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)

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Quo vadis Falkenherz intra beta primus Elitis:Dangerousis?

Having spent some time adjusting and rounding my previous articles and reading some postings in the ED forum, I wondered how I should forge my path in a beta. This question has two interesting elements.

1. The acitivity based part
If I continue to trade, what can I learn, what would be my goal? How about PvE and exploration? It would probably be efficient if I would do the PvE part in my starter ship. I might still get frequently destroyed before I discover the finer points of interdictions, unknown signals, missions and conflict zones. Trading first and then going in with an expensive ship and getting it destroyed because of some stupidity would annoy me. Except for if I would trade so well that I could shit credits and would not need to bother. So, what should it be? Since we cannot still own multiple ships, I should decide between
1. looking for fights as a cheapster in my starter Sidewinder and switching trade runs after five runs at the latest
2. hauling and mixing in the exploratory element thereby also changing systems regularily
3. maybe trying to earn and try out the available ships and equipment so that I do not waste time and money when the game is ready.

If I can put this into the most efficient order of to do, it could be this order. However, there is this thing called human spontanity, and you never know where it leads you to. It is a game, after all, and some things, sometimes astoundingly new experiences, just emerge by playfully exploring things according to what seemingly randomly pops up from the subconscious part of your brain.

2. The social based part
I could imagine that at least becoming a true fighter pilot would get much more fun and interesting with a partner. Alas, I was born into a social environment where in-depth computer gaming puts your status right next to one of a drug addict. (This is the moment where I again become so envious about every husband who actually found a wife who shares this weirdo hobby, or groups of friends who happen to find each other.) It basically boils down to some now more frequently popping up questions in the ED forum: What is the point of multiplayer, how are players incentivized to come together? People are social, I also see several threads where players report about their tries to use the communication systems, i.e. Chat and Talk. However, it seems that ships pass each other too fast before you can actually establish a conversation, lest a reason for it.
There are also people who point out that Frontier should not add any incentives, because this is not an MMOG but Elite, a game which empasizes sandbox-play (as opposed to theme-park play) very consequently, i.e. players need to delve into the games opportinities by themselves and only the way they like it and can imagine it.

I do not have a clear answer or solution. For myself, I can only say that I indeed would like to play once or twice per week as a team and I would not mind so much if it would be the fighting path or the trader or explorer path. I do not need Guilds or Corporations for this; in my experience, largely from World of Warcraft and EVE-Online, these kind of clubs freeze and crust over very quickly under their own institutionalisation. But maybe this is just the desire of the real life-loner I am; the job and familiy quickly use up most of my time and energy and computer games turn out to be a very time and energy efficient hobby which can be squeezed in very flexibly. With these constraints, I found social play to best evolve via fast group-finding initiating mechanisms. This can be a quest which is too hard alone and players accumulate until they are strong enough together. This can also be the infamous group finder, if there is a chance to stay together after the instance is done.

There, quite a disgression from the question of what to do and how to do in this beta. I better just get playing, the rest usually tends to evolve all by itself anyways.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Small trading tips for Elite: Dangeous

From browsing the forums I found the following; I am still updating this now and then to have a collection of beginner tips for trading.

- industrial System - will buy metal and sell machinery cheap
- refinery system - will buy minerals and sells metal cheap
- extraction system - will buy mineral extractors and explosives and sell minerals cheap

- try to buy from poor regions, sell at rich regions
- taking 1 ton of high profit is better than 4 of low profit (not sure about that)

Edit-insert this very valuable snippet from the ED forum.

Now, I do not want to have a trading guide doing my job for me. However, it would be good to have at some point a guide on the connections between system type, tech level and the trade goods. Right now, trading feels more like a blindfolded person in a dark room looking for a black cat.

