Frontier: First Encounters other - FAQs
- Frontier: First Encounters
Welcome to the
Frontier: First Encounters (FFE)
"Jeroen van Drongelen"
Document version 1.1
This file contains information about this game in the form of a question-
and-answer style document, oh, let's say.. FAQ. Also, strategies, technical
information, hints & tips, and about all I could think of about FFE are
included. The latest version of this file will be kept on my World Wide Web
site at http://22.214.171.124/~spy
A HTML-ized version can also be found at the FFE site of 0ystein 0vrebí
His address is http://home.sol.no/oyov/ffe.htm
Readers of this file can always contact me in case of wrong information
in this file, additional facts, or just to chat about Frontier.
What is First Encounters?
Features of First Encounters
Who made First Encounters?
What are the system requirements for First Encounters?
What versions are there?
How do I know which version I have?
My version is an old one - how do I receive a new one?
How do I control a starship?
The Autopilot -- friend or foe? :)
What's the deal with the engines and their different 'modes'?
I know the engine modes, but how do I use them?
I keep crashing into planets!
I can't land manually. Explain!
Where do I find them?
What sort of general missions are there?
Explanation of each type of missions
What's the difference between Military missions and other missions?
What about ranking, how does it work, and why is it important?
The Handcoded (-that includes Thargoid-) Missions
4. Troubleshooting guide / Bug List
Game won't run. What are the configuration tricks?
Game runs, but no music is heard
Game runs, but no digisound is heard
Game crashes when I try to fire laser
The game bombs out with an 'Exception Error' and lots of numbers
I load a game, but FFE returns me to the options menu immediately
I load a game, but FFE says 'No Commander File'
Game slows down to a crawl on a >= 486DX/66 CPU
Can I run FFE without the CD in the CDROM drive?
I'd like to use/edit the graphics/sounds in other programs
Engine sound is gone when I throttle up
Musical instruments get corrupted or keep 'hanging' continuously
General gameplay hints/tricks
Stardock doors open, I hit 'accelerate', but nothing happens
I can't hyperspace
Autopilot's destroyed. How do I get home?
I don't see any military missions on the bulletin boards
My assassination target won't show up
When on photograph missions, close to an installation on a planet or
moon, some invisible force pushes me back FAST
I want to get the 'Wiccan Ware' (the race) but the spaceport's busy
The '5 Furies Statue' is incompletable, not enough time
The person from 'Pickup hith-hiker mission' doesn't show up
Pick up hitch-hiker: mission not completed while I think I did!
The hitch-hikers blow up my ship when I pick them up again
I missile-bomb 'Rockforth Academy', but when I return I don't
seem to have completed the mission
I'm on the Thargoid mission, and I get harassed by far too many
ships - even after the missions they keep bothering me
When leaving the station at Polaris, I'm no longer in Polaris!
When leaving the station at Polaris, a lot of Thargoids fly
around me, but nothing happens.
Nothing happens when I click YES/NO in a Thargoid ship
Thargoid shuttle is always busy
When I'm done, I land at Alioth, they take my Thargoid away!
5. Tips and Tricks (even the weird ones, including slingshotting, and
having fun with your ship while ejected..:-)
6. Interesting Star Systems
1. --- Introduction -------------------------------------------------
- What is First Encounters? (I'll try to make it short..:) -
Frontier: First Encounters (from here on mentioned as FFE) is the
third in a science-fiction game series, all of them set in the same
universe. This universe is shown to the player as a fully 3D virtual
reality-view through the windows of a spacecraft of your choice. This
universe contains other ships to interact with, space stations to dock
with, planets to land on, etc.
The first of the trilogy, 'Elite', came out in the mid 1980s, and was
one of the first games of its kind: not only the arcade element was there,
but also the concepts of exploration, earning money, trading, etc. This
was about the first of 'virtual reality' games, in a time that VR was just
being invented on bigger computers.
Then, in 1993, after a LOT of Elite imitations, 'Frontier' came out. This
was the second in the Elite trilogy, and had 'Elite 2' as subtitle. The
gameplay itself had not changed, but was greatly expanded in possibilities,
including the ability to have fully different solar systems, each appearing
to function according to laws of nature, plus a universe that's made
accordingly to current theories and beliefs of solar systems positions.
The game 'Frontier' was critizised upon, as being dull after a few hours
of play, because nothing would happen after the player got himself a nice
rank and bank account, and I think this is true. Even 'Elite' had some
secret missions to complete when the player didn't expect it.
In 1995, FFE was made, and it addressed the problem of dull gameplay: a
plot was made into the game, plus many improvements in graphics, sound,
maths, etc. Unfortunately, after the exciting new missions, there seems
to be little else to do, but hey, a 'regular' game would have ended by
then, wouln't it?
FFE is a so-called 'open-ended' game. It has no real 'goal' to reach,
and it does not 'end' if played long enough, like Frontier and Elite.
The player can see for himself what he decides to do with his spaceship,
and how to earn his living. In the Frontier universe, a starship commander
can take on bounty hunting, smuggling, mining, soldiering, pirating,
delivering people or packages, and of course... trading. The money he/she
makes can be spent on bigger ships, better weapons, a wide variety of new
equipment, or just donating it to charity. There are also numerous
'missions' to fly for other people, including working for the three
super-powers to earn a higher ranking.
- Features of First Encounters -
o 3D virtual reality Universe to fly around in
o 5 different newspapers to read what's going on in Space
o Semi-correct universe (stars are positioned as in 'real life')
o Full motion video while interacting with Starbase personnel (CD version)
o Choice of a wide variety of spacecraft and equipment
o Realistic space-travelling in all dimensions
o Freedom for the player to do whatever he/she wants
o Missions to take and complete to work your way up
- Who made First Encounters? -
FFE was made by a lot of people who appear to work under the name
'Frontier Developments Ltd'. However, the idea and main programming
work(?) was done by one of the programmers who wrote Frontier's
predecessor "Elite", David Braben. Of course there was a whole team
behind FFE, and the names of those people are mentioned in the manual
and intro-sequence credits-texts.
