Living Dangerously, My Elite Journey So Far.

TLDR: Play the game the way you want.

I’m an old guy who grew up during the early days of space exploration. I was eight years old when Sputnik was launched. I remember searching the night sky for a glimpse of Echo as it flew overhead. I was enthralled with the manned space program that culminated in the first lunar landing when I was a just sophomore in college. I’m part of the original Star Trek generation and bought into Roddenberry’s hopeful vision of mankind’s future in space.

Back in November of 2016, I was looking for a space flight simulation game. I wanted to fly a spaceship, visit some planets and take in the sights of the universe. Something low-key and relaxing, but with great graphics. Looking at the available titles, nothing matched what I was looking for. The available games were either beta products or strictly combat focused. I’m not interested in space combat so abandon my search.

Then one of my flight simulation squadron mates suggested I look at Elite Dangerous. Now I had crossed Elite off my list as I thought it was strictly pew-pew. But encouraged to look into it a bit deeper, I saw it had potential. A big sandbox where you could pick and choose how you played and interacted with the game. I took advantage of the November sale to pick up a copy the CMDR Deluxe Edition. Figured I’d play it for a bit and if it didn’t work for me no big deal, $40 wasn’t going to break the bank.

Loaded it up on my laptop and began the gradual workup to be able to actually play the game. Gradual workup as in snails pace. Keep in mind I’m a retired aerospace engineer and I’m approaching Elite as a simulation rather than just a game. So the first question was what sort of controllers are appropriate for a spaceship? Six degree of freedom control is needed, so I decided on dual T.16000m joysticks. I already had one, so off to Amazon for a second.

First small issue. This was when Guiliemot was changing the T.16000m over to the orange Elite color scheme. Original green T.16000m supply had dried up and I would need to wait two weeks for the new orange color scheme to be delivered. OK, no big deal, except two weeks later Amazon sends me another note saying my joystick was now backordered with no estimate on the delivery date! This is where Google is your friend. After a quick search, I found Target was dumping the last of their green scheme T.16000m joysticks at a bargain price. Canceled the Amazon order and two days later a matching green T.16000m showed up at my house.

With a stick in each hand, I then began programming the axes and buttons. You have no idea how much fun an engineer has in devising just the right, optimized control scheme perfect for piloting a spaceship. And its even more fun when you haven’t played the game yet and have only limited buttons available on the top of the sticks. Here again, one of my flight simulation squadron buddies makes brilliant suggestion. Have I considered using VoiceAttack for many of the keystroke mappings? VoiceAttack? Hello yes! If I’m doing a 34th century spaceship of course I need voice activated controls.

With VoiceAttack downloaded, HCS Voicepack Verity installed and my joysticks finally programmed I’m ready to……fly the training missions. Actually, I found the training missions to be really useful for learning the basic flight mechanics and sorting out my “perfect” control scheme. I also found Codger’s Elite Adventure YouTube videos valuable in understanding the broader “Elite” galaxy. So off I go to Eranin to learn how to dock. Must have flown that mission 50 times before I ventured into the game itself.

The big day finally arrived, two months after I first downloaded the game. Remember I said snail’s pace? I log into solo and accept a data delivery mission. Baker’s Prospect to Dahan Gateway. Oh, I’ve never launched from a planet surface before. How hard can it be? Set my destination and off I go! Except I almost crash trying to get up into orbit. (Note to Frontier, how about adding planetary launch and landing to the training syllabus?) OK, I recover and manage to complete the mission. At this point I’m very good at docking in stations. I earn a cool 31,000 credits so treat my Sidewinder to a 2D frameshift. Logout for the night and go review planetary flight.

I get back to the game 5 days later and accept a black box recovery mission. Jump over to Morgor. Mission notes say scan the Navigation Beacon for contact information. Except I realize I have no idea how to do that. Stare at the beacon for a while pressing buttons. Finally abandon the mission and jump over to Dahan Gateway. Logout and go look at Codger’s videos again to sort out scanning a beacon.