Further trading this night were a mix between unsuccessful and successful. I was lucky to grab a mission which yielded ~5000 cr by transporting sth from Dahan to Aulin. This was four jumps for my Sidewinder, but it was worth it. In Aulin, I discovered that their agri-medicinces are super high in supply and I figured I would get a good price at an agricultural world, Eranin being the closest of it merely two jumps away. Yes, bingo, almost 2000 cr profit!

Unfortunately, my attempt to bring back leather to Aulin (those high techs surely  crave for something from nature which they can´t procude anymore) failed and I lost money. But the run for agri-medicines covers this blunder well up. Next time, I bring Aulin rather some food, where they have a medium demand. Let´s see.

Edit: Final account after a long gaming night: roughly 15.000 Cr. Not too bad for a first time beta participant after two nights of play, I hope. The trade route I used about maybe a dozen times is Eranin (loading grain) - Aulin (loading agri-medicine).

Some other trade routes whispered to me from the ED forum:
- Eranin (load food, e.g. tea or coffee) to I Bootis (load tech, e.g. crop harvesters)

- iBootis fish 25k profit (sell at Aulin)
- Aulin Terrain Enrichment Systems 71k profit (sell at Eranin)
[the following I added later after I find this valuabe thread:]
- Aulin -> Aganippe, carrying Terrain Enrichment
- Aganippe -> Aulin, carrying whatever food-stuff you can, really .. Coffee or Animal Meat will do,
- Aulin -> LP 98-132, carrying Performance Enhancers
- LP 98-132 -> Ross 1051, carrying Bertrandite
- Ross 1051 -> Aulin, carrying Indium or Gallium
- Apparently, somewhere, there is a gold run that nets 1700/unit at the cost of two jumps?
- The lakon 6 can do 126k one way (Assellus - Surya, Resonating Separators), and the reverse trip does 125k, or thereabouts (Superconductors)

http://www.reddit.com/r/EliteTraders/ with a lot of suggestions for other trade routes.

I am strongly tempted to buy a hauler (~23.000 Cr) in order to increase travel efficiency. Traveling so far really is fun, trying to sling shot as close as possible to the target location in super cruise. At least it seems to be more fun than searching for enemies by doing signal hopping and hoping to catch and destroy a ship before it warps out!

- Hauler, random screenshot from the internet; looks clumsy as a hauler should. I like the kind of pseudo-realism style of the spacecrafts Elite:Dangerous

Second day in space!

Difficult day. The Elite:Dangerous beta client was not reliably connecting me to the server, so I cannot access the online world in the menu. After some repeated tries, I managed to get online thrice. Here is what transpired during those three sessions.


- the most standard class space station, random screenshot from internet

My spacecraft is again floating in front of Azeban station. I try again to complete the mission which I accepted yesterday and engage supercuise towards Eranin 2. A lot of player ships zip around, very cool. I have still to map a key that I can flip-target through all of them an see if I recognize sb from the forums. Also a lot of unidentified signals, but no conflict zone. I suspect that the mission has been wiped in the meanwhile, either the expiry time of 4 hours also ticks while being offline or because of the beta server hickups. Ans yes, so it is; the left menu does not list anything under the tab "missions". So an unidentified signal, it is.

The first zone holds a Sidewinder and an Eagle for me, both yellow. I look at what the scan shows up. Strange, the Sidewinder has "wanted"-status, which means according to the descriptions I read in the forums that I can attack without penalty. Which is what I decide to do.
Unfortunately, I forgot to deploy the weapon hardpoints, and the first good firing position is lost before my weapons are on target. I realize a nice little detail: My sidewinder has two pulse lasers, not only the one players received in the pre-beta versions. A not so nice little detail: The Eagle switches to red, too, and attacks me! Since I am already hounding the Sidewinder, which is largely taking evasive actions with some attempted jousting situations, I stick to it. The Eagle gnaws at my shields in the meanwhile, but thankfully the shield now comes back online much quicker than it did in the combat missions pre-beta, so I can conserve my hull at 100%.
I destroy the Sidewinder and I receive a bounty voucher of 400 credits. Nice! In the combat mission, bounties were mostly lower, around 100. Now the Eagle. Wait. It still shows "clear"-status. After brief pondering I decide to not open fire and disengage, because I do not want to get the "wanted"-status myself, with so many PvP-happy players around. Escaping is easy, full pips on engine, three boosts while I commabr the ship to take evasive maneuvers and I am free to engage supercruise. Wait, does not work, what is wrong? Oh, hardpoints still deployed... all those details. And gone I am.

