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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous Progress Report

It’s been a while since I wrote about playing this game and the first thing to report is how addictive I’m finding it. There’s so much to think about in this game and so many things that can be done that there are days when I tell myself, “I’m not gonna play it today; I’ll play Minecraft or one of other games I have…”

Then crank up the console, check for updates… and open Elite Dangerous. Because I play in Solo mode – and that’s because I’m just not into the cut-throat way a lot of people play the game – I get to do whatever I’m doing without being bothered with other humans – the game’s NPCs – non-playable characters – give me enough grief at times when they decide to attack me during a cargo or passenger run and the passengers sometimes get on my last good nerve wanting to get taken all around the place and often complaining when they “think” I’m not getting there fast enough.

Not my fault that they chose to take a trip than can be, combined, hundreds of jumps long. I have the best ship for this: The Beluga. I’ve learned to arm it to the teeth and the ship includes a fighter and pilot who can join me in defending the ship from the NPC bad guys. And speaking of ships…

The best ships cost a lot of credits and a few times, I’ve amassed over one hundred million credits and this is a good point to either upgrade ships in my fleet or to buy the next best one and by the time I get finished purchasing and outfitting a new ship, I’m usually “broke” but that’s okay; I’m used to grinding in a game. Grinding is just doing mission after mission after mission and in my selected “profession” as a Trader and Explorer, it can get pretty boring but if you wanna make the credits, you learn to stick to it rather than to take “the easy way” to make credits by attacking and destroying other players or doing the one thing I’ve yet to wrap my head around, which is mining. I’ve done the tutorial for this several times and I can fire my mining laser at an asteroid and break a piece off easily enough but when it comes to capturing it and putting it in my cargo hold? I suck at it and that bothers me something fierce because I just can’t seem to catch up with the errant piece and, to date, I’ve only managed to successfully mine something once.

My everyday ship is the one called a Python and it’s a favored multipurpose ship for a lot of players. It can carry 200 pieces of cargo which, for most jobs, is pretty decent but its main attraction is its firepower and ability to dogfight when outfitted with the right mix of weaponry. I had bought the next level ship: An Anaconda and another ship that is favored among other players. It has decent cargo capacity when outfitted properly and you can pack in a lot of firepower but it’s downside is that the base configuration is slow; its thrusters leave a lot to be desired and its ability to maneuver at slower speeds just drove me crazy and especially when I’m trying to line up and deorbit to make a planetary landing. The game has Engineers, specialists who, upon meeting their criteria, can provide stuff to pump up many aspects of ship.

At first, I wasn’t all that interested in this aspect of the game but when I bought the Anaconda and, um, gotten my ass shot off a few times because of its poor maneuverability, okay, let’s do some engineering but even then there’s a problem I can’t get around: Some of the best improvements require a payment in, say, iron or sulphur… which you cannot buy at any station… you have to mine it and I suck at that. There are other modifications available and getting the components needed is often easy enough since many jobs pay in those materials and you can always go to a Materials Trader and wave your fingers over stuff to get what you might need.

It took me a bit of time to get the Anaconda engineered to the point where it moves better but I’ve still had some interesting moments trying to deorbit and once – and only for the second time since I’ve been playing – crashed into the planet and got destroyed. Bummer. But one of the things I get a kick out of when buying a new ship is learning how to fly and fight it and once I outfitted it with a fighter, well, when I couldn’t get away from being interdicted and had to fight, asses got kicked and names were taken and most of the time the attacker realizes they’re overmatched and run away; sometimes they come back and continue the fight, though. While both the Python and Anaconda have decent cargo space, I found I needed more; when you advance through the Trader ranks, you get access to the higher paying (and riskier) jobs and having credits is just as important as having good ships.

So I bought the Type-10 Defender which is a beast of a ship. More than decent cargo capacity but more slots available for weapons and a fighter bay. The downside? It’s like driving a fully loaded tractor trailer without power steering and it’s stuck in mud. It is so slow to move that trying to evade an interdiction is a lot of work… but the good part is that if I gotta fight, yeah, buddy, let’s do this! I had to engineer the shit out of this ship just to make it move better and even after doing that, it’s still kinda slow when maneuvering. Mine is outfitted to carry 408 pieces of cargo and, yeah, fully loaded? Still maddeningly slow but I’ve learned to fly and fight it well enough.

One of the decisions I have to make every time I start the game is what am I going to do and which ship am I going to use and while the Type-10 is a beast of a “warrior,” it’s ponderous movement is a liability that I’ll say I don’t want to deal with… but I’ll take it out anyway and a few days ago, that decision cost me dearly when I got blown away and “respawned” and by the time my insurance payment came out, I had gone from having just over 50 million credits to… just over a million. I hate when this happens; the grind is bad enough and now it gets worst to get as many credits as possible just to cover the insurance payoff in case I get my ass shot off again.

But I worked through it and while I’ve not gotten my credits back to a place where being able to pay for stuff isn’t a problem, I did the one thing I didn’t want to do: Traded in my Anaconda for one of the best ships in the game: The Federation Cutter. It is a beast of a warship with respectable cargo capacity and other players have said time and time again that the “FC” is that ship you do not want to fuck with unless getting blown up is something you enjoy. I didn’t want to get rid of my Anaconda but the good thing is that at some point, I will be able to buy another one – and I will.

So today, I’ll be in the FC and taking a trip to a couple of engineers to apply what modifications I can. I’m still kinda/sorta outfitting it and the thing I already like about it is that I equipped it with a fighter bay that can carry, at this time, two fighters and will eventually upgrade it to carry four of these puppies. I’ll be out there learning how to fly and fight it which is actually a lot of fun if not a bit nerve-wracking at times. I took it out briefly last night, leaving my home base and going just outside the No-Fire Zone so I could deploy its weapons to make sure the ship didn’t shut itself down and a mistake I’ve made a couple of times. Today, as I journey to the Engineers, I’ll be testing every aspect I can think of including landing on a planet which, for me, is “harder” than fighting any of the ships I have except the Python – it can turn and burn really well for such a large ship.

I just can’t seem to stop playing this game. It often gives me fits and doing some stuff is so boring that there are a lot of times when I’m flying along and not paying attention – and watching TV on my tablet or playing another game or reading on my iPad. I recently reached Elite status as a Trader, which is a big deal; I’m close to reaching Elite status as an Explorer and currently at 96% and it’s a bitch progressing because even when I find unexplored systems and sell the data to the folks who buy it, I’m just not selling enough to get that last 4% in – yet. But the grind will help with this, too.

Time to get to grinding. There’s work to be done and bad guys to kill and credits to make…

 
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Posted by on 2 July 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous Community Goals

This game has a lot of stuff to do and one of them is the community goals (CG) that appear kinda regularly that’s pretty cool. The recent one is a call to all Commanders to take part in a two-part goal to build five new starports in currently uninhabited space but close to existing shipping lanes and, I guess, to expand those lanes. One part of this CG is to obtain and deliver certain materials to a central location and the other is to provide protection at the central location.

