Archive for August, 2015


Just another gas giant.

Just another gas giant.

I’m now a week into my first Elite Dangerous exploration trip and enjoying it quite a lot. There’s something relaxing about plotting a route to “somewhere far ahead in deep space” and jumping from system to system enjoying the sights.

Since any first sold scan of a body from a player gets this player name on the system map, one knows straight away which places have been visited before, and which ones are being explored for the first time. With this system in place, it is striking how many players have gone through the bubble of space around the human-populated systems. Until at least 1000 light-years away, most systems i went through were thoroughly scanned. I knew some additional distance would get me into yet-undiscovered territory though. Some more jumps finally presented me with my first discovery: a boring icy planet far away from its star, that nobody had ever bothered scanning.

Not much to look at, but this icy planet was my first undiscovered sight.

Not much to look at, but this icy planet was my first undiscovered sight.

From there, the further I went, the less player’s names I met. Yet, every now and then, in the middle of nowhere, a player name pops out on the system map, briefly disrupting my peaceful isolation. Far away into deep space though, it’s only a matter of a single jump to get back to uncharted territory.

Landed on an asteroid in an ice ring.

Landed on an asteroid in an ice ring.

With my ship setup, a full fuel load carries me roughly over 250 light-years. I always stop a bit before that for refuelling though, so as to avoid any nasty surprise like being caught in a field of unscoopable stars with not enough fuel left to jump to safety. The best fuel scoop available on the Cobra being quite small, it takes me a few minutes to fill up the 32t hydrogen tank from a star.

Refuelling from a white star.

Refuelling from a white star.

Among the vast amount of lookalike planets, every now and then one comes up with a bit more personality. That was the case of a small high-metal content planet about 6500 light-years away from Lave, whose features made it look like it was crying. It came up as quite a startling sight after my time alone, and I went to fly as close to the surface as possible to watch the mountain ranges and the enclosed sea that formed the ‘mouth’. I have now this planet’s location marked down for a return trip when Horizons comes up, for a drive down the surface.

The crying planet, 6500 light-years away from Lave.

The “crying planet”, 6500 light-years away from Lave.

Being the closest nebula on my path to the core, I’m now just about entering the NGC 6357 nebula. I’ve been watching grow ever larger across my jumps, just below the galactic plane. I’m looking forward to the sights.

NGC 6357, only 100 LY away now.

NGC 6357, only 100 LY away now.

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CruiseSo, I’ve got a sort of love/hate relationship with Elite Dangerous. Didn’t feel like kickstarting it since it looked more like a multiplayer space shooter than the modern successor to FE2/FFE, was still glad it got funded, then watched the gorgeous looking beta, and soothed by the promised offline-mode, got in at premium beta level. Needless to say, the offline mode canning debacle came up as a major bummer to me. I was hoping to play my game in my little pocket universe, by my rules. Not going to happen now.

It took me a while to motivate myself to try it out after launch, and between the unfinished nature of the game (no planetary landings, background simulation so bad that events were injected manually) and the necessary multiplayer gaming choices (arcade model of flight and combat, interstellar travel in all of 5 minutes, no external camera for screenshots), it just didn’t grab me, and two weeks later, I logged out for what turned out to be over 6 months.

Two weeks ago, with the announcement that the Horizons expansion would start implementing planetary landings, I felt like giving it another go. This time round, with no more expectations, it went better. With sort of a mind to try out mining, I started trading rare commodities to equip a Cobra. During those trips, i’d regularly check the outfitting screens for parts. And on those screens, I was regularly confronted to the Advanced Discovery Scanner and Detailed Surface Scanners. One thing leading to another, I started thinking of forgetting about mining in favour of exploration, which used to be a favourite past-time of mine in FE2/FFE. A few more trading trips, and my mind was made: I’d equip the Cobra for exploration and leave settled space for a while. A good while. The destination, as unoriginal as it may be, would be Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of our galaxy, 25k light-years away. Nothing else than me, my ship and the stars…

Final check of installed systems.

Final check of installed systems.

No weapons to save on weight, one heatsink launcher just in case.

No weapons to save on weight, one heatsink launcher just in case. Note the cute ‘Scout’ explorer rank painted on the nose. It should be getting quite an upgrade if I make it back!

Departing Lave for the galactic core. A 50k light-years round trip. I won't see another Coriolis station for a little while.

Departing Lave for the galactic core. A 50k light-years round trip. I won’t see another Coriolis station for a little while.