Another two months go by before I can get back to the game. I figure I need to sort the planet landing and takeoff thing, so I leave Dahan Gateway and land on the planet it orbits at Smiths Claim. Easy enough. Take off and land away from Smiths Claim a bit to try the SRV. The buggy is pretty cool. Drive around looking for stuff, only to discover the cargo scoop isn’t working as expected. Go back up to Dahan Gateway to sort the problem. Turns out the cargo scoop button was set to hold rather than toggle. That done, I head off to the Eranin system and take up residence at Azerban City.

Another two months go by before I can get back to the game. Real life, what can I say? Check the mission board at Azerban City and don’t see anything I want to do. So I decided to go land on Eranin 2 and look for stuff. Collected some materials, got used to using the cargo scoop, then landed back home at Azerban City. As to missions, except for the two I already described, I haven’t done or accepted any since. Missions are a game feature I currently ignore. No interest at the moment, but I may try some in the future. It’s nice to have the option. Combat is another thing I just ignore in the game. Some of my squadron mates are all about combat, and while not for me, I’m happy they are enjoying it in Elite.

At this point in my game progression, I figure I need to make some more credits. Thus begins my career as a merchant. I load two tons of liquor in my trusty Sidewinder and jump over to Asellus Primus docking at Beagle2Landing. Sell the booze and swap the 2E shield generator for a 2E cargo rack, replace the 1E cargo rack with a 1C bi-weave shield. I doubled my cargo capacity while keeping the vehicle hangar and basic discovery scanner. My ambitions at that moment were modest. Earn enough to keep me in fuel while landing on planets looking for stuff and seeing the sights.

This is when I established my first trade route. The Eranin (Agriculture), Asellus Primus (High-Tech) and LP98-132 (Extraction/Refinery) systems form a nice triangle spaced well within the single jump range of my Sidewinder. Each having a different economy means profitable trades are always possible. When I needed cash, I would fly loops around the triangle. Based in Eranin, I usually started out each loop selling food or booze to the extraction economy in LP98-132. I would then take metals or minerals from there to the high tech economy in Asellus Primus and return to Eranin with technology to sell. I manually updated my iPad with the current commodities prices so my trade data was always up to date.

And this scheme worked ok for a few days. Then I caught the new spaceship bug. It became apparent that if I really wanted to do some galactic sightseeing, I needed a more capable ship. The Sidewinder is a nice runabout, but it needs longer legs and more slots. I figured the best overall ship for my purposes is the Cobra Mk.III. So I set a goal of getting a Cobra. (Not sure I wanted a goal in this game, but now I was stuck with it.)

So I started looking at the numbers. Just trading, it will take a while to get the cash for a Cobra with my 4 ton cargo capacity Sidewinder. But it turns out the star ports will store stuff for you. I bought a couple of cargo racks to swap out with the hangar and basic discovery scanner. I could kit out my trusty Sidewinder to carry 10 tons for trading, and still fit it out to land on planets and drive the SRV around whenever I wanted. Problem is, it was still going to be a grind to a Cobra with just 10 tons cargo space. I needed a faster way to my Cobra, some temporary, intermediate path to the future.

Interestingly, in addition to selling you spanking new ships, star ports will take your old ones in trade. Reduced by 10% for wear and tear, of course. Thus I found my way forward. Start a Cobra saving fund. As the account builds, withdraw enough for a throw away cargo hauler. I’ll get 90% of that investment back, while doubling my trade profits. Oh, money well spent and I could fly in the down payment to the star port to pick up the Cobra. So I started flying my trade route until I earned enough to buy an Adder. Fitted it out to carry 20 tons of cargo. Named it “Ephemeral” as it was only a temporary acquisition and soon enough I had my Cobra!

Now with a more capable ship, I decided to move my home port to an area with better trade opportunities. I started looking for a high security system within one jump of several other high security systems, preferably with different economies. I’m not a fan of pirates or interdictions, so want to minimize my risks by only trading in high security systems. I used EDDB to guide my search. I would identify high security systems, check the number of stations and the station distances from the entry star, then if acceptable, use EDDB to search within 20 LY of the candidate system for other high security systems. I finally settled on the Tau Bootis system and moved to Pascal Orbital. Here I have six high security systems within a single jump range of my Cobra. Tau Bootis is an agricultural/Industrial system. The surrounding systems in my trade loop include two other agricultural systems, a refinery system, two high tech systems and an Industrial system. With the different economies, I can always find profitable trade opportunities within this sphere of systems. My usual routine is to start the day with a grand tour to each station I trade with. I collect the commodities prices, drink the station coffee and chat with the station administrator. When I get back to Pascal Orbital, I check the updated prices then select a profitable trade route for the day and run a few loops.