The programmer Ian Bell, who wrote the first Elite game together with
Braben, had no participation in Frontier/FFE. However, he (and a lot
of us Frontier players) feel that he should at least be mentioned in
Frontier/FFE credits. He thought up lots of spacecraft shapes and
universe-details in Elite, which mr. Braben used in his Frontier/FFE
games. Without Ian Bell, OR David Braben, there would be no Frontier today...
The game is published by GameTek - U.K. The GameTek WWW site address
- What are the system requirements for First Encounters? -
I won't quote the label on the box, I'll tell you my own findings:
To play on a MINIMUM system, you need:
4 MB of RAM
Hard disk with about 5MB free space
500KB free base memory (patch says 560KB !)
DOS 5.0 or higher
Standard VGA graphics
CD-ROM drive (if you have the CD version)
However, this configuration will probably cause the game to slow right
down to slide-show-speed. I've played FFE on a 486DLC-40, and it was
just about playable on 'low detail' level. Here's what you need to run
the game so you'll actually have fun:
Minimum: Pentium-60 or 486DX/120 (or higher)
8 MB of RAM or higher
Hard disk with about 5MB free space
500KB free base memory (patch says 560)
DOS 5.0 or higher
Standard VGA graphics
CD-ROM drive (if you have the CD version)
Soundcard / midi
I have a Pentium 60 myself, and the game runs smoothly on maximum detail
levels + SB16/Midi sound. However, when approaching big and busy star-
ports, the framerate drops noticably. When I am at a planet and there are
some 20-30 ships around me I have to switch to low detail.
Pentium 100's and above should have no trouble I think.
- What versions are there? -
Apparently, there is a UK and a USA version of First Encounters. I
live in Europe myself, so I can only give information about the UK
The 1.00 version of First Encounters was unplayable due to the many
programming errors. The Frontier Development team started patching
things up over the years that followed, resulting in a few 'patch
disks'. The most recent one is v1.06, available at Gametek's WWW
site (see section xxx). This fixes a lot of problems, but still
leaves a few of them in. Sadly, enough to devote a whole chapter to
them. Apparently, this new patch simply overwrites FIRSTENC.EXE so
there's no need to apply all patches. Just the original + patch 1.06
- How do I know which version I have? -
Start the game, watch the intro, and when you see a big octagonal ship
with green lasers shooting down all other ships, press SHIFT-V. The
version number will be displayed.
- My version is an old one - how do I receive a new one? -
You can get a patch that will update your FIRSTENC.EXE file. You can
get this from the Internet (www.gametek.com or several other video-
games specialized sites) or perhaps your local BBS. If you've got no
access to these forms of communication, contact Gametek. They might
send you a new 'remastered' version, or a patch disk. Be prepared to
send them your original CD or diskettes.
If all fails, contact me, and I'll see what I can do.
2. --- Gameplay -----------------------------------------------------
Space-travel in FFE is quite different than in most space-simulators.
Instead of the 'Flight Simulator'-feel that most games offer, FFE
has a more realistic way of space flight. Read on...
- How do I control a starship? -
In most situations, the device used to control a starship is a matter
of personal preference. However, it must be said that controlling
by keyboard alone has become quite diffucult. In FFE, the enemy
ships evade more effectively than in Frontier, so it's quite hard
to track them with keyboard controls. I've found that most people
(including myself) use a mouse for steering, and keyboard for every-
thing else (throttle, ECM, etc).
I can't say anything for joysticks, except that I've heard lots of
people complain about bugs in the joystick-routines. This problem will,
in time, be covered in the 'Bugs' section. Gametek says it's a game
written primarily for mice. Er, that is, it's written for -people- I guess,
but they will be using a mouse. A computer mouse of course, not a real
one.. Ha ha.. who would want to use a real mouse.... (it's getting late).
Since the Starship Manual covers all the keys to use, they are not
listed in this file.
- The Autopilot: friend or foe? -
Almost everybody uses it, although it can be a pain in the neck some-
times: the autopilot. It's a great tool to get you safely from one
docking station to the next while the Commander's reading the papers,
or using Time Control to skip travel-time. The downside is, that the
autopilot doesn't handle 'objects in between' very well. It also has
the tendancy to crash into planets, instead of shutting down in time,
and reporting to the commander that the target is near.
I must say that the autopilot functions best in maximum time acceleration
mode. Example: You launch from an orbital station and set the autopilot
to a starport on the planet surface. If you press ALT-F3 to accelerate
time, you'll see the planet approach, you'll see the autopilot trying
to get on the other side in a rather clumsy process, and chances are
you'll see the starport approach too fast, and crash. When you launch
and press ALT-F5 (maximum time acceleration) you'll find that the moment
you switch on time control, you're safely at your destination.
The autopilot can also be a handy tool to circle around other starships,
or scooping up cargo-canisters.
- What's the deal with the engines, they have different modes? -
An FFE starship planetary drive has three modes of operation: OFF, ON,
When engines are ON, you enter a SET-Speed value (by throttling up or
down), and your engines automatically try to assume that speed. Also,
when you change your heading, the steering rockets will push your
ship into the direction you're facing, while attempting to maintain
your SET speed. This is a computer-controlled engine mode.
When engines are OFF, you completely disengage all computer interference
to your engines. You can only throttle UP or DOWN, and steer your ship.
This manual mode can be very handy while scooping up cargo items, or in
When engines are AUTO, the autopilot will control all throttle and
navigation functions, and fly towards the target set by you. When the
target appears to be a Starport or an orbital station, the autopilot
will attempt docking/landing.
- I know the engine modes, but how do I use them? -
All starships have two head-up display cross-haired sights: one for
direction, and one for actual movement. When those two crosshairs are
both visible right in the center of the screen of you (slid into each
other) you are looking in the same direction as your ship is moving.
You'll notice this by looking at the stars fly by.
