Exobiology and grinding in Elite: Dangerous Odyssey
Exobiology in Elite: Dangerous should now come with the footnote “how to become a space millionaire… fast”. Here are some notes about Exobiology taken while at Waypoint 8 in the Distant Legacy Expedition.
One of the good things about the Odyssey expansion of Elite: Dangerous is the presence of planets with atmosphere, which are a hunting ground for exobiologists. Explorers, who first have discovered the fun — and grinding — of Exobiology, have, since the most recent update, an extra reason to invest time looking for specimens: payment has been increased and it’s not difficult to cash a few millions from your travels to the surface of planets.
Waypoint 8 on the Distant Legacy Expedition, which I continue covering as we move to a new waypoint each couple of weeks, revealed itself to be a great segment of the Universe for exobiologists. Planets with, sometimes, eight distinct species to find and catalog made it easy for both experienced and newcomers to the profession to get rich. I wonder if Frontier has decided to update payments as a trick to make people buy Odyssey, which would make sense, from a marketing perspective, and, in the end, makes everybody happy, despite some of the grinding associated with Exobiology.
While it’s something that I enjoy doing in Elite: Dangerous Odyssey game, Exobiology could be less of a grind. One negative aspect I already mentioned is the fact that you can only collect one sample at a time, meaning you can be in areas with three or more species within reach by simply walking, and you still have to use your ship and travel a distance, to collect a second sample of the same species, followed by a third. Then rinse and repeat…
With a Universe from which only an exceedingly small — tiny, in fact — fraction is explored, Frontier could well make this less of a chore. As it is working now, it’s simply grinding for grinding’s sake. Exploring on a DBX, I can get close to each location I want to scout. In fact, I see the species while hovering a few meters above the ground, so it’s not too hard for me. But those with larger ships can not do the same so easily, and need to land far away from their target, especially as some species are hidden in deep and narrow canyons . The alternative is to use the SRV, which takes a long time and makes it harder to find specimens.
Exobiology and the science of grinding
Frontier could give us more options in terms of collecting samples. It makes no sense to have a ship that offers some of the most fantastic tech, and then just have one container available to collect specimens. Another infuriating aspect of the entire process is that once you’ve mapped the whole planet and discovered the number of different specimens available, you lose information about their general location once you land on the planet to investigate one area. As far as I can see, you’ve to return to orbit, activate the mapping option again to check the whereabouts of your next samples.
If you’ve found a planet with eight samples, you’ve to keep flying to the surface, pick those selected, go up to orbit, check the map again and come down after a new set of samples. Rinse and repeat again… This is not very environmentally friendly, I believe, and Frontier should make it possible for exobiologists to keep information about the distinct species, once that information is in the ship’s computer.
Taking it to extremes, I can imagine that this exobiology part of the game could be a reason to have the inner space of the ships created, with a lab where explorers could check the maps just created, the inventory, and a lot of other info that would create activities justifying the existence of ship interiors. While I understand those who say it would be a lot of trouble for little reward, I can not forget that ship interiors were suggested as part of the game at its early stage. Maybe there is a compromise, somewhere, that allows for ship interiors. After all, Frontier did make stations and Fleet Carriers, which are used to sell things to players. Maybe, maybe, if Frontier could sell modules — with compartments or rooms — to fit ship interiors, and get money from it, we could have them… Hi, Frontier, are you listening?
Paying for ship interiors, built in some modular way that would then basically similar independently of ship, could be a way to satisfy everybody. I would be curious to see who would then buy those modules… As for the technical problems of having all those things moving around, maybe a “operating limits” definition could be in place: only when the spaceship is stationary it is possible to leave the cockpit and go to your quarters. Just my two cents…
I want my “home away from home” while in space
Other games offer housing. I’ve played LOTRO for a long time and while I am homeless now, I used to have a house when playing with my two sons. We had similar houses in an area of the game — which functions a completely different instance -, which we decorated differently. Maybe this could also be done in Elite, so Frontier could sell “furniture” some of it common, for those areas.
Some people mention that ship interiors could be used for things as repairs, providing another reason to have them. From adjusting your AFMU or ship’s equipment to checking maps and your inventory of exobiology specimens collected, there can be some new activities. Even sleep… Those activities could also be extended to external areas of the ship. While landed at a planet in the WayPoint 8 of the Distant Legacy Expedition, I jumped to the top of my DBX, to have a better vantage point to photograph a huge specimen. While there I imagined I could be repairing a module of my DBX.
Having to repair external equipment on your spaceship can also be part of the fun, and I’ve used an illustration here that suggests it. Imagine this: you’re entering orbit and get information that a system is not working properly and need to be repaired after landing. As soon as you reach the ground, you go the section of the ship that need intervention and activate a menu to repair that module. Yes, I know, it’s not much, but it’s part of the things an explorer, far away from the Bubble and who is calling his or her spaceship “home” is willing to do as part of the immersion. Again, the repair can be activated from the cockpit for those who don’t want to bother with those details, but those others who want to kind of RPG their path in Elite will probably go outside and do the repairs. Frontier has done so many things in Elite that are far more complex — so why not explore some of these ideas?
OK, this is all for Waypoint 8 from the Distant Legacy Expedition, a voyage with a story that I keep trying to tell through postcards and these notes. It’s a voyage to celebrate a real cat, Toby, and a story you’ll probably will want to know, as it makes Elite even more fascinating. Despite its — Elite’s — flaws.