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Thread: How to efficiently approach engineering

  1. #1

    How to efficiently approach engineering

    PSA: Restart your client before looking for specific states (outbreak, war etc). It looks like that's not updated on state change so you may have stale info and see things in galmap with the wrong state. Bug report is here:

    I've seen a lot of posts in beta and now in release about the grind and difficulties in obtaining engineer mods so the following are some suggestions based on my own experiences. I'd normally consider myself a 'casual' player but I admit that I've spent most of my free time focusing on advancing my standing with engineers. Partly because it was fun, partly to help populate the massive spread sheet, partly because I really wanted some of the upgrades. That equates to about 2 to 3 hours every evening and additional 3 or 4 hours on saturdays and sundays. To date I've unlocked all the engineers with most to Grade 5 if they're useful or Grade 3 if I just needed the referral.

    Almost all of my reputation gains have come from creating modules, very little has come from trade or exploration data.

    Basic points about blueprints and engineers
    1. You don't need modules. It makes certain gameplay easier but there is no game play that is only possible with modules. Understanding that helps with the sense of grind some have. I have ships outfitted to where they can easily do what I need so I'm doing other things at the moment and just collecting rare/very rare as I see them.
    2. You get the same reputation gain whether you apply or discard a module. This can be used to rapidly burn useless materials on junk modules so you can use your good materials on the next higher grade. Always focus on at least one grade higher than your current reputation. When you have the mats to get it you can jump to that grade by burning other mats on junk modules..
    3. Some engineers have useless modules with trivially obtained materials. Use these to rapidly gain reputation. For example this to upgrade armor
      I used that to race straight from unlocking to grade 3 and then got the grade 3 heavy duty armor I actually wanted, all on my first visit when I unlocked Selene.
    4. Rep gain decreases by roughly a factor of 3 for each level of separation from your current level, so going to Level 5 using L4 upgrades takes 3 upgrades, using L3 upgrades takes around 9, using L2 upgrades takes around 27 and only L1 takes around 81. May not be entirely accurate but it's a close enough approximation.
    5. Focus first on unlocking multiple engineers. That helps with parallelization (see below). It doesn't matter what mods you do, just get any to unlock.
    6. If you're just starting out don't focus on engineers, simply do missions for materials until you collect enough money for a suitable ship. With mission pay out that will come fast and you'll have a head start on materials.
    7. IMO reputation gains via upgrades are much faster than trading or data. I view those as supplemental.
    8. IMO grade 3 is the sweet spot. Once you hit grade 3 the labor vs rewards start to increase so I usually shoot for 33% in grade 3 to unlock the next engineer and move on.
    9. You can swap modules between ships via the outfitting screen. This is useful if you want to get an upgrade for a combat vessel that either has no cargo or short jump range. Outfit a ship with the same module, go to engineer, get upgrade, fly back, sell a module, swap ships, buy back module.

    Ship selection
    This is pretty subjective, still ....
    1. Vultures are fun, they suck at engineer hunting. Consider using an AspX if you can. Out fitted with 64T cargo, Point Defense, wake scanner, Fuel scoop, AdvDiscovery Scanner and SRV dock is good at fast bubble traversal, harvesting and surviving. I use missiles+cannons if I 100% don't want to die and lasers+cannons if I'm hunting cargo ships and don't want to reload. Obviously more expensive ships can be better but most folks can't afford an Anny or Vette. Full disclosure, I recently swapped to a python for cargo capacity. iCouriors, DBX, Python, Cobra etc are all perfectly valid mission ships.
    2. Get an FSD range upgrade early if you can. It really helps
    3. Get Dirty drive cleaning early if you can, if you can't beat them run
    4. Out fit limpet collectors if you can. It speeds up certain gathering.
    5. If you don't typically mine, consider getting a low end miner. T6 is plenty good. Mining pristine metallic rings will get you the praesydium you need, some money and the occasional vanadium, arsenic etc. Place it somewhere handy and just run to it whenever you need rather than re-outfitting your primary ship. See "Not Dying" section below on how to avoid dying while mining.

