I would have thought that my first mission into space would be easy. From my previous entry I’d overcome various space battles, grappled with my ships controls and also managed to earn a little bit of money in the process. Learning how to land my craft was unquestionably the hardest task and it seems that finding a location for a simple courier mission is proving just as difficult. I think the challenge comes from the fact that the star system is confusing and Elite provides few methods in which to understand what to do or how to do it. The individual who has so kindly asked me to travel to Prospect Five in order to drop off some medical supplies offered only a measly 700 credits. Upgrading my ship at a cost of tens of thousands of credits seems a long way away and worse, a great deal of space travel.
Once I’d eventually set my course for Prospect Five it was simply a case of disembarking from my current station and warping to the location. From the looks of things on my map it was a fair few stops away but well within the 30 minute time allowance. Exiting the station went absolutely fine but it was the arrival at Prospect Five that caused some issues. I still forget that I need to get within reach of my destination to orbit it before I can end my warp. Unfortunately for me when I was on my way to Prospect Five, a few stops too short, I almost smashed straight into a planet. Approaching far too quickly I entered the planets atmosphere and saw my life flash before my eyes. Turning full throttle and flying out as quickly as I could I eventually fell out of warp. Righting myself I warped back towards Prospect Five no worse for wear. There was some damage to my hull but the repair costs were minimal at 84 credits, leaving me with a relatively healthy profit for very little time spent.
What struck me during the course of this voyage is just how lonely space is. I’ve yet to see anyone, I’ve yet to see any chatter between pilots and I’ve yet to see a single communication while out in space. I appreciate that others are free to go about their business but there’s no infrastructure here to make space communication accessible or easily done. Hailing a ship while out in space is incredibly challenging and it’s difficult to differentiate pilots working for stations or fellow novices like me. I’m genuinely lonely and that’s a strange feeling and something I can’t relate to. It seems incredibly strange that in a space adventure, socialising and the ability to tell tales on your exploits is a secondary feature when it should be at the forefront.
Loneliness aside, when I began to look through Prospect Five’s available missions I noticed large swathes of Black Market entries. Most of them were seeking illegal contraband and the profit margin was incredibly high: alcohol, certain fruits or machinery. What I was struggling to understand however was how to actually get hold of these goods. The caveat to the missions was the fact that the goods had to be stolen. I’ll freely admit that when it comes to my personality I always seem to gravitate towards to things I shouldn’t and the temptation to turn to criminality already is strong. The difficulty however is where to locate these goods and how to get them. Considering there’s no one to talk to or even pirate groups I can approach, I haven’t the faintest idea where to even start.
I’m assuming that I need to scan other pilots I encounter, hope they have the cargo on them before blowing them out of the sky. Or trading stolen goods with other players. Both are supposedly risky and it feels like a needle in a haystack. Considering some of these missions are also timed, it’s a method of earning money I just can’t fathom. Without an ability to reliably and easily communicate with my fellow pilots, how am I ever to attempt to fulfill these missions? I could potentially head out into space and hope to find other pilots but in all the time I’ve flown, I’ve yet to see anyone else. I could then fly to a variety of stations and explore what is available but it then becomes an argument of time versus investment. For a mission that yields 18,000 Credits I might be searching for days. I need to decide whether it’s an avenue I want to pursue.
It’s at this point in my diary entry that I realise that I’ve no idea what direction to take in Elite: Dangerous. If I’m to pursue a path of pirating I’m going to have to get to grips with navigation and scanning opposing crafts but also get a hold on the very limited social systems. It might be a case that I need to stop missions for now, besides very basic courier ones, and instead head out into space to find people and make some friends. Hopefully by doing that I’ll learn a thing or two about the Black Market and will be better suited to fulfilling the contracts that pay so well.