Players start with a small amount of money that they may use for travel and buying/selling goods on the open market. Three modes of travel exist: Public Transportation, Charter Flights and Player Owned Ships.
The universe in the game consists of 1189 stellar systems. Most of these systems have planets. Of these, approximately 240 have at least one inhabited planet. This is then further subdivided into three areas of government controlled alliance which currently 89 planets have joined. Each system in the alliance identifies a primary planet which hosts a spaceport. Tradition dictates that the name of the stellar system and primary planet match. So a player may say they are traveling to Absolution which could mean into that stellar system or to the primary planet with the spaceport.
Public shuttles are available for travel between stellar systems. They are limited to a range of 400 light years and a typical spaceport has shuttles leaving almost every minute. At this time, shuttles are only permitted to travel between the stellar systems in the alliance.
Frequency for travel to individual systems is controlled by three factors.
Each spaceport has their own schedule for arrivals. This schedule is preset and rarely changes. Schedules for planets range from 3 minute intervals to 15 minute intervals with most planets offering shuttles every 5 minutes. In most cases, shuttles depart/arrive on-time and players can safely travel around the universe. On a good day, a player may travel from one end of the universe to the other in under an hour and will have passed through at least 12 spaceports.
Sometimes shuttles are cancelled. Since shuttle departures are based on preset schedules, cancelled flights generally represent just a minor annoyance. Sometimes cancellations to a system can last hours or days. Players can never be stranded, but it may become difficult to get to some systems that act as a gateway to parts of the universe.
Worst case is when shuttles go missing. For most players, it is just another annoyance and almost the same as a cancelled flight. But for the players that happened to be onboard the missing flight, their fate may be an annoyance on an entirely different level. In most cases, missing flights are due to pirates hijacking the ship. Players typically land in some spaceport other than their intended destination, usually without money or the goods they were transporting. Sometimes the military that patrols the alliance manages to jump in before the pirates are able to remove all the player's possessions. In other cases, players may be associated with a faction that offers them protection from pirates and they are unaffected by the hijacking. In more extreme cases, players may experience physical injury during a hijacking. This can come from being in the wrong faction. Players that lose all possessions and experience physical injury will want to seek medical attention.
Another worst case is when a shuttle crash lands. In these rare instances players may be left stranded on remote planets and may have suffered some injuries. Emergency crews will rescue these players and bring them back to the closest spaceport. But the player may lose all their possessions in the process. It is also customary to tip the rescuers, so players will experience some financial loss in these rare events.
Players will experience some restrictions with public transportation. The quantity of goods you may transport is limited and players are subject to tight security checkpoints which prevent them from bringing black market items onboard. Lastly, there are some raw materials and general goods which may not be transported on public transportation such highly radioactive or flammable materials. Players wishing to participate in trading these goods will have to either use charter flights or invest in their own ships.
In general, public transportation is a secure, fast, safe and inexpensive way to travel around the galaxy.
Players who wish to travel more than 400 light years at a time or to a handful of planets that do no participate in public transportation may use charter flights.
Generally speaking, a charter flight is ten times or more the cost of public transportation. Price is set differently in each stellar system and also combines some factors into the pricing structure. Players traveling without cargo will have the least expensive flight. But adding cargo brings in additional considerations regarding the amount of cargo and the danger associated with the cargo.
Players wishing to use charter flights to buy/sell black market cargo will have to pay the ship's crew a little extra to take the risk. Pirates and government agencies get tipped off regularly by crew members seeking some extra cash. Players may want to pay a little more than the asking price of the flight to prevent this. Players can also purchase protection from some factions that have mafia ties. It is even possible to bribe officials at the destination.
But even with the best bribes, extra payments and protection from local organizations, players may still find that they get caught. Legal consequences can wrap a player up in a situation than can be difficult to navigate. Public defenders can help reduce penalties but in some cases, players may want to request legal services from other players to help defend their case.
Players have fewer cargo restrictions on charter flights but there are limitations to the amount of cargo which can be transported. This limitation is controlled by player proficiencies and as a player uses charter flights more, the restrictions begin to lift. But ultimately, players will have to purchase their own space ships if they want to transfer large amounts of cargo. Or they will have to purchase the services from other players to transfer cargo for them.
Another form of charter is for mining colonies. Players can setup scheduled flights to bring materials from mining colonies to their processing plants. The costs associated with this arrangement are significantly cheaper than regular charter flights and are also performed by contract. Players entering into these types of contracts will want to be careful to calculate the rate at which the mining colony produces and the amount the charter can carry to avoid paying for flights that are empty.
Player Owned Ships
The most expensive but most flexible form of travel is when players purchase their own ship.
The expenses fall into many categories such as fuel, supplies, crew member salary, insurance, protection and the costs for ship parts/repairs.
The risks are also much greater. Pirate attacks in some areas of the galaxy are common forcing players to purchase combat systems or hiring security forces to guide them through these areas. Also remember the backstory and keep in mind that you are flying somewhat unreliable spaceships that have a computer that may not like you very much.
But the rewards are significant. Players avoid many of the taxes and tariffs charged when using public transportation or charter flights. Cargo transport is only limited by the players ability to outfit their ship. And most of all, players can provide services to other players.
Players wishing to create large mining operations or participate in mass production of goods will also have to own their own ship.