Understand your landing zones and persistence mechanics:
For members that primarily engage in trading, Port Olisar currently remains the best place to log out (as of 3.5). The quick access to ASOP terminals, trade kiosks and landing pads is very convenient. Additionally, those members operating larger cargo vessels have the benefit of not having to escape atmosphere before getting underway.
If you are operating smaller ships (up to a constellation), Grim Hex offers a decent alternative as it has many of the same benefits as Port Olisar as far as distance to ASOP, kiosks and pads are concerned. Also like Olisar, it is a space station that does not require you to leave atmosphere to enter quantum travel.
Even though Levski has a short climb out of atmosphere, features enclosed hangars that negate some of the occasional pad ramming/hi-jacking problems of the two major ports listed above and has been much improved in recent patches; it’s primary drawback is that it is the farthest landing zone from all other trade locations.
Lorville’s Teasa Spaceport and now Arc Corp’s Riker Memorial Spaceport at Area 18 round out the bottom end of this list. The main problem with these two locations is the sheer amount of time it takes to get from your Hab to your ship, not to mention the longer climb out of atmosphere.
While truck-stops at the various LaGrange points around the planets offer a safe space to store your ship (finally), there are no Habs at these locations and you will log-in at the last major port you were at when you return to your game session. This means that you will have to fly another ship (or catch a ride from someone if you don’t have another) out to the truck-stop to retrieve your vessel. So remember, always make sure to log out from your ship’s bed or at a major port equipped with player Habs.
A quick note on ship’s beds. Persistence is still sketchy (but improving). If you want to log out from your ship’s bed make sure you are aware of all the conditions required to ensure you respawn in your ship when you return to the game. Understand that there still may be a risk that your ship does not despawn correctly upon log-out forcing you to zone in at a major port. If this occurs, you will lose your ship and any cargo on board.
When landing ALWAYS request clearance from Air Traffic Control (ATC), land at the designated landing pad and listen for the “Landing complete” or “Welcome to” message. These communications from ATC let you know that the location has recognized that your ship has landed. If you do not hear these messages, it is unlikely that your cargo will appear on the trade kiosk. It also means that you will probably not log-in at that location if you disconnect or log-out at that landing zone. Lastly, your ship location will likely be listed as “unknown” upon log-in and be irretrievable without claiming the ship and losing any cargo on board.
Be very careful leaving your ship while at ground-side locations. If you get too far away from the ship, the server will mark it for despawn/clean-up. If you stay far enough away from it (and no other players enter the draw zone) for a long enough period of time, the server will despawn and store the ship and its cargo at that location. This is potentially very bad because only a few ground-side locations have any ship spawn capability and the ones that do are typically limited to ground vehicles and snub ships with no quantum drive (some minor exceptions apply).
Be ready for crashes and have a disaster recovery plan:
We often get little to no warning before a server crashes. The most common type of server crash results in a 20000 or 30000 error code (typically referred to as a 30K). When a server crash occurs, your ship and any cargo associated with it will not be recoverable when you log back in (unless you were already at a major port). However, the longer you play Star Citizen, the more familiar you will get with how servers behave. There are occasionally signs of server degredation that may indicate the server is becoming unstable and on it’s way to an inevitable 30K. Some examples of this would be:
- Loss of interaction with usables (doors, kiosks, mobi-glas, etc not working) is a big indicator.
- Desynch in the form of players not seeing each other, not seeing the same objects or visuals, or not experiencing the same ship movement can be big indicator.
- Quantum travel not working
- NPCs doing crazier things than the “normal” crazy things they do.
- Ships not spawning.
Lately, servers have been stalling and creating some or all of these effects only to return to normal operation 20-40 seconds later. If you are planning to begin any significant cargo run and notice any indicators of server degredation, you are advised to log-out and switch servers or continue at your own risk. If you are partway through a cargo run, you are advised to immediately return to the nearest major port and log-out or continue at your own risk.
The other type of crash occurs when the client (the game running on your computer) crashes. This crash closes the game and sends you back to your desktop. This is called a Crash To Desktop (or CTD). This type of crash is actually preferable because the server is still up and running. That means your ship and cargo state are saved and awaiting your return. If you can rejoin the server, you should spawn in the exact location that your CTD occurred. Rejoining can be done one of two ways reliably (see below).
The best way to recover from a CTD is to use the built-in crash recovery option provided by Star Citizen. After you get sent back to your desktop, a dialog box will appear asking if you want to “Relaunch Star Citizen”. Click “OK” in this box. Star Citizen will re-launch and you should see the main menu (Universe, Star Marine, Arena Commander Menu). On this menu, another dialog box should appear in the top right and give you the option to “Rejoin the instance” (pressing left bracket “[“ will accept). After pressing the “[“ key, one of two things will occur. One, Star Citizen will begin loading you into the server exactly where you exited it. Or Two, the dialog box will disappear and take you to the second menu (Starports and Hangars Menu). If this happens, don’t panic. Simply click the “Go Back” button in the lower left of the screen to return to the Main Menu. When you return to the main menu, the dialog box should reappear and give you the option to rejoin the instance again. Press the “[“ again to attempt to rejoin. Keep doing this until the server finds a place for you and logs you back into the game exactly where you were before the CTD.
The second way to recover where you were involves having friends on the same server you were playing on, that did not crash, disconnect or change servers. If they are still on the same server, you can press “Join Friends” on the Stanton System Menu that pops up after you select “Stanton” from the Starport and Hangars Menu. Find the server with your friends on it and select that one. This will take you back to the exact same server and should spawn you back in the same place you were at when you CTD’d. If you click on your friends and nothing happens, don’t panic. The server is probably full (even if it says its not). Just keep spamming the left mouse button on your friend’s server. Eventually, someone will disconnect from the server and you should start loading back into the game exactly where you were before the CTD.
YOU WILL CRASH and YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING. It has happened to all of us at least once and it can happen a few times a week in some of the worst strings of bad luck. Your absolute best defense against this is to PLAN ACCORDINGLY. The players that tend to accrue the most wealth in a given patch are very conservative in the beginning. In the first few weeks of a new patch, servers can be really sketchy and as bad as that is, it also coincides with you having the least amount of aUEC available for trading. Starting over from 0 aUEC is pretty brutal, so go slow and never spend all of your money on cargo. Most people limit themselves to investing no more than 50% of their money on cargo. Using this method, it won’t take long before you will be able to fill your ship and still have at least half of your money left over in your wallet. If you are joining midway through a quarterly patch, your servers might be more stable, but you should still follow the 50% rule. All it takes is one crash when everything has been risked to undo all the hard work.
If you are starting with less than 50,000 aUEC, consider doing missions. It’s typically faster, and 100% safer to generate some starting capital that way.