    Materials Gathering
    1. Book mark the spreadsheet . Yeah it would be nice if info was in game, it's not so use what exists (and this is not the thread for debating it).
    2. Alternatively check out Fire Dragon's material tracker here:
    3. Or Schrefu's tracker here
    4. For obtaining firmware at planetary outposts (particularly Modified Embedded Firmware) check out Devari's thread here:
    5. Make a list, of the cargo that's mission only

      The recommended systems below merely represent the best chance for finding commodity missions, you can find them anywhere but they appear to be more random and less prevalent in off systems.
      • Telemetry Suite, Category: Technology, Check Boom High Tech systems for missions
      • Neofabric Insulation, Category: , Check X systems for missions
      • Nanobreakers, Category: Technology, Check Boom High Tech systems for missions
      • Modular Terminals, Category: Machinery, Check Boom Industrial systems for missions
      • Microweave Cooling Hoses, Category: Industrial Materials, Check Boom Refinery (or Refinery/Industrial or Refinery/Extraction) for missions
      • Articulation Motors, Category: Machinery, Check Boom Industrial systems for missions

      Any time you see a mission for them consider taking it if it's headed your way and you have the cargo space until you have at least 4 of each. Having a surplus is handy for rapidly griding up rep once you get the other materials.
    6. Make a list of rare/very rare materials.
      • Refined Focus Crystals
      • Compound Shielding
      • Polymer Capacitors
      • Chemical Manipulators
      • Decoded Emmision Data
      • Abberant Shield Pattern Analysis
      • Abberant Shield Pattern Analysis
      • Eccentric Hyeprspace Trajectories
      • Proprietary Composits
      • Security Firmware Patch
      • Divergent Scan Data

      Very Rare:
      • Uknown Fragment (check HIP 14479)
      • Datamined Wake Exceptions
      • Biotech Conductors
      • Adaptive Encryptors Capture
      • Exquisite Focus Crystals
      • Core Dynamics Composites
      • Military Grade Alloys (check Encoded Emissions in Anarchy War, see this post
      • Military SuperCapacitors (Same as Military Grade Alloys above)
      • Peculiar Shield Frequency Data
      • Abnormal Compact Emissions Data
      • Imperial Shielding
      • Classified Scan Fragment
      • Proto Radiolic Alloys
      • Pharmaceutical Isolators (Check Encoded Emissions in Outbreak Systems, see this post

      Consider taking very rare materials missions when you see one whether you need it or not. You will later.
    7. Do not bother taking missions for common materials if they're not delivering to where you were headed, you'll see those in USSes.
    8. Don't bother with missions for the commodities that you can buy unless you need it now and have a mission for it facing you. It's faster to just go fetch it if you have good jump range than hunting around for a mission.
    9. If possible try to get to cordial or friendly reputation in an area, you'll have more missions available to you.
    10. Do not do serial gathering. This is the biggest mistake I see. People focus on one mod and go after it relentlessly. Parallelize. Have 3, 4 or even more mods you want. Hunt for them in parallel. Otherwise you'll pass up a mission for that rare resource you need simply because it's not on your list yet.
    11. Early on drop in on USSes religiously, all threat 0, threat 1 or higher if you can. Later on you'll have so many commons you can stop, I now only drop into Encoded USSes.
    12. Use your contacts tab when in USS. Much faster to differentiate the useful from useless materials than targeting.
    13. For things like yttrium, arsenic etc find a candidate planet that actually has the mineral you're looking for. Land and do a quick 360 scan with SRV, if you don't see a meteorite then take off, fly 10Km or more, land and repeat. Try to target likely areas for meteors, again see sticky referenced above. Here's a bit more detail.
      I think some folks more or less know how to find polonium (or niobium or yttrium) but they're not terribly efficient at it. I hadn't really needed polonium since I had some but I decided to go get some. Last night I noticed I also needed some niobium so I scoped out the planet list and conveniently enough Deciat 6B has both niobium and polonium so I headed over. I only had an hour before I had to log but in that time I found 2. This morning I grabbed some coffee and in an hour and half found another 6.
      I got a bit side tracked so I have a bounty for scanning a private data point I spotted while hitting a meteorite.

