Time on my hands

General discussions about the games by Egosoft including X-BTF, XT, X², X³: Reunion, X³: Terran Conflict and X³: Albion Prelude.

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Time on my hands

Post by CBJ » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 01:37

Hi all

I couldn't help noticing that some people here are getting bored with wide-eyed and excitable newbies joining the forum and not having much to say for themselves except "isn't X great" and "when's X2 coming out?", so I thought I'd introduce myself somewhat differently. For anyone who has better things to do or can't be bothered to read the ramblings of a stranger, this post is not for you!

First, a little history. Like many people here, it seems, my first foray into the world of space-sims was Elite on my BBC B, in which I finally achieved the rank of Elite at about 4.30am at the end of an 8 hour session of trading (Isinor-Ensoreus run anyone?), fighting (almost a shame to blow up something as sleek and cool as a Fer-de-Lance) and getting caught by the thargoids (ouch!). Typing that I wondered whether it was a bit sad to have been so proud of my achievements, but then I realised it is probably even sadder to be posting forum messages about them 20 years later! Oh well.

I missed the whole Frontier saga, having been an enthusiastic Archimedes user for a while, and then pretty much dropping out of the whole computer-owning thing for nearly 10 years. Apart from a few excursions on other people's computers, such as Deuteros (I've not seen it mentioned since, does anyone else remember that?) on the Amiga, I pretty much stopped playing computer games, largely because I couldn't find much that came even close to Elite. During that time I do remember waiting avidly for the release of one other game that showed huge promise: Karma. This was being developed for the Archimedes, but it suffered from monumental delays and even more monumental bad luck (one of the lead developers died in a motorbike accident) and never ended up getting past a "Flight Trainer" release in 1991 (amazingly a web site still exists for this game; last updated in 1997, development having been started in 1988!).

I only really got interested in gaming again when the first generation of texture-mapped 3D games such as Doom and Tomb Raider started appearing, but stuck to using work kit to play them on (tolerant bosses, we love 'em!) until 1999 when I finally succumbed and bought myself a PC. This was originally to enable me to play TR3 without staying at work half the evening (my girlfriend had just moved in with me), but shortly after that a colleague showed me a demo of a new game that completely blew me away (yes, you guessed it - X-BTF) and I found the real use for my new machine! Playing that consumed many hours of my time (and probably quite a few brownie points with my other half), but I completed the storyline, built a trading empire (my first SPP in Teladi Gain was a real cash cow) and enjoyed some spectacular lone-pilot-against-the-entire-Xenon-fleet battles in what are now the pirate sectors.

Needless to say, my name was down for XT as soon as the Egosoft site started offering it. After what seemed like an endless wait, and some hassle with the German payments system (apologies to Bernd if I was a bit harsh about that), I finally got to play this even-better version of the game putting in about 350 hours before the v2.0 patch persuaded me to start again. This game completely took over my PC (new graphics card, no upgrade to DX8, and hence no DX8 games installed, until the sound stutter had been sorted out, etc.), and also took over quite a lot of my spare time (tolerant girlfriends, we love 'em even more!). Since the v2.0 patch I've been playing XT pretty consistently (but with some breaks to try out few non-space-sim games such as Neverwinter Nights, Morrowind and SimCity4), and have clocked up about 770 hours (oh boy, that's over 32 solid days play - over a month of my life - gone; or, perhaps a little less because of SETA). I've currently got about 80 stations, 200+ ships, and about 250 million credits earned mostly though trading, but with a little bounty-hunting and a nice line in second-hand ship dealing on the side. I completed the Perseus mission some time ago but I didn't manage to capture the Perseus itself so I only have the X-shuttle and the Orca to show for my efforts. Still, the X-shuttle is now my preferred craft to pilot (not too worried about the small cargo space as the trading business is mainly conducted remotely) and the Orca (along with my trusty old Hercules) provides a good platform for continuing to expand my station franchise.

