Logbook entry

Scubadog / 15 Aug 3305
A Wave of Complaints? Starting Out as a Commander

While scanning some recent waves of the various goings-on across the 'verse, I came across a series of discussions from new commanders. These are folk who decided to no longer be passive participants in their own lives, and have made the move to acquire their license and embark on a new journey--that of being a ship commander.

And then complain about it.

Some of the most frequent issues include: "I don't know what to do", "there's not a lot TO do", "I never run across other commanders", and then a laundry list of "why this...?" questions.

At the risk of sounding like a fuddy, I'll say new commanders have things much better than when I became one just over three years ago. When you get handed your shiny new Sidewinder it now comes with some pretty thorough tutorials on just about any aspect of commanding your ship and navigating it in the 'verse. If you're not giving that a go, you are already screwing up. When I started out, it only took me a day to get the hang of just basic operation.

As far as "what to do" as a new commander, this is really no different a question than asking it if we're not a commander. It's this thing we call life. If you're planet-bound, what is real life to you? What do you do? Generally, you do what anyone else does. You figure out what you want to be, what you're good at, what you like to do...and you try to get gainful employment out of it. You acquire wealth, material possessions, you engage in social or romantic interactions. You know, life. Here's the dirty little secret...life can be really boring. And it can be really exciting, really dangerous or even really deadly. Living life is not without risk.

It's the same being a commander. Now, my parents were both explorers and, if you've read my bio, you know I was born in the black and that's where I'm most comfortable. When I signed up to become a licensed pilot, my plan was to earn as much money as I could doing simple missions--gaining experience and connections in the process--in order to purchase a ship suitable for exploration. It didn't take long. Within 3 months I'd gained enough credits to buy a Diamondback Explorer--which I still have, by the way--and upgrade it enough to make a decent exploration ship out of her. Did I know everything I needed to know to optimize my ship and be the most profitable at exploring? Ah, hell, no. I had a 20-something jump range, an SRV, an AFMU, and Intermediate Discovery Scanner and no Detailed Surface Scanner. After one month of "local" exploration I gained enough cartographic data to sell off and do a few more upgrades to my ship.

And then I began my migration to Colonia. I didn't know about the Neutron Superhighway...hell, I didn't know about fuel scooping neutron stars to begin with. But the journey to Colonia--which took me another 3 months to do because of the 20+ jump range and my own ignorance--was still an amazing, boring, terrifying experience. And when I finally pulled into Jaques Station I sold over 30 million credits worth of cartographic data. And bought more ships.

Fast forward a few years, and I slowly, cautiously branched out into doing a little bit of combat--discovering I basically suck at it, but I get better a little at a time--and, as Community Goals surfaced, even a little cargo trading. With the advent of HUGE improvements in the way engineering works, I finally braved that aspect and began the slow, methodical process of engineering my growing fleet. I had to research with other commanders and various sites as to what kinds of engineering for the different ship modules and which experimental features would be most beneficial based on how I planned to use my ship. There was some trial and error, of course. But that's true with everything in real life.

More recently, some new advances in mining technology (pronounced "deep core" and a booming market in Void Opals, Low Temperature Diamonds, Painite and others drew me in to giving that a go. This has easily become my go-to way to quickly buff up my bank account. I decided that, for me personally, my Python was the optimal ship to convert into a deep core miner. It's medium size, but it has plenty of space for mining equipment and storage. In a couple to three hours I can be hauling a payload of 128 tons of Void Opals and cash in around 180 million credits of profit. Not bad for a day's work.

Now, sure, some aspects of being a commander are grindy. Doing the kinds of missions you need to gain access to different engineers or certain ships can be annoying. But, again, this is true of so many aspects of life. In other words, this is normal. If you want something bad enough, though, it's worth it. And you learn more.

Along the way, you will inevitably run across much more experienced commanders who share tips, mentor or assist you. Again, you learn more. Some of those instances turn into friendships that last years. Still, you will also encounter the darker element out there. The evil commanders. The ones who prey on the weaker, the less experienced, for no other reason than to put another tick mark on their hull, to brag to other miscreants. You learn over time which systems to avoid or how to evade or otherwise survive an encounter with these numbskulls. You might even be driven to add bounty hunter to your career set and outfit ships and gain training to put these folk in their rightful place. Or, sad to say, you might turn into one of these scalawags yourself. The more's the pity, and I hate you. But you have that choice.

Suffice to say, though, that you will very likely have to dip your foot into a number of different careers along the way in order to reach the goals you set for yourself. And you should have a goal in mind. If you became a commander with no other intent than to "fly around and do exciting pew-pew things" then I think you are setting yourself up to be disappointed. Most commanders want a peacable existence and will avoid gankers, griefers and pirates at all costs. But, as you find yourself having to at least try out trading, mining, combat, exploring and pleasure cruising, you'll find things you like and don't like. You'll find things you want to get better at and things you don't care to waste any more time than you have to on. You'll learn over time what ships and configurations are best suited for different jobs and you'll very likely acquire however many ships you need to easily jump from one type of job to the next.

And, as your bank account grows, you'll probably acquire ships just because. That's pretty much how my life has gone so far. Slow start, plenty of mistakes, hours of boredom and hours of excitement. I resist the urge to compare myself to other commanders. I set goals for myself and work toward them. Life.

For the commanders who lament that they spent days and weeks flying around the Bubble and haven't met another commander--which I find virtually impossible to believe--I say go where the people are. If you visit any city on any planet, there locations where people tend to congregate and ones they don't. Find out where they are and start networking. There are plenty of tools out there to help you connect with the happening places and people.

Most of all, don't let perfection be the enemy of progress. If what you're doing isn't producing results, do something different. Go somewhere different. Even if you don't have exactly the ship you want or all the modules you want or all the engineering you want, don't let that stop you from moving forward. And when you finally start "getting it", mentor other commanders...remember where you came from.
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