Category Archives: Briefing Room

It’s the end of the world as we know it and as the man says, “I feel fine.”

Commander Vin’s Briefing

Ozzy58Good morning, commanders and as usual, settle down at the back please. Since Frontier opened up their new systems to the wider galaxy, many of you have been out there, testing everything from exploration to bounty hunting and even (dont’ tell anyone) piracy.

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed that the station bar has become a hive of grumbling and moaning about all sorts of aspects of space flight and I thought that a quick pilot refresher was in order with some hints and tips.

As usual, constructive comments after the briefing are appreciated. Anyone spreading negativity in my sessions will find their beam lasers replaced with a high powered torch and pilot’s seat covered with Wuthielo Ku Froth. Trust me, you don’t want to go through decontamination after getting a rash from that.


Ship and system balance

Ozzy41Frontier admitted this week that the Pythons being delivered across the known systems were accidentally fitted with the wrong thruster combinations and the balance of rare metals in the hull meant that it wasn’t financially viable for the manufacturer to sell them in that specification. It has now been fixed. If you have one of the old ones, they’ve been subject to a technical recall and you may want to take a little time to get used to it.

Illegal shield draining technology was found in all forms of missile delivered to stations and stocks have now been returned for replacement and the standard damage models now apply – be wary, commanders, if you fire missiles at shields, you might as well be lobbing a damp sponge. It will go fizz and the target will probably eviscerate your ship whilst laughing at you.

Point defence systems have now been improved to the point that they’re over-achieving. I wouldn’t recommend fitting them if you are using missiles and mines as all they will do is render you poor and deliver a light show to passing ships.

The demand on chaff supplies has been such that the price has risen to previously unseen levels. Taking your credits in palladium coins and lobbing them out of the waste hatch would possibly be cheaper. For those of you pursuing “dubious” careers, they still work perfectly fine in avoiding police scans whilst on station approach.

Lastly, shield cells were causing unspecified “malfunctions” and the latest replacement versions have a higher power draw and spool up time. Be careful – when you fire them, count to 5 before they have an effect.

As with any changes, there have been knock on effects across the board. The coolant shortage, causing a change in the compounds used now means that heat management is a problem for commanders. Your beam lasers will start to heat your ship if fired for too long, shield cells and missile fire also makes you glow hotter than the nearby sun.


Tips and tricks

Oz23Firing beam lasers (or pulse) when your weapon charge is down and the recharge rate through pips is low will do little other than warm your in flight coffee. When you’re at the bottom of the reservoir, back off for a second or two and fire in bursts – you’ll keep your heat under control

Power is now something that needs managing. Turning everything on has hilarious consequences. In the last day, commanders have been lifting off from pads and promptly shutting down, ending up as in-station ping pong balls, sucking on emergency air.

Look to your right hand panel and set your cargo scoop, frame shift drive, disco scanner and interdictor to priority 2. That way, when you deploy weapons, you’re not pushing power out to things that you don’t need.


Community goals

The bulletin board has been updated with the latest in shared mission goals. Join in one of these efforts and your hard work will be rewarded with not only the usual profits, but a cash bonus and potentially one of a selection of discounts. During testing, this included cheaper Anacondas (i.e. not from Fat Harry’s Cut and Shut emporium but the real deal) – even a 5% saving makes all the effort worthwhile, to discounted metals (including gold and palladium).

I know it may cost you a bit in repairs/lost time on a profitable route/ammunition but think of the final objective – a few million off that Anaconda, a hold bursting of cut price metals.


And finally

  • Don’t crash. There are rumours of even light contacts causing hull breaches
  • If the system you’re in is full of evil people who want to give you a spanking, stop showing them your buttocks and go somewhere nicer
  • You can’t take on an Elite Anaconda in your Viper on your own. Bring friends or kevlar underpants and a book to read whilst waiting for the pick-up truck. You’re not Elite, you’re not in an Anaconda and he will laugh over your flaming wreck once he’s toasted it.
  • If you’re in an Anarchy and choose not to fit shields, don’t come back here crying that you don’t want to be in space any more because it’s mean. You’ll get a one way ticket to public humiliation.