My interest in the X series has also introduced me to a whole new world on the internet. Believe it or not, until visited this site I had never seen an online forum (the first posting I remember was by Pointer88, and being a complete novice I thought that was a rather strange name...). That was back in the days of the first incarnation of the THQ forum, and I've been lurking on the whole series of X forums since (I really hope no-one considers it rude that I've waited this long to post...). As well as getting loads of useful information about the game, I've also lurked my way through the forum's non-X-universe sagas such as the Gary Bolton Story and more recently the Great Thumb Debate. At times this place would have made quite an interesting "fly-on-the-monitor" documentary! Only in the last year or so have I started branching out (well, lurking out really) and started reading other forums (starting with the Cartel forum because I couldn't follow all of what was going on here without going off to read what people were saying there) and that has shown me how different it is from many other forums (e.g. TLR, ahem, say no more...). And finally, here I am, making my first post anywhere, ever. Why now and why here? Well, partly because I have a lot of time on my hands having had the good fortune to have been made redundant from a job I was heartily sick of, partly because I have BB and no longer have to worry about how much time I spend on the 'net (apologies to CJ, PJK and anyone else who can't get BB...), and partly because I can no longer contain my excitement at the prospect of the X2 release and simply have to start discussing it with people who won't look at me like I'm a complete nutter (*hopes*).

So, anyway, the X games are great aren't they? When's X2 coming out? Sorry, couldn't resist. Seriously though, aside from the stunning graphics (I still find myself staring at the screen from time to time, just watching the X-universe go by) there is something uniquely immersive about the X games that enables you to spend hours remote trading (using text-based menus for heaven's sake!) before going out to blast a few XM3's for a bit of light relief and a little bonus profit. What interests me is how these guys managed to make something apparently so repetetive seem so entertaining; even the ship computer's voice repeating the station and product descriptions still doesn't bore or annoy me (and my girlfriend still laughs when she hears it saying what she thinks is "teladianianianianium")! A game can target different positions in the game-space between hard-core space-sim, point-and-click strategy game and arcade-style shoot-em-up, and the X series games seem to occupy a real sweet-spot in this with enough of each element to keep me interested.

The BC series games appear, from what I have read, to have really cornered the hard-core market and I'm considering exploring the latest of these (BCMG I think it is) when it gets its full UK release, although the prospect of dealing with Derek Smart if I can't get it working on my PC is somewhat daunting. Whatever one thinks of his approach to his customers, he certainly seems to have created a game with more depth and detail than anyone else out there, but I can't help wondering if its sheer complexity might not actually make it less entertaining than something that holds your hand a little more. I'd be interested in hearing more of SteveMill's view on this (I couldn't help noticing his posts on the BC forums when I wandered over there the other day - nice diplomatic handling of SC's more caustic responses there!).

Being so firmly ensconced in the X universe, I hadn't even heard of FL until you guys started talking about it. I was put off it rather quickly by the comments I read here, by the atmosphere of the TLR forum (Click!) when I followed someone's link, and by the fact that it was clearly the exact opposite of a Derek Smart production having been hijacked by Microsoft whose only interest appears to be in appealing to the lowest common denominator and milking the good reputation of the original team to scrape in the highest profit. I'd love to be proved wrong about this as it would give me something else to play while I wait for X2, but I think I'd be disappointed by the "arcade-y" action and the lack of depth in the space-sim side of the game (no dynamic economy - what's that all about???).

The whole point-and-click strategy genre has never appealed to me very much. I had a quick go one someone else's copy C&C many years ago (irritating), and I bought a budget copy of Homeworld the other day just to see what the now-rather-ancient graphics were like and whether the fact that it was space-based could revive my interest. I played it happily enough for a couple of hours, and quite enjoyed it, but the fact that it hasn't gone back into my CD drive since tells me a whole lot. I think being dragged, kicking and screaming, from one pre-defined scenario to the next didn't help, when I would have been much happier mining and constructing my empire in my own time and going off to fight the battles when I felt like it. I did quite like the graphical style though - it reminded me of the 80's covers of sci-fi paperbacks by Asimov and the like, but I forget the artist's name (Chris somebody-or-other?).

