Credits: Every pilot wants and needs them. But, before describing the ways to get credits, the first rule of Elite: Dangerous (ED) must be stated:
Always keep enough credits spare to pay for your ship insurance, preferably with a good amount left over.
OK, so if you’re in a starter Sidewinder, and you’ve only made a few trade runs, this rule is perhaps impossible to follow, and not so important; you will not need much time to regain your wealth, should you lose everything. As soon as you have made a few thousand credits, however, and definitely as soon as you have bought new weapons, or a new ship, you must avoid sinking all your credits into a new ship, cargo or weapons/modules. Why?
Because, if you lose your ship and you can’t pay the insurance, you are back to a starter Sidewinder and 1,000 credits!
If you’ve spent hours earning the credits to get an Eagle, this will hurt. If you’ve spent weeks bounty hunting to get a Lakon Type 9, it will be devastating! Remember, the insurance is about 5% of the purchase price of your ship, but more, (possibly much more), if you have bought new weapons and modules.
You don’t really just need enough spare credits to cover the insurance. You also need some spare to cover the cost of buying more cargo to build up your wealth again, and to mitigate against another ship loss.
So, really, just don’t ignore ‘Rule 1’. Your life in ED will be far less stressful if you follow this advice. OK, now the sermon is over, here are the 7 ways (3 not implemented yet) to make money in ED:
Elite was originally a trading game, with a bit of pew-pew thrown in. Trading remains an easy way to start earning, and for many will be their main source of income. In ED, however, you do not need to trade to earn credits, and Frontier have said they are committed to balancing other ‘professions’ so that they are on a par with trading.
It’s pretty straightforward; Buy and sell goods in the markets in stations. Buy low, sell high. The market window gives you a ‘galactic average’ to help you get an idea of what is a good price.
Keeping an eye on supply and demand is wise, too, especially if you think you have found a lucrative ‘run’.
The economy of the area the station serves will also give good clues as to what would be cheap to buy and good to sell. Taking ores to a refinery would seem a good move, as would selling metals to an industrial station. You’ll find you learn these characteristics with time, touring around, and through reading the information about each system.
The Standard Beta galaxy map now includes the ability to highlight specific types of trade route.
And remember, it might seem good idea to spend all, or most, of your credits on those very profitable items, but Rule 1, above, tells you not to!
[EDIT: Beta 2, released 30/09/14, makes trading quite a lot more complex, since it seems commodities are spread more thinly, with less variation available to buy at many stations… or no market at all! Expect an update on this, as and when I understand it.]
2. Bounty Hunting:
Really, there are two types of bounty hunting, though maybe not as distinct as they first appear:
Hunting pilots with bounties, who may well be hardened pirates, or just minor criminals: If you’re not in a no-fire-zone, (near a station, for example), and your default scan of a ship shows a bounty, you are free to engage. It’s worth remembering that even the most defenseless looking pilot may have friends around. Really, though, if you go down this route, you are probably the type who is prepare to learn from his or her mistakes.
Killing NPCs. Again, if you find NPCs with bounties, and you’re not in a no-fire-zone, you can go for it. NPCs sometimes have NPC friends too, however! Choosing to fight in an NPC battle is another variation on this theme, whereby you enter a battle-zone and then choose a ‘side’ on your right UI. There may be player pilots in the battle too, and you should keep a wary eye on even those on your ‘side’.
I seem to remember reading that we will have the option of permanently affiliating to a faction, but I’m not sure if this is true/will happen. Certainly, in the full release, bounty hunting will also earn you reputation with whatever faction placed the bounty. This reputation will not be visible to you, but will affect how factions behave towards you.
This is basically a decision to become a criminal. If done skilfully, or perhaps with luck, you might be able to avoid large bounties. In any case, you may find the rewards outweigh the payments to clear any bounties you receive.
There is much discussion of what piracy is, and where the lines between piracy, PvP and griefing are. Put simply, piracy is relieving someone of their cargo, (or perhaps ship in later releases), for personal profit. A pilot may be persuaded to drop his or her cargo, or a more aggressive approach may be preferred, such as blowing the cargo bay doors off a ship and scooping the cargo that spills out.
At the moment, it seems that destroying a ship also destroys about 3/4 of the cargo it is carrying, leaving some floating in space if the victim was carrying cargo. A cargo scanner will help pirates evaluate this, although they will have to sacrifice a hard-point for it.
Pirates are likely to prefer the anarchic systems, though it is distinctly possible that more pioneering spirits will strike wherever they think is most profitable, even if this involves considering police actions against them, or taking on armed convoys.
It’s a risk/reward calculation, tinged with the irrationality born of adrenalin. Don’t expect pirates to always be reasonable or sensible in their actions. Likewise, don’t think of them all as mindless either. Pilots may switch roles, so a friendly miner today may be also be a pirate at times. Things are not simple in ED.
If you think you might like to try piracy, or if you want to avoid it or be better prepared for it, then you would do well to read the Criminality thread on the Design Discussion Forum.
Finding abandoned cargo canisters, many light seconds from anywhere, is probably OK. You can probably pick it up and sell it on, no problem. If it comes up as ‘stolen’ you can always sell it on the black market, right? This is all well and good, and 9 times out of 10, true, but if it is somebody’s cargo, and somebody sees you do it, the crime may be reported. If it is a trap set by pirates, then they can now attack you with impunity for stealing their cargo.
So, that canister of gold floating outside the station probably hasn’t been dropped by accident. You can still go for it, but just bear in mind you’ll probably get a bounty, and you better be ready to run or dock pretty sharpish!
ED will, in later releases, also have large wrecks waiting to be discovered, with salvageable items for you to collect. At the moment, however, earning a living through salvage is not a very viable option.
For a discussion of the ideas and possible mechanics behind exploration, see this thread on the Design Discussion Forum.
It’s a big galaxy, so this option will appeal to many, not least for it’s romantic and, perhaps, exciting aspects. You’ll need a reliable and reasonably large ship, fitted with a long-range hyperdrive, repair modules and a fuel scoop (to scoop fuel from the atmosphere of stars).
[EDIT: Beta 2, released 30/10/14 saw the 1st implementation of exploration as a credit earning activity. I will update this section as soon as I understand more about the mechanics.]
6. Mining [Not Yet implemented]:
Although you can see NPCs mining in asteroid belts, you can’t yet buy the equipment to do so yourself. Here’s the DDF thread on mining. I will update this section when mining becomes possible.
7. Passenger Services [Not yet implemented]:
The ships aren’t in game yet, but interestingly Frontier say that when they are, NPC’s taken as passengers will be vulnerable. This means that although you may get a great payment for carrying a high-ranking NPC, you risk losing reputation with the NPC’s faction/allies and altering in game politics and economies, should you lose your ship with the character on board.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR BETA TESTERS:
Progress may be reset during the Beta testing phase. I am not aware of any commitment to avoid resetting credit balances at further points during Beta testing. It may be that we get to keep our wealth right through to the full-version, but I strongly suspect it will, at least, be reset at Gamma release. See this post for clarification.
*** This guide is under development, and I will soon add related threads and resources, and more sophisticated descriptions. ***
The title image uses a background created by Cmdr. Erik Marcaigh, and is featured in this post, along with many other works of his.