Since I’m not a player who gets into PvP battles of any kind – and because I managed to get in on the tail end of the last CG mission, I decided to jump in right at the start and use my Python – named Magellan II – to deliver my share of the materials required. I started out at my home starport, Galileo, in the Sol system by using the Inara website to, first, mark my position and then to locate the materials. I’ll add at this point that if you’re playing the game but you don’t have a profile on Inara, get one – it’s a huge help and in a lot of ways.

I located the materials I wanted to start delivering and jumped to get them and, actually, made a lot of trips from the source location to the collection point and, oops, totally wiped the source out of the required material and requiring me to not only locate a good source for something else but plotting a course to go get it. As luck would have it, the item I chose – water purifiers – was in the next system and I was happy about that because it lessened the number of jumps and, as I’ve been learning, the more jumps you make, the greater the chance of getting jumped, your cargo hijacked, and/or your ship destroyed.

And now begins The Grind which some players either complain about or try to avoid but The Grind is what it is in that if there’s something you want or need, you’re gonna have to do some work to get it. I don’t mind grinding because in some of the other games I play, well, you gotta grind to get stuff but in Elite Dangerous, yeah, I found that grinding for a CG can be even more boring that what I normally do when I play the game. Leave the collection point; jump to the source location; load up 200 water purifiers; jump back to the collection point; dock at the indicated starport, sell the water purifiers, refuel, do any repairs, and do it again.

And again. And again. I found myself wishing that an NPC bad guy would show up and try to jack me just to break up the monotony of the grinding but that never happened so I was pretty much on autopilot and, at times, nodding off. The first day of the CG, I did pretty good and my contributions qualified me to get a decent payday for my efforts. In this CG, there were five tiers involved and differing levels of rewards from getting nothing to getting paid big time if you were in the top 10% of contributors. After making my last delivery I thought, “Okay, cool – I’m gonna get something!” and also with the thought that I’d go back to doing what I normally do… but the next day, I was of a different mind about it and kept on grinding for the CG.

I wasn’t satisfied with doing the minimum work to get the minimum reward; I wanted to see how far I could go and I was grinding like crazy. At one point and while I was taking a real-life bathroom break, I got to thinking about how my Python, which is currently configured to carry 200 items, kinda/sorta wasn’t enough cargo space and debated on whether or not I wanted to get, say, a Type-9 cargo hauler which can carry a hell of a lot more cargo. I could afford it but I also got to thinking that, for one, the Type-9 hauler – and like the Type-7, isn’t so easily outfitted to fend off pirates and they handle like a brick in mud and, for the other, it would be my luck to get one, load it to the rafters… and get jumped and destroyed. So I didn’t buy a new ship and resolved to do my part in the CG 200 items at a time.

I was making around 700,000 CR (credits) every time I sold my water purifiers and I was happy about that and kept on grinding and grinding until it was time for me to shut it down and get some sleep. I awoke yesterday ready and eager to get back to the CG and The Grind to boost my contribution but when I got into the game and checked the CG status, well, damn – that part of the CG had been fulfilled and was now over with. All I could do was click on the “Complete” button and watched my credits jump to over 100 million credits – and I got an achievement for completing my first CG.

One of the the “highlights” of my participation wasn’t how easy it was for me to find a place that had what I needed; it was me paying attention to what I was doing and, sometimes, I just wasn’t. I was so into The Grind that a couple of times I left the source location… and forgot to set my destination. Indeed, in one moment, I’d undocked from the source, cleared the safe zone, went to get line up with the destination and kick in supercruise… but couldn’t figure out why all I could actually see was the starport I’d just left and not the indicator marking my destination. Oh, it was a bad moment! I’m rotating along all three axis trying to find the destination marker and, oh, somewhere around the third time spent making myself dizzy, it finally hit me that I hadn’t plotted the course back to the collection point.

Yeah… I felt pretty stupid about that. The Grind calls for a certain level of focus but because this one was so repetitive and monotonous, I was so focused that I lost focus. But wait – it gets worse! At another point, I’d forgotten where I was for a moment and that wasn’t pretty since, um, when you’re sitting in the dock somewhere, your location is right there in front of you on the cockpit panel. Then I had dropped off a load at the collection point and headed out to pick up more water purifiers… and kinda forget where I was going and then realized that, nope – didn’t plot the course to get there and making it even worse was that fact that I had bookmarked both the collection and source locations so that I wouldn’t have to keep looking them up.

I wasn’t having so much of a senior moment but, sometimes, The Grind just fucks with you like that and more so when the game isn’t doing anything to provide some kind of distraction like getting interdicted which will most certainly get your attention. A few days ago now, I was having the “interdiction day from hell” and having to fight and/or evade more than what I’d call normal when playing in Solo mode. So as I shuttled back and forth between locations, I was keeping a very close eye on my scanner’s scope and checking out every and any ship that appeared to identify them and, because this grind was so monotonous, kinda hoping they’d want to pick a fight with me just to give me something different to do.

But, yeah, I completed my part in the CG without any real problems other than the loss of focus I mentioned… but now it gets funny. With the job done, I made my way back to my home starport so I could get back to hauling cargo here and there and the first job I took once I got back home was a nice paying job of delivering an internal report to a nearby starport. One of the things I’ve learned about this game is that if a “simple” job is paying a whole lot of credits, it’s not that simple. Sometimes it’s paying so much because the destination will literally and in real time take an hour or more to get there but for this job, nah, not only did I just have to make two jumps, the destination was “only” about 300,000 light seconds from the system’s star which, in my Python and its powerful engines, meant a trip in real time of about three minutes. As I’m preparing to start the trip, I’m wondering why this routine kind of job to a system not that far away and that close to its parent star, is paying over a million credits.

And it didn’t take me long to find out why. I left home, made the first jump and while going through the process of lining up for the next jump, I see a message pop up that said, “Don’t try to run! I have you now!” Oh, shit! I’m not really worried but, as I’ve learned, if I’m going to be interdicted, I do not want to be anywhere near the star when it happens. Now I’m doing several things at once with my controller: Hitting the right buttons so that my sensors are locked on the ship that might be the one who sent the message; reconfiguring my power distribution settings to give more power to my engines; switching from Analysis Mode to Combat Mode; lining up with the next jump point while accelerating toward it and while keeping an eye on where I am in relation to the star and just as I clear the star, I hear the sound I don’t like hearing; I see things turning blue and the message all up in my face that I’m being interdicted and now my whole focus is on locating the Escape Vector indicator and sparing a glance to see the type of ship trying to shut me down and still chasing the Escape Vector all over the damned place.

I take a look and, oh, fuck me: The ship trying to interdict me is an Anaconda and I know that there aren’t too many ships that are more badass than an Anaconda. I know that if I get interdicted, that ship is going to chew me up and spit me out with ease so it’s in my best interest to not get interdicted. I’m ducking and dodging and chasing the EV and the NPC in the Anaconda is sending me all kinds of threatening messages and demanding that I just give up and maybe because it’s an Anaconda and likely equipped with a very powerful interdictor, it’s taking me a long time to escape the attempt… but it’s either stick with it or give up and get caught… and probably destroyed before I can being to fight back, not that my weapons would be able to do the Anaconda any damage.

