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!

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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.


Proactive Shield Management

Oftentimes, the time-to-kill in ship combat can feel fast in Star Citizen. I’m not worried. I’ve experienced faster and slower.  Plus we know that combat mechanics are still evolving, with adjustments coming down the pike. However, there’s something that we should all be doing now, that I rarely see pilots doing when watching their videos. It’s relatively easy and can mean the difference in surviving an encounter. I’m talking about shield management.

In the video below  you can see me adjusting shields as necessary.  Keep an eye on the left side of my cockpit. The shield management window will appear very quickly when adjustments are being made. If I’m flying head on into a cluster of enemy ships, I increase the strength of the front shield.  If I’m being sniped in the back while taking on foes in the front, I increase my rear shield and so on.

To learn about proactive and reactive shield management check out my article on REDACTED.


Mining Profession

Show Transcript

As this will be one of the professions many new players gravitate toward, here’s a quick overview of the mining profession.  It was one of the first career design documents published and is supposedly representative of their philosophy for all careers.  Which is that career associated tasks contain activities that require skill, dext, rity and intelligence, where mindless repetition or idle monitoring are explicitly avoided.

This is after all, deep space and although a career isn’t combat oriented there’s danger present.  In the case of mining, the more valuable materials will reside in dense asteroid fields that must be piloted through without suffering serious damage to your ship.  While mining, you can encounter compressed pockets of gas and other volatile materials that can explode in the presence of excessive energy or detonate from seismic activity.  In other words, this isn’t an auto-pilot profession and careless players can die.

 IN THE BEGINNING

Visiting your local Trade and Development Division (TDD), which serves as the marketplace for commodities, can provide a sense of what’s in demand, at what price and where.  Once you’ve decided on what you want to attempt to mine, it’s time to decide between going freelance or acquiring a contract for those materials from a NPC run corporation.

There are benefits and risks of working freelance.  On the good, you are your own master.  You set your mining schedule and pace.  You may be able to sell your cargo for a higher than average price based on market changes.  However, the opposite is also a risk.  By the time you return with your cargo and list it for auction, the prices may have decreased.

If a committed payout is preferred, working on contract is the better option.  You know exactly how much you will be paid for your cargo.  However, this isn’t completely without risk.  If during the excursion your ship suffers damage OR unforeseen setbacks delay your return or reduce your cargo, your reputation will take a hit. In the end, you are paid less than you expected because of your performance and that performance has a lasting impact on future employment.

LOCATING THE RIGHT ASTEROID FIELDS

After deciding between freelance and contract, it’s time to locate asteroids that contain the materials you seek.  Every solar system will contain a variety of public information on major asteroid fields. It’s probably best to head into the known when you’re starting.  However, don’t expect to find the more lucrative materials there.  If they existed in that location, they’re likely long gone.  However, it’s still a good place to start mining common materials.

Freelancers wanting to maximize their profits can opt to spend money on an Information Broker.  This is someone who has knowledge about asteroid fields which aren’t public.  They either bought the information from someone else or obtained the coordinates through exploration and are using that information to provide a service.

Lastly, you can explore the galaxy yourself.  This will be the most time-consuming approach and not likely to be feasible for contract work that contains deadlines.  However, combined with an emphasis on exploration, a freelancer could turn an excellent profit by harvesting from isolated/unknown locations and/or selling the information to an Information Broker. You could also be an explorer and information broker yourself but we’re here to talk about mining. *Smile*

GETTING THE JOB DONE

Mining consists of multiple roles, and is done using a ship configured for mining, such as the Orion.  The more proficiency you have with performing a role the more efficient the results, which ultimately impacts effort versus profit.  Note that any or all of these roles can be performed by NPCs.  The NPC’s proficiency will be commensurate with their fee.

As for solo play as a miner, the design document leads me to believe that it’s not possible to mine completely solo – without players or NPCs. Roles that happen sequentially can be carried out by the same person.  However, there are activities that take place simultaneously and as such, require multiple bodies.

The pilot is responsible for safely navigating the ship to and within targeted asteroid fields.  This may not be as simple as it sounds.  Rarer materials will be located in dense fields which require nimble navigation skills to avoid costly ship damage.

A scan operator is responsible for identifying an asteroid’s composition.  This is accomplished by injecting remote material analysis packages (RMAPs) into nearby asteroids. The telemetry data is sent to the pilot and scan operator. Once a site is selected, the optimal injection orientation is displayed.  The scan operator launches and manually controls RMAP-equipped missiles used to impact the asteroid at the correct location to expose the materials you want to mine.  Actual mining efficiency is impacted by the accuracy of the scan operator’s efforts to expose the asteroid’s components.

Next up is the beam operator who is responsible for wielding the mining beam affixed to the ship’s robotic arms.  They have direct control over beam output and if they’re good, are able to precisely extract materials.  Their control of the beam is also critical to safety, as an injection of surplus energy into volatile materials can cause explosive chain reactions.  The result of such a mistake can range from ship damage to the loss of the ship and its crew.