DON’T FLY WITHOUT INSURANCE


In response to questions from the floor, and before we pack up for the morning and head out for trading runs, I have a few Q&A responses.

Q: “Is there anything different about exploration.”
A: “You get paid more per BONGGGGG than you did before and if you’re adventurous, your name ends up next to the system.”

Q: “Can I have my money back because I was told this was an AA meeting.”
A: “No”

Q: “Have the police been to flight lessons?”
A: “Yes, CMDR Sarah Jane Avory was drafted by the police forces of both the Federation and Empire and has been holding crash courses in…. not crashing and avoiding fire arcs. You may notice that as a side effect, they are more difficult to hit in combat”

Q: “Tea?”
A: “Please. Milk and one sugar.”

Q: “Aulin?”
A: “No. Never do that. Always leave money for insurance.”

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Things that go zap in the night

Weapons and equipment

Good morning, commanders. It’s another early start and more than a few of you look like you’re suffering from some strange type of Pilot’s fatigue now. I’ve had a few messages from testers wanting to know more about equipment and weapons and how they work.

From the top.

Each ship has a number of hardpoints available. These are locations where you can fit and equip weapons. If you’re in a sidewinder, you can head out into the galaxy with a pistol at each hip. If you’re in an Eagle, you have one strapped over your shoulder. A Viper and you’ve got a pair of shoulder holsters.

A hauler? Hardpoints? There isn’t much point. You might as well wear a fluffy bunny suit and hope they laugh themselves to death.

The Cobra has the hip holsters, but the shoulder ones don’t quite fit right and you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on them when you want to defend yourself.

Lakon 6? It’s a truck. It can carry guns, but it’s more like some military auxiliary.

The Anaconda makes you look like you’re entering a war zone. Single handed. With war paint on your face and camo underpants.

When you go to the outfitting screens, you’ll see a plethora of available shooty options. They’re effectively broken into two types of weapon – energy weapons that hit what ever you’re pointing at and projectile weapons that take time to reach their destination.

Whether you’re carrying a Magnum or a popgun will depend on which one you choose. In essence, the more expensive it is, the more righteous destruction you can inflict upon the denizens of the wild slightly purple yonder.


 

Weapon mounts

You have three choices – you can go for fixed weapons, to cause destruction in front of wherever you are looking. These are the most powerful bang for bang. You can go for gimballed weapons that track your target. These aren’t quite as powerful as the fixed ones, but you’ll get more shots on target if you’re a bit hungover from the night before and can’t see straight. Under 1000m and they’re great. Ships flying around like they’re on speed and twisting like a snake trying to coil round a greasy ping pong ball and they’re great.

Then there are turrets. At the moment, they create a lazy disco lightshow in space, strobing all over the place. You can set them to fire ahead – why would you want to as you might as well go for fixed? You can set them to fire at your target – they’ll spread destruction in the general area of your target and lastly, you can set them to fire at will. This is the best way to upset everyone within 2km of your ship and make them take out their frustration at the scratches in their paintwork on you. All of these options are reached through your right hand panel.


 

Power and recharging
Your weapons all have their own power loadout. This is a giant battery that needs to be on recharge to keep it topped up. Energy weapons burn power faster than a refinery turning ores into shiny metals. On your HUD you will see the colourful pips drop to the bottom. Fast. When they’re empty, they won’t fire.

Projectile weapons use less power. They still use some, but it is far less. They do, however, need topping up with ammunition. If you don’t follow instructions and top them up when you’re in station, you’ll end up facing a pirate and shouting BANG at him, hoping his ship will blow up all on its own.

To keep them topped up, you need “pips” from your power distribution in weapons. More pips, faster recharge. Faster recharge, more shootiness.


 

Energy consumption

When you deploy weapons, it puts strain on your ship’s main power grid. If you have too many powerful weapons (which, foolishly, you’re allowed to fit without warning), you’ll see that bounty rich target ahead of you, open your gun ports and then your ship will power down.