As I’m trying to get away, I’m also thinking about how much fun this is. I know the specifications for an Anaconda since it’s the next ship I’ve been grinding to be able to buy – about 150 million credits. What I don’t know and because (1) I’m playing in Solo mode and (2) this is an NPC, is whether or not its really outfitted to do maximum damage and in a hurry. I’m thinking that it is possible that I have better weapons than the Anaconda chasing me does but, as I continue to chase the EV, yeah, I’m not really of a mind to find out. The interdiction is now into its second minute and it feels like I’ve been doing this for much longer than that. I have one eye on the EV and the other on my scope; I’m looking to see where the Anaconda is and also looking for the pretty green icon that represents the Federation Security Service or the local security service that, if present, will attack the Anaconda and give me a chance to escape…

But it’s just me and the Anaconda. I’m aware of how my thumbs are working the controller’s joysticks and that I’m not really paying attention to what my thumbs are doing – that is just so cool! I finally get the EV lined up and in an area that will either end the interdiction… or get me interdicted – and hear the sound – and see the message – that the interdicted has been evaded. Yes! I quickly realign myself with the next jump point, activate my FSD drive and, four seconds later, I’m in the wind… but I know I’m not safe because of something that can happen in the game:

The Anaconda can follow my FSD wake and that means that the moment I arrive where I jumped to, that fucking asshole will be right behind me. I arrive and quickly do a few things: Scan the local area; open the navigation panel to locate my destination and lock it in (or make sure it’s locked in – sometimes, it isn’t); get the fuck away from the star and in the direction I need to go in; searching the scope for any signs that the Anaconda did follow my FSD wake. Power up to get out of the star’s area and gravity; for this run, hit the nav panel to activate supercruise and to orbit the planet I’m headed to and activate my FSD. So far so good – I’m on my way but I still have my eyes glued to the scope and switching between whatever contacts are in the area. No Anaconda but just when I think I can relax just a bit, I see the Anaconda appear on my scope – marked in red – and, yep, it’s interdiction time.

Son of a bitch! The NPC sends me a message: “You thought you had gotten away, didn’t you – I have you now!” Like hell you do, bitch! I’m still in Combat mode and still have all available power routed to my engines and the chase for the EV is on again… but this time, I see the green icons for the FSS and there’s three of them headed my way and as I have one eye on the EV, I see the green icons converge on the red icon of the Anaconda – and the interdiction ends. I breathe a sigh of relieft, reestablish my lock on the destination and, a minute later, I’m orbiting the planet and waiting for the moment to deorbit and reach my destination… but keeping in mind that I’m still not safe because I’ve been in orbit around a planet and have gotten jumped. But I make a perfect approach to the planetary base and land. I refuel, do some minor repairs, complete the job and get paid a million-plus credits. Ka-ching! I’m looking through the available missions and find one paying a half-million credits but when checking the destination, I know it’s paying that much because once I get there, it’s going to take almost a half hour in real time to get there.

Course plotted and laid in. I launch and begin the rather slow process of getting out of the planet’s gravity well and clearing the base’s no-fire zone. Make it out of there, hit supercruise to gain altitude and once away from the planet, line up with the destination icon, activate my FSD and I’m off and running and happy that where I’m going is only one jump from where I was. I pop out of hyperspace at the star – that just never gets old and you’d have to see it to understand why it doesn’t – and I’m getting lined up but I get a system message about an incoming enemy alert. I clear the message while checking the scope and there’s no other ship in that space other than mine; sometimes, the game just fucks with you and gets you keyed up for an attack and it never appears… and I’ve learned not to trust the game at all.

I get lined up, do a bit of fuel scooping, but before I can clear the star and activate supercruise to the destination… interdiction! I’m still in Combat mode and with all power to the engines; I do the thing to lock onto the red icon I can now see… and it’s not only an Anaconda… it’s the same fucking Anaconda that had been trying to get me! Where the fuck did he come from and how did he get away from the FSS? I’m not all that worried about the Anaconda as I am being so close to the star itself; I know that if I get too close, my proximity to the star will either shut my ship down or destroy me and I’m a bit worried about that because the EV is running all over the surface of the star and I very much need it to point to open space if I’m going to survive this. As I’m evading like crazy, I have a moment to think about grinding in the CG and how boring and monotonous it was… and now I’m missing that boredom and monotony something fierce.

And it is very exciting. I note that help is on the way but I can’t count on that seeing as how that asshole in the Anaconda got away from them before but I’m really very cool and calm as I defeat the interdiction and supercruise to my destination and arrive in one piece. Once there and I complete the job and collect my half million credits, I’m really kinda mentally worn out from battling interdiction and by the same damned ship so I get out of the game and opt to watch TV until it’s time to go to bed.

And I can’t wait to see what the game will have in store for me today!

 
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Posted by on 18 April 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous Update

This has become one of the rare games I own that drives me crazy but not so much to make me stop playing it. There are a lot of players who are very much into the mode of playing known as PVP, or, Player Versus Player. They go around attacking each other, pirating cargoes, and other such combative things while others, like myself, are well into the PVE – Player Versus Environment – aspects of the game and aren’t all that interested in fighting and “killing” other players.

There is still so much to learn about the game and so very much to see since we’re playing in a pretty good representation of the known Milky Way Galaxy and the parts that are unknown to us are very nicely “stuck in there” and creating one hell of a playground for anyone who can take to the game to just do their thing.

Mine is being a courier; taking important data from one place to another; I’m also a “space trucker,” taking goods from place to place; I’m also a kind of space-borne cruise ship, ferrying passengers from one location to another or taking them on sightseeing tours and while doing all of these things, I’m also an explorer; as I travel, I scan every system I arrive in and, more often than not, discover new systems that, at the very least, I haven’t seen before. While the PVP players are all about collecting bounties on each other, stealing whatever they happen to be carrying in their cargo hold, fighting an alien presence that I’ve not seen for myself yet – and I’m sure I don’t want to if what other players are saying is accurate – and even taking jobs to assassinate NPC – non-playable character – criminals and are getting paid huge sums of credits to do so, I prefer to take a more non-violent approach to getting paid…

And one that isn’t without its own set of risks even though I play in Solo mode; it allows me to run around the galaxy without running into those playing in the more popular Open mode. Grinding is, well, doing whatever you’re doing in order to make credits, like mining… which I suck at something fierce. While a lot of players are keen to get the biggest and best ships the game has to offer and as quickly as possible, grinding is all about slowly but surely doing your thing to amass credits and not really deviating from it all that much. It’s pretty much the same thing being done every time you play the game and, hopefully, with some goals in mind. And while a lot of players have collected a lot of ships, I only have two; one of the things about this game is to acquire the best ships you can buy and outfit them to do the jobs you need them to do whether it’s fighting or moving cargo from place to place or just roaming around the galaxy to see the sights.

The day before yesterday, I was playing and grinding and with a bit of “urgency” to rebuild my credits after dishing out 55 million credits to buy a ship known as the Python, which is designed to carry a lot of freight while also being very capable of fighting. I was making good progress building up my credits and roaming around my local neighborhood – that would be our real-life solar system and where my home base is – and, well, it gets pretty boring because while every job is different, I don’t get to go to many different places and I feel that when I take a job and both the system and delivery location are things I know about, it tends to make me not pay a lot of attention to what’s going on around me a whole lot… and now, enter the NPCs.