The cargo operator is the sifting and pick-up role.  Mined materials are NOT automagically deposited into your vessel.  The cargo operator monitors the fragments being excavated by the mining beam and interrogates them using an integrated Fragment Scanner. Fragments of interest are directed into a ship’s input port.  The input port houses a crusher that pulverizes the fragments into rubble and stores the contents into cargo modules.  The skill of this person also impacts the value of your payload. They can miss important fragments or be so slow that they impact your efficiency, putting you behind schedule for contract deliveries.

If your ship is equipped with a refinery, the refinery operator will process raw ore into its purified forms, ejecting waste elements out into space.  Purified materials consume considerably less storage space which allows your operation to continue for extended periods of time before it becomes necessary to dock and unload.

Whew, that’s more involved than the mining I’ve done in other games such as EVE Online. I have no intention of mining in Star Citizen.  Even in this interactive model, there are other things I’d rather do to earn a living.  However, I’m sure this is going to appeal to a lot of people which is why I wanted to provide a short overview of the mechanics involved. Here’s a link to the design document for a more detailed look at the profession.

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Passenger Transport & Genesis Starliner

Show Transcript

OH MY GAWD, they had me at profession…

For a long time now, I’ve had a vision of the role I wanted to play in Star Citizen. I saw myself playing out a female version of Mal from Firefly. My love for FF is undeniable.  I create and sell FF inspired jewelry. On some level, this role would also mirror my career in EVE Online, which existed long before there were salvage specific ships available.

In EVE, salvage appealed to me because I liked the freedom to engage random rats and salvage their ships while exploring, salvage kills from riding shotgun during mining ops, leech cleaning around AFK miners and cleaning up after my own PVE missions.  It certainly didn’t hurt that salvage was lucrative, even for freshies, which is what I was when I started.  I suddenly had a license to print ISK in EVE, after a long suffering stint of poverty. As such, my vision for SC was a more RP and environmentally lush version of this.  I knew there would be piracy/PVP, FPS pew-pew, industry/mining, etc., none of which excited me as a primary focus.  I was content and excited about the vision I held.

To cement my vision, I purchased a Freelancer, now upgraded to Freelancer MAX before they announced the salvage specific ship, the Reclaimer. Even so, the FM would be good enough until I upgraded in the future to the Reclaimer. La la la, all was settled in my SC world.

That was until I saw a YouTube video discussing the recently unveiled Genesis Starliner and the accompanying transport career.  My mouth fell open, hit the floor and remained there.  I watched the video multiple times. I went to the RSI website and read the content for myself.  Why oh why, did RSI include interactive content allowing you to see the travel brochures someone might read when planning a vacation and then choose a destination from an airport departures board, which tied to a short RP story of a passenger aboard the ship. It was a sucker punch to my gut that excited me for a SC experience that was very different from the one I had planned in my head.

I could pilot and manage a civilian transport business. I COULD PILOT AND MANAGE A CIVILIAN TRANSPORT BUSINESS. I could do this with friends. I could do this with guildmates! WhatchootalkinboutWillis??

SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mid-range luxury civilian transport ship.
  • Modular design seating up to 100 economy passengers, or less as a mixture of economy, business class and luxury.
  • Versatile interior design can also used to transport and repair race ships, military troops transport or fitted out as private luxury liner.
  • Is same ship-class used for the SC equivalent of Air Force One, The UEE Imperator’s transport ship.
  • Is big. Is beautiful. Is WOW.
  • Comes with Lifetime Insurance (LTI)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Formal career and mechanics being designed around civilian transport.
  • Requires obtaining licenses to operate out of your desired travel hubs.
  • Requires clean criminal record to obtain and maintain licenses.
  • Incorporates a reputation systems based on passenger satisfaction.
  • May require actual crew depending on configuration/passenger count.
  • On-board mini games provide customer service tasks such as food and beverage service, entertainment centers, in-flight mechanical and medical emergencies, etc..
  • Crew roles can be fulfilled by other players or you can hire NPC flight attendants.

WHY I’M ENTHRALLED

  • I prefer when there are mechanics in MMOs that allow me to take on a role that feels as though I have an on-going existence in the world beyond showing up to do quests and craft.  The EQ2 crafting and housing system allowed me to establish and run a decorating service. ArcheAge for all its other faults, had a detailed crafting and economy which served the same, that I really enjoyed.
  • I play and enjoy task based / time management games such as the various Dash games and the survival but heavily time management slanted, Don’t Starve / Don’t Starve Together.
  • I’m a long time The Sims fan who is brimming with ideas of how you can really RP this ship and career, not to mention the modularity of the ship itself, which will lend to all sorts of personalized and flavorful transport services.
  • Get tired of transporting civilians, carry race ships.  Get tired of trucking race ships, it can be outfitted for military operations for your corporation and allies.  Over that, setup for search and rescue.  Lots of options to choose from to change up your game play or help your friends and corp.
  • It’s a completely new and unique gaming experience/profession!
  • I’m like a cat.  When I enjoy an activity in game, I can do it routinely without becoming board.  Just ask my ArcheAge guildmates about me a running trade packs. LOL Who I would also transport goods for using my farm wagon, for the modest price of one free trade pack for me to turn in too and some boosted fuel.

I shouldn’t have but I COULD NOT HELP MYSELF.  I pledged / purchased the Genesis Starliner.  As I said, they had me at profession.

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