So where will X2 take us? Frankly, even if it is virtually identical to X2 I will happily buy it and no doubt play it for many hours. The screenshots I have seen so far have been stunning enough to leave my jaw hanging for minutes at a time, and the few priceless droplets of information that have been squeezed out of the developers about the game's mechanics have left me grinning like an idiot. Sure, the ability to fly a capital ship is going to be great (for those that can afford it), and the new space-station docking interior feature is a nice touch, but the thing I am most looking forward to is the scripting. As a programmer, the prospect of being able to save my fingers from all that menu-driven remote-trading with a few choice script commands is really appealing. With any luck it will free me up to spend more time on the real fun of empire building and shooting things without taking away the option to micro-manage a trade run if I want to. My hope is that this scripting engine will be intelligent enought and detailed enough to allow you to solve some of the old XT problems like trying to ensure that a particular transporter makes sensible decisions about where and when to buy supplies.

The other thing I'm hoping for, but which I'm less confident about actually seeing, is significantly improved AI, both in terms of combat and also with regard the general activities of ships and stations. It is mildly disappointing in XT to be almost completely sure of winning any battle you choose to get yourself into as long as you have a ship with a decent set of shields and lasers (2x25Mw and 2xAHEPTs for example). Sure, you need to take a bunch of Hornets with you if you want to take out an M1 or M2, but unless you crash into something or fail to notice an incoming Hornet, you are very unlikely to find yourself in too much trouble. I really enjoyed the early stages of XT prior to the v2.0 patch, cruising around reasonably safe trade areas in a not-yet-maxed-out Lifter, but knowing that if I strayed the wrong side of a gate I would get hammered by a mob of marauding pirates (since the v2.0 patch I've barely seen a Bayamon or Orinoco except when taking out an inconveniently located Pirate Base - is this normal?). I'm not a particularly great dogfighter (maybe because I'm strictly keyboard-only; a hang over from the Elite days), so I don't want combat to be too difficult, but I would like to be able to set myself a challenge and take a few risks now and again. The non-combat AI could also be better; the sheer stupidity of stations repeatedly sending their supply ships to be slaughtered passing through Xenon sectors, leaving the factory unable to produce anything, is slightly depressing even if it means profitable trading for me. That said, the ability to select any random AI ship and see where it is going and what it is doing has always been one of the joys of the game for me, and if the rumours of NPC traders are true then that will make things even more interesting.

Whatever the status of the publisher deal, the release date and so on, I would guess that X2 is now pretty much "feature-complete" and it is far too late for people to suggesting features and enhancements, but I do think there are some areas (mostly well-rehearsed ones like more sector variety, more hidden stuff etc) where improvements could certainly be made in the future. I'm not particularly bothered by the planet-landing idea, even though this was top of my wish-list for Elite; this is a space-sim after all! I would, however, like to see X move a little bit further in the direction of the hard-core space-sim with a bit more detail, for example the ability to construct a ship or station from interchangable components, and perhaps a bit more background activity such as ongoing enmity and wars between races or individual stations, the famous "radio chatter" idea that people have mentioned, and so on. I know that the ship construction idea has been mentioned in the context of X-OU, but as someone who has never played an online game (and isn't sure if they want to), I really hope that concepts developed for multi-player make it back into single-player releases. Maybe if I try BCMG I'll change my mind about the request for "detail"...

On the subject of X-OU, I will be really interested to see if this pans out as it is likely to be the only game that would change my mind about wanting to play online in a big multi-player environment. I've been reading up on this type of game recently, partly prompted by postings about EVE on here, and the whole online game market seems to be a bit of a minefield for the companies involved with games flopping due to poor performance, PKing, and so on. Egosoft will clearly need to tread very carefully, and make sure their system is watertight, pretty much PKer-proof and above all profitable before they bet the future of the X series (and their company) on such a risky venture. If anyone can make a good job of it then I'm confident it will be them, but I would hate to miss out on X3 and X4 because X-OU dragged the company under.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here hoping that X2 gets released before my current abundance of free time runs out and I have to go out and get a job. It's going to be the most expensive game I've ever bought, what with replacing my now rather ageing PC with a state of the art games machine (nothing but the best for X2!), but I think it'll be worth it.