The game designers had to have figured that it would be way too easy to play in Solo mode and totally escape the dangers one can face playing in Open mode and, early on in my play, I found out the hard way that the game will throw an NPC at me that’ll try to shut me down and rob me – and even if I’m not carrying anything – or just do their best to destroy me and just because. I’ve gotten to the point where I can look at a job and tell that, yep, I’m going to get attacked along the line and I’ve gotten to be very good at escaping being interdicted – that’s when someone forces you out of “warp” and tries to do you harm. But the day before yesterday?

I’d been doing job after job and, at that point, hadn’t been attacked and interdicted until I had taken a really high paying job – around two million credits – to deliver ten items to a planetary base and one I could get to in just one jump. I knew before I even took the job that, yep, I’m going to get attacked and, holy shit, did I ever get attacked! Usually, an NPC will try to interdict me once and if I escape, well, that’s it. Sometimes – and depending on whether I’m in friendly space, Federation Security forces will show up to take out the bad guy NPC which allows me to escape unharmed but when in hostile space, eh, maybe they show up, maybe they don’t.

I got attacked three times. The first time, I used my Python’s firepower to fight back but since I seem to suck at fighting other ships, my Python took a lot of damage while dealing out some damage. This part really fucks with me because I can’t seem to get the attacker in front of me where I can see them and have a better chance of fending off an attack… which is why my ship is outfitted with weapons that will track an attacker without me having to really be face to face with them… theoretically. The NPC pain in my ass gave me a beating but I put some serious hurt on it as well, got my engines back on line, and hauled ass to my destination. Whew! At least I didn’t get blown up, which would have been very expensive and would have badly affected my reputation. But the NPC wasn’t done; I was, oh, about halfway to my destination when the motherfucker tried to interdict me again and making this even worst is the attacking NPC always talking shit about how they’re gonna destroy me if I don’t give up whatever I’m carrying, something I find funny.

It was of great import for me to not get interdicted again; my ship had suffered 50% damage so taking more wouldn’t have been a good thing. I’m dipping and diving trying to catch the Escape Point that’ll set me free – and trying to catch it isn’t all that easy; I got interdicted the first time because the asshole attacked while I was sitting in front of the local star and so close to it that when I started to evade, I got too close and the proximity caused my ship to shut down and I got caught. Federation Security arrived and engaged my attacker and I’d caught the Escape Point and back to hauling ass to my destination. Now, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been attacked twice but I was breathing a sigh of relief to have escaped again; I looked at my panel to see – confirm – that I wasn’t too far from my destination so I could get into its safe zone and couldn’t be attacked. But just as I almost go to the distance where my ship would “drop out of warp,” I got attacked again!

Getting jumped once? Expect that. Getting jumped twice? Didn’t expect that but it happens. A third time? I’m actually laughing about this – and as I’m back to dipping and diving to catch the Escape Point – and more so when a quick peek at my scanner showed a slew of security ships surrounding my attacker and the cool part was that because I had “locked on” to my attacker (necessary for my weapons to be effective), my ship’s computer was telling me that the target’s shields had failed and, seconds later, that it had been destroyed. Yeah, take that, bitch! I caught the Escape Point… but overshot my destination so I had to turn around and reacquire it and gratefully activated the Auto-Dock feature and docked, safe but pretty beaten up and in need of repair.

But the destination port was one of those that didn’t have the repair facilities I needed and, after completing my delivery, getting paid, and even upping my reputation, I was “forced” to return to Galileo, my home station in our real-life Sol system to get the repairs I needed. I could have checked out any of the places in the system I had made my delivery to… but the triple attack kinda left me rattled and after I got home safely – and it wasn’t a given that I would – I repaired my ship and shut down the game.

Grinding can be boring and monotonous but if you want to succeed at whatever you’re doing, there’s no escaping it. Other players complain about having to grind and as if they feel they don’t have to put in the work that the game requires in order to make credits, gain reputation and achieve naval ranking in the three navies that one can be ranked in. Most of the time, the distances involved are daunting, like one sightseeing gig I took that took over 150 total jumps and a couple of real-time hours to complete just to get the passenger to the places they wanted to see… and with a very cranky passenger onboard who kept giving me shit about the trip taking too long and then making over 150 jumps to take them back to where I picked them up. Grinding in this game can wear you out and while you can “take a break” to get up, move around, use the bathroom, whatever, you’re never really safe to take your eyes off of what’s going on because even in Solo mode, an NPC can appear out of nowhere and attack the shit out of you. I’ve learned to take my controller with me if I’m going to the kitchen because I can still see what’s going on from there or just standing up and stretching with it in my hand because you just never really know.

I tell myself that, today, I’m not going to play the game and grind; I remind myself that I have almost 100 other games I can play instead, like No Man’s Sky, for instance. There’s grinding in that game as well and it comes with its own risks and dangers since most of the planets you can be on are trying to kill you. Or Minecraft which is all about grinding in order to keep your stock of materials and food as full as needed. But Elite Dangerous has proven to be rather addictive. On the game’s Facebook group, a player asked what everyone does when they’re not playing Elite Dangerous and I responded by saying, “I think about what I have to do when I do play…” because grinding requires a purpose, a goal, a plan. I only have two ships; my Python and a recent purchase, a passenger ship called an Orca, a big step up from the Dolphin I used to own. My goal is to eventually either replace my Python with an Anaconda – a seriously badass ship and the only thing better than an Anaconda is a Fleet Carrier – or just buy one and keep the Python and to do the same thing to acquire a Beluga, the best passenger carrier the game has.

It’s going to take a lot of credits to buy these ships and to get those credits, I have to grind and be committed to grinding to achieve my goals. I want to up my reputation with those I do business with and while I’m not a fighter so much, I want to keep advancing my Federal Navy rank – which is currently Lieutenant Commander – because doing so gets me better and higher paying jobs as well as access to other kinds of ships that are, admittedly, more for fighting than anything else. Grinding allows me to explore the many other things the game has to offer and that can be seen and it’s often a nice break to go check out something marked as “Unexplored” even if to break up the monotony of going from point A to point B over and over. Grinding also includes keeping my two ships up to date with the things I can get to improve them and some of those things aren’t cheap and, yep, still have to keep whatever ship I’m using to grind fueled and repaired.

Grinding in this game is a pain in the ass… but since I’ve embraced the grind, it’s really a lot of fun. It’s still not an easy game to learn and there are many things that you wind up having to learn as you grind to do whatever it is you’re doing. The grind just never stops until you turn the game off.

 
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Posted by on 13 April 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous Update

The first part of this gaming update is that Elite Dangerous is now free of charge on Xbox’s GamePass, which is a good thing but there are a lot of players who, like myself, shelled out the price of the game to be able to own it… and I guess we should have known that Xbox would eventually make it free for all GamePass members.

Next, my progress in the game so far. While there are a slew of players running around the galaxy fighting each other, blowing up shit and getting jacked up by an alien presence that one doesn’t see that often, there are folks like me who are enjoying the non-violent aspects of the game also one of the things I learned early on is that even when playing in Solo mode and a mode where you’re never going to run into any of the others playing the game, the game isn’t beyond having an NPC – non-playable character – come along and try to hijack you or blow you out of the sky: I guess the game wants to occasionally remind Solo players that the galaxy is still a very dangerous place and keeps you on your toes and well-versed in escaping interdiction attempts.