- Eagle class small fighter spacecraft, random internet photo (note that the cockpit look is also from an Eagle)

The second zone I drop into has an Eagle waiting, which switches to hostile after some moments. Combat it is, and only after some close circling around each other, I get into a firing position, but it is clearly more difficult to catch an Eagle compared to the Sidewinder I encountered before. Thanks to my training in the combat missions, I wear the Eagle down without loosing my shield. However, once the Eagle is very low into hull, it is boosting away and before I catch up, it warps away. Dang. What a waste of time. Alright, to the next conflict zone we warp, but not before the server kicks me out and it takes a longer interlude of launching and re-launchig the game, writing and updating a ticked and a forum thread, until the red button graciously turns white again.

In the third zone, there are two ships, with the yellow neutral status. A switch in my brain fires wrongly, and for a brief moment I act like during those 20 hours of combat missions pre-beta I and attack immediately. Congratulations, those were system security ships and I have now earned "wanted" status. And they are in Eagles. One Eagle was already difficult, and I am still distracted by my mistake, so the Eagles hammer my shields down and hull is suffering severely too. The pulse lasers draw a lot of energy and I barely manage to scratch one Eagle's hull before its shields come up again. What, wait, my hull is at 15%? Oh noes! Setting engines to maximum, I take flight, computer, evasive action please! Barely, barely with exact 4% hull I enter supercruise. Whew!

Lucky escape!? I hope? Not that dying and getting a new starter ship for free would be cheaper than having to repair my ship all the way from 4%? I do not come to solve this question, as the server hickups again and I am out of the game.

After some time, I am let in again. I am back in front of Azeban. Welcome, this position feels almost home now! And as a bonus, my hull is back at 100%. Server hickups can have advantages. So no need to dock, and I enter supercruise once more. Stop. I still have "wanted" status. Ok, turn around, dock and pay the pilot federation a little fine of 300 cr to get rid of it. Ready to go now. Ah, no. The bounty voucher, I need to cash it in. Ready to go now? I hope so!

There are plenty of unidentified signals, they seem random, and they never appear in the left menu so that I have to target them as they pop into view. The first zone I decide to visit has some white targets; they are freight containers and they contain leather. Time for some scooping! After my cargohold is full with four units, I decide to sell them in Azeban. Docking is not very difficult, and I already confidently go in with blue speed. Having landed, I discover that I cannot sell the leather as trade goods. I remember having read about this in the ED forum; those free floating containers are probably marked as stolen. What now? Contrary to the previous clients, this station does not have anymore the black market contact. I call up the galaxy map and ponder where the next one could be. Yes, maybe the Anarch system just 5 ly away, LP-98-132, and the distance is barely enough to make it in one jump with a full cargo hold.

On my way I get interdicted for the first time. Thankfully, interdictions are a lot less frequent than during my little stay in the glitched combat version some days ago in pre-beta. It is a single Eagle. No problem to survive, but unfortunately again a problem to finish it; the Eagle warps away, deja vu.The travel in the Anarch system is uneventful and I am lucky: The station with the name Freeport has a black market. Great, I get 19 credits per Unit. What a fortune... After a quick look around in this station, I decide that nothing is really worth to buy. They have endless supply of fuel cells, but they cost just 1 credit below the galactic average; too risky I think.