Well, there you go: 3+ years of pent-up posting condensed into a few pages. I'm not sure what I've written is particularly interesting and I expect most of it has been said before, but at least it passed a little time for me (and for anyone who has made it this far reading). Rest assured that any future postings I make will not be as verbose and long-winded as this, and if there is a lonely sound of rolling tumbleweed blowing by following this one then I probably won't trouble you again at all!


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Re: Time on my hands

Post by The_Abyss » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 01:42

Great post (possibly the best first post I've seen!), and welcome.
CBJ near the beginning of a hugely detailed first post wrote:almost a shame to blow up something as sleek and cool as a Fer-de-Lance
Yes :P

Strung out on Britain's high, hitting an all time low

AJ Rimmer Bsc.Ssc.
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Post by AJ Rimmer Bsc.Ssc. » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 01:48

my god i feel old!

(Isinor-Ensoreus run anyone?)

so very very old....

time to die...flutter flutter..[still cant type a dove flying away]

ps...forgotten what that ship looked like Abyss....ahhh memories

remember the ferdis in B5?

Max claim to fame "i`m still the first to find the end game bug in Elite..."

around that moon and zap...end game... :wink:

pps...permission ti nick the ferdi gif?
Last edited by AJ Rimmer Bsc.Ssc. on Tue, 29. Apr 03, 02:35, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Wargod. » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 01:53

:o Best First Post Ever! :o

Welcome! 'Twill be enjoyable having you around :)

-Wargod *Eyes dry from reading all that :P*

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Commander Jamieson
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Post by Commander Jamieson » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 02:06

Welcome to this forum and hey, this was quite an introduction from you. Well said too :wink:

Re X2 - The Threat, you will find many improvements about some of the points you make. I presume you have read Steel's article:


and their associated links there to see what is going to be included in X2 - The Threat.


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Post by P88 » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 02:06

aye!!! longest & most interesting post for someones 1st post ever! :o

Welcome! :)

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Post by Dutchman » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 02:15

Great 1st post, I enjoyed it from the start to the end :D

Welcome to the forum !

It's great to have another person here who still knows the old days of Elite, and yes you were right about the fer-de-lance :)

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Post by Steel » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 03:10

hehe, 3yrs of lurking and following us around our different homes. :D

Now thats persistence!

Nice post. Archimedes, ahhh the memories......



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Post by GHarper » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 04:12

welcome out of the shadows



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Post by KiwiNZ » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 04:25

Permission granted. Please dock as soon as you see green docking lights. :x2:

Welcome to the light :wink: enjoyed reading your post.

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Post by GoateeCat » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 05:49

And thus concludes the great work "More cred than thou!"

Whew, that was interesting and I read somethings I was not aware of too. Thanks.

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Post by pjknibbs » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 09:02

Hey, great post!

As for the Fer-de-Lance, I personally HATED the things. If ever I saw one on Elite (playing the Spectrum version, this is) which DIDN'T open fire on me I'd wait until it pulled alongside, give it a blast from the side lasers, and then blow it up with the rear laser before it could get a shot in...

As far as landing on planets is concerned, it's a pity you missed Frontier and First Encounters, because they both had completely seamless planet landings--you could go from orbit down to the ground and land on it without ever having a cut-scene or similar interrupting you. It's still not a feature I particularly miss in X, mind you--the ground-based stations in Frontier were effectively the same as the orbital ones but with different graphics, and the only thing you could do on a planet surface which you couldn't do in space was deploy a mining machine (which almost always ended up mining Water or something equally useless).

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Post by Al » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 10:24

Hi and welcome to our little mad X corner of the net.

Glad to see that you (liek mnay others) are an Elite veteran. I used to love the Fer de Lance. Truely a beautiful ship and one worht giving some resoect when it came to combat. Mind you that didn't stop me blasting them all away and pinching their cargo ;)

X2 Capture Guru - X3:TC Noob :D
X2 Capture Guide

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Post by Oldman » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 10:33

Hello :)

I had to smile reading through your post...it seems like you have many interests and experiences that are common to some people on this forum :wink:
Interesting read :)

Welcome! :D

Oldman :)

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Post by Jasperodus » Tue, 29. Apr 03, 14:03

:wink: Nice to see another keyboard-only user. (Also another Elite on the Beeb veteran.)


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