I’m still in the Lesser Orion Arm of the galaxy but I’ve slowly but surely managed to work my way, well, back home: The Sol system which is home to Earth. You need a special permit to go to Sol and when I got my permit, I wasn’t – and still aren’t – all that sure exactly what I did to finally get it other than to have my Federation rank go up (this is the galactic government/faction I’ve aligned myself with). I’ve been buzzing around delivering stuff and/or taking passengers either to other systems or outrageous tours of the stellar neighborhood to see the sights; there are a lot of sightseeing places that travelers are willing to pay millions of credits to go see.

The game is a grind if you’re not running around shooting up the place; you need credits for a lot of things, from buying new ships to taking care of ship refueling and repairs and updates to paying fines and, yeah, if you get blown up, you gotta pay a chunk of change in order to get your ship back and go on about your business. I’ve learned to pick and choose the jobs I want to take on and I have a “goal” right now to get the next size passenger carrier – the Orca – so that I can ferry those who want to travel in business or first class comfort… and for a lot of credits… but that heifer is expensive at somewhere around 45 million credits, give or take a hundred thousand.

I have four ships. The one the game gave me when I started it (a Sidewinder); I have a passenger ship (a Dolphin), a heavy hauler (a Type 7) and the ship that I use to explore and carry stuff (an Asp Explorer). I’ve bought – and gotten rid of – some of the fighter/military craft because, um, I very much suck at dogfighting in space, that and I can’t properly configure the ship in the most efficient way it can be done. I’ve bought such a ship, outfitted it the best I can, and when I’ve taken it out for a spin, it’s all good… until I deploy its weapons systems… and the whole damned ship shuts down and I’ve got about five minutes to get it up and running before I run out of air and die. Which kinda leads into the other thing I suck at: Mining.

I did the tutorial for mining and shooting an asteroid, well, that’s easy but catching up with the material blasted free? Yeah, um, shit… I totally failed that part of the tutorial. The good part is that in the game mode, there are things called limpets I can get that will go get the material I’ve blasted from an asteroid and I have a mental note to get some… but that’s not all there is to it. I had a ship configured with a mining laser, took a short trip to an asteroid field to see what I could mine; deployed the weapons to bring the mining laser to bear… and the ship shut down and right in the middle of NPCs buzzing around and, I guess, waiting for me to collect something so they could take it from me. I went to reboot the ship and it rebooted its systems… kinda. My shields were still offline, I’m not sure what my engine was doing and, oh, yeah, I was still running out of air and the clock was quickly counting down so I did the only thing I could do: Exited the game.

Shit. I don’t really need to mine anything but I kinda have to since in order to get certain upgrades for my ships’ systems, I have to mine stuff instead of going to a station and buying them from the “store” many of them have available. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong and as I continued to grind doing passenger trips and delivering goods, I was still thinking about how I managed to fuck it up. At one point during my play last night, I was about to dock at a station and had engaged auto-landing and as I marveled at how my ship was moving in order to get lined up, I had noticed that the auto-landing feature had re-tasked my weapon systems power to the engines… and in that instance, I knew how I fucked up my attempt to do some simple mining: I needed to shunt power from somewhere else to the weapon systems… and the mining laser is part of the weapons system.

Well, fuck me. I’ll test this later when I play (after I finish writing this).

Buzzing around the place, for a “space junkie” like me, is fun and especially when I see stars and systems that are not only real but I’ve read about in the many science fiction books I love reading. I’ve collected more permits to other systems, like Sirius; I’ve advanced in Federation military rank to be a Chief Petty Officer, which not only gives me access to the better fighting craft – which I have no plans on buying – but more lucrative Federal jobs. I’ve learned that taking passengers on sightseeing tours, while profitable, can be a pain in the ass. The one “complaint” I keep running into is my passengers bitching about how long it’s taking to get somewhere and them saying that they’d love to get there before they die. It’s not my fault that they’ve picked locations that are, sometimes, hundreds of multiple jumps away from where I picked them up and my Dolphin can only jump so far and cruise so fast… which is why I need to upgrade to the Orca and, eventually, the Beluga – it’s literally one whale of a ship.

I had one passenger get totally pissed off and cancelled the contract mid-trip and, as such, I didn’t get paid and had my reputation get reduced, too. I don’t mind when, in mid-trip, a passenger decides they want to take a side trip to some other place or that they need something like consumer electronics… and now I have to look for a station that may or may not have whatever they’re looking for. Or, lately, some have wanted to go into areas of conflict and I’ve learned to not get too close to whatever fighting is going on since, um, getting blown up with your passengers on board isn’t a good thing and I don’t wanna find out how bad that’s gonna be.

I don’t do that many sightseeing trips because it takes a lot of time… in real time. The last one I did took me three hours to complete and, jeez, even thought the trip went without anything going wrong, it was boring as fuck and to the point where I was watching TV shows on my tablet and iPad while grinding from one star system to the next. I’d occasionally check to see how many more jumps I had left, shake my head, mutter an obscenity to myself, and keep it moving. I tend to take on trips to deliver passengers from Point A to Point B which aren’t that time consuming and, often, doesn’t pay a whole lot… but that’s part of the grinding one can find themselves doing.

At one point last night, I’d earned about 25 million credits and while checking out the job postings, I saw a lucrative job to ferry a lot of items to a system that was one jump away… and I was in the wrong ship. I looked to see what ships the station had to offer and saw that they had a Type 7 bulk carrier, a step up from the Type 6 I had sitting at my home station… which was five jumps away and I knew it wasn’t available at my home station. I had a decision to make being halfway to being able to buy an Orca; do I pass on the Type 7 and the two million credit job… or do I spend the credits, get the Type 7 and take the job?

I decided to get the Type 7 and the job. After completing it, I immediately went home – and I kinda don’t like being empty but I couldn’t find anything I could haul back to my base in the Sol system – so I could sell the Type 6 I had and to have my Asp Explorer shipped back home to me, which is a pretty cool feature in the game if not a bit pricey. My problem is still that I’m not good at configuring ships. The Type 7 is like flying a brick; it’s slow and ponderous and while I can upgrade its engines, eh, there’s some tradeoffs to be considered. I upgraded its engines and power distribution systems but when I went to upgrade its stock laser weapons, well, that’s a problem because where I happen to be, they don’t have the type of laser weapon I need. The stock lasers are fixed in place… and pointing forward which makes sense… except when NPCs start shooting at me, they’re never in front of me and no matter how hard I try to point my weapons at them and shoot back, well, it just ain’t happening so I need the type of laser that isn’t fixed and can move as necessary to target the asshole behind me and eliminate them.

And this is part of the grind as well. I’m slowly but surely learning about configuring ships so that, say, when I take off from somewhere, the damned thing doesn’t shut down or I go to scan an area and, oops, I haven’t properly assigned things to the right areas. I’m not a fan of landing at locations that are based on a planet… but I kinda like it, too, because every landing presents a challenge that’s just too enticing to ignore and, of course, the goal is to “stick the landing” which means deorbiting at the right time and doing things in just the right way so that, if I do it right, I’ll be landing in a couple of real time minutes but if I get it wrong – and I do screw it up – it’s gonna take a long time for me to get to where I’m going.