Engines in Manual mode:
When you slightly change your 'facing' direction, the 'movement'
cross-hair will slowly follow. Slowly, because it takes time for your
ships' steering-rockets to push you into the right trajectory. And the
faster you go, the longer it takes.
Engines in OFF mode (full manual control):
When you change the direction of your ship, expect no change in the
actual movement of your ship (other than gravitational influences)
until you start pressing ENTER or SHIFT to fire your rear/forward
engines. So, when you slightly point your nose up about 10 degrees,
the 'movement' sight will not follow your 'direction' sight. But when
you keep pressing ENTER, you'll notice the direction changing.
- I keep crashing into planets! -
The braking process is something to get used to in space. Sometimes,
you must start braking a long way before you even SEE the planet you
have business on. A handy tip might be: always point your nose (cross-
hair) a little along the side of the planet. That way, when you're
going too fast and cannot brake in time, you'll just swoop past the
atmosphere, and you can try again by turning around, and approaching
a little slower this time. When the planet is in sight, I suggest a
speed of 30 KM/s.
When you're going too fast and are about to crash, you might want to
turn your ship around, facing the opposite direction of movement,
switch the engines OFF, and keep pressing ENTER. Remember, your aft
engines are the strongest, and in engine OFF mode, they produce a
little more thrust. You might want to point your ship 90 deg. upwards,
so you'll avoid the planet altogether, instead of just trying to slow
- I can't land manually. Explain! -
Check the following conditions:
o Do you have Atmospheric shielding? If not, you might explode due to
excessive hull temperature (check your temperature gauge).
o Is your engine in the 'Set speed' mode? And if so, is your set speed 0?
(you should be descending slowly if your speed is set to 0)
o How about your landing gear? Is it deployed?
o Is the landing site safe? Don't land on buildings, mountains, etc. Seek
out a nice grassy field or desert to land on.
o Is your horizon straight at around 0 degrees? You might experience
trouble if you don't land 'leveled out'.
If your altitude is around 1000, and all the above conditions are OK,
you should make a safe landing within a minute. A little longer on
low gravity planets. Try landing on Earth's moon.. It takes ages for
you to descent on SET speed 0.
3. --- Missions/Tasks -----------------------------------------------
- Where do I find them? -
Missions and tasks to complete are found at bulletin boards on orbital
stations and spaceports. On almost every BB there are some people who
want other people killed, people who require transport for themselves,
or just the ones that want information. Also, when in a Federal or
Imperial system, there's always the military to work for, who have the
more exciting missions. Also, there are missions that have
a direct influence on the newspapers and vice versa. Most interesting
things you can do with those.
- What sort of general missions are there? -
Although the number of missions in the game are infinite, the nature
of these can be categorized. I'll attempt to do just that. The common
kind of missions are:
o Hand-coded missions
- Explanation of each type of missions -
The lowest paid, least interesting missions. Person A wants to find
person B, and if you've seen person B, you can tell person A, and
person A will pay you an incredibly low amount of credits. This mission
requires you to remember the names of people you've seen so far on the
bulletin boards. Sometimes a 'wanted' person is on board your ship. In
this case, I advise you not to turn him over, it will damage your
reputation. And besides, the credit you get for it is not worth it.
When taking on a delivery-mission, you are expected to take a small
item (which doesn't take up any cargo-space) and deliver it to a
nearby system. The risk of this mission depends upon the item(s) that
are carried. When you accept a delivery mission, and get 2000$ or more
upon completion, you can guess the item you're carrying is 'hot', and
some people ARE going to try and stop you. Also, the person who's asking
you to do the mission has information on the risk you're taking with it.
This mission-type is also found in the Military or Navy.
These missions are virtually the same as the delivery mission, except
that you now 'deliver' people or other sentient beings to nearby star
systems. These missions are paid better than delivery missions, but
require you to have enough 'passenger cabins' in your ship.
These missions, only for commanders with a fair Elite ranking (about
'Below average' will do for the low-priced assassinations), require
you to track down a target ship, and eliminate it using information
you got from the person who gave you the mission. Most ships you are
to destroy are bigger transport vessels (Lion transports, Boa's,
Clippers). If you want to keep your record clean, you need a hyper-
space cloud analyser to track the target to a nearby star system, and
hyper-jump after him. Needless to say, you'll have to know how to fight.
This mission-type is also found in the Military or Navy.
These kind of missions are almost solely found in Military or Navy.
Paid well, these missions have a high 'promotion value' for your
Military career. You are to destroy a specific site on a planet or
moon in a nearby star system, using a nuclear missile that you are
given (make sure you have space for it!). Expect heavy opposition
when you approach the target.
You score high with the Military command if you succeed in these
missions. These missions require you to photograph a site using
the camera you're given (and you can keep it :). Also, before you
take the picture, you must destroy an orbiting satellite which
tries to transmit your registration number outside the system. It
fails, because you are also given a device to jam all satellite
transmissions. But be sure to destroy it, otherwise you'll always
have someone on your back.
When you photograph a site from a very close distance ( < 10KM I think)
you'll get extra credit for it.
3-4 Hand-coded missions
These are the missions you bought FFE for...:) These are the missions
that are coded into the game by hand, and not by some randomized
mission generator (like all those 'Bomb this, Photograph that' missions).
They also have a direct link to the real Universe, and the things that
are happening in it. Your actions will be front-page news in at least
one of the five newspapers, and these newspapers often contain 'clues'
as where to go for these more exciting missions. An explanation of
the hand-coded missions is given in a different chapter, because it
might decrease the 'adventure' element in the game. Read at your own
- What's the difference between Military missions and other missions? -
Military missions have a direct influence on what the Military think of
you. This is noticable in the form of a ranking system, but also the
availability of missions. A commander who's not trusted by the Military,
is not given as much, and as exciting missions as a trusted commander.
- What about ranking, how does it work, and why is it important? -
You have 3 forms of ranking: one for the Federation, one for the Empire,
and one from the Elite Federation of Pilots ('Elite rating').