It’s embarrassing. Your target will laugh in your face and either a) Fly away or b) Take advantage and separate you from your tinfoil cheese wedge.


 

Weapon Types

Missiles

Point them. Get lock. Fire them. Your credit balance goes down almost as fast as your target’s shield. The ultimate “jigger off, I’m not in the mood” button.

Railguns

Sneezecannons. Power up then ZAP. Your heat goes up and their shields go down

Cannon

Hull killing lumps of metal fired into space. Thud guns.

Multicannon

Giant projectile filled miniguns. High speed leaden death filled hull killers. Gives people a headache as they make such a racket against the hull. Less powerful per hit than the cannon, but you can weave projectile filled death around your target and something’s bound to hit.

Beam, Pulse and Burst lasers

Do what they say on the tin. They fire beams, bursts or pulses of laser fire.

Plasma accelerator

Like a cannon on steroids.


Hull upgrades

To help you survive out there, you can take the tinfoil that you’re wrapped in and change it for something tougher. Two specialised types exist at the moment, on top of reinforced and military options – one is shiny and bounces energy weapons off. The other is reactive and helps repel projectiles hurled at you. Both are pants at defending against the other type.


 

Support equipment

K-Warrant Scanner

So – you’re a bounty hunter. You are tooling around a Nav Beacon looking for likely targets. You’ve found someone wanted in this sector, but you’re SURE that if they’ve been naughty here, they’ve been naughty elsewhere. This is what a K-Warrant scanner is for.

Get to within 1k of your target without getting attacked, blown up or rammed. Activate the weapon and hold down your trigger. An arc will start moving across your HUD. When it gets to the end and the tone changes, your computer will have identified the ship, contacted central control, looked them up and returned the information to you as to whether they have the death sentence in twelve systems. They will be worth more bounty if so. The tickets might come from other jurisdictions, but it will be worth it.

It’s worth noting that you can scan ships that aren’t wanted in the current system. It will identify any outstanding black marks against them in other systems but won’t magically mark them as wanted where you are if they aren’t. If you see what I mean. Which means you’ll get a bounty on you for hurting them and a bigger one for killing them. Here’s a hint – if their bounty in other areas is less than the cost of the bounty you’ll get on your head for killing them, it’s a foolish idea.

OK – you’re a pirate. Yarr. Eyepatches and hook hands all round. All that jazz.

Cargo Scanning

A cargo scanner helps you determine if they’re worth raiding or not. Use it like the K-Warrant scanner. On your left panels it will show you what they’re carrying (at the moment, smugglers can’t hide what they’ve got on board, but it won’t be long). If it’s personal weaponry, battle weaponry, gold and palladium, unleash the fury. If it’s waste and hydrogen fuel, I really wouldn’t bother.

If what they’re carrying is illegal at your current location, you might luck out and their status will change to “wanted” in the local system. At that point, they’re fair game.

It is worth noting that scans are hostile. It’s a bit like grabbing at the trousers of a “lady” you met in the bar to check whether that Adam’s apple is the product of her genes, or an attempt to disguise the fact that she is indeed a he and of alternative lifestyle persuasion. It’s rude, it’s offensive and it’s likely to get you punched in the face. Some will turn and run – I’d suspect that they’re guilty of something. Some will scan you back – be warned, you’d better finish up quick before they tattoo their name into your hull with burst lasers. Some will, quite simply, ignore you. They might be utterly innocent and therefore don’t care. They might be a double hard iron backsided tough guy (gal?) and preparing to unleash fifteen different kinds of hurt on you for being so insolent.

Whilst we’re at it – everyone else out there has scanners as well. Including the feds. If you’re carrying something you shouldn’t, if you’re wanted across the galaxy for being a muppet whilst docking, the above rules apply to you too. If it happens as you’re docking, fire control at the docking bay entrance will rub their hands together with glee and unleash the fires of whatever private hell they dream of at you. You will die and lose your cargo.

Chaff

Luckily – there is a solution – Chaff. It obfusticates scanners. It confuses people. It’s a firework display. They can’t scan you when you look like a Brazilian carnival. It might even confuse gimballed weapons.

