Welcome to the Acorn Arcade Élite help pages. For a more extensive and up-to-date site, we now host Simon Challands's pages at http://elite.acornarcade.com/
The first and possibly most difficult thing you need to figure out is dock; it's not much good if you fight your way through the pirate hoards only to end up as a cobra pizza on the side of some space station.
When approaching from the side (which is how most approaches begin), move your ship so the planet is resting on the middle of the right hand side of the screen. Manoeuvre until the space station is along the middle of the left side; it would be best if you could get the gunsights to be closer to the station than the planet, so you can see the entrance to the station better, and so that you don't risk crashing into the planet or orbiting moon.
Once you've got your approach lined up, go forward at full speed until the station comes onto the scanner, then reduce speed and put the left view on. Keep gliding forward until you have just the forward face of the station showing, then cut your speed. You can edge forward a little until you are absolutely sure that you can see the front of the station straight on. Now, when you turn to face the station with your forward view you should have it perfectly aligned for docking.
This is not the end of it however. This especially applies if the station does not appear in such a way that you can use the first method. Basically, if you're not aligned perfectly, you can point the nose up or down and use small amounts of thrust to re-align, but there is a tendency to over-compensate. Either move away to a safe distance and try again, or try this: wait at a fairly close distance, but not so close that you'll drift into the station by accident.
Wait until the slot is almost straight on, then go to full speed. At the higher speeds you spend less time in the danger zone and so are less likely to die, and it's even possible to dock almost sideways. Basically, going in at low speed is usually fatal.
When you've learnt to dock, you can go about your business. The general idea is to find a low-tech planet (tech level 4 or below) which will pay highly for computers and will sell liquor and wines cheaply, and you can set up a trade route between this and a higher-tech planet (10 and above for preference) which will pretty soon amass you a fortune. Furs are good to go from the low-tech to the high-tech, bringing a greater profit, but the cost more and are illegal which means if you do it too much the police become interested.
When trading, sell your goods, then buy your fuel straight away - it's very easy to over-spend when you first start out and end up having to get rid of what you've just bought to pay for the fuel. Then buy up your goods, and try to carry as much as possible; foodstuffs and textiles don't make much of a profit, but they only cost a few credits and it's better than leaving space empty. Also, when your hold is full, you can stock up with gold, gemstones and the like, which don't take up the same space in the ship.
There are a number of likely candidates in any galaxy for this sort of route, the best ones being where you get high and low tech planets very close together (like less than a light year from each other), so that it saves on the fuel bills, and has another advantage in that you'll always have enough fuel to jump back out of a system if things get too hot to handle.
In the Santaari system near Lave, where the game starts, there are a couple of decent routes - Isinor/Zaonce and Benaera/Tionisla. They aren't so close together that you can make a round trip several times without refuelling, but they do have the necessary tech levels for making a good quick profit.
The equipment to buy is a matter of choice, but you should probably get a docking computer first - even if you're pretty good at docking, it takes so much time up that it's inconvenient. You can "rent" computer assisted docking when approaching a high-tech planet, but this works out quite expensive; if you can successfully dock manually 90% of the time you might be able to get away without assistance.
After that I'd go for an extended cargo bay first, because it means on subsequent trips you can make a greater profit every time. Fuel scoops then become useful, as you can scoop up cargo canisters from other ships as well as getting free fuel. An energy unit means that you'll recover more quickly from attacks, and would be my next purchase. Other people insist that an ECM is the first thing they'd buy, it depends how aggressive you are when you're starting out - see later.
Now you're kitted out for commerce and defence, it's time to talk about weapons. Personally I'd wait and go straight for the military laser at the front, and whatever you can afford at the back, but you might want the quick increase of going for a beam laser at the front to get you out of trouble. The two sides are pretty useless, and only really for looking out of so there's no rush to buy lasers for these.
Personally I think ECM systems are not as valuable in the Arc version of Elite as missiles are only infrequently used, and the cobra can take a hit on both shields and a second on either before energy becomes a worry. Some people buy these very early on, but I think you shoud only buy things when you can really afford them, as you need a lot of capital to fill a hold.
When you see a large amount of randomly-spaced dots in the distance, or a cobra pilot starts weaving about wildly, chances are you've got a fight on your hands. Remember that short, precise bursts of fire are best, especially with the better lasers as you're more likely to get them overheated. Don't fire until the enemy is in your gunsight.
My favourite tactic is to head towards the enemy - generally a pack of pirates, possibly a single ship - at full speed, which reduces the amount of time that they have to shoot at you, and then splits a pack up as they pass by. When they pass you should cut your speed to about a quarter; pick one enemy, match its speed, and don't let go, don't be distracted by other ships passing by if you can help it as the ship you're pursuing can't fire if you're right on its tail and any other ships will have a hard time targeting you for any length of time if you're sticking to the tail of a ship that's engaging in evasive manoeuvres itself.
When you're starting out however, such an aggressive tactic might get you into more trouble than it gets you out of, so you might prefer a more defensive strategy; fly away from them at full speed, and if they pursue slow down occasionally to wipe one out with the rear lasers then speed up before the others are in range. However, this has its disadvantages; some ships are faster than others, and can actually catch up with you.
