Career Options

From Elite Wiki

Oolite is built specifically with no plot or overall mission in place. The only plot is what you, the pilot, bring to the game (aside from any mission OXP's you might have installed). The game doesn't tell you where to go, what to be, how to play - it's completely up to you...

...up to a point. Oolite does have limits in what it can allow you to do. For instance, there is no option (nor will there likely be one) to become a backyard landscaper or an accountant. But within the limits of the game, there is still a number of options available to you.

It should be noted that none of these careers are mutually exclusive to the others. For instance, it's possible to be a passenger ferry and opportunistic trader at the same time.

In each section there is a small list of OXP's that can help or enhance that career option. Please make sure you read all the documentation about these OXP's before you install them. There may be unexpected consequences from adding them. For instance, installing the Bounty System will change how your offender status is treated. These lists are not to be considered as some form of recommendation, or even a complete list of OXP's for each career. They are merely a starting point for finding OXP additions that might be suitable for that career in your play experience. The links will take you to the page that describes the OXP. Read this information carefully before you install the OXP.

For a full list of OXP's you can visit oolite.org/oxps, which lists all the OXP's that can be downloaded directly from within the game, and then go to the OXP List and the Guide to Unlisted OXPs which list pretty much everything else. There are well over 1,000!

Trader

Trading (the action of buying and selling commodities) is the first career almost every pilot is likely to choose, as it provides the most expedient and predictable path to credits, but there are different types of trader. Here we'll look at the most prominent ones. For all trading careers, cargo space is critical - the more space you have, the more cargo you can buy/sell, and therefore the greater the profits. For a Cobra Mk III, the default 20TC of space is OK for when you're starting out, but it will soon feel small. The Cargo Bay Expansion (400₢ from TL2 systems) will add an extra 15TC, but even at 35TC, you might find it difficult to do serious trading. Many players who pursue a trading career will find changing their ship to a Python (100TC), Boa (125TC), Boa Class Cruiser (175TC) or an Anaconda (750TC), is an essential move as soon as sufficient funds are available for the purchase, and is all the more important if additional careers, like passenger transporting, are pursued.

Bulk Trader

The logic is simple enough - buy lots of cargo at low prices, sell it for a higher price. Finding the best deals is the trickiest part of the process (other than getting to each station alive - that can be tricky too).

In most cases, though, the secret is finding systems with opposite economies, reasonably close together. A rich industrial (RI) close to a poor agricultural (PA) will provide the best profits: buying computers cheaply at the RI, selling them at the PA, then buying furs cheaply and selling them back at the RI. This is what's known as a Milkrun, and there are tools out there to help you find them.

Swapping back and forth between two systems can be a little monotonous, so your other option is to find a trade route where a series of systems have opposite economies,

Contract Trader

This type of trader uses the cargo contracts page to take on specific deliveries of cargo to specific systems, within a given timeframe. The benefits for this type of trader come when your reputation starts to increase. The better your reputation, the more profitable are the contracts that will be offered to you.

Once your reputation starts to increase, look for contracts on gold, platinum or gem-stones. Because of the much smaller cargo space requirement for these commodities, more contracts can be accepted on each run, meaning far larger profits at the other end.

If you lose part of your contracted cargo on route to the destination, don't fret. You can buy the difference at any station, and it will count towards the total amount. As long as you arrive at the destination with the right amount of cargo, you will complete the contract successfully.

Be aware of the impact of using an escape pod. A large amount of time can transpire between launching and getting back to the dock, which might have a bearing on any deadlines you have. Also, unless your cargo is gold, platinum or gem-stones, you will lose all your cargo when you eject. To complete the contract successfully you will need to repurchase all the stock from wherever you can find it. And even some gold, platinum and gem-stones could be lost, if their amounts are larger than 500kg for gold or platinum, or 1000g for gem-stones, as amounts over those values will take up cargo space, rather than being contained by the ship's safe, which is kept on the escape pod.