Heat sinks

Imagine you’ve been to one of those self improvement seminars on anger management you’ve seen around the station. Imagine you take a little ball of all that hate and anger and throw it away from yourself. That’s a heat sink. When you get hot, fire one. You’ll cool down. It’s aircon. It’s opening the window on a hot day.

When you boost lots. When you fire lots. When you supercruise and hyperspace. You’ll light up thermal imaging cameras like a volcano. If you look at your signature on the right hand side of your screen, you’ll see how much heat you’re generating. The heat sink takes some of that, bundles it up and throws it out into space. It makes a nice target for missiles. It temporarily makes you cool. Like a good aftershave or a haircut, it fades over time.

If you’re trying out silent running, heatsinks are essential. You button up your ship like doing up a sleeping bag over your head and your heat will build up. Pop a heatsink, will keep you buttoned up and invisible to the main scanner on enemies.

Point defence

A missile is fired at you. Point at it and go “oooh!”. Then it goes away. This pointy thing points itself.

Docking computer

Don’t. For many reasons, don’t. Zelda the crazy docking lady who changes pads on you and won’t let you land. That’s one reason. Eejits in the letterbox – that’s another. The fact that you can actually FEEL the wrinkles and grey hairs appearing as you wait for it – there’s another one. There is only one good reason for the docking computer and that’s the music.

The Big Bad Galaxy….

This afternoon’s update, ladies and gentlemen is about the big bad galaxy out there, those people you meet whilst travelling and trading and what to expect…..

As you know, all of you in this briefing room have paid Frontier to come and join in the testing of their new systems, jump drives, weapons, comms and flight models.

Some of you have traded in your ancient Cobra with outdated wireframe viewscreens instead of canopies, some spent years in an Imperial Courier with updated vision engines and others are fresh from planetside with no prior time in space.

You’re familiar with the galactic politics – some worlds are aligned with the Federation, others with the Empire and yet more are Independent. There are systems out there as of yet, undiscovered…..

Some systems are Anarchic places where you won’y get a fine or a bounty put on your ship, not even for mooning other vessels out of the cockpit.

Others are run by large corporations and have a pseudo-effective police force who will scan you regularly for anything bad you’ve done – that includes “having an awful haircut”, “flying wearing crocs” and “drinking girlie drinks on any day with a Y in it”. They will then, regardless of anyone filming it, proceed to pull out their batons and unleash fifteen kinds of police brutality on you.

Some are communist states, which means that the officials are all rich, the population are poor and downtrodden and the colour red is very popular indeed.

What you’ll see is that there are two types of pilot out there. The core testing crew that make up the contents of this room are Pilot’s Federation members, many others out there are New Pilot’s Confereration (or some other such nomenclature) jockeys. They are not paying to be here, they are PAID to be here.

First things first.

Space is Dangerous

The ships out there have guns. Big guns. There are shields. There are targeting computers. They are there for a reason.

They’re there because most of the people you’ll meet are antisocial, dedicated sociopaths. They’re there to smash your toys, steal your stuff and shout “YARRR” a lot whilst doing it.

Some of them are courteous – they will back away from a docking entrance as you fly out in your Lakon, give you a flash and a wing waggle (stop giggling at the back…) and help you if you get dropped on from a great height by something with beam lasers.

Others will only bash you if you’re doing something bad. That includes the police, NPC’s in Eagles and of course, in the name of testing, other people in this room.

Before I go any further – in response to the t-shirts and heated arguments I hear in the station bar. The word “grief”. It’s relevant to your dog dying, losing your grandma, possibly the feeling you get when you crash your old earth motorcar into the scenery just after rebuilding it. If you’re married, it might be an adequate description of what you get from the other half when you get home late at night blind drunk and take a pee in the wardrobe. It has nothing whatsoever to do with flying in space.

If you go to an Anarchy and lurk around the station – people will shoot you. If you go back a second time, it will happen again.

If you pick up cargo that isn’t yours – people will shoot you.

