nav Beacon, near a central star, and scan everyone passing by with a warrant scanner. If clean: let ‘em go. If wanted: boom. But the game did not want to play. The Friends-list management is not working and no matter how we fiddled with the menu, we were unable to see or meet each other in the same instance. After some flying about, Pip left for bed. It looked like a dud evening. I had spent all my cash on a fight I would never have. No Asp, no friends, no fight. Idly, I targeted another human who just happened to be floating by.

Commander Monkeyspunk.

I followed him. He was heading towards Asellus Prime, and my computer detected his jump drives charging. Without thinking, I did the same. When we landed in Asellus Prime I lined up behind him and fired off my Interdictor – the device that lets you pull someone out of super cruise. Monkeyspunk wasn’t Wanted. He wasn’t even dangerous-looking. Something about his name just grated against my mood. It was like some obscene graffiti on this gorgeous cosmic canvas that I just had to wipe clean. I grabbed him out of super cruise, rounded on him, pulled my multi-cannons out and without warning, started to let the bullets fly. He turned and dived, shot back and even cracked my windshield, bringing my hull down to about 80%. But my heart was pumping, this was what I wanted. No more Canis, no more Canum. I was the hunting dog here. I let off a volley of dumbfire missiles, right as he crossed my sights. Monkeyspunk exploded and I felt…

Wait. Actually, I feel shit. Why do I feel shit? A message flashed on my info screen.

“Warning: 1020 CR bounty gained: murder of Monkeyspunk.”

Murder. All the fear and the combat high of the dogfight left me at once. This wasn’t some NPC crim. This was just some dude playing on his computer, trying to make a decent spacebuck. He was marked as ‘clean’ and ‘harmless’ by the scanner. Why did I want to fight him? Boredom? Was that all?

I landed at an unsecured orbital, repaired my hull and reloaded. I felt bad about the kill but not so guilty that I didn’t bribe the local security office into forgetting about my bounty. I took off again, clean and fresh. Still, maybe there was no need for that carry-on anymore. Let’s just stick to Wanted targets from now on, I thought. That business with the… Yeah. Never mind, it can’t be changed. But from now on, only criminals. Only “Bad Guys.”

I entered super cruise and saw another human, speeding through the system. I scanned him. His information lit up.

Commander Loran Lovanchy: Wanted.

Okay. this was it. If I can kill this Loran, that’ll be me square with karma, right? That’s how this justice stuff works, doesn’t it? I weaved near the pilot and fired my Interdictor. My computer flashed.

“Get behind target”

I looped around and tried again. They would be travelling the other way now.

“Get behind target”

Huh? This didn’t add up. The ship was going in one direction, then the other. I curved around for a second time. I couldn’t think of why the pilot would turn so sharp in super cruise mode, unless they were…

“Get behind target”

They were. Loran was trying to Interdict me at the same time. To any outsider, it would have looked ridiculous. We were whirring around each other in faster-than-light spirals, each trying to get behind the other. Okay, I decided. Why not play the victim? Lovanchy may not have realised what I was trying to do as well. They might not be expecting a clean catch to fight back as soon as we both drop. I lowered my thrust to an amiable speed and waited. Within a few seconds, there it was. The warble of an interdiction field. Let’s go, Double-L.

We drop out and I correct my ship’s direction instantly, deploying weapons and turning to face Loran. The gimballed cannons lock on and start whirring. Soon, bullets are churning out, clipping off my target. Caught completely off-guard, Loran dives and disappears behind me. I curl around and get the fugitive back in my sights. But the distance between us is too great. I waste gallons of cannon rounds just giving the enemy Cobra a light peppering. And now that I’m reloading, Loran is turning to come at me, face first. The Cobra bears down. Lasers burn over everything.

Foolishly, I stay on track, spinning to try and deflect the beams. But by the time I have reloaded, Loran has already passed. Now I can’t see, the beams are landing on me from an angle I just can’t deal with. My hull is being eaten. How did this … how did turn so fast? My windshield cracks again. A single word flashes in my mind.

Murder.

Maybe this is how that justice stuff works?

I explode.

Back in Canis and Canum, the NPC transports ferry cargo back and forth, back and forth. Backer #45155 is probably asleep, or powering down his ship in the green comfort of Janifer Port. Tomorrow: another day of deliveries.

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45 Comments

  1. Jim Rossignol says:

    Something horrifying about that cracked cockpit canopy moment, caught in that screenshot there.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Makes me wonder why space ships have glass windscreens in the first place, though.

