Loot - I See The Light

A long-time fan and subscriber to SaltEMike on Twitch, I’ve been ambivalent to his strong feelings on the importance of looting in Star Citizen. I plan to occasionally participate in organized PVP events and NPC combat only when absolutely needed. The majority of my time will be spent exploring the specialty professions such as Data Courier, Data Hacking, running a hospital, food production, base building, RP styled commercial transport, and a traveling bazaar. How will I make time to divide my attention across all of these professions? I’ll start with doing a “30 Days as” series that does a deep dive into each. After that, I’ll rotate between what I’ve enjoyed best. After all, I plan to play Star Citizen for years, giving me time to savor each.

Most of the time Mike mentioned looting was in relation to combat which isn’t why I backed Star Citizen. NPC combat and PVP are nothing new to the MMO genre. I’ve been doing that for years, even in a spaceship owed to EVE Online. What’s new and unique, beyond the planned scope of the universe are the specialty professions which is what I backed to do. Hence, whether or not NPCs or players drop loot wasn’t a concern. That is until I played the New World Closed Beta. And now, I’ve seen the light on looting.

It’s pretty standard fare for NPCs and players to drop loot when killed. I like New World’s compromise of generating a loot drop when a player is killed versus them losing one of their items. Still, it’s the standard expectation of killing equals one or more items dropped. What New World does extremely well, which has changed my mind about the importance of loot caches is that they’re populated all over the world in logical places.

If you’re in an area that is farmland, you should expect to see crops that can be collected. In villages, towns, encampments, there should be supplies. Where there are humanoids we should see the artifacts of life, and we do in New World. No matter how many times I’d already crossed through a zone, and this is on foot mind you, I took the time to steal crops and loot caches. Even as a higher-level player traversing a lower zone, the contents have value. More importantly, there’s very little trash loot other than white gear which is still necessary for salvaging repair parts. There are no, let me sell this crap out of my inventory items. There is a nice percentage of green items in the caches too. Ones that were of a high enough tier to be upgrades or nice starters to try out a new weapon.

As I was running around grabbing caches for the umpteenth time, never tiring of the activity, it dawned on me what Mike likely meant. There are opportunities to add reasons to explore, risk combat, and revisit areas due to loot caches alone IF the loot tables are done well. I would engage in combat to defeat a ship and see what loot I could collect like in EVE Online. I would risk engaging in FPS, something I suck at, in order to loot caches exactly like I did in New World. However, if it’s going to be common crap then I’ll pass. I don’t need crap to sell for credits. I can earn that mining which is at least something I find relaxing. I’d do it for cool-looking gear but it would have to be a step up from the subscriber models which I haven’t really enjoyed to date.

I remember going out of my way in World of Warcraft to loot caches and they usually had middling content but it was something fun to do while exploring. New World has made them a core mechanic and I could definitely get behind that in Star Citizen if done in a similar vein and value. 

The recent CIG discussion on the topic didn’t go far enough to inspire me to really care about loot because it can be done poorly. I won’t care about loot for the sake of loot. The items need to be meaningful and valued for their use and utility, not their cash conversion or many of us will pass. We can make money in other ways. I really do hope it’s not the paradigm from most other MMOs where what you find amounts to vendor trash. If that was the plan, they’ve plenty of opportunities to shift gears and come up with a better implementation.

I enjoyed braving the PVP at Kareah to loot crates when they were there. Or take a missile to the face looting the abandoned wrecks. That poke around and find stuff while exploring is largely gone from the PU. I hope it comes back with a bang when it returns.


Casual Citizen Season 2 Episode 2

Welcome to another episode of Casual Citizen. My experimentation with pseudo-A.I. voices has ended. The compromise I’ve reached to keep show production reasonable is that I will voice the game commentary sections and use an A.I. voice for the fiction which tends to be the longest portion. The vast majority of authors don’t narrate their fiction anyway so… boo!