If you pick up a bounty and get scanned going into the station – the station will shoot you.

If you look funny and fly funny – people will shoot you. Probably repeatedly.

If you even look slightly sideways at an official vessel – they will shoot you. With extreme prejudice.

If you’re flying your shiny new Lakon into a station – someone will ram you. If you didn’t pay attention to the briefings about making sure you had insurance cash, I won’t have any sympathy.

If you scan someone to see what they’re carrying – they will shoot you.

If you shoot someone – they will shoot you.

If you get interdicted and hang around for a few seconds – someone will shoot you.

If you hang around in the station for too long without permission – the station will shoot you and then small ships will sweep up the pieces and put them into a compactor. They might even giggle whilst doing it.

Are we getting the theme here?

It will happen. There is absolutely no doubt about it. When it does, you have a few options:

1. Fight back
2. Run away
3. Don’t go there in the first place – go somewhere else
4. Join some of the other testing pilots and fly together. You’ll either be a herd and the weakest one will get picked off (herd mentality) or you’ll tough it out (pack mentality)
5. Go to your ship’s systems and mark your Ident chip such that the ship systems of other vessels can’t engage with you (this is to be considered very antisocial, but a great way of testing quite how quickly you can get to an Anaconda). Please note that this only renders you invisible to other testers – not the paid pilots out there who will STILL perform the multicannon meringue on your hull.

There is one thing that has absolutely no place in this briefing room, or this station and that’s moaning about it. By all means cry on someone’s shoulder about the lost Lakon. Go to the bar for a mutual back slapping session and some alcohol. Come here and get some more training in how to be a little less Harmless and a little more Deadly.

On a final note – don’t get attached to your ship or your money. We are testing on behalf of Frontier Developments and we’ve paid handsomely for the privilege. They control the markets, the ships, the banks in this area of space and everything in between.

When they deem that they want us to test something new, they’ll bust us all back to a Sidewinder and take away all of our virtual credits. It’s monopoly money. Toy money. It’s a simulation of the rest of the galaxy.

Now. Go fly.

Fuel, travel and trading part 2

Right – an early start this morning, commanders. I have had a few conversations in the station bar about past copies of my briefings and yes, some of them are dated from a while back. They’re still pertinent, so don’t ignore them.

Onward to fuel, travel and advanced trading.

Before we start, the caffeine, as usual is in the corner. Mine’s an Earl Grey tea with a dash of milk if you’re making.

Frontier have now put limits on our fuel – previously, we had enough to get us anywhere we wanted but now they’ve given us digital readouts and the ability to refuel at stations.

The good news is that after a few refuelling incidents at the Romanenko Estate, the refuelling rigs now seal correctly and don’t barbecue the station staff.

If you look at your cockpit there is now a fuel readout in the bottom right of your view. It shows how much you’re burning and how quickly, how much is left.

Your fuel is split into two tanks – the stuff you’re burning right now, and the stuff you use to jump around the galaxy like a frog in a sock.

If you go to the galaxy map – yes, that’s the one on the left that makes your engines stop and you to go “whoah” when it zooms in, you can now see dotty lines all over the place from where you are.

Your fuel, funnily enough, limits where you can travel to. It also depends on what drive is fitted to your ship and how chubby you are.

If you have a Viper with a full weapon loadout, lots of equipment and a hold full of lead, you can just about make it off the landing pad.

If you have an empty Cobra with no guns, you’ll feel like you’re a parkour superstar on Elite:Tube.

If you explore the options on the galaxy map screen, you’ll see a little slider that will change the dotty lines depending on how much cargo you expect to have.

Let’s say for instance that you jumpe out from system A with an empty hold, ready to bring in a haul of cargo for a mission. You get there, you laugh at the interdictions, you dock without becoming part of the scenery, you buy up all your cargo and then go to jump. However, all of a sudden, your list of destinations has shrunk.