      • padger says:

        To look at the pretty stars!

      • Gap Gen says:

        Putting fleshy things in space fighters is pretty dumb, too, given that they respond fairly poorly to a number of pretty core features of spaceflight, let alone space combat. Hell, we’re probably seeing the last generation of manned air fighters being developed right now. In any case, I don’t really mind space fantasy as a genre. Star Wars is fun, and that’s all that matters, really.

      • Smashbox says:

        There’s not even any wind!

      • JKLauderdale says:

        There’s a decent space-opera book series that delves into that exact topic, “Forbidden Borders 1-3”. Something about how human nature simply requires an occasional look at the world outside. Reminds me, I need to re-read the series

    • Synesthesia says:

      Edit: whoops, misfire. But there is something like a creepy ghostlike face on that screenshot and now i cannot unseeit. Thank you very much.

    • Seboss says:

      The instant the canopy finally rends and is violently sucked in outer space is truely terrifying.

      • Joibel says:

        That doesn’t kill you straight away. Your life support will keep you going – the default unit gives you 5 minutes. I had a truely memorable moment of being interdicted and immediately attacked by someone. Down at 10% hull, an open canopy and 4 minutes 30 seconds to live I’d managed to get enough space between us to get back into super cruise. How supercruising without a canopy worked wasn’t immedately a worry. What was more of a worry was that the HUD projects itself onto the canopy. So working out where to point my poor ships nose to get close enough to a station was a problem, where I had to keep swinging out to get the bits of glass round the edge to show me where it was.

        Fortunately the outpost wasn’t far away, and were happy for me to land. It would have been nice if they had given me a pad without a tower in the way, but I landed and survived.

  2. geldonyetich says:

    “Murder. All the fear and the combat high of the dogfight left me at once. This wasn’t some NPC crim. This was just some dude playing on his computer, trying to make a decent spacebuck. He was marked as ‘clean’ and ‘harmless’ by the scanner. Why did I want to fight him? Boredom? Was that all?”

    It’s kind of interesting to note that EVE Online generates a similar sort of bloodthirst. It’s all very good to have a huge universe with an economy involving a handful of important, if mundane, tasks to perform but, eventually, those tasks grow repetitive. Where’s the excitement? Aren’t I supposed to be doing this for fun?

    Screw this, you know what might be fun? Schadenfreude. And, before you know it, you’re a dirty rotten PK goon, trying to come up with more effective ways to screw people over. Merely ganking them gets boring too, but what if you could load up a frigate with explosives and take out some stranger’s mining dredge in the middle of highsec space before Concord can do anything about it? Better target a newb, who can’t afford a replacement, so it will really mean something.

    And I look at that, and I turn to the developers and I say, “Hey. The incentive system in your game is totally screwed up. You’re turning people into heartless monsters.” They shrug. Whatever, just so long as those subscription fees keep coming in.

    • Holysheep says:

      Not even close… Besides it’s not even worth it attacking everybody in Elite… The cost in fuel, ammo, repairs makes it obvious that you should really be sure of what target you pick. It’s possibly one of the only games I’ve had so far where the price of ammo, fuel and so on is one major thing to consider when doing a build and not just some side cost like in most.

      • geldonyetich says:

        I could see the, “Well, you must be a care bear!” response coming from two lightyears away by now.

        I can see your point about there being no real financial incentive to PK, but here’s the thing: it won’t matter in the end game. Lets say you do have your big, beautiful star ship and a few million credits sloshing around. Success, but what does success get you? Boredom. It seems the developers have thus far neglected to really add much in the way of end-game activity… unless perhaps that activity involves PK. The end game is kill players who can’t afford it, because you can.

        So basically, as a result of developer myopia, the end game becomes bullying other players around. I guess that makes the inner megalomaniac happy to be involved in such a lovely bit of power playing. However, is it ultimately productive, in a cosmic sense? You succeed in order… to gank, and nothing else? Is this the ultimately the point of human existence, to dominate the less fortunate? I hope not. However, this is the statement the game is making, and maybe even the lesson a lot of its players will take to heart. I’ve heard it suggested that the point of fun is ultimately to learn, and what are we learning here? Sort of puts a whole new spin on the silly old media buzz phrase, “Murder simulator.”

        EVE Online has somewhat thrown in with this idea, going so far as to make scamming other players a part of the game not protected by the terms of service. However, Elite: Dangerous is not a completed game, there’s still a chance that a more worthwhile end game activity could be added. Personally, I recommend stemming the tide of an alien invasion: warriors, here be a worthwhile battle, a crusade in defense of humanity and merchants, here is why we need an economy. However, any activity Braben and company come up with would do.