Instead, on my way out, I drop by another unidentified signal. Cargo, again. I manage to scoop one Barium and suddenly all remaining cargo disappears. Hickup. I decide to turn around and stell another one unit of stolen good. Before I arrive at Freeport the server kicks me out again and the red button is mercyless. That is when I start to create this blog. I am overall very content with an interesting second night in a fascinating game.


Some interesting observations from in-between:

- Supercruise seems sometimes to accelerate unhealthily fast, especially when already close to the target planet. Maybe a kind of a gravity hole or slingshot effect? I found the best way to counter this is to fly a full circle; while at 180 degrees to your destination, speed drops extremely fast back to normal levels. Maybe I can perfect this kind of maneuver for even faster travels?

- supercruise, random screenshot from the internet; this guy seems to approach the planet a bit too fast and to close 

- The forum gave me insight into a newly changed flight mechanic. If you go to maximum speed and boost and then switch flight assist is off, your ship will hold this maximum speed! This makes for far faster approaches to stations than ever before. And it is more newtonian spaceflight-like. I totally love it!

Did I already write how gorgeous the galaxy map is? Yes? Aww, never mind! It is just that I also played EVE online for some time, and the UI compare really like a stable next to a castle. Ok off we go!

My first venture in Elite:Dangerous

When the beta 1.0 came finally online on 29 June around 22:00, I could only enter it after a very slow download of the updates, around midnight. My ship, the default Sidewinder class spacecraft, was located in Erin, floating in front of Azeban Station.


I spent some time to admire the beautiful galaxy map with the newly added trading route information. However, I found the galaxy map quite overwhelming and I wasn't really able to figure out how to use the map. A very typical thing when you enter a brand new game the first time, and I kind of cherish these moments, too.

For example, the galaxy map shows for "textiles" flowing threads from Eranin to three different worlds, which are industrial worlds. There is also a high tech world in range, but without a thread flowing to it. What does this mean?

a) The high-tech world does not buy textiles or it is not profitable enough
b) The high-tech world is in dire need of textiles because nobody trades there and a profit is to be expected.
c) The highest profit margin is selling textiles to the three industrial worlds which show threads flowing to it.
c) In fact the opposite of c), because of high competition we cannot expect any sufficient profit margin in selling textiles to those three worlds.

After some marvelling at the sheer beauty of the map and pondering about above implications, I was so confused that I decided to dock and explore the station menu. First thing which caught my attention was the new bulletin board, and after one or two tries (server did not open the mission window) I chose a mission. I have only 4 slots anyways so I figure trading too much of a grind at this stage.
The mission sent me to support the Federation and make four kills. I undocked and wondered where all those conflict zones and unidentified signals are which I saw in the youtube videos (and also during a brief exploit of a glitch during the combat missions before start of beta). I decided to systematically check each planet for activity and activated supercruise via the left menu. It took a quite while to make it work, because the transition froze up and I had to restart several times. Well, it is a beta at this point in time!
Supercruise felt cool, especially when I realized that I could see other players cruising around me, too. I was tempted to call the guy in front of me with the newly added voice communication, but I did not find the UI for this and was already approaching the first planet very fast.
Suddenly, also both a conflict zone and unidentified signals were popping up, and out of curiosity, I approached the latter on my way to the conflict zone. Dropping out of supercruise did not work, so my ship raced past all point into open space. Confused I checked my keyboard control layout; ah, there, the button for hyperjump and supercruise have been merged into one. Armed with this knowledge, I turn around and make it to an unidentified signal.
However, dropping out of supercruise into the zone led into big empty space with nothing happening. So I re-engaged, froze again in transmission - and, whooops, it was three in the morning, which led me to terminate my first ED-session in the online universe.

Starting to play Elite: Dangerous

This post is about how I started to play and set-up Elite:Dangerous.

Edit/Insert: Here some more beginner´s info I could find in the meanwhile! I wish I had seen them earlier. Cudos to INaeem to point them out in this forum thread!