Show Topics

  • The More The Merrier
  • True MMO Style Persistence
  • Pyro – Size Matters
  • Other Worlds
  • Pod City, Shifting Sands Part 2 of 2

Show Forma Options:


True MMO Style Persistence

Without a doubt, nothing even comes in at a close second; what I’ve disliked about the so-called Persistent Universe is its lack of persistence. I’ve detested the Super Mario save point behavior of getting to a station to persist where you are in the world or to retain the contents of your ship. I’ve always hated that the items placed in my ship are lost on a disconnect or server death. From the start of the PU, they knew they were building an MMO. So why on earth is item tracking this late in the scheme of things?

I’m waiting with bated breath for actual persistence in this MMO. Losing profits due to 30Ks aside, many sandbox gameplay opportunities will present themselves when ships and player locations persist reliably. The critical aspect here is consistency and reliability. One of the things I enjoy best is creating new roles for myself once I reach the end game. It almost always involves crafting and, where possible, offering a service.

In EverQuest 2, I built a decorating service that was so popular it ended up dominating all of my game time. I created new unique items by combining standard crafted pieces. I wrote guides on adding life to items with animations by layering and resizing other components.

My farm wagon in ArchAge offered rides to other players who would sit on top of my crates and pay me with fuel that increased the wagon’s movement speed. As a Warlock and Mage in World of Warcraft, we charged for portals and summons in addition to selling items on the auction house. It’s the different roles you can create for yourself in a mature game with good mechanics that adds extra flavor.

I know the professions I’ve backed via ships in Star Citizen are a ways off. Hell, they’re not even on the roadmap yet. Data running in the MSR. Information hacking in the Herald. Food production on the Endeavor. Managing a hospital in the other Endeavor. Commerical transportation aboard the Genisis Starliner. Building outposts with the Pioneer. Manning a traveling bazaar with the Merchantman. There are things I enjoy that I could be doing in place of my professions, except we don’t have actual MMO style persistence yet.

While I don’t consider myself a roleplayer, I think of myself as my avatar when I’m in-game. And there are a few enterprises I’m looking forward to trying when actual persistence arrives.

The Floating Noodles Vendor from the Fifth Element is high on my list. Imagine a stylized ship floats into view. Onboard it has cold and hot storage containers full of what your body craves. Yes, a specific ship would be incredible but unnecessary. Any medium-sized vessel with a fast quantum drive and a convenient entrance will suffice. I want to load up with the various consumables from around the star system and deliver them on request. Out mining and forget water? Aly’s Food Truck to the rescue. Doing planet-side activities and need food or medpens? Call Aly.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I want to exist in a game world without doing anything in particular. Take in the scenery. Converse in global chat. Help a noob or two. The players flying their amounts above Stormwind is what comes to mind. We can take that to a whole new dimension in Star Citizen.

A roving bar that tours the star system picking up passengers from the popular orbital stations, is another activity I want to try. Passengers can purchase alcohol and snacks while chatting locally, perhaps using FOIP or having their own private conversations taking in the view. Maybe throw in a little drunken Fight Club? But you didn’t hear that from me.

Treasure Hunts with prizes aboard the 890 Jump will happen! Stash physical items around the ship. Provide a list of what to find. Then, they have to tell me where they found it and provide the article to turn it in. No sneaking in your own shit. No, mam! And, some of the hunts will include murder mystery roleplay, something I’ve wanted to do for years.

Why can’t I do these things now, you wonder? Because a disconnect or 30K will throw away all the time spent setting up the event. It will whoosh the items I’ve placed on the ship into oblivion. If I DC, I’m just as likely to end up back at my last port of call versus back aboard my ship. No thanks! When I have time to play, I want the reasonable expectation of there being the appropriate mechanics to play. Spitting into the wind isn’t an activity I find enjoyable.

There are a host of emergent gameplay opportunities to be had with actual, traditional MMO persistence. Here’s hoping it arrives in Star Citizen sooner than later.


Please Stop Destroying My Items

I think it’s long past time that Star Citizen’s persistent universe, actually persisted all player related assets. One of the foundational covenants between a player and a persistent universe is that the game won’t lose my shit or willfully destroy my assets. Star Citizen continues to violate this fundamental convention.

I’m not playing Super Mario. I’m not playing a single player RPG with the ability to pause or explicitly save. I’m playing an online game, in an area called the persistent universe, that doesn’t keep certain aspects of my activity until I reach a golden checkpoint. If I’m not able to land my ship at one of these golden checkpoints, the game disavows all knowledge of my ship’s contents. Why?