        • Zafman says:

          I guess when most players are filthy rich, have seen it all and are bored of hoarding Anacondas…that’s when the Thargoids awake from their long slumber and start abducting people into witch-space. Let the arms race begin.

        • Distec says:

          I don’t see “carebear” mentioned anywhere.

          I think it’s clear that Eve’s not for everybody. Some of its grossest excesses should probably be dialed back, but the “end game” you speak of – players murdering each other – is kind of the draw. And aside from some of the more infamous players, I’ve never personally met anybody who liked to slaughter newbies. They should be watered, fed, and groomed to become carnivores of space-flesh like us! :D

        • Chaz says:

          The difference between Eve and Elite though, is that you can take your Elite profile between solo, friends only or full online as you please. Want to trade in peace without the threat of being ganked, then play with your mates or single player. Feel like adding a bit more excitement to your day then take your game full online. Elite gives you that choice where as Eve doesn’t.

          • PhilBowles says:

            To my mind, Elite should not even be aiming at the EVE market. I became bored with EVE because of its static rooms and limited exploration, which amounts only to finding arbitrary, preset sites full of goodies whose only function is to make gear you can sell. Just another form of grinding with a surface gloss.

            If Elite just wants to be the same static, repetitive experience as every MMO on the market – EVE included – why is it trying to sell itself on the scale and accuracy of its game galaxy? There’s no point at all to having that much space just to allow dogfights in an EVE-sized arena. The only reason to have an open game world of that sort is to allow the player freedom to do their own thing and to explore strange new worlds (and while the exploration bounties are a nice idea, the game experience really should make exploration its own reward, not just another way of grinding for in-game currency).

          • Chaz says:

            I’m not sure Elite is aiming at the Eve market. I played Eve back in beta and for a few months after release, and i wouldn’t qualify them as similar games. Eve, for all its sci-fi trappings is still pretty much in the traditional MMO mold. Point and click combat with cool down timers. Elite is essentially the classic space shooter gone large.

            I think the biggest differentiator between them though will be in the game space itself. Eve is set within the constraints of a predefined universe of limited size. Elite on the other hand has no such constraints. In a Galaxy where you can just keep expanding out and out in any direction, what is there to keep you in a particular area to engage in space wars?

  3. padger says:

    That video clip sums it up for me. It’s a great game, but you need a laptop with another slow game playing on it to really make it worthwhile…

    Or maybe I have a problem with attention span.

  4. Phantasma says:

    Yup, ship prices are my biggest concern with Beta 3.
    It is all fun and games until the Cobra, maybe even until the Asp.
    But everything above will be a mind-numbing grind i thought i had gladly left behind when i quit playing MMO’s, and since mining or head-hunting only pays pocket change for the time invested, enjoy your thousands of trade runs.

    Beside the myriads of things Frontier will have to add/tweak until December, hopefully a re-evaluation of player progression is on top of their list too.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      The grind is the point, its all about the rats pressing that button for another hit of coke so you can hook them ever more thoroughly, game-play is so 90s.

      • Hex says:

        Is the grind the point? Should not the point be to recapture that FireFly-feel of kicking around in space, trying to make ends meet, when adventure happens?

        It would be neat if there were some sort of L4D-esque “director” AI which would kick in and make sure adventure dropped in the player’s lap whenever things seem a bit too comfortable.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          I’ve love to see the Firefly-feel caught in a game, unfortunately Elite is an MMO and grind is essential to that genre.

          I love that AI director idea btw, L4D has been out a while strange the idea doesn’t seem to have really caught on. Mix it up with say the Assassins Creed series and you could have something really amazing.

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            Harlander says:

            To be fair, Elite was pretty grindy as a single-player game too.

          • PhilBowles says:

            Elite was, but Elite was a product of the arcade era – the famous ranking system an arcade scoreboard rewarding kills made. Frontier was much more of an exploration game; I never made Elite in it and wasn’t concerned about doing so, since that ranking was more a historical quirk of the series than a reason to play the game (the same progression can be seen in modern iterations of Civilization – in the early games the arcade Hall of Fame was a meaningful metric of gameplay success you could measure yourself against on subsequent playthroughs. Now it’s just an arbitrary scorecard that usually catapults you to rank 1 straight away and is largely there to be ignored).

        • mechabuddha says:

          Dear god, that would be amazing. I’ve yet to encounter another living human in this game that will interact with me in any meaningful way. So maybe an AI could do it better.

