My First Day Playing Elite Dangerous

May 27th, 2017 | Posted in Captains Log | Comments Off on My First Day Playing Elite Dangerous

[Author’s Note] Well, actually this entire post is an author’s note / prequel both because it covers my first day playing Elite Dangerous and because the main story that these posts is going to tell doesn’t start until the next day.

Author’s notes like this will occasionally appear as the story progresses, though they’ll normally be MUCH shorter bits of blockquoted text within normal postings.

Additionally I will say that these posts will be backdated so that they appear on the date the events in question happened using the WordPress ability to schedule posts to make them appear in the past.

Another note about dates, the game (and therefore the story set in the game) is set in the future. the months and days match up with the current real world date but one must add 1286 to the year. The current in-game year is 3303. The in game time is the same as UTC which is 5 hours ahead of CDT where I live.

within the text of future posts after this one I’ll be referring to the in-game date, setting the date the post itself is published to the real world equivalent of that.

I would also like to thank the folks of the Elite Dangerous Steam forum for providing a lot of helpful answers and suggestions, both in response to my postings and to pretty much anyone in general. I spent quite a bit of time reading a lot of the stuff written there.

Commonly used abbreviations include; ly for Light years and ls for Light seconds. Both indicate the distance that light could travel in the indicated time. 1 light year is how far light can travel in one Earth year and 23 light seconds is how far light will travel in 23 seconds.

For example, Earth’s moon is about 2.5 light seconds from the Earth.

One of the things that I love about this game is the fact that the galaxy it is set in is the real Milky Way. Wherever possible the game’s developers have used real world astronomical data to populate the galaxy in-game. Where Real world data ends, Procedural generation takes over and fills in the entire Four Hundred Billion star systems.

What’s more, the procedural generation is based as much as possible on what modern science knows about how stars & planets form.

Some time around 1AM on 17-5-27 is when I started playing. In the first seven hours or so I spent over half of it between getting keybinds figured out and doing the tutorial missions.

Then I loaded into the actual game and started mostly just messing around. It didn’t take me too long to get to the point where I could actually launch, leave the station, navigate around a bit, fly to another station, get docking clearance, fly in through the narrow entry corridor and land.

The trick is to manage all that without crashing, hitting another ship, the walls of the entry corridor or getting blown up for taking too long.

Yes, that last can actually happen, once you get docking clearance, a ten minute countdown timer starts, that’s how long you have to either land or cancel the docking request.

Stations have a zero tolerance policy for things like loitering and blocking traffic (especially the entry corridor), and will not hesitate to destroy any ship breaking the rules.

As complicated as the control scheme looked at first, as I got used to it, I have to admit that I now find it quite intuitive.

That first day the one thing I had not been able to do is to earn any credits.

Since I’ve wanted Elite Dangerous since I first saw video about it a bit over a year ago and have seen a lot of Elite videos on YouTube since then (most of ’em kinda old with most going back to 2014 I admit), I knew (or thought I knew) at least some things I could do about that.

  • 1. Hang around the nav beacon at just about any star & scan everybody that shows up looking for wanted’s to shoot at, then let the cops do most of the work, just making sure to get some hits in so I get the bounty (while being careful NOT to shoot the cops!). Same thing for resource extraction sites.
  • No joy here

    I Went to four different stars and three resource extraction sites. In all cases every ship in the area was either clean or a cop.

    In response to this part, Somebody on the steam forum asked if I was doing the ship scans right. They clarified by saying that what I had to do was target the ship in question, point my ship at it to keep the target lock and then wait for the scan to complete.

    This is exactly what I was doing, the scan, indicated by the rotating icon in the right panel did complete and their status changed from “Unknown” to “Clean” every single time. Perhaps it was some kind of glitch but there were no wanted ships anywhere in four nav beacons and three resource extraction sites.

    Later on I will be revisiting the combat options but for the time being I’ve tabled it.

  • 2. Run missions, specifically The hauling cargo or “fetch this” type of thing.
  • Results: zip.