Funny that – the frame shift drive works by hurling your mass around like a slingshot firing a ping pong ball in a bubble. If your mass goes up and you become a golf ball, the slingshot won’t fire it as far. Your bubble won’t be man enough. It would pop. It’s the same size, but it would burst the bubble, things would get soapy and your ship will stay at relativistic speeds. OK, you won’t enter hyperspace. You can enter supercruise and burn fuel like an undergrowth clearing crew.

The good news is that even if you can’t make it in one jump, you can be kind to your soapy bubble and make it in little insy winsy jumps. Tentatively jump to one system, then straight to another until you reach your destination.

For one second, let’s say you’ve been a muppet and having loaded up your stuff and gone to the screen and there are NO other destinations. You have two options.

1. Sell your guns
I wouldn’t recommend this as it leaves you prone to becoming debris
2. Take less cargo
A good idea, you make less money but at least you aren’t stuck looking at the station interior and feeling depressed

You could change your ship – though that seems a little drastic and isn’t always an option at certain stations – Morgor being one. They don’t sell ships. Or guns. It’s a good example though.

In a Cobra, you can jump from there to LP+fourty something and onward to Wyrd. In a tooled up Viper, you can only go to Dahan. That’s not entirely a bad thing if you’re a combat hound.

What to do if you run out of fuel?

The kind people at Frontier give you two options
1. Call for help and someone will charge you extortionate amounts of money for a drizzle of low grade fuel
2. Blow your ship up in disgust and get a free ride home

For the uninitiated, or those lacking in curiosity, those options are in the right hand panels. The Self Destruct one has one of those big red buttons that says “do not push”. If you get boarded by a guy with a wooden leg, a hook for a hand and an eyepatch, threatening him with the big red button tends to leave you both floating in space looking at each other an ineffectually swearing across the void. You then get a free ride home strapped into a chair next to him. He smells of fish and alcohol.

All the testers are waiting on the release of new drives, improved fuel and improvements to the route planning software. The manufacturer of the navigation software has also been contacted about (and I quote) the software being a “flaming liar”.

Their software has also been on drugs. You can click a button to show trading routes. At this point, it all goes a little disco lights on the screen. If you’re zoomed out, it’s a mess. If you’re colourblind it is a complex puzzle that takes a while to sort out.

The colourful arcs are the expected trading routes between systems. However, if you’ve been paying attention, you shouldn’t need them. Agricultural planets make cows and need tractors. Extraction planets need heat proof suits and stimulants. Refineries need raw materials and rich places need eyebrow pencils and massage oil.

There is no substitute for a pencil and paper and I’ve said it before, don’t take a liquid filled pen. They make a mess. When you arrive somewhere, pay attention, take notes. If supply is HIGH and there is lots of stock and the price is below the Galactic Average, you might consider buying it. If when you arrive at your destination, demand is high and there’s no supply, it might be an idea selling it.

As a footnote to this briefing, I’ve seen a lot of comment in the station bar about docking jockeys, lost cargo, explosions in the docking bay entrance and the like.

There is no excuse. Use your eyes. Use your scanner. Slow down. Lights on.

If the docking entrance is clear, there are no pips on radar, go for it at speed and feel heroic. If you’re in a busy station and the radar is a mass of colour, you might want to exercise caution. Pull your tobacco out of your dressing gown pocket, roll yourself a smoke, open a copy of Commander’s Weekly, make a coffee, take a look and wait for it to be clear before proceeding. If you don’t smoke, chew gum. If you don’t have any gum, read a book. If you don’t have a book…. Re read these briefing notes, because you DID take a copy with you, didn’t you?

What to do station-side?

Good afternoon, Commanders

Judging by the messages that have been left for me, there is plenty still to learn but you’re all paying vague attention.

This afternoon is an easy one – it has absolutely nothing to do with flying, fighting, scooping, supercruising or scratching your backside in space. It’s all about the station.

What can you do in station? You can go to the bar, you can walk in the park and sit under a palm tree watching pilots crash on docking(at Wyrd), you can sit in the simulator and have a go at the various scenarios that Frontier have uploaded for you.

What else can you do?
Well – there are some absolutely critical items.

First thing you do when you dock, before you change your underwear, have a shower or even unbuckle your straps is to refuel.

