Phew. Right. That was a major session. Let’s see what I can remember.

Okay, I started again and this time Roger was called Johan. I had a chat with him and we took down the robot ship together (I had to repair myself and a reload or two may have been involved) and after that he became my partner. Being my partner seems to consist of two things -

1) Appearing near me at random intervals.

2) Stealing minerals I wanted, dammit.

After killing the robot (lesson learned: avoid all combat) the tutorial was pretty much over. So I decided to look around for something to do. In the news bulletins I learned of a planet called Banana, which was apparently overflowing with cheap luxuries after an archaeological discovery. Another planet in the same system had recently had an alcohol ban lifted and was begging for booze. Can you see a cunning plan forming? I could.

There was, however, a problem. My ship can only jump 17 parsecs at a time, which meant there was one system I had to go through to get to the system with Banana in. And this system was under attack by uber-baddies The Dominators. I tried to get through it, many, many times. And I died many, many times. I soon gave up on the idea of flying to a planet in the system to refuel, so bought an upgraded fuel tank that held enough for two full jumps. But you still have to fly across the system to jump out again and The Dominators always found me, even when I tried skirting the edge. Once, I took Johan with me as a human shield – okay, he just happened to follow me – but after killing him The Dominators still killed me.

I’m beginning to think I’m not meant to get to Banana. Especially as, well… The galaxy map is divided up into sectors, each with four or so systems in. You start off in a sector which contains our solar system. Well, you do if you play a human, might not be the same for all races. Anyway, there are two ways out of the sector on my current map and using my current engine. And both of these exit systems are under attack by the Dominators. I don’t know if this is just a cruel result of the random map generation, or whether this is a gameplay mechanic designed to keep you in the starting sector for a while.

I might start a new game to find out. Otherwise I can scrape a living for a while and try to buy a bigger engine. (There’s one I can get, but it only gets me jumps of 19 parsecs and I need 20 to bypass the dangerous system.)

Like I said, phew!

This evening has been really good. I’ve learnt how the game works, basically. Things like taking notice of your grapple capacity and checking what a ship can carry before buying a new one. (I thought I’d got a bargain on a new ship until I found out it couldn’t hold scanners or shields. Oops.) And some things still seem odd. Sometimes you can seem to choose to go somewhere and the game won’t take any notice. And the interface is a bit clumsy and does need learning. But I’m more or less there now, I think.

Overall this is looking really, really good. I love this type of open-ended gameplay. And it’s worth noting I’ve not seen any of the other gameplay elements yet, just the main map section. None of the arcade or RTS or text adventure bits.