    Checking the mission board in every station I docked at shows only things that I couldn’t do for reasons such as:

    • Me not having enough reputation (understandable, they don’t know me)
    • Not enough cargo capacity (the sidewinder’s cargo bay is a tuna can)
    • Or that my ship could not jump far enough (apparently 7.75ly jump range is pretty weak)
    • Or I just didn’t have the credits to buy the thing they want delivered (even though the profits would enable doing more such missions and quickly yield a nice profit, ya still gotta make that initial investment and 1000 credits doesn’t buy much of anything)

    One of the first replies to my steam thread about this was somebody pointing out that Data Deliery missions do not require cargo space (logical since data can be carried by just transferring it to your ship’s computer). They further advised that I should look for systems in a “boom” economic state because those tend to have this kind of mission.

    While I *did* use this on my second day, on this first day I never found any such missions.

    Another Commander suggested “Courier missions, lots and lots of courier missions”. Perhaps I managed to overlook them but I do not recall seeing any such in the list of available missions.

    I must also note that the missions board is divided into two sections, one of missions I could take, another showing missions that I could not take because my reputation was too low, not enough cargo capacity, ship jump range too low and so on. After the first time I saw this I didn’t give that part of the list any further attention.

    The same commander recommended hazardous combat zones. Being a totally new player in my first day playing I didn’t know about those and I had no clue how to find such.

  • 3. Exploration. Basically selling the data collected when you find yourself someplace you’ve never been before. I was surprised to find that the scans were automatic but then that might just be because I only had the basic discovery scanner that the ship comes with.

I figured this had potential. I had seen notices of having scanned this or that unexplored (presumably that just means unexplored by me since I hadn’t gone far from the starter system). I checked and found I had 3 bits of exploration data that could be sold but could only sell if I went at least 20ly from the place that was scanned.

SO . . . I blew 300 credits to add an el-cheapo fuel scoop to the sidewinder, Then I went into the map and plotted a course to some random system about 35ly out, remembering to set the filter for KGBFOAM star types so that I could use the scoop to refuel along the way.

At the point where I wrote the first steam forum post about this I was 15 jumps into a 29 jump trip which had gone without incident. I even figured out that if when I arrive at a star I cut my throttle most of the way down, then when heat % gets to about 65 or 70 I can cut throttle to zero and just sit there while the fuel scoop fills the tank, then throttle up and continue to the next jump. It also means I don’t have to scoop at every single star along the way.

[technically, by my own rule, the rest of this should be in another post because it happened very early the next day. I’m including it here because it is essentially the end of the “prequel” and the main story begins the next day.]

I ended up continuing the trip I was on past the original destination 35 ly out (Hariti i think it was). While there I took the advice about data delivery missions and did both of the two that were available there. got me about 28K which let me upgrade the power plant and thrusters to 2D units with about 8K or so left and then I continued onward the way I had been going.

After doing some google searching on the subject it turned out I was *NOT* doing the discovery scanning bit right, it is automatic in the sense that a very basic scan of the star and it’s immediate vicinity happens but the discovery scanner itself must be manually activated.

I fixed that by assigning it to a fire group and manually triggering it at every star, the sound it makes kinda puts me in mind of a giant exploding foghorn. It’s quite unmistakable that the scan has been done.

I ended up going a total of 144 ly out from Kremain where I started the trip. When i got back I went straight to Universal Cartographics and sold everything they’d buy. This brought my credit balance to 603,883. Not bad for a total n00b’s first long trip. I am *SO* gonna do that again!

I thought about it and went ahead and spent about half of that upgrading the ship some:

2x 1F pulse lasers (fixed)
2A FSD
1A military grade composite
2D power plant
2D thrusters
1A power distributor
1E fuel scoop

That brought the jump range up to 16.55ly

At this point I had another trip planned for my next session. I had bookmarked a star about 220ly in a different direction. I was thinking that if things keep going like that first trip, I ought to be able to take my pick of ships in three or four weeks and be able to afford a decent fit.

As it turns out, it didn’t take anywhere near that long.

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