I’m not talking about a cup I brought on board. A teddy bear I grabbed out of a habicube and put on the dash for grins. I’m talking about items related to missions and the player professions. This is especially true for assets that, at this point, only the game can place and remove from my ship. It’s really egregious the persistent universe isn’t storing the fact that those items, in particular, exist, the instant the game places them there. Why does it only retain the fact that the items are there when I store the ship?

So few of the planned features related to professions are available in the Alpha, it’s frustrating to lose items related to the ones we do have.  I’m not even sure why this interim mechanic of only retaining your ship’s inventory when you land at space pads was ever considered okay. It’s alpha where many many things can go wrong on the game’s side of things. Why leave us at risk of consistently losing progress?

The sad truth is that I’m always more concerned about the game causing me to lose my things than it being the result of PVP. The game itself is the biggest pirate and griefer. In all this time, I’ve only lost a single load of mined ore to combat. All of my cargo hauling losses are due to the game disappearing it. Being disconnected, crashes, freezes and other unrecoverable incidents that require a player to restart the game, for me, result in considerably more instances of losing progress than PVP ever has. It shouldn’t be this way.

This also goes for having to recover a ship that’s lost in space because of a DC or crash. Reclaiming it needs to stop destroying the ship’s inventory. It should be transported to you at a cost that’s less than and faster than, the replacement insurance. This feature popped up on the ship console for a little while in the 3.5 PTU. Not sure why it disappeared.

I can deal with wipes. I can deal with delays. I can pace myself and enjoy what’s currently available even though, it doesn’t reflect any of the professions I back yet. What frustrates me beyond belief, however, is the game continually breaking a fundamental covenant between a player and a persistent universe. Please stop destroying my shit.


Remove Public Transportation from Commercial Careers

Trains in and of themselves are cool. However, when interjected into transportation like professions, they’re bad. I mean, really bad. There isn’t a courier or transportation service in the world, that would have a driver disembark their utility vehicle to hop on public transportation to complete a delivery. NONE.

Off-loading to a smaller utility vehicle is common. If we had to do that, it would make perfect sense to me. You’re not going to land your Hull E at Area 18. If you need to deliver a load there, you’ll have to transfer the merchandise to a smaller ship before going planetside. I’m good with that scenario. It’s extra steps, but it’s logical. We all know commercial carriers redistribute merchandise once it arrives at a warehousing facility. Items are regrouped into smaller sensible routing clusters. However, that effort would not include, “Hey, let’s hop on this public train for the last leg of the journey.” What??

Some of the nit things we encounter in the game in the name of realism make decisions such as not having terminals at the spaceports feel a bit crazy. Especially when these assets already exist for mining, trade, and package delivery. The fact that they’re not present in abundance, at the spaceports, is a huge oversight.

I’m all for trains, shuttles and the alike, as part of civilian life. However, they have no place being part of the commercial process. I hope this gets addressed soon. Being forced to ride a train after landing my cargo ship just to get to a trade terminal is annoying and detracts from the experience. The same holds true for selling mined materials. We’re essentially forced to use trains and shuttles merely to go interact with a terminal. Why? I’d like to pass on that, please.


Voice Attack Revisited

Several of the roleplayers who’ve recently started streaming Star Citizen use Voice Attack profiles. I’ve seen many comments asking if that’s part of the game or how they’ve accomplished it. Today I just want to hit the high points for those who aren’t familiar with how VA works with SC, which is how it would work with any game.

Voice Attack being used with Star Citizen has been around for quite a while but not so much by those who are streaming the game. I wrote a detailed step-by-step article and uploaded a sample video in July and September 2015, all of which you can find on Aly’s World.

WHAT IS VOICE ATTACK

As an ability, Voice Attack, which from here out I’ll refer to as VA, is a method of using your voice to initiate keystrokes.  The name is a bit of a misnomer. The capabilities are not tied to attacking. You can use VA to carry out any set of keystrokes. For example, you can launch a game or establish your starting setup in an application. Outside of Star Citizen specific tasks, I use it to control Fraps allowing me to capture video and screenshots in any game using my voice.