This routine was serving my interests nicely, until Oculus went on sale and I caught the VR bug. Bought an Eagle just for the VR view under that big canopy. Dusted off my Sidewinder, again just for the VR view. Ended up upgrading the Sidewinder to full A rated models with enhanced performance thrusters. Liked the Eagle so much I upgraded it to an iEagle with enhanced performance thrusters. Now I make my grand station tour collecting prices in the iEagle. And let me tell you, is sure impresses the ladies. Better than any sports car ever could.

Having to visit Felicity Farseer to get the enhanced performance thrusters for my Sidewinder and Eagle got me focused on exploration. I fitted an advanced discovery scanner on the Eagle and honked my way over to Deciat, earning the needed explorer rank to visit her base on the way there. Did the same with the Sidewinder. At this point, anytime the commodities markets weren’t showing enough profit, I would fly 100 LY loops in the iEagle honking systems and generating a modest explorer income and advancing my exploration rank.

Then, despite my best efforts to just do my own thing and wander about in the game with no real goals, having become a merchant I was sucked into the trade ship progression track. Bought a Type-6 and set it up to haul 104 tons of cargo. I like this ship and the view in VR from the cockpit is amazing. All told I paid 4.8 million credits for her, but she has made all that back and much much more. This is my credit maker. Not as fast as the Cobra, she still has enough speed to outrun the pirates until the cops show up.

With the Type-6 as my tramp steamer, I decided to kit the Cobra out for exploration. That just basically required removing all the cargo racks and fitting a big fuel scoop, hangar, field-maintenance unit, ADS,DSS and a couple of heat sink launchers. Jump is 23 LY which should be enough for most exploration needs. I was working her up for a road trip when there was an outbreak in a nearby system. Suddenly my Type-6 was printing credits delivering basic meds and I was able to afford a purpose built exploration ship. Bought an Asp Explorer with 33 LY jump and a decent exploration load out for 17.5 million credits. Already took her out on a shake down cruise 500 LY to the Coal Sack and back. Made 1.7 million that trip. The view in VR is even better than the Type-6.

My Cobra is now fitted as a general purpose bubble taxi and materials gatherer. My main rides are the AspX and Type-6. The Sidewinder is headed for mothballs, while the iEagle will continue to gather the commodities prices.

All in all, Elite has worked out better than I expected. I get to fly my spaceship, trade and explore. It really is a big sandbox where you forge your own path and pick and choose what elements of the game to interact with. The genius of Elite is its ability to accommodate many different play styles within a common milky way galaxy.

And did I mention I get to fly a spaceship?

Fly safe!
Loved reading about your experience.

And nothing's wrong with the snail pace, what's there to rush anyway, right?

Good luck out there Cmdr! o7![up][hotas]
Greetings and welcome to the Elite: Dangerous community. Sounds like you're having a blast and playing the game in a way that's close to my own heart. Glad you found Codgers Elite Adventure, it's a terrific video series.

If you find you need answers to other questions or just general sources of ED information then check out my "Best of Forum" thread where I try to gather together all the best stuff that's out there.
It's nice to see other commander's way to play the game. And reading this kinda makes me want to reset my commander - or buy a second account - to reexperience the beginning of the game. And maybe do some things differently.

Enjoyed the read
OP. You've just inspired my next Elite playthrough - getting to triple Elite and owning all ships without doing any missions. Now THAT will be a challenge!
This story is just awesome. Thank you. I see so much of my own experience in this. It's nice to take a step back to enjoy what we have in Elite Dangerous. Well played Sir, well played.
Nice story Cmdr. I think some of the most fun (and frustration) I had in the game was in the early days, flying my brand new Cobra III, learning all the different aspects of the game, saving up for the next bigger ship.
Top Bottom