        • Contrafibularity says:

          I’d much rather they expand the “simulation” of the game’s galaxy to such a degree that it would become extremely unlikely that any given player will ever be inclined to quit from boredom. An AI Director is a powerful tool but here it would be (imo) very much out of place. Keep in mind that gamers excel in “gaming” such systems. This doesn’t matter if you’re playing L4D but it does in ED, very much so. The last thing ED needs is for space battles to become routine.

          And also keep in mind that without occasional boredom, the excitement of being chased by powerful ships pew-pewing your hull down to nothing will not be as intense as it would be otherwise. Not to mention that some players will expect this game to offer them those quiet Zen-like moments where simply shipping some freight across systems while stopping to look at some stunning star or planet is enough of an experience in itself. Exploring also wouldn’t be much fun if the game decides every 15 minutes that your instance needs moar random pirates, because players would simply come to expect it (and for example, no one would ever specialise their ship build for exploration or whatever non-combat activities, because every build would benefit from moar lasers).

          In other words, I would like the background simulation and PvE and random events to offer the excitement of what an AI Director could do on occasion, but without an actual AI Director.

      • fredc says:

        It isn’t though, because Elite doesn’t have a subscription model or a bevy of microtransactions to tempt people with (I think right now it’s limited to “buy a paint job for your ship?).

        The problem is that we won’t know at least until Gamma arrives (very shortly) and possibly until after “release” how and whether they will achieve the original narrative objectives of the game and create something like a living, breathing universe. They have a very good base on which to build, at least.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      It is possible they don’t intend all of the content to be accessible to the average player? I no longer have tons of hours to dump into video games, but that doesn’t mean there cannot be pieces on content that are there only for those who do have tons of time.

      • Phantasma says:

        The answer is ulitmately, as with many things, a personal one.

        For myself, i’ve got no kids, a decent amount of freetime in relation to my peers, and i’m quite willing to invest time and effort into games i love.
        I wouldn’t have survived three MMO’s if i was an impatient type.

        But these experiences taught me something important:
        Just because a thing is exceptionally expensive, doesn’t make it automatically worthwile or valuable.

        Applied to Elite, aquiring a certain ship would only be one half of the fun or motivation for me.
        The other half would be to actually do something with it, fly it, kit it out etc.

        As i said, the lower tiers appear to be priced reasonably, but after that it really got a faint whiff of content stretching to it.
        I wouldn’t go as far and call it outright bad design, but it certainly isn’t brilliant one either.

    • vlonk says:

      Some hours of hardship are fine and dandy. Loved the mining-montage days I had in Eve at the beginning. Is a real blast of feeling the progression. But then it gets tiring really fast. I am so glad I can skip through all this grind by editing my safe files when I had enough of that.

  5. sendmark says:

    Yeah this Beta 3 has been bad for earning money, and they upped the ship prices and upgrade prices massively. I think to make up for Beta 2 where people were earning millions. I would expect for Gamma/Preview things should be more balanced.

    They’ve announced more improvements in Beta 3.9 and for Gamma, so hopefully it all comes together nicely, the potential is there for a great game.

    • oohshiny says:

      Testing goals for the different stages of Alpha & Beta seem to have been:

      Alpha – Combat & trading
      Premium Beta – Combat, trading & basics of Frame Shift
      Beta 1 – Missions & dynamic economy
      Beta 2 – Exploration
      Beta 3 – Mining & multiple ship ownership

      Really should have a “current gameplay non-indicative of final gameplay” warning ;)

  6. Ed Burst says:

    I remember this problem in older versions of Elite: that the most profitable activities are often the safest. Risks are not rewarded as much as repetition.
    It doesn’t exactly encourage excitement.

    • Zafman says:

      Yup. There was no way you could one day afford the Panther Clipper by doing assassination missions only. And all you got for being a courier for the Imperial Navy was that snazzy arm band. Riches? Ha! The biggest profits were had by smuggling with illegal goods. And even if the police caught you it wasn’t exactly a hefty fine to pay (always try to bribe them first! ;) ).

  7. MickeyPaul says:

    I said a couple of weeks ago in the official forums that it was one of the most stunningly beautiful gaming worlds I’d ever experienced where, unfortunately, NOTHING ever happens. There’s almost zero player interaction (no reason to) and the NPCs are so mind numbingly dull it actually enrages me.