Then, repair your ship. Every time. Don’t forget. Heading out into space without repairing your ship is like going out without a preventative in your wallet. You never know what exciting things are going to happen to you and if you go unprepared, be prepared to go home unsatisfied.

Then your modules. You’d hate to be all prepared and then have an “equipment malfunction”, wouldn’t you?

Lastly, top up the guns – and the heatsinks. Hitting the fire button and realising that the multicannons are going to make a whirring noise and not issue leaden death in all directions will make people laugh at you.

Then, and only then, unbuckle and put your feet up on the console.

Making money and scrubbing that “kick me” sign off your hull

Go to the Bulletin Board. Just in case something you’ve picked up in space is just the thing that the station needs. You never know, it might be that Algae you were saving to dump at the pirate that interdicts you. For 1000 more than market value. It might be Hel Static Furnaces (whatever they are – I tend to use a gas hob, but each to their own).

Next, go through to the various communication menus and pay off your bounties. Out in space you will have been fined for everything from going too slowly, to accidentally hitting the fire button near a station, to inadvertently liberating some cargo from that hauler you met. If you don’t pay them off, next time someone scans you, the bills will keep racking up and you’ll be painting a target on your afterburner.

Then, cash in your “vouchers”. You can only cash in the ones that people care about wherever you are. If they say Asellus on them and you’re at Wyrd, no one will pay a penny for them.

Lastly, and unless you have a death wish, sell any illicit cargo you have at the black market. If there isn’t one and you’re carrying stackloads of stolen soiled flight suits, some jockey in an Eagle will play the multicannon tattoo on your hull unless you’re very careful. Always know where your nearest black market is if you’re out in space, or learn to use the jettison button.

If you get scanned with illegal stuff on board as you’re docking, be prepared for a light show and an expensive insurance bill.

Then, and this is for the dressing gown and slippers brigade, sell anything that you’ve acquired legally. For a profit. If it’s not profitable then you didn’t pay attention to the trading notes.

If you want more guns, scanners, a tougher hull or even a new ship, spend your cash. Don’t forget to sell your cargo first. The amount you pay will have the buy back price for your current equipment deducted. Which means you get a bare ship with nothing on it.

If you spend all your money and don’t leave any spare, you will have two problems – the first is that you’ll be going out unprepared as you won’t have any equipment and the second is more important – when you get destroyed and are floating out there in space, you’ll be cursing the fact that you didn’t leave enough cash to pay the insurance man…. This means you’ll not only lose your cargo and your pride, but you’ll be busted back to a Sidewinder.

Finally, look again at the missions available, look at the galaxy map, drink a cup of tea, crack open a beer and work out “what next”….

Bounty hunting, piracy and “doing anything other than trading”

Good morning, commanders. I haven’t held a briefing for a few weeks as I’ve been watching all of you tooling around the test systems trying out the notes from the previous ones.

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Before I start – a quick welcome to all the new commanders that have joined us. I know you haven’t yet been sent your ident broadcast chips for your ships which means I will be referring to you by your backer number. Quite simply, I’m bad with names. It’s that, or call you all Bob.

This week, we’re looking at the ancient and dishonourable arts of bounty hunting and piracy.

There are those of you who are happy to join in the military operations carrying on in and around Dahan and Eranin. There are others who are happy to haul 4 tonnes of cargo forward and backward between stations, ekeing out a meager existence until you can afford your Type 6 and then onward to riches.

For the rest, this is just too slow. The people who do that probably fly in slippers and dressing gowns. Smoking jackets are ok. Loafers are ok. The aforementioned attire is not.

So – you have a Sidewinder with two pop guns (yes, that’s right, two – back in early testing, we had to make do with one). You have 4 spaces in your hold. You’ve tried out combat and you’re getting better at it. How to make lots of money, fast?