The ones for the Empire and Federation have mostly to do with the
military missions you'll be flying. Do them right, and you'll get
promotions, and the higher your military rank is, the more missions
you will be able to take. For instance, Imperial Bombing missions
are available if you are at least a 'Baron'. And, when you are just
an Outsider, you'll only see delivery missions on the Navy rosters.
See FFE manual page 134 for the list of ranks.
The 'Elite rating' has nothing to do with how well you perform your
duties. It's just how many ships you've defeated. You start out as
'Harmless', and when you've destroyed about 5 ships, you're promoted
to 'Mostly Harmless'. Keep this up until you're 'Average' or better
still, 'Competent', and people on the bulletin boards trust you to
do their high-paid tasks. I advise you to get 'Competent' as soon
as possible, because the really neat missions are only given to
Competents. See FFE manual page 68 for the list of ratings.
- The Handcoded (that includes Thargoid) Missions -
(WARNING: Reading this part might decrease the fun of playing)
These missions are special, different from the others. They can have
an effect on the game like no other event. They might even give you
nice things for your ship to keep...
The times listed is mostly the time that the mission is FIRST sighted.
Sometimes the real action takes place months after the time listed.
Monitor the newspapers closely, for they will provide information about
these handcoded missions.
1. Wiccan Ware race
This one's easy. Just pick up a parcel and bring it to Alioth. You should
be able to get there using 2 jumps, you figure out how to. If you didn't
win the race, you might want to restore your game, and try again. I suspect
there is a random factor here.
2. Disease at Sohalia
Not really so much of a 'mission' than a task to perform. In the first
weeks of game-time, there is an ad on the BBS of Sohalia from someone
who needs medical supplies for the planet. Pick them up at a
neighbouring star system and sell them on Sohalia. No credit, just a
whole lot of cash, even with 4 tonnes at a time. You might be able to buy
a Viper after that. And that's a ship to build a career in.
3. Art delivery to Beta Hydri
I've never done this, because it's a long way to fly from Alioth. I do
know that the Empire will not be pleased about this.
4. Assassination of Dentara Rast
In the system Tiliala [-4, -1] there's going to be a civil war. You can
decide to assassinate a key figure in this war, Dentara Rast, by taking
on this mission from a bulletin board. Expect a price on your own head
when you do this. This is a typical assassination mission, with the
exception that you must assassinate him BEFORE he hyper-jumps. You'll
get a criminal record this way, and you'll be fined 10000 credits in
the Federation, Alliance, and Empire. So there's going to be not much
left from that 50000C hit.
5. Kill the assassin of Dentara Rast
When you don't kill Rast herself, just wait a few weeks, and you'll
find a mission in which you must kill Rast's assassin. A more 'noble'
mission, this is. The Federation and the Empire won't blame you for
6. The 2 hitch-hikers
These turn out to be Federation spies, so if you're an Imp-lover don't
do it. Bring 2 hitch-hikers to a system in Imperial space, and pick them
up later to bring them back to Federation space. What they did in the
mean time....? "Don't ask, don't tell".
7. The single visitor to Thompson's Planet
This has something to do with the 'Destroy Rockforth legal academy'
mission. A single person must be transported to a star system far
west. I suspect he is the one who creates a 'diversion' later on,
when you are to destroy a building on the same world.
8. Destroy Rockforth legal academy
You are to turn the Rockforth building into a nice, flat, plain
piece of ground. It's just like a typical bombing-mission, but there's
a bug here: the building sometimes doesn't get destroyed when you hit
it from close-distance. You have to fire on it from +/- 200KM away, and
hit SHIFT-F4 to advance time. The mission wil score only then. You'll see
a "DONE" in your mission roster when you're successful.
9. Transport a Dolphin
If you read RIG, you'll know there's a lonely dolphin somewhere, waiting
for some company. That's your job, if you like. You need a passenger
cabin for this.. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
"Admiral, there be dolpins here!"
10. Pick up hitch-hiker
A woman (probably a Federal spy) has to be extracted from the Imperial
world she's been working on. You'll have to get her out. This missions
has a bug: Sometimes you pick her up, take her back to a Federal world,
and you'll get both a 'Well done' and a 'You suck' message. It has
occurred one time that I've done it well, and when you do, you're
instantly promoted up one rank from the Federation Military.
11. The 5 Furies statue
This mission has a bug: the dates given are impossible for you to
complete this mission. I found out that there's a typo in the dates.
You don't have to wait until the first date to pick it up, just be there
before the second date mentioned.
So, get the mission, travel immediately to the first system, and you're
given the statue immediately. Otherwise, wait a little while. I've done
12. Assassinate dr. Joreb Innitu (military 'special' mission)
A scientist comes too close to the truth. Need I say more..:) Take him
down BEFORE he hyperspaces, it's the only way. When you're done, your
ranking is instantly raised by one! So, it might be a good idea to have
built up a really good ranking before you take this mission.
UPDATE: I question the truth in the text in section 12. I've recently
done this mission for the Federation, and was NOT awarded that extra
rank up. I'll check into this later.
12. The Thargoid missions part 1
- You must be Elite ranking 'Competent' to get this mission -
The papers mention something about Mick Turner who has died on his
exploration mission to the Far North. Around 4 october 3252 you
must go to Turners Requiem on Fortress Culloden, on Alioth [0,-4].
Go to the Requiem, and donate the maximum amount of credits. Then
accept the mission, but don't go North just yet.
If you've gotten the information from the 'Journalists Welfare Fund'
you know that the System you're going to is protected by a Defence
Satellite which gives away your ID and position to INRA. So, you must
first travel to a Federation or Imperial system and get a CLASSIFIED
MISSION in order to receive a Transmission Jammer and a Nuclear Missile.
You have no intention to complete that mission, but you really need
those items for your Thargoid encounters.
When you have the stuff, travel to coordinates 32,32 and go to Pleione.
In your Remote orbital map, go to Pleione 3B's orbit and you'll find a
satellite. Target it, travel towards it, and ... DESTROY it! If you don't,
INRA will chase you forever, wherever you'll go.