The fun part is that while I’m in the middle of making planetfall, I catch myself flying the ship; I’m aware of the minute corrections I’m making with the joysticks and corrections I’m no longer and really paying that much attention to while keeping an eye on my speed, how much distance I have left and even how high I am relative to the surface… and all without really thinking about doing those things. Last night I made four planetary landings; I stuck three of them and totally screwed up one of them; instead of having a couple of minutes of flying to land, I was twiddling my thumbs and waiting out the 30 minutes or so it was going to take. Now, there is a way around such a screwup; all I have to do is engage my frame shift engines, aim at the escape point, and time the moment when I can lock back onto the landing spot… except, um, sometimes, I screw that up, too, and in this one, I actually wound up kinda crashing into the planet, not enough to seriously damage my ship but enough to have me cussing at myself.

This game is just so much fun to play.

 
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Posted by on 28 February 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous: Horizons Part 3

First, I’ve changed my theme… for now – lemme know what you think of the Ryu theme!

I’ve pretty much “forgotten” about my other favorite games, including Watch Dogs: Legion, which I had gotten before I got Elite Dangerous; it was so bad that when I went to play my other favorites, I had to remember how to play them but this isn’t unusual for me because once I have a game that I can really get into, well, all I have is time to play it.

I’ve made great progress considering I haven’t been playing that long and compared to other players, I have a very long way to go. I haven’t bothered with playing alongside others because I haven’t worked toward any missions that I’d have to shoot stuff – yet. I have six ships now and one of them is a fighter and I guess once I build up my credits again, it might be time to go kill some shit. Until then, I’m continuing to do decent paying jobs using the different craft I have… but I gotta tell you what happened yesterday and during my third mission using my brand new Dolphin-class passenger ship.

The second trip was a bitch; I took a passenger to a planet in a system that I thought had a station but instead, there was a… device there that I had to scan for them. What made it a bitch was there was nowhere for me to land close to it and I’m surprised my ship didn’t take any damage because I was bouncing around all over the surface, slamming into the ground at times while trying to get the ship under control. I finally got into a bit of a hover and it occurred to me that I was supposed to scan it – so I did. My passenger was happy and I took them back where I picked them up and got paid 150,000+ credits.

It was worth the hassle and my ineptitude doing stuff like that. I was debating on changing ships to do other jobs and decided, what the hell – let’s take another passenger somewhere. I saw a job that was gonna pay a million credits and I was qualified to do it; I loaded them up, and selected Auto Launch to get underway. Auto Launch is a blessing; I’ve learned to fly my ships fairly well and I could manually fly out of the space-based stations even though they all rotate: Think about that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the PanAm clipper and as I might have mentioned, the game uses the same music as the movie. I could do it… but if I don’t have to, that works.

The ship lifts off and stops because other ships are in a queue to leave or enter the station when I look to my right and see, in bright red letters, “Illegal Passenger Onboard” and I thought, “Oh, shit!” That’s when I discovered that once you engage Auto Launch, you can’t cancel it or if there’s a way to do it, I didn’t know anything about it. I’m “panicking” because I see a green icon cross my screen and the identifier is for a Federal warship and I knew my ass was in trouble and more so when, in the many times I’ve left a station, this particular event never happened. I’m still furiously going through my options and trying to find a way to abort the launch but it’s too late: My ship leaves the station and I know that it’s going to be about a minute before the Auto Launch procedure releases me… but I’m already thinking about turning around and ditching my illegal passenger. I abort the job and I get a message from the pissed off passenger that says if I’m not gonna take them where they want to go, just drop them off at another station.

My plan was to take them back inside but just as I was free and clear to navigate, my onboard computer calmly says, “We’re under attack.” And before I could see even where the attack was coming from – and even though I knew it was the Federal warship – I got my ass blown out of the sky. As you can imagine, I was pissy about that because the game didn’t see fit to warn me about the illegal passenger until after I had launched and, again, I couldn’t stop it.

Because I had gotten myself blown up one time before – way back when I was still trying to figure out some stuff, I knew I was going to wind up at a detention facility and I had to laugh because I’m in jail even though y’all just blew my ass up and killed me and to make it worse, I had to pay in order to get my ship back, too. I could afford it and I do like that the game doesn’t make you lose anything in this situation but, yeah, I wasn’t happy about how that all went down. Now I have to fly back to my home base and hoping that the authorities hadn’t put a bounty on me or hit me with some fines. Neither thing happened but, yeah, I was still pissy about it and kinda mad with myself although, again, there was nothing I could do or knew about to stop the Auto Launch process.

I kept playing, safely ferrying passengers and as I went on about playing, I was thinking that despite my very rough start, I’m glad that I bought this game and accepted its challenges. As I was on my way back from one place and super cruising to the station, I was looking at my iPad and Facebook and saw a post from one of my other game’s group… and that’s when it hit me that I’d been playing the game before I got this one and, well, yeah – this one is so good that I just didn’t have any thoughts about playing that game… or any other game.

Because I have three Microsoft accounts, I can have three profiles on my Xbox and, per my habit and when I have a game I can really get into, I started a new game on my second profile because now it was time for me to use what I’d learned from my main profile – along with the gazillion mistakes – and apply them. I decided for this profile that I was going to delay having to leave the starting area for as long as I can since, once you leave there, if there’s a way to go back, I don’t know about it. I found that I could plot a course back to the starting point but since my leaving made them revoke my license and permit to be there, well, shit. So, for my second profile, I’m just gonna hang out there and do jobs and make lots of credits and for as long as I can.

One “mistake” I corrected was to buy a Hauler as my second ship; at the point where I get invited to an Engineer’s location so I can get fancy updates for my ships, a YouTube guide for this mission specifically says to get a Hauler to make the trip because it carries more fuel – and even though I can refuel at a star – but they also are able to travel greater distances. When I did this job, I ignored the advice and thought that the ship I was in – an Adder-class kind of freighter – would do just fine. Um, yeah, shit, I should have listened to that advice! At one point during the very long trip, I almost ran out of fuel a few times and I was thinking about what could be done if I did run out of fuel. I learned, after the fact, that there’s a way to have someone bring you some fuel but since I didn’t know that, all I could do was, upon arriving at a Fuel Star, was to keep diving in until I had enough fuel to continue.

I’m like two jumps away from my destination; my fuel status is beyond questionable… and the game let’s me know that where I am is the last main sequence star that I can refuel at and I’m having yet another, “Oh, shit!” moment. I know that if I get too close to the star, the least thing that can happen is my drive shuts down and the worst is I get burnt the fuck up. As I’m carefully skimming the corona of the star, I’m wondering which one of the game’s developers thought it was a great idea to emerge from light speed and the first thing you see is a fucking star but for now, I’m very happy that they put this into the game. I successfully completed the mission… but for my second profile – and knowing that, again, at some point, I’m gonna have to do this job – I went ahead and bought a Hauler as my second ship; I am not going to make the same mistake twice.