      Here's how I quickly find rares.
      • Find a planet, it helps to pick one that has something else you need (niobium in my case).
      • Look for a relatively large expanse of flat-ish terrain and land.
      • Do a slow circle around your ship looking for meteorites. It sometimes takes 15 to 20 seconds for things to spawn in so if you just spin around and take off you might miss something.
      • If there are no meteorites take off.
      • Pick a target like a nebula and fly toward it to avoid covering the same territory. Wave scanner range is in a few Km. At 400M/s in my Asp flying for 25 seconds boosting gets me about 10Km further along so when I land I'm looking at completely fresh territory.
      • Land and look around again.
      • Once you spot a meteorite take your time and make sure you don't miss any, there are frequently 3 in close proximity.

      I always average about one very rare (e.g. polonium) about every 20 to 30 minutes once I get into a groove. This morning was more or less spot on with 8 in 2.5 hours.

      There are 3 things I think folks do that cause them to be less efficient and get one every 40 minutes or every few hours or worse.

      • Once they land they drive in a direction looking for meteorites. Max speed is around 20 to 25m/s, in a ship it's closer to 400, by the time you've reached a new potential spawn point in your SRV you could have landed and taken off again. Plus when flying forward and landing you're scanning a area in 360 rather than a foward facing 60 degree cone.
      • They miss meteorites buried behind other objects in the scanner. It can be hard to see but the slight darkening of the 1st and 3rd lines in this image means there's a meteorite on the other side of that chondrite
        I see that pattern frequently when a chondrite and meteorite are more or less lined up. If in doubt head off to one side of where the chondrite appears to be for 5 or 10 seconds and then turn back, they may separate.
      • Inefficient flying, driving, scooping etc or getting distracted by other objects like outcrops. I tend to drive flat out, and fly to my next spot 100m off the deck boosting the whole way. If I don't see a meteorite I'm in the air and moving. If I don't spot a meteorite within 3 landings or so I frame shift, climb to 50Km (high enough to break the 2.5Km/s limit) and fly to a new likely area. I try to find relatively flat spots so I can drive fast, even if meteorites spawned 2x as frequently in very hilly terrain (they don't) you'd lose more than that to slow driving.

      If you find it takes you hours to spot a meteorite it's not bad luck. You're doing something wrong. Most likely a combination of inefficient search strategy and missing the occasional meteorite on the scanner.
    14. Earthlike planets spawn satellite USSes. They're handy for gathering data type materials.

    Game Play
    1. Just play the game, the materials will come to you. If you really want mods (like I did) then obviously you may want to tailor your game play (like I did) but I strongly recommend you not obsessively try to get that one particular must have mod. It will ultimately take longer (since there will be other must haves) and you will burn out.
    2. Consider being a mission hobo. Get organized look at your list of cargo/materials you need and go to a system, any system though personally I like Boom High Tech/Industrial
    3. Takeny cargo and data haulage missions that gives you want you need, check all other missions, take any missions going to the same system and any other missions that supply needed materials. If there are no missions move to the next system. Pretty soon you'll have a steady queue of missions you're doing and rare items will be rolling in.
    4. Drop in on all USSes while doing missions. This is the primary way of gaining common materials.
    5. For materials that drop from hauler ships some folks may face RP issues. You can either hunt for wanted haulers, you can hunt for missions providing them or you can assume that any ship in an anarchy system is up to no good. You can rack up a lot of materials by hopping into an anarchy system and interdict every T6/T7/Keelback/Hauler etc that you see. I don't even know what to do with all the chemical processors I have.
    6. CZs and Res's with a collector are a lot of fun, dangerous but fun.

    MISC Points
    1. Kill X skimmer missions frequently have data rewards. You don't have to attack the base when doing them. POIs in the vicinity of the base frequently have mission target skimmers. They're also frequently wanted so you don't rack up bounties or damage.

    Not Dying
    1. Don't die. It's a pain to lose all your hard to get commodities.
    2. Learn to avoid interdiction *before* it occurs. As soon as you're messaged by an NPC target the source via contacts panel and get him in front of you. Then tack toward your target or high wake.
      A lot of good advice about how to survive an interdiction. So I'll focus on how to avoid it. Ignore the mini-game if you get interdicted just submit, this is how to avoid that in the first place.

      First off try to avoid things that make you a target if you can. For instance if you've pledged to a Power just for chuckles then unpledge. Avoid anacrchy systems etc.