Then, do what you're told by the Mission funders: use your map to locate
the wrecked Turner's Quest, and take a few pictures. Also, look for its
flight recorder that's there flying around somewhere. Make sure the
'object's labels' are visible by pressing L, target the flight recorder,
and autopilot towards it. Make sure you have room in your ship, by
dumping some radioactives (the price for peace with Thargoids :).
You can also visit the wrecked Thargoid vessel, but it's not a mission
requirement I think. The Thargoid ship is marked with "???" for its ID.
There's lots of Alien Items there to scoop.
Then fly back to Alioth. You might first want to go to the world you stole
the transmission jammer + nuclear missile from, and face the music. You
will lose some 'appreciation points' from that military, but that's not
13. The Thargoid missions part 2
When you return from the successfully completed Turner mission, you are
given the chance to go and meet the REAL bugs -- the Thargoid race.
Once again, you're given the Argent's Quest at your disposal. This time,
the Transmission Jammer and Nuclear Missile are standard issue, so you
don't have to take a military mission anymore to get them. What you DO
have to do however, is to take as much fuel with you as possible. You
might want to get rid of some unnecessary equipment, like missiles,
some shields, energy booster/bombs, etc. You'll thank me later.
Save your game before jumping to Polaris. If you have a total of 200
tonnes of military fuel, you'll do allright.
Go to Polaris, there's a Thargoid Forward base there, and a thargoid
shuttle. When arrived at Polaris, do the same as in Pleione: destroy
that satellite first. I think it's at Polaris 3D, but you'll have no
trouble finding it using your remote orbital map.
Then, you can press 'N'(avigation computer) to quickly select '???'.
That's the Thargoid shuttle, and you can engage Autopilot and time-
control. When you're going to dock with it, save your game first.
When docked, notice your radar. It's suddenly filled with dots.
Go to the map and press 'C'(center). You'll notice that you're no
longer at Polaris, but at Miackce, FAR north. Launch, and you find
yourself floating between curious Thargoid (Thargon?) ships. The game's
What happens next is up to you. I suggest you don't fire, but wait
and fly around a bit. Sometimes you might have to press ALT-F2 or F3
to speed up time, until you get the message from the Thargoids to dock
at their space station. Then, press 'N' to select their docking station
(I think its the top, or first option). Autopilot in, (save your game
first) and wait for the Thargoids to disarm your ship. The Thargoids
will then propose a mission to save their race from extinction...
If pressing their response buttons "YES/NO" do not work, you'll have
to restore your game. I suggest you say YES because the Thargoids will
kill you when you don't. You know too much by now.
14. The Thargoid missions part 3
You must travel all the way back to human space, to the system Hotice
(aren't you glad I made you take all that fuel with you? :-)) and get
a vaccine for the Thargoids. Go to the target on Hotice, fire your laser
at it (the Thargoids said 'missiles', but that doesn't work) and when
you see the bunker open up, land nearby it. Deploy your Mining Machine
and wait a minute. Then retract retract it again, and look in your
inventory. You should see a 'Mycoid Vaccine' in your hold. When you
don't, make sure you have ROOM for it by dumping some radioactives.
If you got it, blast off towards Miacke [37,144]. You have to refuel
somewhere for this, I think you must go to a Federal or Imperial world
since the Alliance of Independent Systems expect results from you when
you enter/dock at their systems.
If all goes well, you get a message from the Thargoids when you enter
Miackce, asking you to dock again. Press 'N' to select "???" again and
engage autopilot. Save your game before docking (save your game before
hypering in, for that matter). When docked, you'll get a message asking
you to wait briefly. Do just this--don't engage time control yet! After
a few seconds the Thargoids thank you, and are willing to give you a
Thargoid War Vessel as a present. You can accept it, or decline it, but
you've come all across the Galaxy for this..admit it! Click YES and when
they tell you to enter time control, and press SHIFT-F5. Then wait until
you see the familiar human background change to the alien interior, and
you get the message GO IN PEACE. Blast off towards human space, namely
Alioth, and receive a big well done message from the Alliance. You can
keep your ship, and sell the goodies in it. You will be able to reach
home in TWO jumps!!
Bugs in this mission:
Sometimes the Thargoid stations are busy. Restore game, hyperspace in
again and see. Or, hang around in front of the docking bay and have the
ship crash into you. Lots of savegame required for this one.
Sometimes, when you return to Alioth, you receive a rather neutral
message that you are paid, and your old ship is given back to you.
When this happens, restore the game back from where you blast off
from the Thargoid station in your alien ship. I don't exactly know
what causes this "bug", but you might want to try again, and try to
avoid any populated systems on your way back. Perhaps it's random, I
don't know. But I have solved many thargoid-mission returns this way.
You can keep your Thargoid ship.
4. --- Troubleshooting guide / Bug List -----------------------------
- Game won't run. What are the configuration tricks? -
FFE might have trouble with copmuter memory, or the way your memory has
been set up. Try the following configuration using DOS 6.xx or the memory
managers you get with Windows 3.11:
; ** CONFIG.SYS **
Device = C:\Windows\Himem.sys (Or C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS if you don't have Win3)
Files = 40
Buffers = 40
LastDrive = Z
Stacks = 9,256
Dos = High
;This line is for CD version owners, in my case the Toshiba CD driver
Device = C:\Tools\TOSHV111.SYS /D:CD0
; ** AUTOEXEC.BAT **
rem Put your Soundcard settings or other SET's here, for example:
Set BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6
Set MIDI=SYNTH:1 MAP:E
rem Put your Soundcard drivers, CDROM MSCDEX + other drivers here
MSCDEX /D:CD0 /M:15
- Game runs, but no music is heard -
If you have a wavetable add-on card on a Soundblaster 16 soundcard, try
downloading the SB-MPU patch from Creative labs. Enable it like I did in
the AUTOEXEC.BAT, and you'll have less trouble. Also goes for a number
of other games.
