Ha, I start playing X3 reunion again. I also have X3 Terran Conflict...but one game at a time.
In X3, you can be a trader (buy low, sell high), miner (mine asteroids), pirate, police and whatever you can think of. You can also own a fleet of ships (huge capital ships or tiny scout ships) and factories.
I do every few months, right after forgetting what I'm doing. LOL I've never gotten to the point of building stations, which I regret. It's pretty fun following the story and horsing around some on your own. You can beat down ships just short of destroying them, the crew bails and then you can leave your ship to claim it. You can set your fleet to automated duties while you do your thing, but that's about the point I get sidetracked with something else and I don't learn to make good use of that.
Get the cockpit mod if you go with X3:TC, see the big sticky thread for info. I throw in some cheats sometimes too, to get moving again. There's a nice menu style mod for that. I don't bother with my flightstick, the game is better suited to kb/m IMO.
The videos show you what you can do pretty well. Plus the cool soundtrack. These are for X3:R, but same thing. TC has far better controls than the mess of menus from R.
auto-aim software will aim for you, to a limited extent. there are two modes of fire- straight ahead, and aimed via the mouse cursor. if you are good with programming your HOTAS, you can set it up to do both, which is handy.
think your marines can get better, but just for boarding other ships. not sure about crews.
re: skyrim, sort of/kinda
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Such a good game, my only warning is that it can be a real monster to get used to and learn. There are some good guides thathelp a lot though. It is definitely worth the effort. My current game I have a decent couple of factories running and some freighters configured to sell my product and do general trading. You can do some pretty cool stuff.
It really is a freeform game that you can really play how you want.
If you get frustrated at the sstart, just post here for some help.