A third tactic is to sit relatively still in the centre of a fight and use your ship like a gun turret - that is, don't worry about trying to fly and fight at the same time, just pick off the enemy as they come at you. Most pirates will fly past to a fair distance away, then turn, come at you for a while, and then when they're in range start firing. However, if you see them turn and start firing before they fire on you, they'll generally turn away and go back out to the distance before trying you again, so even if you can't kill them quickly you can at least dissuade them temporarily. This is possibly the most dangerous tactic - you are after all a sitting duck - and relies on you having mouse control with the mouse speed set to on or near maximum.
Don't be afraid to ram one or two ships, especially when you are first going towards them; although of course it would be better to shoot them, your ship is pretty tough and can take a few knocks. If you're faced by a pack of several pirates, ramming the first one is a sure way of getting the pack down in size before engaging in battle!
If you get into real trouble, running away might not be an option - the enemy might just follow and blow away your rear shields. One method suggested to get around this is to switch off the rotation dampers and throw the mouse over to one side - the ship will spiral and be very hard to hit (as you will find out for yourself when you come across drunken Mamba pilots which end up engaging in the same tactic but for very different reasons!).
Finally, after a battle don't use the interspace jump until your shields have had time to recharge, as you might jump right into a pack of pirates.
Scooping and Snooping
To scoop up a cargo pod is fairly simple; just try and ram it with the lower portion of your ship, and if you've got room it'll go into your fuel scoops and then into your hold. However, keeping enough room is the key. You'll probably pick up all sorts of junk, like food and textiles, and being practically worthless they are just taking up room that could be more productively used. Pressing the [Delete] key will eject worthless stuff, but keep an eye out that it's not ejected the wrong thing - eject, check what's missing, and if it's something you would rather have kept hold of quickly speed up and grab it back.
Also, when you're in a rush, you might pick up several canisters and only really notice that some of them are rubbish later on. You can either eject, check if it's the right one, re-scoop if not and try again, or to save time you can put the inventory screen on, keep [Delete] pressed until the item you want is ejected, then chase after the line of canisters, either flying over the nearest item or destroying it with your lasers.
Snooping - collecting fuel from the sun - is slightly more difficult. The actual fuel collection is simple, it's just getting to the sun that's the headache as pirates abound in this area, so don't attempt it if you're not a decent fighter. Getting back from the sun to the planet is nigh on impossible, so don't try it; jump straight from the sun to your next hyperspace destination. It's worth noting however that if you're looking for a quick promotion then trying to do a trip to the sun and back is a sure way of ending up with either a higher combat rating or being the guest of honour at your own funeral.
Moving towards the sun you normally won't have the compass to help you - unless you go to the planet first and then move away from it, in which case you can consider the red compass dot - showing that you're pointing away from the planet - as pointing towards the sun.
Upon reaching the sun, when your altimeter is down to about a quarter you should go dead slow. The fuel scoops will activate, but you should watch the drift as you will continue to go towards the sun even if you've cut your engines. You could try turning the other way and letting the ship drift back away from the sun, or just keep an eye on the temperature and move away when it gets too high, only coming back for a second time when it's cooled.
From the old days of BBC Elite, you could try flying over the top of the sun, dipping down and skimming fuel then gaining altitude when it's too hot, but I find that you soon end up round the other side of the sun which, should you want to go back to the planet, is very inconvenient; however, if you don't need to go back to the planet you can just hyperspace out of there.
There are a few more tactics you can play with, before you resort to cheating:
- If you see a ship approaching, it's always a good idea to get a missile lock on it, even if you don't intend to attack - you can't use the interspace jump when there's another ship in the area, so you can slow down, let it pass, and when it's out of range and safe to jump you'll get a "target lost" message from the missile targeting system.
- If you're very low on energy and someone fires a missile, you can launch your own missile and let the enemy ECM both missiles.
- it's a good idea to get in close before firing your missiles - you should be able to hit the enemy ship before they activate their ECM. And of course if you run out of missiles, at close range you can always eject a cargo canister instead, although not at high speed (you'll just catch up and scoop it up again!)
|The latest version of the game, fixed to work correctly on all machines right up to a StrongARM Risc PC, and free for anyone to download; includes extra goodies like the manual in text form. The original, unfixed version was available from Ian Bell's website.
|Doggysoft's excellent extension which gives ship Id, on-screen cargo size readout, clock, and the cool bumper sticker and rotating fluffy dice! This is the updated version with bug fixes etc.
|Full pack of cheat modules covering all major ArcElite releases from 1.02 to two modules for the current version (1.14).
|Fairly simple commander editor to change equipment, status, cash etc.
|Much more fully featured commander file editor allowing access to individual items of cargo, missions etc as well as the standard stuff.
|Other Elite sites
|Ian Bell's website (Clara Net version)
|Site from one of the duo who invented the original Elite, which used to be packed with goodies such as downloadable copies of all versions of Elite. The goodies were removed, but they may reappear.
|Acorn Elite Pages
|Simon Challands' excellent Acorn Elite pages - probably the best Elite resource around.
(I wrote that part ages before we started hosting his site, honest!)
Richard Goodwin (aka Commander Alex)