Please bring back Long Range Smuggling (and cargo hauling)

Last night, I did the Robigo Run for the first time in almost a year and a half!

I love smuggling. I have tons of money and all the ships in the game, yet all I wanna do is smuggle. I took about a year and a half off from Elite (I love the game and was having fun, but just got too busy in real life) and I came back recently in October because I have a Rift and a cheap flightstick. I've been having more fun than ever in the game (you guys did an amazing job with the VR), but upon my return I was extremely disappointed to see that long range smuggling isn't around anymore-- in fact, smuggling itself as a career has become mediocre at best, usually paying less than any legal cargo mission (let alone a passenger mission).

Out of nostalgia for Robigo and in my quest to find SOMEWHERE that provides good smuggling missions, I will check every Anarchy system and faction I find (getting allied if it seems promising) and make a trip out to Robigo Mines (and other former smuggling hotspots) every once in a while to see if smuggling has returned. My smuggling runs from there in my tiny Cobra mk III the other year are probably the most fun I've ever had in a video game, and I was so proud back then when I managed to upgrade to an Asp Explorer to make the return trip back to the bubble easier. I've even named some of my favourite ships after Robigo ("The Robigo Runner" I and II), and it might sound lame, but I just loved those missions and the act of smuggling itself.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I made the trip out there last night "just to see" and saw that actual smuggling missions were available. I can finally do the run in VR now!

I quickly took advantage-- they weren't as good as they used to be financially, but long range smuggling was BACK! I was mentally preparing my thank you note to Frontier, and I dropped off the goods deep in the bubble and headed back to Robigo for another run. I was worried it was temporary though, some sort of mistake due to the recent update (with the Thargoids attacking the stations and whatnot), so I didn't even wanna announce that smuggling was back on Reddit or anything just so it didn't go away again.

I checked Maia, Ceos, Sothis, and other systems, and everywhere on the outskirts had good long range smuggling and cargo missions. I'm embarrassed to say how excited I was, but I really enjoy those missions and it provides another way to make high end money. While I have been able to take mediocre one-hop smuggling missions since returning in October, they were all basically limited to a Python-or-larger due to cargo requirements and also bizarrely pay less than legal cargo-- I wanna smuggle, but not be a chump for doing so.

On the way back to Robigo after dropping off my illegal cargo, I see that the Thargoids had attacked those stations, so I promptly outfit my Asp with passenger cabins and go and help out. I had a great time (as always, an awesome experience in VR), but I was worried that I wasn't taking advantage of the smuggling opportunities and I was paranoid about them only being a fluke and getting removed again (removed for reasons I am not aware of).

I proceed to spend hours rescuing countless passengers suffering from the Thargoid attacks, then I head to Maia to confirm the long range smuggling missions are still available (since I was paranoid about them going away), and they were still being offered, so I go to bed.

After work earlier today, I get in the game and head back over to Robigo for another run, and even though the system/station is in Boom and I am an Ally and I had several missions to choose from the night before, they offered zero (non-passenger) missions. I refresh the board a few times, I wait, and still no missions were being offered (as it had been like since I returned in October and learned smuggling was dead). As embarrassed as I am about how excited I was about their return, I'm that embarrassed at how disappointed I am.

I go and check Maia/Ceos/Sothis, and yup-- no long range smuggling or cargo missions, and the local one-hop smuggling missions paid much less than legal cargo once again (so, it's pointless to do it unless doing BGS shenanigans). Everything is back to how it has been for at least the last few months, where smuggling isn't viable and my chosen career and favourite in-game activity is kinda dead.

There's more ways to make money now in the game than when I first played, and that's great! There's still things that cause players to flock to it because it pays so much more, and to counter that I think there should be a variety of well paying (and challenging) high-end careers. Previously, smuggling provided just that. While I have tons of ideas about the mechanics and ways to make it even more challenging and fun, it was at the very least a great time and the reward was worth the hefty risk. Since the mechanics are already in the game and they were successful before, I really hope you flip the "turn smuggling back on" switch so that smuggling is a viable (and worthwhile) career path again.

