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Old 10 December 2017, 02:33 PM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,357

I'm still intending to play it more...! I had to discover the self-destruct mechanism as well, a few days ago. I decided to go and visit one of the engineers instead of what I'd previously been doing, and the one I chose wanted me to collect some artefacts from somewhere and give them to her as a condition of working with me.

The planet with the artefacts was another 300-odd light years away, so I was doing a long series of jumps and scooping fuel, when it told me - only three jumps from the destination - that I hadn't enough fuel to make the next jump. I'd not been paying enough attention, and hadn't appreciated that there were star types where you couldn't scoop fuel - including brown dwarf stars, one of which I was at at the time. And it turned out that I was in the middle of a big patch of these brown dwarfs, all uninhabited, and although I had enough fuel to jump to a few of the ones nearby, I couldn't get anywhere that would let me refuel. In looking up what I was supposed to do, I found that the only thing you can do in that situation is self-destruct!

I would never have found the self-destruct mechanism without instructions as to where it was - in fact I had trouble finding it even with the instructions, because the option was missing from the menu where it was supposed to be. I hadn't realised you needed to drop out of hypercruise to use it. Anyway, I self-destructed and ended up back at the starting point and had to do it all again! On subsequent journeys I've paid more attention to the types of star that are coming up, to make sure that doesn't happen again, but that slows you down even more... The map does in fact put a marker on the star that's your last chance to refuel for each leg, but although there's a marker on the map, as far as I could see it doesn't give you any warning or indication when you get there, so you have to keep checking the map to make sure you've not missed it, or (as I tend to) make sure you refuel fully at the next valid star the moment you get below about three-quarters of a tank.

After all that, when I got to the engineer it turns out that you can only put one upgrade on each piece of equipment at a time - so when I upgraded the efficiency of my drive and then upgraded its range, the range upgrade cancelled the efficiency upgrade. And also, rather than just giving you a straightforward upgrade, in fact it randomly varies the level of several arbitrary settings and lets you decide whether to keep the result or try again. It's hard to tell whether the result is even going to be an improvement, and sometimes it's clearly worse. But even if you reject the upgrade and opt to try again, each attempt still costs you the whole upgrade cost, some of which is in rare resources that you may have only one or two of! On the whole, it makes you wonder if the whole rigmarole was worth the effort, especially since you can just buy better drives from any old outfitter so unless you've already got the top of the range, you can get a far easier and more reliable upgrade like that.

And shortly after this, when I came to play again, it turned out that I couldn't connect to the servers, so (even though I'm playing solo) it wouldn't let me play. So I put in Viva Piņata: Trouble In Paradise instead, and have been playing that since.

I do like Elite but there are so many little annoying things about it that could obviously have been improved that sometimes I wonder if the developers were doing it deliberately. "Shall we put in a warning for the player that their fuel is low and that if they make the next jump they'll be stranded?" "No, of course not! Warnings are for lightweights and casual gamers - they should be paying constant attention to things like that! The kind of people who would be put off by this are just the kind we don't want playing!"
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