Tip 1: Making money is a slow process. Your Buster doesn’t cut it and trying to go after pirates doesn’t cut it either, particularly if you want to upgrade your own ship. The tip here is to sell every pirate ship you capture. It’s not worth it to repair them. They’re not useful in the early stages anyways.
Tip 2: Do not forget to buy the hyperdrive (they’re around 50,000) before you decide to venture out. After all, you can only buy them in Argon space (Goner temple and Terracorp stations). Buy them for your freighters too.
Tip 3: I have not had use for missiles yet. If you have a Argon Buster, consider buying 4 particle guns (Alpha and Beta types) plus 2 Ray Emitter ones. A frontal (or side) hit with all of them fairly disables Harriers and Falcons.
Tip 4: Buy only fast freighters: I recommend the Mercury (Argon Prime) and the Split Iguanu (there’s one free one in Split space). If you reached your first 1,000,000, buy 4 of them so you can start to haul ore, silicon and other large stuff.
Tip 5: If you need to make money fast (and are willing to take some risks) at the start of the game, consider doing some Space Fuel runs in Heron’s Nebula. It’s ‘illegal’ to carry that stuff, but I have never been caught yet doing so.
Tip 6: Explore the Boron, Split and Teladi space (North/East). You may get hired to fight off a Xenon attack. This is quite the lucrative proposition: the fights are long, but well worth it. Xenons are slow and are (in fact) defeatable.
Tip 7: Do not get involved in a fight with the Kha’ak (‘the Thargoids of X3′).
Tip 8: Profitable Ore, Silicon and Energy cells runs: Emperor’s Mines – Argon Prime, The Wall – Argon Prime, Ore Belt – Argon Primer and ‘Antigone Memorial’ – Argon Prime.
Tip 9: Do not combat Novas in a Buster. Also, don’t take the lucrative assasination missions without a hyperdrive. When doing these missions, remove the escorts first before starting to peel away on the ‘transport’.
Tip 10: Buy an Ore mining base (from the Boron for example) and dump it in Three Worlds. It’s not a money maker there, but at least it’s fairly safe (and away) from conflicts between Xenon/Kha’ak and others. Also, buy up satellites and drop them in each sector around Argon Prime.