  • For older Oolite versions: Equipment Aide OXP underlays a chart telling roughly how much time it takes to install new equipment from the F3 screen (the newer Oolite versions give exact times automatically)

Opportunistic Trader

An opportunistic trader is one that only trades when a particular opportunity presents itself. Normally, an opportunistic trader is also doing something else (like being a courier or bounty hunter), so they won't be scouring the galaxy for the best deals. Rather they will pick up any cargo they find and sell it, or they might notice that computers are cheap, so they buy a few tons and then when they see a good sell price on their travels, get the profit then.

An opportunistic trader is looking to simply supplement other income with some money on the side. There is a benefit to doing some of this type of trading, even if your primary focus is something else - other traders will notice. The more trading you do, the more likely it is that other ships will consider you as a trader, which can have benefits in a skirmish where there are multiple sides. If another trader considers you to be a trader as well, they are more likely to fight with you.

A fuel scoop is almost a requirement for the opportunistic trader, particularly if you want to take advantage of any cargo left behind in space. Fuel scoops can be purchased in any TL6 system for 525₢.

Elite Trader

Reval has developed a suite of OXPs which inter alia tweak the game mechanism in favour of non-belligerent traders. Elite Trader OXZ links one to this suite which also features new ships, a HUD, extra cargo pods etc.

OXP's to help with or enhance trading

  • Your Ship's Manual (comes with the Ship's Library OXP) has valuable information on trading and understanding the various economies
  • The Trader's Almanach, a supplement for your Ship's Library
  • Market Observer enhances the market screen with valuable data, such as average prices and % differences.
  • Market Inquirer adds an interface screen (f4) that shows the distances in system and an interface screen that shows the markets (prices and quantities) of the main station and selected stations closest to the player.
  • Useful MFDs provides a free MFD with a list of your cargo and its current value in the system's main station.
  • Manifest MFD lists your hold's contents.
  • In-System trader introduces a "living market" to systems with rewards and risks for in-system trading.
  • SW Economy‎ makes the minor commodities (eg Textiles) more relevant, and adds Water, Oxygen & Medicine to the mix.
  • Display Current Course adds your currently plotted course to any mission map screen, so you can tell whether the destination for the new mission is close to where you are currently heading.
  • GalCop Galactic Registry gives access to chart-wide system data, allowing quick analysis of routes and regions, which can aid in plotting trade routes.
  • There are plenty of OXP ships that have increased cargo capacity. Check out the Largest Ships list for some examples.
  • Bank of the Black Monks for loans
  • Elite Trader OXZ as mentioned above.

Smuggling

While this could be considered a variation on a trading career, the different play-style required to pursue this option really makes it quite separate.

Smuggling involves trading in illegal goods: slaves, firearms, and narcotics. You can freely dock at any station with these commodities on board, but if you launch your ship with any of them, you will be tagged as an offender, with the size of the penalty related to the amount and type of illegal goods you're carrying.

Illegal goods can sometimes have spectacular profits. Narcotics in particular can be bought in some systems for less than a single credit, and sold in others for over 100₢. However, these deals are hard to find.

Rock Hermits can provide safe places to dock, and they sometimes have good prices on illegal goods.

OXP's to help with or enhance smuggling

  • Any of the additional station OXP's can provide extra docking options for smugglers. See the Dockables page for some examples.
  • Smugglers - The Galactic Underworld introduces smuggling compartments, bribing docking authorities, while at the same time can potentially make any commodity illegal.
  • Illegal Goods Tweak changes the way illegal goods are processed when you dock at stations.

Courier

Parcel couriers take small packages from one system to another for a given price. These opportunities are offered via the parcel contracts page. As you complete more and more of these contracts, your reputation will increase and better contracts will be offered.

Because of their small size, there is no limit to the number of parcel contracts you can accept, if you believe you can deliver them on time. Parcels will be stored with your escape pod if you have one installed and are forced to eject. Be aware, though, that a lot of time can pass when an escape pod is used, which might make it hard (or even impossible) to reach the destinations on time.

The biggest threat to couriers are assassins. Sometimes, someone doesn't want a parcel delivered, and they will instruct assassins to hunt down and kill anyone attempting to do so. You will normally encounter these ships somewhere around the witchpoint of a system, where they lie in wait for targets. Assassins will generally have a "clean" status, which can cause complications with the police should a battle be observed by them. Depending on a number of factors, police may decide that you are the guilty party, not the assassin, and slap you with a bounty. The best advice in these situations is to (a) keep a watch for police ships when you get into a fight with assassins, and (b) if you see any, make sure the police can see the assassins shooting at you, and don't shoot at the assassins until they have shot and hit your ship.

