UPDATE: List of player contributed >> Speculative Trading Aides

Another round of play-testing this first iteration of the trade mechanics in Star Citizen Alpha 3.0, highlights the difficulty of using features when the mechanics and other surrounding aspects of the game are incomplete. Having worked in engineering and product development, I understand the true nature of an alpha where many may not. If patience and rolling with the flow isn’t your forte, experimenting with this fledgling version of trade might not be for you.

The Good

  • Very little money is required to get started.
  • See new locations while potentially earning money.
  • Helps you become familiar with the available locations.
  • Enjoyable for players who like the meta of finding profitable commodities.
  • Satisfying for those who enjoy a grow your wealth mini-game.

The Bad

  • There’s no ability to price check other than flying to a location.
  • Illogical combinations of buy/sell prices exist at some trade hubs.
  • Cargo placement in some of the ships is awkward and blocks walkways because it doesn’t make logical use of the available space.
  • The first iteration of the navigation starmap isn’t great, and the last thing you want to be doing is fiddling with it while you have a cargo hold full of goods you’d like to deliver before something horrible happens.

The Ugly

  • The one big ugly beast in this scenario is that there’s no safety net to protect you from losing what you’re carrying on your ship if the game crashes or disconnects. It goes poof along with whatever you spent to purchase those goods.
  • Fear motivated selling, as a result of the always looming possibility of losing your cargo due to game issues. You may feel pressured into selling at a loss or less than optimal prices versus taking your time to visit other locations for a better option.

None of the above is horrible; it’s alpha. New patches reset everything anyway.

I logged on with the desire to see how much I could increase my wealth in two hours.

I started my gaming session with a meager 6.3K aUEC. This amount represented a 1.3K earning from my first round of trading. My previous route plan having proved profitable, I started out using that as the basis for this journey. You can read about my first experience with trading here. I went to the Trade Kiosk in Port Olisar and purchased approximately 2K in goods. The items on my The Bad and The Ugly are why you don’t invest everything in a single run.

Now that players are actively engaging in pirate behavior it’s important to remain situationally aware when approaching your ship. The Cutlass Black, like many ships, only has a rear ramp entrance. Unfortunately, this means that when I open it for myself, another player could race aboard ahead of me, hop in the pilot seat and abscond with my ship and goods. It hasn’t happened to me, but it has to others, much to their dismay and rage induced postings on Reddit and the forums.

I’ve played my fair share of PVP games and sandbox MMOs. Situational awareness is key. Don’t open your ships if someone is hovering nearby. Don’t linger on the landing pad after you’ve entered. I keep my head on the swivel. If someone is milling around, I don’t open the ship. Once I’m in the pilot’s seat I lift off IMMEDIATELY. It’s safer to hover high above the landing pad even if the ship is locked. Players can glitch through the physics grid and into your vessel via turrets and airlocks.

At my first stop things do not go as planned

The first stop on my trade route is Levski on Delamar, a planetoid-sized asteroid temporarily added to the Stanton star system for testing. Delamar belongs in Nyx. You can click the links provided to see more about these systems on Aly’s World.

I like traveling to and arriving at Levski. It feels like flying into a real planetary hub and community. Given that the facility is inside an asteroid, you have to communicate with Air Traffic Control to have the doors on a landing bay opened so you can enter. When I made my way to the terminal to sell the goods I’d purchased at Port Olisar, I met with disturbing results. All of the buy prices were for less than I’d paid to obtain them. And I’m not talking about a little less – HALF.

Here’s where fear-based selling kicks in. Delamar is the furthest location in the game right now and has less than optimal performance. Do I sell at these drastically reduced prices to recoup some of my money? Or do I risk carrying the goods elsewhere looking for a better price? Furthermore, do I still purchase what’s on my list to obtain from here for my next location, possibly compounding my loss if things go tits up?

Price volatility strikes. Wah-wah

The idea of selling at a 50% loss at my first stop didn’t sit well with me. I decided to hold on to the goods and purchase the items for my next stop. With an additional 1K of merchandise on board, I headed to Daymar.

Daymar is my favorite location added in patch 3.0. There’s something intrinsically beautiful and soothing about this arid, barren landscape steadily swept by swirling winds. Like it, as I do, I hate landing there at night. It’s pitch black as you’d expect space to be but the ship external spotlights needs some work. They’re barely a candle flame in the dark. Landing to sell at Kudre One on Daymar produced the same results as Levski. All of the buy prices were down. Now there’s a rising panic of carting around merchandise worth half of my wealth in a ship that can go boom from a player, game glitch or me crashing in the dark.