Also use FFE's latest version, 1.06. There were bugs with the sound in
earlier ones. Of course, make sure you've run SETUP to set your sound
- Game runs, but no digisound is heard -
When booting 'clean' or indeed cleaner than normal :) make sure you DO
have all your soundcard-drivers loaded and configured correctly. Your
soundcard's settings must be set accordingly to FFE's sound settings,
and with hard resets, soundcards are returned to their default settings.
Also use FFE's latest version, 1.06. There were bugs with the sound in
earlier ones. Of course, make sure you've run SETUP to set your sound
- Game crashes when I try to fire laser -
You might have one of the early versions of FFE. Patch the game to the
latest version (1.06). Also, you might try to delete the file HMISET.CFG
from your FirstEnc game directory, and re-run SETUP.EXE from this dir.
Try auto-detecting, and make sure there are no IRQ or DMA conflicts.
This bug is known to exist in version 1.01 or below.
- The game bombs out with an 'Unhandled Exception Error' and lots of numbers -
Try the configuration files AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS mentioned
earlier. Remove any EMM386 or QEMM memory managers, but you must leave
HIMEM.SYS in. If this error occurs during Thargoid missions, there's
nothing I can do at the moment. There seems to be no solution for it
other than rebooting and restoring earlier games. Make sure you have
the latest version of FFE, though. In version 1.06 I never saw this error.
- I load a game, but FFE returns me to the options menu immediately
or I load a game, but FFE says 'No Commander File' -
There is a problem with FFE's save-game slots. The 28th slot is never
'loadable'. So, delete some of your earlier games and try again. You
also might want to switch directories if you don't want your games
deleted. Also make sure all your commander files have an A attribute.
In your commander directory, type ATTRIB +A *.* to make sure. Without
A attributes your commander files might seem to be gone, so if you've
made a full backup recently you must attrib them back.
If the program keeps rejecting your commander file, just try another.
If this keep happening during Thargoid missions, there's nothing I can
do about it. Just make sure you have version 1.06, it doesn't seem to
- Windows 3.11 says 'Borland 32 bit DPMI module needed' and Windows 95
says 'this module cannot be run on WINs32', or something in that
Gametek has informed me that FFE is not, and will not be, compatible with
all Windows versions. But then, who needs Windows eh? Windows 95 users
will have to make an MS-DOS session of it by right-clicking FIRSTENC.EXE
and choose Properties.
- FFE slows down to a crawl on a >= 486DX/66 CPU -
This can be a number of things. According to some people in alt.fan.elite,
it can be caused by a plugged-in joystick when no joystick is selected in
SETUP. It also might have something to do with the way your computer
handles your memory. So try booting as "clean" as possible (see 4.1) and
when this fails, try examining your CMOS settings. There might be some
entries there having something to do with write back cache or memory re-
WARNING: Only change settings in your BIOS when you know what you're doing,
and before you start, make sure you have a way to set the CMOS back to
default in case you screw up.
- Can I run FFE without the CD in the CDROM drive? -
That's possible. I use it too, sometimes when I get fed-up with the video
animations, and wanna play some CD music while in orbit. Here's how it goes:
Go into your FIRSTENC directory on your harddisk, and type ATTRIB -R *.* /S
This will flag all your files READ-WRITE, in case this wasn't done already.
Next, create a directory in your FIRSTENC dir. called CD_DATA. Copy all the
FirstEnc CD files into this directory, EXCEPT the dir. called \DATA!! This
directory contains all the movies, and that's about 600MB. Even for big
harddrives this is a waste of space. You don't even HAVE to copy ALL of the
CD's files into CD_DATA. These are the files in MY CD_DATA dir:
But for now, copy all of them and delete some later if you think they're not
needed (like the french or german versions)
Next, find the file FIRSTENC.CFG and load it into a text-editor (for DOS 5
or higher users: EDIT FIRSTENC.CFG will do). You'll find only one drive-
letter in there, corresponding to your CDROM drive (G: in my case).
Change the letter into something that doesn't exist yet in your PC, let's
say J: for example. Save the file.
Then remove your FIRSTENC CD from the CDROM drive, and type:
SUBST J: X:\GAMES\FIRSTENC\CD_DATA
(where X: is the driveletter where FFE resides, and GAMES being the
directory where FFE resides). When you see an error message, you might
want to check your SUBST command for errors, and your CONFIG.SYS to check
that your LASTDRIVE is indeed J or further in the alphabet.
When no errors are displayed, start FFE without CD. I recommend creating
a batch file to SUBST the drive to CD_DATA, start FFE, delete the SUBST
drive afterwards. When you're in FFE, the first thing you must do is
TURN THE VIDEO ANIMATION OFF!! If you leave them on, the game goes looking
for that \DATA directory that we didn't copy..:-)
- I'd like to use/edit the graphics/sounds in other programs -
This can be done. FFE's programmers left the sound and graphics files
seperately, 'un-grouped', and unpacked on the CD. The music files are
to be found in FFECD:\MUSIC\*.HMP If you want to convert them to some
other, more compatible format like MIDI, you should get the program
HMP2MID.EXE It's somewhere on my FFE page, too. See top of this document.
The sound effects are in a somewhat raw format, and can be found in
FFECD:\FX\*.RAW I've not succeeded in converting these to WAV or VOC,
or some other compatible format. But when loaded in a soundtracker, the
samples are audible, but very noisy.
The graphics files reside in the root \ of your FFE CD-ROM, and are
called CABIN?.BMP (?=0 to 5, according to ship size. 5=thargoid).
These can be used directly in any Windows environment. You might even
want to create your own Frontier desktop-theme.
- Engine sound is gone when I throttle up -
This is sometimes due to the fact that your music is set to ON or
Continuous. If you turn music off, all sound effects are restored.
- Musical instruments get corrupted or keep 'hanging' continuously -
This happens more often with wavetable users than the FM synth users.