Finally, my son-in-law. I convince him to buy the game. He’s always recommending games to me, some of them to my liking, some of them not so much. I’ve been telling him about the game and how challenging it is because when it comes to playing games, he’s like me in that if it’s challenging, we just gotta go for it. I was telling him what I had experienced early on and after he watched a YouTube video about the game, he decided to get it but I had offered to get it for him because I really want him to play this game because it’s gonna test his skills. He made it through the tutorial which, uh, by the way, I technically didn’t and he was able to kill the one ship that had to be killed that I just couldn’t manage to do so he’s got one up on me in that regard. When we play together – and as we do for a lot of games – it’s never a contest to see who’s better or anything like that and I appreciate and respect his gaming knowledge in some games, like Borderlands, for example.

I can’t wait to see how he makes out with Elite Dangerous and I hope he gets the hang of it enough so that we can play this one together.

 
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Posted by on 19 January 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous: Horizons Part Two

This will be a much shorter scribble than yesterday’s offering.

I left y’all to tackle the game yesterday and I actually had a great day playing it. I’ve been taking jobs to many systems and even managed to make enough loot to buy another ship that’s suited for exploring; apparently, there’s money in this area. I haven’t tried tackling any of the jobs that calls for assassinating anyone – yet – I’m using the courier and other delivery jobs to not only make credits but to get better at playing the game and as even I expected, I screwed the pooch on something important.

Planetary landings. The very first one I did was actually done incorrectly, according to the game’s quick start guide and what the Facebook group membership told me when I screwed up another landing. Okay, the actual procedure is kinda technical and has some shit to do with orbital mechanics and glide slopes/angles but let’s just say that when I was attempting planetfall to deliver some goods, my deorbit burn and glide left me well over three hours away from my target and the situation was made worst by said target being on the other side of the planet. I got lined up – the ship is now pretty much on cruise control and maintaining direction and altitude without me doing anything – and I found some other stuff to do while making the 3+ hour trip while occasionally waking my controller and console; I found out that if my console goes into sleep mode while the game is running, it stops my ship dead in its tracks which is a good thing (I guess).

One of the things I did while waiting to arrive was ask the Facebook group what I did wrong – and I knew that I had even if I didn’t exactly what I did. So, to keep it as uncomplicated as I can, what I should have done was super cruise close to the planet but not let it put me into orbit by shutting it down and if my objective is on the other side of the planet, well, now I have to glide in, which was the second thing I was doing wrong. I looked in the quick start guide and I’ll be damned: They had an entire section on how to land on a planet including how to glide correctly and the “bad” part is that I saw the indicators on my HUD (heads up display) that was trying to tell me what to do and I didn’t know what it was telling me.

But now I know. Three or four trips later found me heading toward another station that was planet-side: Time to do it right! Well, that’s what I had in mind, anyway. I shut down super cruise and didn’t wind up just circling the planet while keeping an eye on the compass as well as the location’s marker; I pushed the stick forward to break out of my mini-orbit and started my descent; the ship went into glide mode and as anticipated… except instead of the pretty blue indicator, it was red: I done gone and fucked up again and so bad that I managed to run into the the damned planet because I had also managed to lose control of the ship. The good part was that my ship suffered some damage and my shields got knocked out until they rebooted and didn’t get destroyed and the second good thing was that once I got some altitude and flying right, I was only three minutes away from the ground station!

Much better than being three hours away! Once I docked, I had a rather big repair bill to pay but I had the credits to handle it easily and without putting a dent in my funds. The new bad news was there are no easy to do jobs where I’m at currently so I decided that since the ship I’m currently in is good for exploring, I’m going to try to do some exploring.

Stay tuned…

 
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Posted by on 15 January 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous: Horizons

Once I got into playing No Man’s Sky and joined the Facebook group for the game, the members started talking about Elite Dangerous and many were saying that it was like No Man’s Sky… but on crack and steroids. I’d never heard of it, got on my Xbox, went to the store and, okay, there it was… but I didn’t see a video for it so I didn’t pay it any more attention.

But the group’s membership was still talking about this game which, by the way, was pissing some members off because they were going on and on about a game that wasn’t No Man’s Sky but, yeah, that tends to happen. To get to things, I bought the game and with the thought that if it was similar to No Man’s Sky, it couldn’t be that bad of a game, right?

Once you get through some preliminaries like picking and customizing a character and choosing a name, it gets right into a tutorial that teaches how how to fly your ship, use its weapons, docking and undocking with the station… and holy shit. I’m used to flying “things” in video games and while I knew it was gonna take me a bit of time to get used to the game’s controller scheme, um, well, let’s say that it’s a good thing this was the tutorial and I didn’t get tossed right into the game given the number of times I either flew into the station or, when trying to chase down the targets I was supposed to shoot I didn’t need to kill them to save my life. I chased down the first target and it was a bitch because the game’s physic engine is… otherworldly; there were no reference points that I could see (other than the target I was chasing) that told me whether I was getting close to it or not and, indeed, I could see I was at full throttle but not getting closer to the target – and a target that I’d often fly right into… and the game kept telling me, “You’re not supposed to ram the target, Commander…”

Smart-ass piece of shit! But I killed the first few targets and spent the next hour and a half trying to chase down and kill this one target, reached my frustration point and before I gave into the urge to throw my controller, I shut the game down and asked myself, “What the fuck did I just get myself into?” I felt like this was the very first time I’ve ever played any game but I wasn’t gonna give up and I checked out some YouTube videos about the game and, well, shit. I know this is the way you can learn about a lot of games these days but the thing that became obvious to me was that the videos were made by players who are very good at playing the game so watching them and listening to them – and some with bad accents, and questionable command of spoken language – well, it wasn’t helping me one bit. I’ve played some games that, in the beginning, gave me fits and I conquered them and I was determined that Elite Dangerous wasn’t going to defeat me but I did leave it alone until the next day.

The next day, I crank up the Xbox and after checking for updates, went right to Elite Dangerous and with the thought that I’m going to tackle the tutorial again but instead of selecting the tutorial, I selected to play a solo game instead; it was a ‘better’ option than playing with the other players and, I felt, an option that wouldn’t get me slaughtered since there’s battling in the game and my inability to even pilot my ship would not only paint a target on me, I’d spend a lot of time dying. Slowly but surely, I kinda got the hang of flying the ship and using the various panels in the cockpit enough to try to do one of the missions provided. The end of this story is that I missed something about the mission; I had the required items in my cargo hold but couldn’t end the mission because it said I didn’t have the items – and I was okay with that (well, not really) because my main purpose was to leave the station and make the trip to the destination station…

And I got that done and learned a couple of new things, like, hmm, when you select the destination system and enter lightspeed to get there, it drops you out… right the fuck in front of the system’s primary star! I’ll admit that I panicked since, duh, that’s not a good place to be and I fumbled around just a bit too long getting away from the star and not before my ship suffered heat damage and was close to being destroyed – lesson learned. My next lesson learned what a little display they call a compass but is really more like a scope’s crosshairs; when looking for my destination, look at the compass, find the little white dot, and if you put it i the center of the scope, when you look out of the window, there’s where I’m supposed to be going! I successfully reached my destination (without any further issues) and after doing a little math conversion to get within 7,500 meters of said station, request permission to dock and, when granted, throttle down and let the automated docking procedure bring me in instead of trying to match the station’s movement and rotation which very much reminded me of watching 2001: A Space Odyssey and specifically the scene when the PanAm clipper was approaching and docking at the space station… and the game is playing the same music that’s heard in the movie.