Some courier contracts are more dangerous than others, but with careful observation it should become clear which contracts are likely to attract unwanted attention.

Speed is your friend, and many pilots who really pursue a courier career find changing their ship to something faster, like an Asp, can be beneficial. Fuel Injectors are also a valuable piece of kit, enabling you to outrun many of the threats you will encounter.

OXP's to help with or enhance courier contracts

  • Display Current Course adds your currently plotted course to any mission map screen, so you can tell whether the destination for the new mission is close to where you are currently heading.
  • GalCop Galactic Registry gives pilots access to chart-wide system data, allowing them to quickly analyse routes and regions, which can aid in determining where dangerous routes might lie and how to avoid them.
  • There are plenty of OXP ships that have a high maximum speed. Check out the Fastest Ships list for some examples.
  • Maintenance Tune Up OXP allows you to book your ship in for longer-lasting maintenance at a high TL station before you engage in time-limited contract work
  • Repair Bots OXP allow you to skip spending time in a shipyard getting pirate-damaged equipment fixed.

Passenger Transporting

Passenger transporting involves taking sentient beings from one system to another. These opportunities are offered via the passenger contracts page. In order to accept any passenger contract, you must have at least one free passenger berth, which can be purchased from any TL6 or greater system for 825₢. Each berth takes up 5TC of cargo space.

As you complete passenger contracts, your reputation will increase, which will result in better contracts being offered.

Passengers will be auto-transferred to your escape pod in the event you are forced to use it. As noted above, be aware that a lot of time can pass when an escape pod is used, which might make it hard (or even impossible) to reach the destinations on time.

Assassins can also target particular passengers, so the advice for couriers applies here as well. Again, with careful observation it should become clear which contracts are likely to be the dangerous ones.

OXP's to help with or enhance passenger contracts

  • Display Current Course adds your currently plotted course to any mission map screen, so you can tell whether the destination for the new mission is close to where you are currently heading.
  • GalCop Galactic Registry gives pilots access to chart-wide system data, allowing them to quickly analyse routes and regions, which can aid in determining where dangerous routes might lie and how to avoid them.
  • Taxi Galactica adds some additional specialised passenger contracts.
  • In-System Taxi adds passenger contracts that are only for travel between stations in the current system.
  • Enhanced Passenger Contracts adds extra flavour to passenger contracts, with additional contract stipulations (avoid commies! No fighting! No lobstoid stops!) and in-game communications.
  • Maintenance Tune Up OXP allows you to book your ship in for longer-lasting maintenance at a high TL station before you engage in time-limited contract work
  • Repair Bots OXP allow you to skip spending time in a shipyard getting pirate-damaged equipment fixed.

Miner

Mining asteroids involves first finding some, then shooting at the large ones to reduce them to boulders, then shooting the boulders to reduce them to splinters, and then scooping the splinters and selling the results. Two pieces of equipment are required: a mining laser, which can be purchased in TL11 systems for 800₢, and a fuel scoop, which can be purchased in TL6 systems for 525₢. You can technically use any laser to shoot the asteroids, but only a mining laser will reliably give you splinters to scoop.

Sometimes, the hardest part of the job is finding asteroids to shoot at. The planet-to-sun spacelane is probably your best starting point for searching.

Once you have some splinters scooped, your next task is selling them. Given you haven't spent any money getting them (other than the setup costs for your ship), you can sell them anywhere and get a profit. But mining is a slow process, so it's still in your best interests to do your mining in systems that have good prices on alloys and minerals.

