Middle of the month and time to join in with Clare’s Share Your Desktop Challenge. Same format for me as last month’s entry – two desktops.

On my Gaming PC I have a desktop that ties in nicely with Clare’s, since Space is involved. This is a screenshot from a game called X4…

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It’s a view of my ship, a small fighter, docked at station. The ship is an Elite Vanguard and is the first ship you are given when you start the game. It’s an interceptor rather than a dogfighter. As I’ve only recently started playing this game, I can’t really tell a lot more about it and certainly no plot details. I’m not even sure it has one in the starting option I chose – more of a sandbox where you make your own way in the galaxyπŸ˜…

On my Photography PC things are a lot simpler. Here’s a photo taken on Brompton Road…

Robinsons PE56 YXS on Brompton Road

Centrepiece of the image is a Volvo FH12 belonging to Robinson’s Haulage of Sandy. Fitted with a 520HP engine, the tractor unit has a 6×2 Tag-lift chassis – note that the centre axle is the driven one. This configuration is a little unusual in London as it is commonly favoured by companies that work on untarmacked roads. There is also a crane fitted behind the cab to assist with loading flatbed trailers. The truck conforms to the ‘You can never have too many lights’ rule-of-thumb and has a nice set of air-horns tooπŸ˜… If you look in the centre of the windscreen you can see an Angry Duck – the hood ornament from Rubber Duck’s Mack truck in the 1978 film Convoy. There are a lot of other ‘Volvo’ details added to the vehicle which tells me that the driver loves his truck! Finally, for those that haven’t recognised the large building in the background – it’s Harrods 😎

Another report from the X universe. My ship was blown up by a mystery object – presumed to be a mine. Note to self – don’t go investigating unidentified objects! πŸ˜… That’s one of the differences between X4 and Elite – Your ship gets shot from under you and, unless you can get another ship that you own to come an pick you up, you float around in your spacesuit waiting for someone to shoot you or your oxygen to run out. There’s a bit of a ‘Major Tom’ about the whole situation and that didn’t end well! Elite uses an automated lifeboat facility to return you to a station where you will get given a free Sidewinder. In X4, I can just close the game and go back to the previous save – something you can’t easily do in Elite. Having realised that I could go back to where I was before disaster struck, I realised that I was going to have to make some ground rules. Whilst I can live with the Elite ‘lifeboat’ approach, I don’t think I would be happy picking up my X4 previous save after getting killed. So I’ve decided to treat a death as permanent and start a new game any time that it happens.

So here we go again. This second play through has started much the same as the first with the exception that the economy has been a bit less forgiving. I haven’t broken through the Cr1M barrier yet as crystals have been difficult to find. I have been taking some very easy contracts where passengers ask for a quick hop to another station. Here’s one of my passengers boarding…

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…These jobs earn Cr30-40K each time and generally don’t carry much risk. I’ve also been shooting down criminals close to stations which resulted in me reaching reputation level 10 with the Argon Federation. That brings some benefits though I’m unsure how to use them yet. We’re back to the game being a very steep learning curve.

I have made enough money to upgrade my ship with a better engine, pulse lazer and thrusters. I’ve also done the first of the ship upkeep tasks and hired a Captain. Here she is sitting in the hot seat…

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…One of the interesting things I’ve come across while learning this game is a consistent complaint that the pilots you can hire are very low skill – often only part of a 1-star – Anyone else costs silly money. That struck me as a bit odd – ok I don’t expect to get a 5-Star pilot but there must be a range of lower levels available and probably a variety of hire costs. I went hunting for my pilot amongst the Marines on a defence platform. My ship is a fighter, so it seemed sensible to look for a Marine with piloting skills. Walking away from where I was docked and exploring the open areas of the station I started finding Marines with 2-Star piloting skills. The first couple of these were going to cost around Cr450K to hire. Then I found this young lady hiding in a quiet corner with a sign-on fee of less than Cr150K. She also has good morale and boarding skills πŸ™‚ I should note that in my previous game before the incident with the mine, I had found another Captain the same way. I’m surprised that I haven’t read about this in any of the game tips – so maybe this is my first new player tip πŸ˜…

Anyway, I’m going to be out there, trying to build a life in this distant galaxy 😎

Now we do it for real…

There are a number of starting options in the game X4: Foundations and its currently available DLC’s. However, the general advice from seasoned X’ers to new players is to choose the Young Gun start. This is because it doesn’t push you in a certain direction of gameplay. There are other starts that lean towards trade, exploration, combat and research. Beginning with the premise that Young Gun is just a ‘play it your way’, it comes as a little bit of a surprise when you find one of your first missions is to help with a scientific experiment. I have taken that mission and carried out the first 2 elements of it – of which, more in a moment.

You start out in an Argon system with a basic ship – an Elite Vanguard. Having flown it, I can say that it’s possibly better than the Sidewinder you get in Elite but that’s marginal! It’s definitely nowhere near the wonderful Cobra mkIII 😜 But the ships of different games do not really bear comparison because the challenges are different. So far, since starting a serious play through, I have yet to get shot at – In Elite I’d have been fighting for my life just a couple of trips into the game! Staying briefly with comparisons and going down that road for the last time in this series – The graphics of X4 are very good but they’re not to the Elite standard. That is something that fans of this series acknowledge, so I’m not talking out of turn. Here’s that first ship waiting for me to take her out into space…

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I mentioned the Argon – A quick look into the Lore of the game tells me that they were originally Terran but were seperated from Earth in a war many centuries ago – so I guess we’re ‘Human’ even if my fellow Argonites don’t recognise that as being the case. I spent a bit of time exploring the local area, collecting crystals and killing criminals. This boosted my standing a bit with the Argon. Then I took that first scientific mission.

This mission bounces you into different sector of space where you will meet another species – The Teladi. Both the Argon and the Teladi are initially neutral and you can build your reputation by trading with them or killing their enemies – which includes criminals around their stations. As an aside, the Terran Protectorate are Hostile! – Humans hating on Humans – Who’dve thought it? But I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere near their space at this early stageπŸ˜… The Teladi are reptilian in appearance – here’s one of their maintenance people kindly washing some space dust off my ship…

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It was after I’d carried out the first two requirements of that scientific mission that the game advised me to ease off, earn some cash and build some standing as there was no rush to complete the project. Never had that in a game beforeπŸ˜• So I went out, killed some more criminals and did some more crystal hunting. Finding crystals is easy if you understand what to look for. You can find tuition videos that cover this but all I can give you is a screenshot and try to explain…

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…The crystals reflect light – So if you watch carefully, you will see the occasional flash of light from an asteroid. You’ll need to open up the image above to see but, if you look slightly right of centre and slightly above the centreline, there is a white starburst on the edge of an asteroid – that’s a clear indication of the presence of crystals which you can dislodge with your lazer and collect. Some of them are worth a very large amount of credits!

By now you may be finding this post a bit confused and chaotic – Rest assured, that is how the game feels to me at the moment. It’s one huge learning curve and lacking in structure but I will say it’s fun😎 πŸ‘β€ I’ve made my way back to my starting point via a Super Highway…

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…and a Jump Gate…

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As for those naughty criminal types, I’ve left some wrecks in my wake…

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Finally – there’s that warm glow when you get to sell off your crystal colection…

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… that’s me over Cr1M in the bank!!! πŸ˜ƒ

To close, there are some wonderful sights to enjoy in this game…

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…and a lot of fun to be had. But currently I’m not sure if it’s going to become as dangerous out there as Elite can be. I suspect I will find out as I expand my operations πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘β€