|My current quest is on line 3.|
If nothing else, MegaTraveller manages to capture how difficult, expensive, and confusing it must be to travel among multiple planets. The few hours I've invested in the game have been an exercise in complete frustration.
I started by finishing exploring what I thought was the rest of Efate, hampered by the fact that the mercenaries from the first battle never went away; they just dispersed. Every so often, one would come charging at me, firing his weapon, and I'd have to run away.
I was reluctant to buy anything until I'd checked everything out, but eventually I got everyone outfitted with cloth armor, which is fairly inexpensive. There's a Traveler's Aid Society in town, but you have to be a member to enter, and the manual says that you can only get membership while mustering out of the military. There's supposed to be some cool information there, so I suppose I should think about trying again with a new character.
Aside from the two NPCs in the museum who offered to buy diamonds and "starrghrite," I didn't find anyone interesting to talk with. I found some rubies on the floor of the inn. Eventually, I made my way back to the bar where a dog-headed bartender warned me about messing with Konrad Kiefer but offered no new advice.
A few rolls of the slot machine at the casino just lost me $400.
Commenter Old Man Matt had warned me that there were areas of each planet inaccessible without a special vehicle. I rented an ATV and headed out into the world. I found some emeralds in a crevice, but otherwise nothing that I couldn't have found by simply walking there. NPCs kept randomly shooting at me along the way.
I can't figure out combat in this game. At all. When it's time to fight, you're supposed to break your single-icon party up into multiple icons representing each character, then issue various movement and attack orders. Now, my party isn't well-equipped for combat anyway because only two of the five party members got weapons upon retirement, and I didn't find a weapon store on Efate. But regardless, the two characters who have handguns simply refuse to use them. I keep issuing "Fire" commands and targeting the attacking NPCs, but the characters won't fire no matter what I do. I've read the relevant section of the manual multiple times and can't figure what I'm doing wrong.
Eventually, I discovered that a texture I had thought was a wall was actually a path, and it led me to the planet's starport. Only in starport can you save the game, use the bank, buy and sell cargo, and buy equipment for the ship. The bank was particularly mystifying to me. Every shop had given me the option to let an individual character pay for an item or spend money from the "party account." I didn't see any reason not to put all of the money in the party account, so I had everyone do that. Later, I found that characters need individual funds for gambling and bribes.
|Messing around transferring money from the party account to individual members.|
Anyway, our ship--the Interloper--was in the starport, and I entered it to take off and explore space travel. It's similar to other space games like Starflight in that there's a distinction between intra-system travel, which is simply controlled by turning and thrusting around, and inter-system travel, which requires you to "jump" between hexes in space. Ships fly around you in the meantime, but fortunately none were attacking me.
My mission was to visit Boughene and find Arik Toryan. I was pleased to see Boughene right there on the "jump" screen and decided to head for it. Well, not so fast. "No jump possible," the screen told me. "No nav program running."
|The different systems in the game.|
It took me a while to figure out how to get into the computer station and load programs into the computer. Basically, on board the ship you have 7 stations to which to assign the 5 crew members: pilot, gun1, gun2, computer, engineering, and medical. The game automatically assigns crew to the first 5 of those stations, and I'm not sure how it figures out how to put who where. Anyway, to see more about one of the stations, you have to click "View" and then the station.
|The various stations on the ship and the ship's current status.|
On the computer station, you can load up to 6 programs, which include navigation, jump, and various combat maneuvering programs that I don't have yet. I figured out how to "Load" the program, but for the longest time, I couldn't get any loaded program to "Run" no matter how many times I hit the "Run" button.
It turns out that you actually have to wait for the program to load, in real time, which took about 15 minutes for the navigation program. Wow. I mean, I can appreciate a good simulator, but to me that carries it a bit too far.
Anyway, the navigation program was finally loaded. Time to jump! Uh, no. Now there's no "jump program" loaded. I had to repeat the navigation program process in the second slot.
|One program loaded. Waiting on the status bar for the second.|
When I finally had that loaded, I was able to jump--just not to Boughene. After some more experimentation and reading, it appears that the "Jump 1" drive that comes with the ship will only get you to the four systems in the lower-left part of the map. To get to those in the upper right, including Boughene, you need "Jump 2." It costs $2 million. Since I only started with $300,000, and had to buy a bunch of stuff besides, I have a long way to go.
With no compelling reason to jump anywhere, I decided to explore the Efate system a bit more. The little navigation window in the upper-right is supposed to show ships, planets, and suns, as well as your own ship, but as you can imagine I have trouble with the colors and it's just chaos to me. I eventually found that if I accelerated the ship to maximum thrust, I could identify "me" by the object that was rocketing through all the others, then kill the thrust, keep my eye on the icon, and proceed at a more sedate pace.
Flying in space obeys some real laws of physics. When you turn, you don't immediately start heading in that direction; instead, the thrust in that direction is added to the cumulative thrust from the previous direction, sending you on some middle path between the two. Keeping the thrust active imparts constant acceleration. Planets and stars exert a gravitational pull and can screw up your path. Fortunately, you can just hit a single key to stop all thrust and start over if you need to.
|The sun pulls me in.|
Eventually, I found myself on the planet Kra. The starport only offered saving abilities; it had no cargo, bank, personnel, equipment or fuel.
The planet also had no atmosphere. My party died the moment I stepped out of the starport.
|You'd think someone could have put up a sign.|
Very well, I thought, reloading. Clearly, I needed to invest in some vacuum suits back on Efate. I flew around some more and found three other planets--Llun, San, and Solon--which all had no environment, although Llun offered cargo for sale, and I recorded the prices of the various goods for later reference.
|I feel like I've done this in about six games by now.|
Finally, I found my way back to Efate. I spent a bunch of money restoring the fuel I'd expended and decided to have a more thorough look around. There was some kind of structure in the far northeast that I'd ignored earlier because I couldn't do anything with it. After some fiddling around, I realized that what I really needed to rent from the vehicle store wasn't a boat or ATV but a "grav vehicle," which allowed me access to a separate little city called Seara.
I entered the first building on Seara, a bar, and was immediately killed by two random gunslingers while I futilely tried to get my characters to shoot.
|NPCs kill me for no reason.|
The combat thing is a dealbreaker, and I need someone who's played the game to help me out, as nothing I find online has been of any use. But I'm otherwise starting to feel like I understand the game. It's clear that the visit to Boughene is not just a quick next step but rather a far-off goal, and that my immediate goal is to make lots and lots of money. At least three opportunities for doing this have presented themselves:
- Gambling, though none of my characters have the skill.
- Fulfilling NPC quests to get various gems and goods, though so far I've been unable to match the items I've found with NPCs who want them, and vice versa.
|I don't know what they are, but I'll keep my eye out.|
- Buying cargo at one place and selling it at another, though I have to do some more exploring and recording of prices to see how that will be profitable.
It's also possible that killing these random NPCs who keep shooting me will gain some rewards. The manual suggests that you can make money "pirating" other ships, but that just seems wrong.
While waiting for someone to reply with any help on combat, I'm going to start over, see if I can get a party member with Aid Society membership, and buy vacuum suits and extra oxygen tanks for everyone so I can explore the other planets. I'll take notes on the cargo prices in the area and see if I can make any money that way.
Not a great start, but here's hoping it gets a little better.