I cannot give a solution, except to try the MPU401 patch from Creative's
website. It solves some problems (and not just with Frontier).
* General gameplay hints/tricks *
- Stardock doors open, I hit 'accelerate', but nothing happens -
Make sure you have refueled your internal tank. Press F3, F10 and click
'refuel'. Then accelerate again, and see what happens. Also, check that
you have the right kind of fuel for the right hyperdrive!
- I can't hyperspace -
When you're just starting, you have a ship that can hyperspace a
relatively short distance. Make sure you select a star system on the
map that returns 'Fuel Required:' information on the lower-left on
your starmap, instead of 'Out of Range'.
Also, you can't jump when you're very close to a stardock or space
station. The manual says why.
And finally, when you have engaged your autopilot, hyperjumping is not
possible. Switch your engines to MANUAL or OFF and try again.
- Autopilot's destroyed. How do I get home? -
Don't Panic! You get home using manual controls. When you're done screaming,
here's the deal:
The easiest way of getting to a safe place is to pick a planetary starport,
it saves time wasted on docking station-positioning. When you don't have
atmospheric shielding, try to pick a MOON to land on.
First, set your target using your map. Point your nose towards it, and
remember the distance (AU). Let's say the distance is 10 AU. Then,
accelerate using the ENGINE OFF method (so keep ENTER depressed) until
you're exactly half way there (5 AU). Then, turn your ship around and
do the same. In the same time-frame, you should be at the same speed
you were at, before you throttled up, or close to it. Then pick a
comfortable speed (not too fast) and use a quick time acceleration
(SHIFT F3 or maybe F4) to approach your target. If you find yourself
'spinning' and swooping around your target, then you were going too
fast to begin with. Slow down, and if necessary, use faster time-accel.
If your target is on the surface of a planet, it might be a good idea to
establish atmospheric flight first, and then fly around the planet with
an ALTITUDE reading AVAILABLE (that means you're well within the atmos).
Fly about 30000 km/h, and use time-accel very carefully. To find out if
you're going the right way, face the ground, and examine it. You should
see your targeted green square somewhere. Align with it, and go around
the planet to reach it.
* Mission-specific *
- I don't see any military missions on the bulletin boards -
That's either an old version you're using, or you have made the
military your enemy. Try patching up to v1.06, and fly to Eta Cassiopeia
and look on the bulletin board there. If you already use 1.06, go to
Eta Cas anyway and see. Perhaps you can restart the game, to make sure
the missions work. If you do too much work for the opposing force, the
military may give you delivery mission only, for a while.
- My assassination target won't show up -
It happens. You get information from someone that your target is going
to leave at a certain time and place, but things can go different. In
the usenet newsgroup alt.fan.elite we have a theory about this:
The target ship must appear somewhere on a starport. But what if the
starport's full, and the target ship can't land there? We suspect FFE
does not take this in account, and the target ship vanishes from the
game. If you think about it, it's actually quite realistic.
As a player, you can bypass this by hyper-jumping into the system again,
and see if the target has shown up this time. Every time a player jumps
into a system, all the system's inhabitants and planetary positions are
randomly different. So SAVE YOUR GAME BEFORE JUMPING IN!!
- When on photograph missions, close to an installation on a planet
or moon, some invisible force pushes me back FAST -
I'm afraid so, and there's nothing to do about it at the moment. I'm
currently trying to determine what kind of planet causes this, but
you'll have to take your picture as quickly as possible, and jump out.
Just photograph if you're within 100KM of the target. You might try to
fly back again when you've been pushed back, but it might happen again.
- I want to get the 'Wiccan Ware' (the race) but the spaceport's busy -
Patch to version 1.06, it's fixed there. If not, try this (and it goes
for every 'spaceport busy' situation):
Buy a missile, combat-target the weakest ship that occupies the landing
pad, and blast off into orbit (3KM away according to manual). Then face
your red target, and fire the missile. Press SHIFT-F4 once to make your
missile hit the target for certain, then wait a bit (SHIFT-F3 for a few
seconds) and head back for the spaceport. Your target will be either
destroyed, or he will have fled. Perhaps you'll have to wait until midnight
to have the traffic controls 'reset'.
- The '5 Furies Statue' is incompletable, not enough time -
There's an error in the mission-text regarding pickup time. I don't
know the exact times (YET) but when you take the mission, you might
want to fly to Arcturus immediately (with passenger cabin fitted) and
dock there. You will be give the Statue, even if you've arrived before
the set time. If you're there earlier, you are able to complete it
easily. This is fixed in version 1.06
- The person from 'Pickup hith-hiker mission' doesn't show up -
Yes she does, she just doesn't say she does.. ;-) Land at the
starport a few days before pickup, wait a few days until the pickup
must occur, and watch your cabin space. It should be occupied with
1 person after the pickup date. Blastoff immediately and search the
map for a nice, nearby Federal starport. You should be able to find
2 of them within 20 Light Years. If ms. Thikka is not on board on the
specific date, wait a few days longer, and press F2 again to see.
- Pick up hitch-hiker: mission not completed while I think I did! -
I have not been able to complete this mission either, and discarded it
as a bug. I picked up the hitch-hiker, flew back to a Federal world, but
still got the 'failed' message. In one rare moment, the mission WAS a
success, but I have never been able to trigger that again.
UPDATE: I've recently completed this mission, first try. It was in
version 1.06, and I brought her back to an unknown Federal world.
- The hitch-hikers blow up my ship when I pick them up again -
And does that trouble you?
Ok, seriously: In early versions of FFE, this is unavoidable. If you're
playing v1.06, I suspect you didn't take off quickly enough. If the
hithhikers say "Let's go--NOW" I suggest you listen to them. Hyperspace
as quickly as possible. This information is theoretic, I'm working on it.
- I missile-bomb 'Rockforth Academy', but when I return I don't
seem to have completed the mission -
The missiles almost never really do any damage when you fire them from
close range in real-time. A workaround: Fire missiles from about 500KM
away, and press SHIFT-F4 after they're away. This will enable the 'if-
- Thargoid mission-specific -
- I'm on the Thargoid mission, and I get harassed by far too many
ships - even after the missions they keep bothering me -
That's because you didn't blow up the satellite in the first mission.