    I’ve probably spent 90% of my time ATTEMPTING to have fantastical co-op space adventures that became nothing more than moving my mouse a wee bit, pressing a couple of keys and chit-chatting about fish. An example of our amazing space adventures:

    link to youtu.be

    Much like Brendan… I’m crying out to be pirated or “griefed” or even lightly bumped by another player. It’s so empty and dark and lonely out there just now :(

    • farrier says:

      Yeah, it just feels sterile right now. I hope more life gets added in for launch. They did note (I think in today’s newsletter) that the three factions or whatever will start making big moves against each other.

      I’m just already a bit fatigued by dropping out of FTL and, ah yes, a single station floating in the instance, a handful of ships coming and going. Sometimes the stations have differently colored lights. They did a great job on the station models that they have, but there’s just so little to the galaxy. And given how huge the galaxy is, a massive player-base alone is not going to make it more active, even if those players did anything.

      I hope they make the starting areas (maybe the current beta area) much more “civilized” or populated, bustling. That would do two things: add more life to core locations in the game, and make exploring feel even more of an adventure.

      • MickeyPaul says:

        I think even seemingly really wee things would make a huge difference. Being able to partially repair another ship for example: perhaps you’re hanging around a conflict zone with the capability to repair ships for a price and the enemy ships would then most likely target you etc. Just a reason to interact and with this added tension. I’m literally making this up off the cuff so it seems mental how little of it exists just now.

    • profmcstabbins says:

      This is pretty much why I have held off on this game so far. I keep seeing these diaries and reading great things, BUT all I ever actually see people doing is trading stuff at stations that all look the same while occasionally shooting something.

    • PhilBowles says:

      It’s not a type of game that’s suited to player interaction – it’s based on fundamentally single-player games and I said on the RPS thread that reported the loss of the offline mode that it is not a game that should be an MMO. Marketing it as one (as Braben has now gone on the record saying that it is) will only highlight that.

      It’s not a flaw in the game, and this game report only highlights how damaging it is to immersion to try and get lost in the game universe only to find yourself coming up against player ships with such puerile names as “Monkeyspunk”, but the focus from the start should have been on the single-player experience and in making the universe one that rewards exploration in the way Elite and Frontier before it did (though, granted, Elite was much more of a shoot-em-up than Frontier).

  8. Synesthesia says:

    this game desperately needs its grouping system to start working.

  9. Rindan says:

    I WANT TO LOVE YOU! WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LOVE YOU!?!?

    I know they want to hit their goals, but I really wish they would toss Elite back into the oven for a few months. I don’t think many would have been upset by a delay. Everyone I know who played Elite was excited over the systems in place and were enthusiastic because they could see it all coming together…but instead of it all coming together, it is being kicked out the door. My greatest fear for Elite is that its population spikes and fizzles too quickly for it to achieve greatness. If it fizzles too fast, they might stop work and this masterpiece will be left half done. That really is my greatest fear for Elite.

    • lucasdigital says:

      Absolutely. There’s one thing that makes me a little more confident. Right now Elite:Dangerous is seen as the most refined and effective demonstration of the Oculus Rift. I can see Elite:Dangerous being bundled with the first commercial Rift for Christmas 2015, creating a ‘second wave’ of players – by which time we’ll have some form of planetary landing, although delivering that to the level that they want is going to be a huge challenge.

  10. Janichsan says:

    Regarding the criticised long grinds for better equipment and ships, and the sometimes long, uneventful travels: in how far is this different from any other space trading game there ever was, no matter if the previous Elite games, the X series games, Privateer or any other game of that genre? This always was part of games like these. Not the most fun one, but always present.

    • Shadow says:

      Except it’s not. Off the top of my head, Privateer had decent progression, and so did Freelancer. Hell, even these games’ seaborn cousin Sid Meier’s Pirates! had decent progression. No, not the X games: those were always Eve Offline, but that’s it. Whether you do pirating, trading, mining or missions, the completion of any kind of “run” should represent a measurable step towards wealth and/or fame, if enough skill is applied.

      The grind is not the norm, and it’s irrelevant whether the original Elites were grindy: do not enshrine a critical flaw.

  11. MickeyPaul says:

    Just to say… really enjoyed Beta 3.9! So many commanders around and new and quite interesting things on the bulletin board. Lots of fun.

    I was randomly flying around Freeport and a USS popped up: BORING (I imagine) – NO THANKS. Then I remembered something in the forums about the unidentified signal sources being worked on so I stopped…… Ooooo… ship wreck and a load of cargo… “Military Plans” eeeeee. 2,000+ each. Loved it.

    Wee things. Easy. Love it. xx