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Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Price of Becoming Elite

There is a point beyond known space where even the pirates dare not go. The maps of explored systems end and it's as if "Here There Be Monsters" is recorded in navigation databases. The pirates huddle within a few hundred light years of known space, and even when you carry no cargo they insist on trying to murder you. Though you show no ill will toward them, their sociopathic intent is quickly visited upon you simply for being in the same system as they are.

I don't remember which system it happened in, but during one such interdiction my canopy cracked as I was forced out of super cruise. If I'd have purchased an automated field-maintenance unit it would not have been such a big deal. But when you are hundreds of light years from the nearest station, flying with canopy cracks is unnerving. Even though beyond a certain point the pirates do not follow, there are other monsters - and they are just as deadly.

These monsters are completely unaware of our presence, or the effect they have upon us. They simply exist as they have since birth and will continue to do into deep time, long after we are recycled back into them. One such monster is the close binary COL 285 Sector PJ-Q D5-76. It dances to its own music; oblivious to the small, damaged fleck of metal that suddenly appears between it's two halves. You know, the canopy of a Cobra Mark III does not afford a broad field of view, but when the field of view you do have is filled with a Class G and a Class M star, it really reminds one of how insignificant we are flitting among these nearly eternal giants. These giants are as dangerous as any pirate, though not out of malice. The danger came simply because I was curious, and curiosity sometimes kills.

But not this time. This time I blurted an explicative, and through sheer luck piloted my stricken craft into a safe trajectory between the two behemoths: though they cooked me well done. Now with a cracked canopy and 81% hull damage, and a computer full of valuable survey data, I decided to head back into known space, some 200 light years behind me, by the fastest route possible.

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I arrived at Stokes Camp, a civilian outpost, on February 19, 3301 at 03:24 hours. There I was able to sell my 190,930 CR worth of survey data. Within that data I discovered a few planets other explorers had missed, but not many. With only an intermediate discovery scanner it's easy to miss distant worlds. However, that did not prevent me from exploring three new systems that no one had ever surveyed before. And boy howdy, was COL 285 Sector PJ-Q D5-53 valuable. It brought in the most of the 50 or so systems I surveyed: a whopping 38,255 CR!

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And that was before I got my discovery bonus for being the first person to survey the system. PJ-Q D5-53 6 alone - a high metal content world with a carbon dioxide atmosphere suitable for terraforming - earned me a 9486 CR bonus. All total, my bonus credits came to just over 28 thousand, raising the gross profit for my little foray into the unknown to approximately 220k credits, not including the data I'd previously sold. Shiny.

Of course, I could have made more money with a lucrative trade run. That 220k credits would have taken me about 10 round trips between Jenner Hub and Gidzenko Ring. Time-wise that would have been about three hours game play. But, it wouldn't have been nearly as thrilling as charting a course into the unknown. :)

Nevertheless, before I head back I will be doing the grind. It would be more profitable and less dangerous to have a ship that could get through the pirate halo around known space much more quickly. An Asp with a 50 light year jump range would be just the thing needed. It would also get you to unexplored areas much more quickly, thus maximizing your return on investment. Also, any really serious explorer should have not only a surface scanner, but also an advanced discovery scanner, high-end fuel scoop and an automated field-maintenance unit for those binary cases where both options are potentially lethal. All totaled, a premium exploration ship is going to cost in the neighborhood of 10 million credits. My current net worth isn't even a third that amount. There is much hard work in my future, but that's okay. I understand the importance of hard work.

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Perhaps with the imminent release of patch 1.2 as reported by PC Gamer, the grind will become less time-consuming. I especially like the idea of being able to accomplish large missions with multiple runs. I am again impressed with Frontier's understanding that some of us really would prefer to succeed on our own merits, without the assistance of others.

Sammarco assures that solo players aren't being cut out of the game's development plans. "Lone wolves will have to be able take on those dangerous encounters at great risk, and deliver those massive amounts of cargo using multiple trips. Elite: Dangerous is playable alone, and we always have those lone players in mind when designing new features."

Emphasis mine. You see, it isn't that Elite: Dangerous is boring. It's that it takes a lot of hard work to earn the credits and rankings necessary to move beyond the mundane. If you think it should be easy to jump right into an Anaconda, or even an Asp, then you really don't understand what it means to be Elite. Understanding the correlation between hard work and accomplishment is what Elite has always been about. It was like that 30 years ago, and I am happy to see it is still like that today. If you can't accept the premise, perhaps you should consider moving on to a less challenging game. I will think less of you, but what does that really matter in the great scheme of having fun? ;)

Fly Careful


  1. hehe, yeah same feeling here :-)

  2. You've inspired me to refit my trusty Cobra for a Great Expedition of my own fairly soon. I'm taking your advice and buying a class-4 field maintenance unit for the trip, but I'm going to try one other thing as well: a better power plant to improve cooling.

    I just hope a target 6,000 light years from Earth isn't too much for an exploration-fit Cobra to handle...


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