I've been lurking for a bit, but I thought it was time to say hello.
I've recently re-discovered Pioneer, and I'm happy to see that it's not only still around and active but there's been improvements. The new HUD is nice.
It's taken some stumbling around, but I think I've finally got a grasp on the play style and and what I'll call the 'intent.'
I've never played Frontier or anything like it, so I don't have any expectations of how anything 'should be.' This actually ended up being a deterrent, and caused me to not stick around the first time. It's pretty confusing!
My first impressions were:
- Better ships are expensive!
- You have very little reputation, so very few missions (ie money making opportunities) are available.
- Making profit from trade seemed to be impossible (with the starting ship).
- Combat seemed to be impossible (with the starting ship).
- Making enough to buy a new ship from intra-system missions would be infeasible ($20-$100 each?).
- Delivery/arrival date requirements for many missions seemed to be impossible or close to it.
- First, I don't think the ship prices are bad, it was just confusing that even a 'small' upgrade (sinatronix -> mola mola) would cost ~90,000 when you are given $100 to start with and the only missions you have access to give $20-$100.
- I like the way reputation works. It's a little frustrating at first, but it 'funnels' you into the missions that build up your rep.
- It seems that trade should be impossible without a ship dedicated for it, and that makes sense.
- I'm still figuring out combat. Even with shield generators and the maximum amount of missiles my starting ship can carry, I haven't been able to complete a mission where I'm attacked. I was told in the IRC channel that combat needs work and it hasn't been touched in a while, so at least I'm not missing something (I think).
- It seems the intra-system missions are really just there to build up your reputation at first, or for picking up missions if you are already going to another station. It doesn't seem like these are really worth doing after that. Even if you can find multiple missions going to the same station, it feel like I'm better off doing inter-system courier/passenger transport. Is that the point?
- Most of the delivery dates are actually quite generous. My issue was: hyper-jumping a single long distance takes longer than several short jumps and, to a lesser extent, the auto-pilot isn't perfect.
- I remember seeing something in the wiki or somewhere about making several short jumps instead of a long one, but I can't find it now and it wasn't clear what it meant at the time. It was really just dumb luck that I accidentally clicked on a different system on the map and noticed the total time was less than the original jump.
- Not having played anything like this before, manual flight wasn't intuitive and I wasn't sure why to bother with it when the auto-pilot seemed to work for everything. I later saw some mentions in this forum and the issue tracker that said, basically, that manual flight should be preferred over the auto pilot (for travel between planets at least). After that, I actually put the time in to learn how to fly without the auto-pilot and I seem to get better results overall. I don't like the 'guess' method of accelerating where you think is right, checking the system map, making corrections, etc., but the first time I actually performed a sling-shot around a star and ended up meeting the planet in it's orbit at the right time was really cool! :)
This is really disorienting to me. I feel like if I were sitting in the cockpit of a ship I'd have some sort of docking/landing screen or indicator that would display the alignment. Sort of like a back-up camera.
I actually played around with the concept a bit, and nozmajner pointed out that the indicators to the upper right of the reticule in this mockup are intended to be for docking.
I modified what I had built to look pretty close to that mockup and I like the way it functions: Short landing at London
I would envision something almost the exact same for docking, but the bottom of the ship (probably) wouldn't be used.