Narcotics, nerve agents, weapons, there also should and could be more contraband than just slaves. Hard working miners would likely love to have an illegal narcotic or two, and the companies who employ them may not mind as long as it keeps production up. Expanding factions desperate for more workers need slaves and nerve agents and other drugs, but can't order those things legally in most parts of the galaxy, or even perhaps a new rare good narcotic to smuggle, etc etc-- Smuggling is an essential part of Elite's world and a universal component of sci-fi mythology, and it being relegated to near meaninglessness makes no sense to me.

I also urge you to make the mission cargo requirements lower; I know I've made much more from current non-smuggling missions than I ever did from the Ol' Robigo Run, and the Ol' Robigo Run's cargo requirements were amounts a Cobra could handle. When I did the missions last night in my Python (since it's literally the only ship that has the cargo capacity and Outpost access), I kept thinking about NEW players who also want to smuggle, and how it'd be impossible for them to do these long range missions since everything required either a Python or an AspX totally stripped down to nothing but a small fuel scoop and cargo racks just to take 1 mission. Young players excited to smuggle with their Type-6, Adder, Hauler, Cobra, etc, should be able to do so... it was such a fun experience when I first started out, and I'd like other new players to have the same thrill. It's the sort of thing that gets you hooked to Elite.

It really shouldn't be limited to the larger ships, and definitely not just limited to the Python.

While I have a lot of recommendations, I know I've written too much already-- but if you're worried about players making too much, then I'd suggest attaching the good smuggling missions (both from the outskirts of the bubble and within) to Outposts. That way no one can load up a Cutter or Conda with "too many" missions, inherently limiting how many credits they can make, and it keeps smuggling to the harder-to-spot smaller ships. However, I personally wouldn't mind if a person who worked hard to get a Cutter is able to fill it up with smuggling missions (let's see if they can avoid a scan), and I'd point out that I've made billions since returning in October and only ever made tens of millions from Robigo-- I know folks were annoyed back then at how well Robigo paid, but lots of other stuff pays well now, and classic Robigo-like pay isn't extreme anymore.

And for extra challenge that is already built into the game, I'd use planetary bases as a destination station for well-paying smuggling missions much more often. The added skill a smuggler would need to avoid the station security as they try to land safely against the planet's gravity would be a lot of fun, as would waiting for security to go on break so that you can land un-scanned (I could be mistaken, but I believe planetary bases's security announce they're going on break, and that can be when the smuggler makes his run for the dock).

Or pushing station security's patrols out further so they'll try to scan you as soon as you drop out of supercruise, forcing smugglers and other criminals to do untargeted drops near the station (where you don't have the station targeted in supercruise and you drop manually), so they try to use their skill to manually drop not-too-far-but-not-too-close and then sneak in past the more scan-happy security.

I'd also love to see long range passenger transport, like a criminal has to leave town while the heat cools down. Either from the outskirts into the bubble or within the bubble, it'd be fun to do (there can be legal versions of this too, of course). I've pretended a sight-seeing mission for a VIP criminal is doing this, but that's not the same.

I am glad you got rid of the exploit where players could take a smuggling mission and then sell the cargo back to that station's black market, and I wouldn't mind this being taken even further and any smuggling mission's cargo is permanently "too hot" to be sold anywhere (except, perhaps, for peanuts). That removes the motivation to use the lame exploit in any fashion.

Again, I have lots of ideas about smuggling and yada yada, but most of what I am asking for is bringing back existing and already finished mechanics and missions that had been in the game for a long time. For the purpose of fun, roleplay, diversity in career paths that actually pay, and realism for the Elite universe.

Thank you for the great game, and I look forward to Elite's future!

--DMC
 
I miss the old Robigo runs too.

