One thing I have never seen anyone comment on is detailed map scanning.
First, the "feature zone". The map features (asteroid belts, nebulae, debris fields, etc) of each system do not cover the entire system. They are within a roughly square zone that is superimposed WITHIN the outermost orbit. Occasionally there may be one or two outlying nebulae at the corners of the zone that fall just beyond the outer orbit, but for the most part the interesting stuff is found in a square area that fits within the circle of that orbit.
This means that often the outermost 1 to 3 stations are in some otherwise pretty empty parts of the map.
It also means that there is no need to waste time exploring the vastness beyond the outer orbit,...or even in the upper, lower, left, and right arcs of that orbit. Trust me...I have already wasted that time on your behalf.
If you are trying to use the zoomed in map to visually explaore some area around you, one of the best resolutions to use is to zoom ALL THE WAY DOWN, then BACK OFF 2 DETENTS. Alternatively stated, zoom in then back off to the first scale where tihe map switches back to top-down view, rather than the low oblique that is used at full zoom.
When you successfully find that scale, you can see ALL of the various clouds, debris fields, asteroid belts, etc, as you scroll around. If you zoom out more you lose some of the smaller formations. Also, at less magnification debris fields, which are grey on black and difficult to see in any case, become effectively invisible. At closer scales, you are too close to cover much ground with your map recon, and your field of view is more limited due to the low oblique perspective, and sometimes the clouds, etc, actually get in the way.
At this zoom level / scale, one screen width is ~250sm wide. That is quite a convienient swath to use for thoroughtly exploring a portion of the map. I scroll directly down the map from my current position 2-3,000 sm and place a waypoint. I note the clouds, etc, in zone while scrolling. There are usually 4 to 8 in that kind of swath. Then I fly from feature to feature down the map, sometimes mining as I go, and reorienting on the distant waypoint as I leave each feature to stay in the current exploration zone. This makes sure that all the namable features along that path get noted onto the map.
In regard to exploring map features, when you fly throught the center of a nebula or asteroid belt for the first time, the game system marks your map with a dot at the location. Mousing over the dot at any map scale shows the name of the "terrain feature". Very convenient for finding and getting back to places you want to mine again, or where you dumped a slightly less valuable cargo to pick up those diamonds.
However, it is worth noting that the game does NOT name/mark EVERY map feature that you can explore. There are two classes of "feature volumes" that it will not mark for you. Knowing about them may save you some exploring time in the first case, and in the second case, it can help make you very, very rich.
1) There are a number of dense orange gas clouds, and also some dense white gas clouds, which have no items of value within them. Sometimes they have a few apparently cosmetic bits of gas mining gear or small abandoned platforms, but none of it is useful, useable, or even destructible. These types of clouds never get anmed an marked no matter how many times and directions you fly throught them. So don't waste too much exploring time on them. The ones that never get named are generally modest in size, and not visible when you are zoomed out enough to see 2-3 orbit tracks. The annoying twist is that they are quite visible and distinct when you ar flying around exploring.
MILD CAUTION: There are some similar looking nebulae that DO get named when explored. These usually either have an asteroid belt or small debris firld within them, or they are very large map features, good for reference at the smaller scales (more zoomed out; EXMPL: small scale - 1:1,000,000; large scale - 1:1,000. Lotsa folks get that backwards.).
2) <SPOILER ALERT - IF YOU REALLY WANT TO DISCOVER ALL THE SECRETS OF THE SECTOR WITHOUT HINTS, DO NOT READ THE NEXT FOUR PARAGRAPHS. IF YOU ARE OK WITH KNOWING THAT GOOD STUFF EXISTS, BUT DON'T WANT TIPS ON FINDING IT, READ THE FIRST THREE PARAs BELOW BUT NOT THE LAST.>
There are two rare types of tiny nebulae that never get name but they are VERY IMPORTANT. The two most valuable mineable products in the game are available there in significant quantities. ("Significant" = one mining haul = 1 to 2M credits).
If you find a small asteroid field in a small nebula, that yields either a LOT of Faces of Gozu, or several Antimatter Specks, stop and look at the map. Take careful note of what marked features and/or stations are nearby, and in what directions. You will have to use those landmarks to find this place again, because the game will not name the belt/nebula, nor will it mark the map with a dot here.
You will likely mine out either of these two types of field when you first find it. However, the resources of every system are reseeded each time that you return to the system after leaving. So you are going to want to stop by for some fast, cheap, easy money any time that your adventures bring you back to the system where you made the find.
<DEEPER SPOILER ALERT>
Oh, BTW. The Face field is always a small pale blue-green (almost whate) nebula, with a dozen really gigantic tetrahidrite blocks. The A-M Speck field is always in a tiny, very deep deep blue cloud (almost black), with a small number of really gigantic obsidian asteroids (3, that I've ever seen, but I've heard that sometimes more.)
Post edited June 29, 2017 by dreamrider