In that first mission, you are NOT given the tools to do this, and
you must take on a "CLASSIFIED MISSION" from the military to get them
yourself. You won't be completing this classified mission, but you snatch
the Transmission Jammer and Nuclear Missile and use 'em for your own
purpose: the Thargoid systems. Seek out and destroy that satellite on
Pleione, or you're going to be a busy commander. Don't worry about not
being able to complete that military mission you took to get the Jammer
and Missile - your rank points go down, but they're up in no time.
Also, if you LIKE living on the edge, and plan to keep on playing even
with INRA on your tail, you might make a forced hyperspace misjump at
times. This will confuse lots of INRA ships, and the game may run some-
- When leaving the station at Polaris, I'm no longer in Polaris! -
That's correct. It's a little unexpected for Commanders who didn't
bring enough FUEL WITH THEM, LIKE ME !! : - (
But the Polaris system is (was?) just a base for the Thargoids, and
their home planet is located far more to the north. When you dock at the
shuttle (which turns out to be a transporter) it hyperspaces a long
way to Miackce [37,144]. And you have to be able to return this distance.
- When leaving the station at Polaris, a lot of Thargoids fly
around me, but nothing happens. -
Not yet anyway. Just be patient... they're as curious about you as
you are about them. Just wait a bit (perhaps you can use SHIFT-F2 or F3)
until you receive a message from the Thargoids to dock with their
really BIG station. If you dock with the big station without having
received this message, chances are that you won't receive any Thargoid-
- Nothing happens when I click YES/NO in a Thargoid ship -
This might be caused by the use of accelerated time during Thargoid
communications inside a space station. Use time control only when
the Thargoids say so. The solution is non-existent at this time.
Restore your game before you entered the station. Version 1.06 is
more friendly about this, it never happened to me anymore.
- Thargoid shuttle is always busy -
Don't know what causes this, it's probably a bug, although it seems
to happen less frequently with version 1.06. You'll have a decent
chance if you restore your game, and hyperspace in again. Otherwise,
you can try floating just before the Thargoid shuttle's entrance, and
wait until the occupying starship crashes into your Quest ship. This
can take a lot of gamesaving and restoring to figure out just when the
ship leaves the Thargoid shuttle.
- When I'm done, I land at Alioth, they take my Thargoid away! -
Happens sometimes, don't know why. It might have something to do
with the fact that you dock/land at planets before you go to Alioth,
but I recommend you restoring your game after you left the Thargoid
station in your new Thargoid ship, and hyper to Alioth again.
... it must be something you did wrong, but I haven't figured out
just yet what this might be.
5. --- Tips & tricks -------------------------------------------------
When you buy a Fuel Scoop tractor beam, you don't need a Fuel Scoop
and a Fuel Scoop cargo bay converter. So all you actually need to
make full use of a Fuel Scoop is that 1 tonne Tractor Beam!
To reach your destination more quickly, use this method:
Hyperspace into a system. Set your autopilot target, and allow it to
fly straight towards it (press SHIFT-F3 for faster movement). When
this is done, switch your engines to 'Off' and go into the fastest
time-skip mode (SHIFT-F5). Then keep the [Enter] key pressed until
you are at a distance of 4 to 2 AU. Then press [Tab] once, and your
ship will immediately stop and dock/land at your destination.
So with this method, you can effectively bypass the 'braking' pro-
cess! Think of it as the space station's tractor beams pulling you
to a halt..:-)
If your Nacal ECM doesn't kill an incoming missile, just try again
a couple of times. When you quickly press [E] 5 times, all incoming
missiles should be gone. If they're not, read the second tip.
If missiles are immune to your ECM waves, do the following:
During battle, you may have found out which of the attacking ships
have ECM capability. Keep a combat-lock on that ship, and when some
ship fires a missile at you, press M to fire a missile at the ECMming
ship. He will activate ECM shortly to destroy your, and every other
missile! I call this the "poor man's missile jammer".
Stupid tricks start here:
- Slingshot around big planets -
If you haven't already done so, or don't know how, here's how you sling-
shot around a planet. Hey, every commander must do this at least once..:)
Look up a big gas giant, similar to Jupiter or Saturn. Aim a few centi-
meters above the edge, and fly towards it with a speed of 90.000 km/s.
Then activate time-skip to 4 or 5 and look at your speed. It'll increase
by the planet's gravity. For maximum effect, face the planet at all times.
- Asteroid landing -
Some bigger, fast-spinning, spherical asteroids can be landed on. When
you're close enough to one of these, your 'mass-lock' will indicate you're
in orbit to the asteroidal body, and you'll receive an altitude reading
when you're close enough. Lower your landing gear, and take your ship
VERY close to the surface and try to match the speed of the asteroid. When
you can almost touch down (<100M) set speed to zero and try to keep the
horizon in your sights. You might make it..:) If you do, take an external
view, and watch your landed ship floating a couple of meters above the
surface. Then deploy MB4 mining machine, use escape pod, and take a
- The ghost ship escape pod trick -
Go to an orbital space station. Buy an escape pod, and leave the station.
When the doors open, fly a little bit outside (so that your ship keeps
spinning in sync with the station) and eject. Request docking permission
and fly back in the space station. You'll get a new ship. Launch again,
and you can fly THROUGH your old ship..:) ...in case you ever wanted to
see the insides of a Panther..:)
6. --- Interesting Systems -----------------------------------------
Here are some interesting systems because of fame, strange bugs, illegal-
to-visit, and generally weird systems.
Dumbell -72,40 Nebula, but no special system found
Beta Lyrae -146,85 System crashes if jumped into
Betelgeuse 59,14 I could fly into the atmos of btlgeuse B
Pleiades 32,32 Lots of systems with nice looking stars
Rigel 92,6 Supergiant star