"Another undocumented way of mining asteroids is to nudge them with your ship" Aegidian, (2006)

The general technique for mining would be to get within approximately 0.3 Kiloometers of the target (Asteroid or Boulder), blast it into Splinters with your mining laser, get a target lock on each individual Splinter (one at a time), and scan that Splinter with your Ore Processor. The decision is yours as to which Splinters to scoop and which to blast into nothingness based on what the Ore Processor tells you the Splinter contains. A general rule of thumb is that Alloys are worth scooping but Minerals and Radioactives are not especially if you have limited cargo space. Of course such decisions are up to the individual miner. Yes, mining does take a lot of time and patience, it is not everyone's cup of tea. The only mining still on my plate are the occasional Boulder fields produced by Space Crowds.
(Nite Owl (2021))

OXP's to help with or enhance mining

  • Asteroid Tweaks can help with ensuring there are always asteroids to mine.
  • Mining IFF Scanner Upgrade changes the colours of boulders and splinters on the scanner, making them easier to identify.
  • GalCop Missions provides a Cargo-stopper which also seems to work on asteroid splinters, where a tractor beam helps net them for your scoop!
  • Miner Pod provides a jolly expensive automated miner which does it all for you...
  • Ore Processor helps by refining them splinters as you scoop them.
  • Tracker lets you place a beacon on an asteroid to find it again in the future.
  • Waypoint Here can help by letting you mark points in a system (for instance, where a large asteroid field is located) so you can easily find your way back.
  • Mineral Store Reset facilitates asteroid mining by preventing saturation of the main system market
  • Mining Contracts offers contracts to players, in which they need to mine a certain quantity of minerals or alloys by a certain time.
  • Miner Cobra is a ship set up specifically with mining in mind. It will be offered for sale at some stations.
  • Start Choices give players the option of starting out in a ship set up for mining.
  • Start Choices Addenda adds an advanced miner start (fuel scoop & mining laser equipped Bushmaster Miner).
  • Laser Mount Switching System allows you to swap between a normal laser and a mining laser in the same position during flight. A booster can be added.
  • Bulk Cargo Processor can help quickly get rid of worthless commodities that might be filling up your cargo hold (if you prefer not to dump them!)

Fiction

Managing a Rock Hermit

This requires the Hermitage oxp. Acquire your hermit though inheritance, purchase or theft. Develop income through markets and mining (see just above!) and then upgrade your rock and earn even more!

Bounty Hunter

A bounty hunter tracks down and destroys ships that currently have a legal status of offender or fugitive. When the ship is destroyed, the bounty on that ship is paid to you. Identifying ships that have a bounty can be tricky, especially without the Scanner Targeting Enhancement. Look for groups of ships loitering on the witchpoint-to-planet spacelane - there is a high chance these ships will be pirates.

While a career in bounty hunting can be started at almost any time, it is highly advisable to have some upgraded attack and defence options on your ship: a beam laser, some shield and energy enhancements. It is also highly recommended that the Scanner Targeting Enhancement is purchased, as this can provide some crucial information to the HUD to help with identifying potential targets. The STE can be purchased from any TL12 system for 450₢. Fuel Scoops allow scooping of refugees in Escape Pods.

OXP's to help with or enhance bounty hunting

  • Police IFF Scanner Upgrade allows your scanner to distinguish between clean, fugitive and offender ships.
  • Bounty System introduces a Warrant Scanner, which can scan ships in search of any bounties those ships might have picked up in other systems.
  • Random Hits adds "Seedy Space Bars" to Anarchy systems, and from these stations you can take on contract kills. You will be given a target, and be told where to find that target. Your job will be to travel to the destination, find the target and kill them.
  • GalCop's Most Wanted is an addition to the Bounty System OXP, and adds persisent NPC ships that can be tracked around the chart. These NPC's have large bounties on their heads, so finding them can be quite rewarding. Note that the Bounty system changes the way bounties are recorded by making crimes persist (that is, your offender status will not degrade slowly with each jump).

Pirate

Piracy involves shooting at peaceful, clean-rated trading ships so that they dump some of their cargo for you to scoop. Completely destroying ships can also be profitable, especially larger trade-focused vessels like Pythons, Boas and Anacondas, as cargo will often float free of the wreck. In both cases, fuel scoops are essential in order to collect all of this drifting cargo. Fuel scoops can be purchased in any TL6 system for 525₢.

Theoretically, this career is open to players as soon as they start the game, as long as they're careful who they shoot at, but to have any chance at a long life as a pirate you really need an upgraded ship. Shields, energy banks, lasers, injectors, everything you can get your hands on really. A successful pirate is an "Iron-Assed" pirate.