Beginner´s manual, by David Essential

Game design overview, in pretty colours.

ED head tracker as a means to pass the time until the Oculus Rift is consumer-ready.

This is my second day into the Elite:Dangerous beta 1.0. While I had already bought the game some days ago, I had already the occasion to practice piloting with the offline combat missions which were kindly provided by Frontier to alleviate the waiting. I ran against a wall with the most difficult mission "Incursion", but I got a very good feeling for the flight model by doing so. There was also a little problem with making the railgun work properly, but it turned out that I had double-assigned the mouse2-fire key, which caused the charge-up process to interrupt all the time.

I started to participate in the ED forum. I try to link here the search result with all threats I posted into and hope it works. If not: Search for username Falkenherz and you should find some interesting posts. I always try to comment in interesting posts only, so when I search for my username, I have a nice little inventory of useful forum threats. (Well, sometimes I am inconsequent and also post some nonsense...)

I pilot with a keyboard&mouse setting, but I quickly added Voice Attack. Voice attack seems so natural that I wonder why they did not manage yet to include practical voice commands in the OS. I mean, you can also use voice commands in Windows7, but it is so cumbersome because the UI is not created for this kind of usage. In Elite on the otherhand, it just feels natural. It is like commaning a crew. Concerning how to use it, there is a very useful threat in the ED forum.

Here are my settings:

Mouse: Absolute yaw+pitch, sensitivity is set roughly at a quarter from the left of the bar.
wasd - Forward+lateral strafing, used for positioning on the landing pad
zghj - Vertical strafing+rolling, main keys used beside mouse

Other keys are distributed randomly over the keyboard, it does not really matter to list them all as I use them only in connection with Voice Attack. My Voice Attack commands are as follows:

- "full speed", "half speed", "zero", "half reverse", "full reverse" and feel truly like Mark Brandis commanding the pilot (famous teenager sci-fi from the 80s in Germany).
- boost
 - "combat shields" (3/0/3), "full shields" (4/0/2), "travel speed" (2/4/0)
- "landing gear", "cargo scoop" (especially cool because the ship voice-confirms, a StarTrek-like experience)
- "target", "target threat", "next target" (feels like commanding your ship's gun officer)
- evade, which is basically a 4,5 second barrel roll, i.e. left strafing plus left rolling
- assist (toggle flight assist)
- flip (FAoff, 180 turn, FAon)

I still have the following ideas but did not set them up yet.
- launch
- go hot/cold
- engage warp
- hyperjump
- eject cargo
- heat sink
- left/right (for menus)

I also have further plans to expand control. My main incentive to buy ED, and also the reason how I discoveres this game, is the Oculus Rift. I also discovered this neat little gadget named "buttkicker" to enhance VR-experience and plan to buy it some time; it basically makes your chair rock according to the sound-output and it apparently is surprisingly accurate in simulating all kinds of shaking and impacts. Also, I feel that once I play with the Oculus Rift, I should probably switch my controls to a flightstick setting. From the forum, I gained that the Hotas X might be the right tool to use for me; the possible settings are nicely described in this threat here in the ED-forum (first page).
This is my first blog and it is intended as game diary for my adventures in Elite: Dangerous. It is purely for my own convencience and memory, but I do not mind sharing this with interested and likeminded persons.

I discovered that google bogger does not allow for free commenting. You have to have a google account or sth similar. How annoying, I never liked it when visiting blogs and thus, I did not comment even when I wanted to. Being now in the opposite situation, and having tinkered lately with the google and youtube settings, I know now a way how to stay anonymous while still having a google account. It seems Google still does not allow any other than a "real name" for the account. However, you can create sub-identities, either in Youtube as a seperate sub-channel, or via blogger. I don't know if it is worth any effort for any person who thinks (or thought) like me, but I just wanted you guys out there to know about these options.

I hate social networks which force you into certain a behaviour, but here I am and I have to start somewhere.