Sure, the rewards were slightly too high, and there was a huge exploit, and some big bugs, but the high reward and the risk of losing all of it because of 1 scan, is what made it so much fun.

I actually think the long range smuggling missions should come back, with fail on scan, and with smaller payloads*, as well as slightly reduced payouts (to compensate for our generally increased speed and jump range, due to engineering).
*Smaller payloads works much better, and allows all sizes of ship to take part, and thus also scales well (by allowing stacking), allowing larger ships to take more missions, and thus earn more money. It also means you end up with more of the "fun" side of smuggling, docking at multiple different stations, outposts, and planets, and less time actually flying to and from your original station.

Security (or an anti smuggling task force) could be created to interdict known smugglers on common routes.
Or atleast that's what the lore can say, to disguise the fact that security will just Interdict you for having one or more of these missions.

Basically, the original formula for long range smuggling was almost perfect in terms of gameplay, Risk Vs Reward, and fun.
It just needed the kinks removing.
Then, once ironed out, that particular mission should be held as the standard in which all other missions should be made too. Balanced, rewarding and fun.

CMDR Cosmic Spacehead
 
I'm glad ya agree!

Whenever Robigo and similar smuggling runs are brought up on Reddit, people get almost wistful for it. They were a lot of fun! Not perfect of course, both it felt like Elite's very own Kessel Run and it was a great adventure. Especially as a newer player, trying to line up my approach to the station and how every mission can fail from one scan-- so much fun!

Since I feel it clearly fits the world, has already established and created mechanics and mission/NPC dialogue, and is a lot of fun, I kindly ask Frontier to allow them to return.

Every once in a while, like twice in the past 3 months with me heavily looking for them DAILY, I've seen a smuggling mission that sent me 150 light years away. I took it, did the mission, and then never saw it again. Same for a passenger transport mission-- one way, around 150+ light years away, with a few missions being offered that had destinations all around the same area of the bubble (like how it used to be when ya stacked long range missions). I saw these over the course of one day, the other month, and then they never showed up again.

If these sorts of things are already in the game, I hope they tweak things so they actually appear consistently. Because I look for them, I go all over, and am eagerly searching for such things. It's just fun to be chased across a large distance of space, watching your radar the entire time for NPCs and CMDRs alike, and sneaking into that station. I'd love for it to be more challenging, as I am experienced at it now, but lots of players struggle with avoiding a scan so they might be at the right level of challenge for the time and fun involved.
 
Long range hauling from Sothis would be fine, provided it's the rare gold and not just biowaste. Hauling poo for hundreds of lightyears is stupid.
 
I have witnessed some missions since their last patch... typically 200-250 ly runs in the bubble..
Do ya happen to recall where ya were? I've seen them offered a few times, for high cargo usually, I take them, and then they're never offered again even when I am allied.

If there is a spot to get regular smuggling missions and I just didn't know, that's great! And of course, I'm looking for stuff that pays more than legal cargo hauling (since it's weird if it pays less) and long range is great too.

It's not that I need money, I grinded a bunch, but I think about newer players and the feeling of not wasting my time, seeing as Elite is so money-centric (just to clarify my thoughts).
 
Long range hauling from Sothis would be fine, provided it's the rare gold and not just biowaste. Hauling poo for hundreds of lightyears is stupid.
Yeah, during the short window the other night (right after the shut down for maintenance and when we came back the Thargoids had attacked those stations), Sothis/Ceos was offering those gold long haul cargo missions for big money. And the biowaste ones, which I've read were a thing while I was away from the game (I'm not sure why those are for so much money, but gold/other materials makes sense at least) but haven't been around since at least October.

I didn't take those because I specifically wanted to smuggle, but yeah-- those missions ya describe were back for a bit.
 
Eh... I could tell you in a week? If you remind me. I got a project I'm on and I don't want to screw up the location with outside influence until the plan is done.

But even still, its rare. Like once every other visit or so.
 
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