Using VA requires three broad aspects:

  1. Purchase VA software – the application that will execute keystrokes and mouse interactions.
  2. Purchase or create a VA profile for a specific for Star Citizen.
  3. Start VA while SC is running. Like Fraps, you can set VA to start with Windows so it’s always ready.
  4. Fine tune the profile you purchased which runs off the game’s default keybinds. If you’ve changed any of those, you’ll have to change them back OR modify the VA profile.

PROFILES VS. VOICE PACKS

Most of the players you see using VA with Star Citizen have purchased a Voice Pack. A Voice Pack is a Profile that enhances the execution of commands by adding a significant amount of voice over and audio work. This is often done using professional voice actors or celebrities and may include additional narration that is not directly tied to executing commands, such as role-play conversations. HCS offers multiple Voice Packs for Star Citizen, as well as other games. However, purchasing a Voice Pack isn’t a required component. All you need is the Profile – series of commands you want to be executed using your voice.

Although it takes a bit of time doing it the first time, creating your own Star Citizen profile using the VA application is free and straightforward. The drawback, of course, is that we’re in alpha and keybinds change regularly. This can be avoided by saving your keybinds to an external file you can maintain and import back into the game after a patch. Then you’d just add new commands to your profile if you wanted them to be voice activated. If not, you’re golden. I always have a quick tutorial on preserving your keybinds across patches.

CREATING AND EDITING A VOICE ATTACK PROFILE IS EASY

The steps for creating and/or editing a Profile is very straightforward. The most time-consuming part is looking up that actual in-game keybinds if you don’t know them by heart.

At a high level the steps are:

  1. Pick the command you want voice controlled and note the keybinds needed.
  2. Create a command in VA that uses an easy word you’ll speak to activate the command and enter the keystrokes needed in SC to carry out the action.
  3. Test to be sure it works as expected.
  4. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s tedious more than it is complicated but is amazing to use once you’re done. Remember, you can refer to the tutorial on Aly’s World if you want to give creating your own a go. Otherwise, search for Star Citizen Voice Packs and choose one with the voice actor you’d enjoy hearing.

If you don’t want to dabble in keeping the profile updated as the game’s keybinds change, it’s important to read the fine print and purchase a pack that’s going to provide you with free updates, such as those sold at www.hcsvoicepacks.com.


Alpha 3.2 Prospector Mining Guide

As was CIG’s intent, mining will not support AFK behavior. They want all professions to be engaging and require some level of interaction by the player. They want there to be skill involved, in this case, monitoring and muscle memory are a factor in the outcome. For this first release, we can only mine on moons, asteroid mining will arrive later. Using the Prospector, there are (4) parts to the mining mechanic once you arrive at your desired location.

Edit June 26, 2018: Click Here for Enhanced Step-by-Step Video Version Available on YouTube

Step One – Scan the Area

Your first step is to scan the area for minable objects.

  • Toggle scan mode using the [TAB] key
  • Click the left mouse button to scan/ping the area.
  • Land the ship or float slowing over the surface of the moon pinging as you go.
  • Mineable rocks will be marked with a blue icon and orange outline.

Step Two – Start Mining Rocks

The next step is to fracture the rocks down into smaller units that can be extracted.

  • Hover over the rocks identified as mineable to view their composition. You want to spend your time mining rocks that contain the highest concentration of sellable materials. Even better, are those that contain decent percentages of multiple metals.

  • To mine, press the [M] key which activates the mining mode called Fracture.
  • Fracturing is a mini-game of heating the rock enough to break it into pieces without blowing it up. In order to accomplish this, you must watch the two gauges on the left part of the HUD.

Step Three – Control the Mining Laser

  • The mouse scroll wheel controls the mining laser intensity
  • Watch the Laser Throttle indicator to see your laser intensity setting.
  • Simultaneously, monitor the Rock Energy Level.
  • The Energy Gauge measures the rock’s internal temperature for combustibility.
  • Gradually increase the laser throttle until the rock’s internal temperature moves into the green zone on the Rock Energy Level.
  • Watch the Energy Transfer Graph (line chart) to see the trending effect of your current throttle setting. Is it stable – showing a flat line? Is it increasing – line trending up? Is it decreasing – line trending down? Use that to guide whether or not you need to increase, decrease or maintain your current laser throttle setting.
  • Once you’ve moved the Energy Gauge into the green zone, hold it there until the Fracturing Sensor on the right side of the HUD reaches 100%.
  • At 100%, while in the optimum energy zone, causes a successful fracture.