1. Bounty hunting
There are two kinds of bounty hunting. The first is to identify your co-testers from the Pilots’ Federation – they’re the ones with the hollow symbols on your scanner and point at them until the computer says whether they’re worth money or not. This is a valid choice, though it is worth remembering that like you, they have put many hours in and won’t take kindly to your interference. They might also know how to fly well, and as a result, kill your ship. Much more rewarding and less stressful is to take on the New Pilots’ Confederation (abbreviated here as NPC) pilots that Frontier have drafted to help with the testing.

Where do I find people to bounty hunt?
Back in early testing, it was in the extraction zone. There were rocks to crash into, the ship systems regularly failed and made your computer go on the blink and to be fair, people used to sneak up on you. You made maybe a few hundred credits in bounties each kill and very little cargo.

Now, there are 3 main areas you can hunt.

The first – near the station
This is a bad idea. There are many reasons why, but the main ones are loaded and pointing out from the station entrance. Don’t do it.

The second – “Unidentified signal source”
This is better, but involves a bit of pot luck. There might be grain floating there from the last kill, there might be a brace of Anacondas with ping pong bats waiting to get all 1980’s earth on your hull. Generally, it’s much the same as interdiction – ships will turn up in ones and twos and shoot at you. Sometimes there is gold. If there is, laugh all the way to the station and buy better guns.

The third and final
The Nav Beacon. It’s near the star. It’s where everyone EXCEPT the Pilot’s Federation ships arrive from hyperspace before supercruising to the station. Before you go to your nearest one, you might want to consider which one to choose.

Have a think about it. What do you need nearby? Somewhere to sell the stuff you pick up from killing pirates? Somewhere to cash in all those juicy vouchers?

So – you want to choose a system with an Anarchy or Black Market a short jump away.

OK – what goods are these pirates and smugglers likely to be carrying? If you choose a fishing market, they’ll have fish and aquaponic systems. They don’t sell for much. How about somewhere with a war on? You know. Dahan, or Eranin.

So – we’re choosing Dahan. It’s next to Morgor, people going there seem to like bringing weapons – personal weapons, battle weapons, non lethal weapons, that sort of thing.

Get to the nav beacon and park your tinfoil cheese wedge somewhere until you hear the noise of prey jumping in.

ID the ships one by one – there will be:

and the best of all – Haulers

plus the odd system security versions of each of them. OK, except the Hauler. Even the police wouldn’t take one of those.

So, you’ve ID’d them. Most are honest, legitimate, slipper and dressing gown wearing traders. Until you get your cargo scanner, you won’t be able to work out if they are actually bad to the bone smugglers that need liberating from their cargo. Check for a bounty.

Why check for a bounty? Anyone? Yes, that means you can shoot them without being used for target practice by the feds.

Shoot it. Hurt it. If it has cargo, it will spill its guts. If it doesn’t run away before you kill it, you’ll get a bounty.

Once you’ve scooped the cargo, head to the black market to sell it, then cash in your vouchers. If you’ve picked up 4 personal weapons and a 1100 bounty, you’ll have made nearly 10,000. If you had been trading, that would have been nearer 2000. It also makes you feel like a badass.

2. Piracy
The same as the above, but guess what, you’re shooting the ones that AREN’T wanted. You will get a bounty placed on your head, so make sure you don’t do it where a brace of Eagles can scan you. The other NPC ships WILL scan you whilst you’re scooping and they WILL fire on you if you’re wanted. If you get into trouble, Golf Tango Foxtrot Oscar.

That’s as hard as it gets. Go there, scan them, kill them, nick their stuff and sell it. Soon, you’ll have your dream Cobra and can scoop even more delicious goodies.

Once you can afford it, get yourself a K scanner (for bounties outside the system you’re in) and a cargo scanner (to spot smugglers). Explore the galaxy, make sure there’s a black market somewhere nearby and off you go.

Commander’s Briefing – Supplemental

In case you need to know that last bit… about dropping cargo.

Look right.
Select a can
Click to eject.

Be very very careful you don’t hit “jettison all cargo”. Your ship will develop incontinence and you’ll spend the next 20 minutes picking up all the pieces again. Either that, or a helpful passing commander will help you. Whichever way, there’s absolutely no need to drop litter in space.