      There are two things a ship needs to interdict you: 1) it has to be behind you and 2) it has to be closing or not losing too much ground. When you're accelerating away from a mass and they're in the well it's harder for them, if you're decelerating toward a mass then it's easier. That means you should avoid letting ships get behind you and you should be more cognizant when you're approaching a station or planet.

      I play in open so I'm more worried about players but it works for NPCs just as well. Here are some screen shots showing how to avoid interdictions. This is in Deciat at Farseer's base which always has some folks in open.

      First picture, how not to fly from the star to a base. Notice the blop of contacts at the bottom of the radar (Ridiculously Advanced Detection Anomaly Receiver). That's just asking for trouble.

      So to avoid that I tack in one direction till the contacts are 30 degrees or so off my tail. This way they'll have to move much further and much faster to get there. My destination is the planet to my right, targets are behind and to the left.

      About halfway there I tack the other way, now targets are behind and to the right and destination is to the left. A note about tacking back. If you just roll and pull to the other side then your tail will cross in front of the target and they can interdict you. Go from side to side in an arc passing above your destination, that way your tail is always 30 degrees or more off the enemy. Nobody's really following me but if they were they'd have a very long way to travel to get back on my 6. I've slowed way down to check out that signal source but I'm at zero risk of interdiction.

      Lastly I burn past the target and loop back, now as I'm going in at my slowest and most vulnerable there is absolutely nothing behind me. Zero chance of interdiction.

      If you slow to 30KM/s min super cruise speed you can sit all day turning and the NPC will mindlessly zip past you back and forth trying to get behind you. So if you see some message on local chat about wanting your cargo you don't necessarily have to drop out of supercruise. Just slow all the way down and turn to face them (check contacts tab). Just sit there playing cat and mouse with him while you size up his ship type and refine your strategy, then either high wake out, try tacking to your destination like above or just kill him which is usually my goal.

      I've loaded out my Asp with 4 small missiles and two cannons so I don't actually mind interdictions. So I tend to fly more straight line to invite them but if I'm injured or out of ammo I revert to this style of flying. I basically never get interdicted unless I'm ready for it.

      Always have your PIPs in your intended strategy. You don't want to be messing around with them when things get busy. If you do get interdicted there's very good advice in the above posts about how to deal with it.

      Edit: So just now I was returning from a mission to attack a high sec ground base. When I jumped back in and started traveling toward the turn in stationI noticed a contact closing fast, I turned into him and throttled down as he went zipping past. About the time I turned back and scanned him he announced he wanted all my tasty cargo. Since it was an Imperial Clipper I really didn't feel like messing with him so I did exactly what I described above. Tacked the rest of the way to the station with him wandering around on my tail. For final approach I throttled to stop, waited for him to go blasting past and then sedately flew on in and turned in my mission. No interdiction. For extra chuckles he followed me into the station so while I was sitting on the pad counting my money I could see him commenting in local about my need to pay up followed quickly by his dismay at the local security forces blowing him away.

      Numbers are just me scrolling some other info off chat.
    3. High wake is your friend. Better to lose a minute or two jumping out and back than hours.
    4. Get a point defense. NPC missiles are a runners enemy. Learn your ships utility points. If you intend to attack and face the enemy put it in front, if you intend to run put it in the back. Most people pull to their target so do not put it on the bottom of your ship.
    5. Watch your comms tab and radar. NPCs can and will drop into a USS with you so that threat 0 USS now looks like a trap. If you see a comm message from an NPC or, as you approach the USS, you see an NPC quickly closing on you then there's a good chance they'll drop in with you. If neither is the case then in my experience you'll never see an aggressive NPC in a threat 0.
    6. If you pick up a persistent NPC (typically as part of a mission) that keeps trying to interdict you then make a detour to the nearest orbis or coriolis station. Loiter around the entrance, he'll drop in and the authorities will take care of him. Nav Beacons work too but you may want to be in High Sec.
    7. If you have a pure trader type build consider mines rather than guns. They're much more effective now
    8. Don't declare for a side in the middle of the CZ. When you drop in, boost to sensor range, 7Km or so from the fur ball, declare and then slip back in on the edges where you have help.
    9. When mining you can avoid NPCs fairly easily. Drop into a random part of a ring, not the Res site. As soon as you drop in begin boosting toward the planet parallel to the ring. Toward the planet simply because it's an easy reference, parallel to the ring so you don't get mass locked. NPCs will spawn in but they'll spawn at or near your drop in point. Within about 30 seconds you'll be out of their range and never see another NPC till you jump out.