Note: If you overheat the rock it will explode causing damage to nearby objects, including your ship.

To avoid overheating the rock you should be slowly ramping up the throttle on the mining laser, watching to see how that impacts the rock’s energy and throttling the laser up and down as appropriate. You’ll hear a warning sound if the internal temperature is getting too high. If throttling down isn’t letting it cool fast enough, turn off the laser or point it away from the rock until it cools down a bit.

Step Four – Extract Ore

When you’ve fractured a rock successfully, it splits into smaller pieces.

  • Hover over the fractured pieces to locate ones with a purple outline.
  • Click the right mouse button to active Extraction Mode.
  • Extraction will vacuum up the smaller pieces into the Prospector’s cargo canisters.
  • Any rocks that still have an orange outline will have to be fractured further before you can extract the ore.

RECAP

In a nutshell, you

  1. Scan for mineable rocks
  2. Inspect them to find the best compositions
  3. Switch to mining mode
  4. Use the fracture laser to break the rock into smaller pieces.
  5. Monitor the rock’s internal heat temperature and control the laser throttle accordingly until the energy bar is sitting in the green zone
  6. After a successful fracture, toggle to the extraction laser to vacuum up your earnings.

Like most things in games, the harder it is the bigger return. For now, at least, Cellin has the lower level metals so it’s easier to learn the basics of mining there. Whereas Daymar has the more lucrative materials making them harder to mine successfully. This is likely to change over time as CIG rolls out more of the mineable components. Either way, mining isn’t as complicated as it sounds on paper. You’ll have the hang of it in no time. Head on over to Cellin and enjoy!

You may also be interested in:


Alpha 3.0 Speculative Trading Aides

Rather than edit these player made aides for speculative trading, into every post I make on the topic, I’ll compile them in this one article. Please note that I am not the creator of these tools. Use them at your own risk. I’m merely sharing what others have offered to the backer community to use. Refer all questions and comments to the Reddit threads associated with each tool. Enjoy!


Alpha 3.0 - Ups and Downs of More Trading

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.


Alpha 3.0 Brings First Iteration of Trading

UPDATE: List of player contributed >> Speculative Trading Aides

Star Citizen Alpha 3.0 introduced the first iteration of cargo hauling and trading. Although these professions aren’t ones that I will be pursuing long term, I know that that they are popular among the game’s backer community. This first iteration of cargo hauling is carried out by doing game generated missions. In the future, players will be able to create contracts for cargo hauling requests.

There are cargo hauling missions to pick up specific items and deliver them to an identified location. Recover a black box, recover crates, retrieve and dispose of waste,  actual pick-up and deliver tasks, etc. These missions represent simple go-fetch quests you find in many games and allow CIG to test basic hauling mechanics. The locations for pick-up and delivery vary between wreck sites in space, crash sites on one of the moons, space stations, or planetside hubs. The ones that I’ve seen so far pay very little in comparison to the cost of items you might want to purchase for your character. However, I’m sure all of this will be balanced over time.

What I spent my time doing was investigating the ability to do freelance trading. I prefer the freedom of choice and ability to incorporate this activity with other pursuits such as exploration. If you want to give this a try, it’s fun, but there be dragons.

There are bugs and persistence isn’t complete. I see posts from players who’ve lost all of their money trading. Don’t let that be you.

As to be expected, this first release of 3.0 is buggy. It contains a lot of new technology and foundational features. If you’re not careful, these bugs can cause you to lose money that can only be replaced by grinding out missions. Players can’t trade money or goods with each other yet. Run out of coin and you’re on your own to earn it back. Additionally, the current implementation of persistence isn’t complete. The only aspects that are genuinely persistent at this time are the condition of your ship and a player’s personal inventory – your ships, weapons, gear, and money.

Missions themselves do not persist!