Pirates usually get involved in smuggling activities, as illegal goods can fetch good prices, and are regularly left behind by fleeing traders.

The life of a pirate is a hard one. There aren't many "clean" pirates out there - the longer you pursue this life, the more likely it is you'll end up as an offender or a fugitive. This makes you a target for bounty hunters and police, and can make docking at a main station a tricky endeavour. Rock Hermits are your friends here, and learning how to find them will be one of the first things you will need to do. However, your bounty will decrease with each jump, so it will not take long to return to a "clean" state. Having a fuel scoop can be extremely valuable, as it can let you refuel your ship without needing to dock at the main station, simply by scooping fuel from the sun.

One of the benefits of being a pirate, is that pirates will be less likely to attack you, and may even side with you in a skirmish.

There is a useful discussion here which includes a link to PHKB's experimental PiratePlayer.oxp.zip (note - an .oxp not an .oxz). There is also some insightful literature: Carver's Anarchy.

OXP's to help with or enhance piracy

  • Manifest Scanner allows you to scan a target ship and see what cargo they have on board, to help with the decision-making process of whether to attack this ship or not.
  • Cargo Spotter OXP highlights scoopable items with a colour-coded glow.
  • Escape Pod Locator OXP is a piece of equipment to allow tracking of escape pods in system - you might then collect the insurance payout!
  • BroadcastComms MFD has options to transmit a demand for cargo, which could avoid the need to send the same message with a laser.
  • Rock Hermit Locator helps pilots find Rock Hermits in each system.
  • Spicy Hermits makes Rock Hermits more interesting and worthwhile.
  • Anarchies OXP gives flavour to the pirate-riddled anarchy systems, and allows for Amnesty Offers.
  • Pirate career discussion BB thread - with link to Phkb's experimental Pirate Player.oxp

Rescuer

A Rescuer looks for escape capsules to scoop and take to a GalCop station for the eventual bounty or insurance attached to its occupant. You need a Fuel Scoop and some cargo space for it, but with some insurances reaching 500₢ it can be worthwhile even with a 3TC cargo bay.

OXP's to help with or enhance Rescue work

  • GalCop Missions creates a RangeFinder MFD that helps searching escape capsules.
  • Escape Pod Tweaks prevents escape pod processing from happening on non-GalCop stations, like Rock Hermits.
  • Escape Pod Slave Fix adds insurance to launched escape pods.
  • Escape Pod Locator OXP adds an equipment to locate escape pods, but adds some competition too...
  • RRS Group provides an entire infrastructure dedicated to this which can help with the career

OXP Careers

Many OXP's have sought to expand on existing career paths, or create entirely new ones, in order to deepen the game experience. What follows are some OXP's you might want to consider if you want to broaden the career options in your game.

Rescue Stations

Rescue Stations adds the RRS stations to various safer systems, and offers a variety of rescue and recovery missions to the player.

Galactic Navy Reservist

If you have the ship for it (meaning, you’ve upgraded most of it), you can join the Galactic Navy reserves and participate in various sorties and SecOps missions. Thargoid Wars also gives you the opportunity to work with the Navy in their battles against the Thargoids.

Rock Hermit Manager

Try out Hermitage and agonise over which varieties of bar and alcohol distillery you will install in your Rock Hermit!

Salvage Operator

A salvager looks for wrecked, derelict ships, then either takes them to a station, using Towbar or a EscortDeck, or attaches a drone to it to get the hulk to a station or to a Deep Space Dredger, where the derelict can be sold for parts, or mine it on the spot for cargo, equipment and alloys using Ship Miner (from Towbar). Both of these linked oxp's provide a variety of equipment enabling this career choice.

Ship Escort Services

Traders travelling to dangerous systems often need extra protection. Escort Contracts give players a chance to join a convoy and protect the mothership from all attackers, to see them safely to their destination.

Jouster

Feudal States OXP introduces the Royal Hunting Lodge, where you can challenge a noble to ship-to-ship single combat.

Explorer

This option requires modifying Oolite to be enjoyable. See the analysis and suggestions at Exploration.


Other advice pages

  • How do I ... dock / succeed in trading / win a fight / configure my controller/joystick etc