    Since I posted all of the above I'll use this podium to make some suggestions to players and FDEV to relieve some of the forum angst.

    Suggestions for players

    I'm of the opinion that FDEV has created group content for folks that like to delve into the underlying structure of the game. For individual players it's annoying random noise until it takes shape and is documented (e.g. BGS, original material drops, mining rewards etc). If the engineers follow that pattern we need to tackle it.
    These are too large in scope for one person to do.
    • Use BGS to improve rare spawn rates by driving select rare spawning systems into optimal states.
    • Build mission reward database. I'm fairly convinced missions are not simply random, it's just sufficiently complex that it appears so because we haven't done any statistical analysis.

      What we need is something like the monster with an interface where people can record the following data:
      • Commodity or data type (cooling hoses, fractured fairy tale firmware etc)
      • System
      • Station
      • Surface or Orbital
      • Economy (industrial, high tech etc)
      • State (boom, war, bust, famine etc)
      • Faction political stance (corporate, dictator etc) since they give different mission types
      • Reputation (neutral, cordial etc)

      From that we can begin to map which system types, economy types, states etc are likely to spawn missions for a given material type or prove once and for all it's simply random.

      What would be truly sexy would be to tie it in to something like ED Discovery or another mapping interface and see from the system names whether commodities are regional. During Beta I was half convinced they were.

    Suggestions for FDEV
    Some or all of these are likely in the works but I suspect they'd go a long way toward relieving pressure.
    • Fix bugged permits (I actually had a Sirius permit pre 2.1 but not now) DONE
    • Re-tune rare requirements for certain engineers to be unlocked (e.g. Didi requiring 200 to 20 trips depending on spawn rates or hours of refreshing). DONE Thanks FDEV
    • Change mission only commodities (modular terminals and their ilk) to either be materials or have a purchasable geographic region like the other new commodities (suggested this in beta). This would help immensely for cargo cap complaints.
    • Slightly tighten the range over lap for tier 3/4/5 mods (already said they'd do that as part of tuning) to reduce chance of getting an inferior upgrade.
    • Double check that certain very rare/rare items are dropping as intended. There's mounting evidence that some don't appear to be. The mission DB suggestion above would help here.
    • Provide more info in useful on the engineers screens and outfitting screens in meaningful units. When upgrading an FSD for range the only thing that really matters is jump range, show the before and after results so players can make informed decisions. Same with armor, shields, boosters, weapons etc. Most screens show the factors that go into calculating the final result but not the final result, it's the latter that players actually care about.

  2. #2
    Good info, I doing the same but working for certain system mostly, don't move around that much, maybe I should.

  3. #3
    I need to pin this and read it later, seems like a lot of good info. Have some rep OP.

  4. #4
    Had to log in just to bump this. Thanks for the insights. All sound from my perspective. +Rep.

  5. #5
    Originally Posted by ROLX View Post (Source)
    Had to log in just to bump this. Thanks for the insights. All sound from my perspective. +Rep.
    Dude - the thread is 12 minutes old

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by Ian Phillips View Post (Source)
    Dude - the thread is 12 minutes old
    Yeah, if you want to bump something go check out "Where is Elite?" by BongoBaggins and bump that

  7. #7
    I know, but iw as saying to myself.... so true... I did the zoning in on Class 5 FSD for Farseer and my engineers progress went kaput. I finally unlocked the other obvious 4 engineers and found I had lower level U Grades already on some.

    Went to find some other mats I din't have and gathered all but Modular terminals for Farseer. Still don't have the Mod Terms, but I am running missions.

    I know it seems obvious, does to me now, but the tunnel vision (C5 FSD)cost some progress, and it was a "Ah that's what happend to me moment"

  8. #8
    FINALLY!!!!!! Have no idea if those post-2.1 whining posts are already starting to faint, but seeing more and more such a constructive, very detailed threads about improving our skills brings warm feeling into my heart!!!!!

    Long live this kind of Elite's community!!!!!