Theoretically, you can log out in the bed aboard your ship and respawn back aboard that vessel. However, this only works if you just happen to log on the same exact server, a choice that is not in your control. If not, like the days of old, you’re back at Port Olisar. Additionally, nothing to do with missions persists. Not accepting them, partially completing them or turning them in. You must start, complete and collect your earnings from a mission all in the same gaming session. I mention all of this because people are going broke conducting ad-hoc trading because of the limited persistence at this time.

Game bugs might not be your worst enemy. Players are already doing piracy. Always keep enough money in reserve in case you run into a defect that causes you to lose your cargo.

In most cases, if you disconnect from the server, experience a client crash or log out with cargo aboard your ship it won’t be there the next time you log into the game. The merchandise is gone, and of course, there’s no way to get your money back for it. Poof. Consequently, if you’re going to do trading which requires you to purchase items on spec and transport them to a location that wants to buy it, never go all-in on one load. You must also consider the implications of PVP. Yep, there are players already doing piracy. If they destroy your ship, some portion of your cargo is left lootable. They must carry it aboard their ship crate-by-crate and can then sell it.

TRADING BASICS

Trading is easy as far as what you need to do. Choosing a profitable item and arriving at your destination safely, not so much. There are three major hubs in the persistent universe – Port Olisar, Grim Hex and Levski. All of them have commodity kiosks.

  • In Port Olisar, which is where law-abiding citizens spawn, it’s right near the ship deck. You’ll see an administration area with one operational terminal.
  • At Grim Hex, where criminals arrive in the game, you need to take the elevator to the Core. When you exit the elevator look for a poster with RSI ships. Next, to them, you’ll see an opening. Follow the seedy little corridor to the end and go inside the sealed room. There you’ll see the Admin Office and trade kiosks.
  • At Levski, make a left after passing through customs and go to the end of the corridor. It’s along the wall by the windows, right next to the Admin Office.

Commodity availability, prices and payout are dynamic.

Availability of items, prices, and payouts are dynamic. It’s impacted by how many other players are trading the same goods. No one location has all or buys all of the available commodities. You have to plan what you want to sell and who’s willing to buy it. Although this information is highly subject to change players are collecting lists of buy/sell information and sharing it with the community. Here’s a link to a recent list that I’m using.

Not worried about profits just yet, I used a commodities list to plan my trade route which included locations I wanted to explore more of, as this is how’d I’d do it in the released game. My trading will be opportunistic; done while doing luxury transport, exploration or science-related activities. Knowing the places I wanted to visit, I looked to see which was selling commodities that one of the others would buy. This provided me with a list of what to purchase/sell at each stop. I organized the locations into a logical order and included redundant sell options. Voila, I now had a route plan.

I did a few trial runs of a simple trade route without losing my shirt.

The first time I ran the route, I bought small quantities of two items, made the trips and sold the items when I arrived at the appropriate destination. The second time, I got a little bolder but ended up biting my nails halfway through the run when server performance started tanking. Luckily, I sold all the goods before the server died.

The third trip, I returned to being more cautious and luckily so. With one more delivery to make I lost connection to the server. Fortunately, I’d already landed and stored my ship along with its cargo. I was already on foot, heading to the Administration Office to sell the goods when I was disconnected.

Bad news? The disconnect left my ship at Levski while the game returned me to Port Olisar when I logged in. Good news? I could see that my cargo hold still had 6 units of cargo on board. More bad news? Three attempts to return to Levski all ended with disconnects. With Delamar being one of the furthest locations from Port Olisar, it’s not exactly a quick trip. After the third disconnect, I decided to call it quits for the day. It will be interesting to see if the cargo is still aboard my ship the next time I play.

Disconnects withstanding, I ended the session with more money than I had when I started.

It was a decent showing for the first implementation of trading. There are players rolling in millions of aUEC from doing it. I ended the day with more than I started with and may still have goods I can sell at Levski next time I can get there. *grumble-grumble* All in all, it was entertaining.

A reminder that only a tiny slice of Stanton is implemented in the persistent universe today. All of this activity takes places around Crusader, one of the four planets found in the Stanton Star System. You can see the lore and an AU map of the system on my website.