Facing no profit at KO, I immediately headed to Bountiful Harvest which is relatively nearby. I happened to recall that it Bountiful has a Trade Kiosk. Not all of the locations do. But BH offers no comfort. They will only buy one of my items and still at a loss. Feeling as though I’ve pushed my luck with this load of merchandise, I cringed as I sold my Processed Foods and headed back to Port Olisar.

I arrived safely back at Port Olisar feeling deflated

I breathed a sigh of relief landing safely at Port Olisar and decided to screw parking my ship legally. I landed on the closest pad and gave the Air Traffic Control tower my middle finger when they warned me to move. I told them what they could do with that crime stat levied for illegally parking my ship. I sat there thinking while they moved it into a hangar and auto-ported my character inside.

I ran around to the different terminals at Port Olisar checking buy prices for the goods still aboard my ship. They didn’t want the merchandise I’d bought at Kudre and weren’t paying much to buy back their goods.

Off to Grim Hex to make a deal with the devil

Bummed, I watched chat for a few minutes. Answered a few questions for new players. Chimed in when another player was talking about taking a loss on his goods and being stuck with other merchandise. Someone suggested they try Grim Hex which seemed to buy most anything. There was no guarantee it would be at a profit, but at least it would be off his ship. Hrm. I considered the idea of Grim Hex.

Did I want to leave the cargo sitting on my ship or sell what I could and call it game over for the day? Grim Hex wasn’t far. I could take one last shot and sell it all regardless of price to be rid of the cargo. My hesitation was that Grim Hex is the location where criminal players spawn. These are players who, for the most part, have illegally aggressed others. You can routinely read complaints about people shooting up ships on the landing pads since outside of the main complex it’s a weapons-free zone. Whatever, I decided to give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I recalled my ship and headed to Grim Hex.

I was pleased to find a waypoint for GH on the starmap. Before patch 3.0, you navigated there on your own, hunting for it inside the asteroid belt. When I arrived, I saw one ship on my radar hovering a short distance away from the landing pads. There was no way to know if they were coming, going or ganking. I sat a respectable distance away from them and watched. When I saw them leave, I approached.

GH is a bit of a shithole which is by design. It’s an abandoned facility now inhabited by criminals. I guess no one wants to pay for lighting the damn landing pads. Weak ship lights and barely any external lighting, makes it difficult to land fast, in a place where having your ship exposed any longer than necessary can lead to it being destroyed. I descended quickly, recklessly and rushed inside. Once again, FU, Air traffic Control Tower.

To my bitter disappointment, while GH would buy everything I had on board, none of it was at a profit. UGH. I sold it all anyway, ready to be done with the affair. While scanning through the purchase list, I saw one item I’d seen in posts where people were talking about making a lot of money selling it. However, I didn’t remember the sell location. Plus, I was worried about it being reduced profit now if a lot of players were doing it. Continuing to scroll through, I saw an ore that struck me as being multipurpose and useful. Hrm, logic said, it seemed like it a material needed most anywhere. Nope, not naming it. You’re on your own there. I took a deep breath and invested half of what I had left and raced like the wind with it back to Port Olisar. Bingo! It sold for twice what I’d paid for it. Hands sweating, I decided to head back to GH and do an all-in buy for the item while the profit was good.

Start your engines. Houston, we have a winner!

On my next trip to GH, I arrived to find three ships hovering around. I didn’t have anything to lose aboard my ship, but I didn’t want to have it blown up regardless. I shut down my engines and waited. Within a couple of minutes, two of the ships began fighting each other, while the third sped away. I used the opportunity to land and get safely inside. I filled my cargo hold to capacity and raced back to the landing pad, my heart hammering in my chest.

I started the engines quickly, zoomed off the landing pad and went max thrust into the asteroids. I opened the starmap and set it to Port Olisar as fast as I could. While my quantum drive was spooling, my heart fell into my stomach when my ship A.I. announced, “Missile lock!” But it was too late for whoever had targeted me. I jettisoned away in a plume of Quantum Drive animations. Whew! Feeling buoyed by recovering my losses and then some, I made one more trip to the devil’s playhouse. Having narrowly escaped destruction the last trip, this time I reverted to only spending half of my funds. I made it back to Port O safely and sold the goods which brought my wallet to 18.6K aUEC. Yes! I ended the gaming session with 3x more than where I’d started.

I was elated to have a triumphant ending to another trade adventure, one that was fraught with decision points and conflict. Player professions and the economy are what keep me in any MMO long term. I’ve played too many of them to be entertained long term by NPC checklists aks missions. Sure, I’ll do them as a means to an end, but this is the gameplay I’m looking for albeit not this particular profession.