START OF ALPHA 3.18 FALLS FLAT
Star Citizen 3.18 got off to a rocky start. Many players, including myself, were unable to access the game for several days due to log-in server defects, account authentication issues, and infinite loading screens. It took seven days for me to finally beat these problems and get into the game. During the first few sessions, I focused on PVE Bounty Hunting to avoid bugs that caused pilots to get stuck in their seats. I avoided doing activities that required me to frequently get in and out of my ship. Once I had enough time without issues, I turned my attention to salvage.
Similar to mining, I find salvage to be a Zen-like relaxing mechanic that I've equated to fishing in other MMOs. Floating alone in the deep black of space while casually reading in-game chat or watching a stream is peaceful and financially rewarding. I don't mind having to get up every other crate to arrange the salvage in the cargo bay. In the same way that I chose to avoid the explosive but lucrative quantanium mining, I avoid potential pirates by salvaging in the Aaron Halo asteroid belt.
SALVAGING IN PEACE
The Aaron Halo is a dense asteroid belt within the Stanton system, located between Crusader and ArcCorp. It runs the full circumference of the star system and doesn't contain any distinct entry points, which means that unless you're in a party, you won't run into other players in the belt. This allows me to salvage in peace. I can take my time and even walk away from the game for short periods of time. I had several successful salvaging sessions until I ran into a game bug.
After loading my cargo bay with crates of salvage, I flew down to ArcCorp Area18 to sell the scrap at the Trade and Development Division (TDD). Unfortunately, when I arrived at the terminal and selected my Drake Vulture, the terminal didn't recognize that the ship had a cargo grid. This meant that it didn't detect the crates of scrap I needed to sell. After trying multiple terminals, I decided to try a different location.
PLACES TO SELL SALVAGED SCRAP
The capital city on each of the Stanton planets has a TDD location. This means that ArcCorp, MicroTech, Hurston, and Crusader are locations where legally obtained salvage can be sold. Additionally, Brio's Breaker Yard on Daymar and Devlin Scrap & Salvage on moon Euterpe also buy legal salvage. For those with ill-gotten gains, Reclamation & Disposal on Hurston and Samson & Son's Salvage on Wala purchase illegal salvage. Be forewarned that the locations that buy illegal salvage are free-for-all combat zones.
The advantage of selling at a capital city is that your ship is safely parked in a hangar while you make your way to the TDD. Doing business at an outpost salvage yard means that your ship is exposed on a landing pad or landed in the dirt, making it vulnerable to other players' shenanigans.
I make Area18 on ArcCorp my home base, so I do all my commodities trading from Area18's TDD. I prefer Area18's convenience for acquiring everyday supplies, such as weapons, basic armor, backpacks, ammo, food, utility items, and more. The TDD is also a quick distance from where the spaceport tram drops you off.
SELLING MY SALVAGE OR NOT
Selling the salvage should have been easy once I arrived at Area18. Unfortunately, the game had other ideas as I mentioned. Hoping the glitch was isolated to a particular location, I took the tram back to the spaceport, boarded my Drake Vulture, and flew to Lorville on Hurston, only to receive the same result. And Orison didn't provide a better result either. Oh boy, I need a new plan.
PERSISTENCE TO THE RESCUE
The technology that made 3.18 a milestone patch and a mess is the introduction of Persistent Entity Streaming (PES). This is the first introduction of the tech, and it touches every aspect of the game. There are only a handful of MMOs that I've played in the past thirty years that have true persistence, EVE Online and Asheron's Call being among them. PES means that whatever a player places in the world remains in the world - ships and junk alike. I'm sure you can imagine the emergent gameplay opportunities of such a feature.
My original plan was to have an org mate fly one of my other ships that has a cargo grid and help me transfer the crates. Unfortunately, I got busy at work and was unable to play for several days. By the time I played next, no one was around. Undeterred, I decided to put PES to the test.
First, I picked a ship with an open-air cargo bay, which would be much easier to load. For that reason, I flew my Origin 400i to ArcCorp Area20. I needed to be a location where other players weren’t likely to stumble across me with two ships of exposed cargo. Outside of Area18, the ArcCorp locations are window dressing. There are a few rooftop landing pads with parcel lockers used for delivery missions, but that’s it. Landing on the top of a random building, the likelihood of another player coming by was nil.
To test whether PES would persist my Origin 400i through a disconnect hiccup while I was enroute with the Drake Vulture, I killed myself and logged off the game after landing the Origin 400i. Killing myself gave me a fast ride back to Area18 and replenished my stats. It's a bit of a cheat we all use to fast travel until permanent death arrives as a feature. After getting dressed and equipping myself with food, water, and a multitool with a tractor beam attachment, it was time to grab my Drake Vulture full of salvage scrap and fly it to the Origin 400i.
A ONE-WOMAN SOLUTION
Finding my Origin 400i was simple. I’d selected a building near a visual landmark. PES, recognizing that the 400i was my ship, provided a radar marker when I was around 11K away. When I arrived, I landed the Vulture with the cargo bay facing the cargo lift of the Origin 400i. At this point, it was nighttime for Area10, an arresting sight with all its lit buildings and animated billboards. I pulled out my Multitool with Tractor Beam and leisurely transferred cargo from one ship to the other.
Transferring the cargo was easy and a solution I could achieve completely on my own. People who know me know that I’m heavily into the solo experience. Even in MMOs, where I often prefer being among but not directly with other players. When I was done, I closed up the Vulture and flew the 400i back to Area
I crossed my fingers as I approached the terminal at the TDD that it truly was the Vulture and not the cargo itself. I was elated to see the payout quote to 114K. I became alarmed when after accepting that price, the terminal returned an error - can’t complete transaction with body on board.
I was initially stumped by the message until I realized that because of PES, there was a corpse on the bridge of the Origin 400i. I have no idea what a body on the bridge has to do with crates in a cargo hold, but whatever.
My Origin 400i was still sitting in the hangar where I'd landed on arrival, which made things a bit faster. But getting a corpse out of the 400i using the main entrance is not an easy task! I had to drag my body into the tiny lift, down the narrow hall, and traverse a steep stairwell to get back out. There was a lot of stop-start in the process as the corpse kept getting stuck, twisted, and dropped. The cargo lift would have been easier, but it was packed with crates. sigh Note to self, kill yourself outside of the ship the next time.
Eventually, I unceremoniously dumped the corpse on the floor of the hangar, raced back to the TDD, and successfully sold my goods. Whew, PES to the rescue, and then PES a thorn in my side, but it all worked out in the end. The opportunity for unscripted events is why I love the MMO genre. The fact that the game created a problem for which I, as a player, could concoct a solution is why I’m still patiently waiting on Star Citizen.