    ...ofcourse huge +1 for you Commander Berthize!!

  9. #9
    Great Information. I just upgraded to Horizons yesterday and am dying to get into it. I've been collecting stuff for days and this is a big help.

  10. #10
    Originally Posted by Belthize View Post (Source)
    • For materials that drop from hauler ships some folks may face RP issues. You can either hunt for wanted haulers, you can hunt for missions providing them or you can assume that any ship in an anarchy system is up to no good. You can rack up a lot of materials by hoping into an anarchy system and interdict every T6/T7/Keelback/Hauler etc that you see. I don't even know what to do with all the chemical processors I have.
    Good advice in general and it's interesting to see people talking about the point above. Some of us do indeed "face RP issues" about blowing up innocent traders in order to upgrade our exploration equipment. Personally I don't make unprovoked attacks on ships which are not a) wanted or b) declared enemy combatants. And frankly presuming a ship is wanted because it's flying in an anarchy system is not something I'm prepared to do.

    For that reason I have been looking for missions offering chemicals and dropping into every salvage USS I see. It's worked out pretty well for me, too. I've found as many as five Chemical Distilleries since the patch was released.

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by furrycat View Post (Source)
    Good advice in general and it's interesting to see people talking about the point above. Some of us do indeed "face RP issues" about blowing up innocent traders in order to upgrade our exploration equipment. Personally I don't make unprovoked attacks on ships which are not a) wanted or b) declared enemy combatants. And frankly presuming a ship is wanted because it's flying in an anarchy system is not something I'm prepared to do.

    For that reason I have been looking for missions offering chemicals and dropping into every salvage USS I see. It's worked out pretty well for me, too. I've found as many as five Chemical Distilleries since the patch was released.
    You can blow up wanted traders, I understand the pacifist approach if you genuinely don't kill ships I'd be a bit disgruntled too but If you have qualms about innocent traders you can go whack the guilty ones instead.

  12. #12
    I agree with you for the most part and it's what I've been doing that myself. I'm having a moderate success overall.

    My main Engineer plan was to get a very fast Courier, yet still have it be a battle fit. In other words, lighten everything that I can via Engineer modifications. By doing the activities I normally do (besides a sidestep to nav beacons for some traders drops), I have a few grade 2 and 3 upgrades completed, as well as a few more where I just need to buy some commodities and take the trip to the engineers in question. I will even be able to upgrade my multicannons to grade 4 light mounts once I do the trip. The upgrade process is mostly pleasant since the materials to lighten gear mostly fits under the activities I like doing, and they are common materials. Each ton of shed weight also has a very visible effect on the Courier, so it's motivating too. I also have some materials mostly ready (besides commodities) for a different handful of low-to-mid upgrades for my Clipper. I'm satisfied with those....

    The problem is that a lot of upgrade paths are gated by extremely hard/long to find items. For example, anything that requires Firmware is going to be a huge pain to craft. All thrusters upgrades (besides level 1) requires various Firmware. So does a lot of weapon upgrades and distributor stuff. The FSD is another example, with even tier 3 upgrade being blocked behind very hard (and rng-dependent) materials to find.I am getting some upgrades I enjoy relatively easily and I'm happy with them... But I'm going to forego about two thirds of weapon upgrades, thruster upgrades (which I'd love using), FSD upgrades, ect because all these upgrade paths are gated by material types that are both extremely long to get (not hard; long) and only come from activities I dislike.

  13. #13
    Well written Bel, I can only hope the message is received and folks apply it, would solve a lot of unnecessary and overly repeated whiney posts.

  14. #14
    Have some rep.

    Nice to a post about the Engineers with some great advice, makes a change from all the complaining.

  15. #15
    Originally Posted by Belthize View Post (Source)
    Make a list, mental or otherwise of the cargo that's mission only (e.g. modular terminals). Any time you see a mission for them take it until you have at least 4 of each.
    To my mind this is the way to make it as annoying as possible for yourself. You have to then carry around up to 24 units of cargo, slowing you down, minimising what missions you can do and maximising the amount of attention you'll get from pirates.

    Personally I only keep blueprint commodities when I already have enough materials for at least a couple of tries, then I'll go and use the mats and get on with playing. This way I can switch ships on a whim without worrying about how much storage I have in each.

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