It had me laughing and once I landed, I was giddy with my success… and exited the game. My next move was to find and join the Facebook group for this game; I’m not beyond asking for help and advice and while I went about doing that, I found the manual for the game (and for Xbox) and, at first glance, I’d have to say it wasn’t all that helpful but I’ll get to seriously reading it at some point. I join the group and get accepted and in my “thanks for letting me join” message, I mention that this game, by far, is the hardest game I’ve ever tried to play. The first response I got from the membership was a confirmation that this game has the highest learning curve of any game ever made.

Fuck me. I learned that the game was originally a PC game (and still is) and it’s actually been around for quite a while; I even learned that there’s a special controller – a HOTAS (and whatever the fuck that means) – that is very close to the controls you can see when you’re looking around you cockpit and I thought that if I was having a hard time controlling my ship with my Xbox controller, yeah, right; this controller would be quite the clusterfuck and not to mention it’s pretty expensive, to boot. I even learned that the group has a greeting: “o7” and let it suffice that it’s a greeting and one that I don’t know the origin of so, please, don’t ask. But back to the task at hand which is finding missions I could do and ones that would earn me some credits. I found courier jobs; accept the job and go from Point A to Point B and get paid; I also figured out that I could go to a station’s Commodity Market and find stuff that I could buy and carry to other places and sell it for a bit of profit and if the item was wanted at the destination my courier job was headed for, two birds with one stone!

The game was stressing me out a bit more than I like being stressed because I was still having “problems” accessing the many ship functions, not because I didn’t know how to access them but because I kept pressing the wrong button on my controller. You see, in a lot of games, the “Menu” button on the Xbox controller often allows you to access certain functions like selecting weapons or other in-game stuff and my left thumb has been trained to hit that button any time I need to do something like this in a game… but not for this one and I’ve not yet learned to keep my damned thumb off of this button but that’s kinda minor at this point. I’m doing courier job after courier job, getting paid but, importantly, I’m learning how to navigate from one place to another as well as getting a better grip on flying my ship… kinda. At one point, I had gotten in the neighborhood of a station I needed to land on but since there was a moon between me and said destination, the obvious move was to fly around the mood so that I could have true line of sight to the destination… but the game’s physics engine does a very good job of replicating being in space and I’m faced, once again, with the problem of not being able to “see” that I’m moving and relative to, in this case, the moon I’m trying to get around. I thought that maybe I can use my “warp engines” to zip to a place behind the moon which, ideally, would put the destination back into my line of sight but, nope – the damned ship kept telling me that the destination was obscured so the engines couldn’t be used.

I had managed to fuck shit up so bad that I had no other choice than to self-destruct my ship; the good thing was I didn’t lose anything by doing this and I came back into the game at a detention center which was funny but a good thing because I could go back to doing the job I’d been trying to finish and this time, I got there without too many issues other than one kinda big one: My ship’s drive dropped me out of lightspeed too far away from the ground-based station so I wound up heading in the right direction, setting my speed as high as I dared and, now, making sure I didn’t fly into the planetoid and found out that the ship kinda does that by itself; I could change my altitude and once I got to a level of flight, if I stopped flying the ship, it automatically levels itself out. Cool. I could see that getting to the station was going to take an hour – and in real time – so I just set my controller down and spent the hour messing around on my iPad while occasionally checking on my progress.

I finally got to the station and docked; I complete the mission and get paid; I select another courier mission, made sure my fuel was topped off and any damage to my ship was fixed and off I went to the next mission. I was happy that I’d managed to get this part “down pat” although, days later, I found myself in a similar situation where I couldn’t line up my destination because there was a planet in the way – and I’d already learned that trying to fly around it would be the bitch to end all bitches… so I canceled the job and flew back to the station I’d just left and while I had a bit of trouble with it, I handled it and got back to where I started. Then I left the game; I’d figured out something about its physics engine – the planets and stuff would keep doing their thing even though I wasn’t in the game so if I waited long enough, I could go back in and the planet that was in my way wouldn’t be in my way – and that worked. Another successful courier mission and, yeah, buddy – now I had enough credits to buy another ship! I really didn’t need to but I wanted to because I could. More courier missions, replenishing my credits… but there were other jobs that paid more credits and I was frustrated because even after all that I’d learned to do, I still didn’t have a clue how to do any of the other jobs, like, mining uranium or taking medicine from one station to another (remember, I didn’t manage to do that earlier).

I decided to do the tutorial for mining… and what a clusterfuck that turned out to be! I had to shut down one of the modules of my ship and before the power drain made me run out of oxygen and, well, I flunked that one. I eventually returned to this tutorial, got that module shut down and actually got to use the mining laser to chop off a chunk of… something. But now I had to open my cargo bay, chase down the piece I hacked off of the asteroid, and get it into the bay… and I managed to get that first piece but it wasn’t even as easy as the tutorial said it was… and then I had the added pressure of the asteroid field being close to the system primary (sun) and, well, yeah – didn’t we learn a lesson about that already? The tutorial said that I now had to fill my cargo hold with material and, my god – I shot off several pieces and just could not catch up with any of them to get them into my cargo hold! I couldn’t go any faster than 40kps – for some reason the game doesn’t explain but, crap, I spent a lot of time having the pieces bounce off my ship and now I’m trying to chase them down, line them up – and using the scope that I no longer trust – and, fuck, fuck, fuck. I can’t get the pieces into my hold and the tutorial is constantly reminding me to get the pieces… and I said fuck it and left the tutorial and eventually shut the game down for the night.

I’d made progress, though, including leaving the original system and making multiple jumps to another system but with a caveat: My license for the original system got revoked and as far as I can tell, there’s really no going back. I would have stayed there but when I looked for another courier job, the only job available was to travel to this other “federation” and get paid 100,000 credits – the game’s way of saying that I’d messed around there long enough – now it’s time to do some real work! My problem is that in this new neck of the woods, there aren’t a lot of “easy” jobs to do and many of them call for me to assassinate some folks or do some other shit that I haven’t learned how to do yet. Every time I leave the game, I tell myself that I’m not gonna mess with it for a while and play something else – anything else… and I keep going back into the game anyway.

I am determined to learn how to play this game one way or the other. I’ll check out the other tutorials and chances are I’m gonna fail them like I did the one for mining but I’m thinking that if I can, at the least, get the principle of it down, I’ll eventually figure out how to actually do it… and that should be interesting. The best advice I’ve gotten from the Facebook group is to do the tutorials and, yeah, well, shit – I know how that’s been going for me. I’ve been scouring the Internet to find out more about the game and at every turn, if I learn anything, it’s that this game has the highest and most difficult learning curve of any game ever made… but if others have learned how to play it, I will learn how to play it, too. It’s a challenge that I can’t ignore and I will keep at it until I get it down pat and to the point where I don’t have to think about what has to be done – it will be automatic.

Wish me luck… because I already know I’m gonna need it… and now I’m off to play Elite Dangerous.

 
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Posted by on 13 January 2021 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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