Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

If I ruled the (Elite) Galaxy

How I’d change Elite Dangerous

This article is not about new stuff; I’m not calling for atmospheric landing or EVA from ships. Nor is it a demand to Frontier to do things differently. It is just an opinion piece on how I would alter the current features of the game for “season 3” to make them more accessible if these decisions were mine to make.

Close Quarters Combat Arena

CQC was the arena-based PvP vehicle for the game, launched alongside the XBOX release of ED. It has, I think it is fair to say, flopped totally. Nobody plays CQC. It’s very hard to find a game.

How would I change it?

I would move the CQC system into the main game. Arenas would be large stations located in systems around the galaxy. You would fly your main ship to their location and dock to play. Human players would join the arena they dock at in their instance.

There would be AI opponents (bots) that would be hot-swapped with human players as they join and leave. This would then offer CQC in solo and all other modes of play, making it feel part of the game, rather than a bolt-on. By using the existing instancing, the matchmaking would no longer been needed.

Arenas would offer cash rewards and these would vary, depending on system state and faction. For example, a system in boom might hold a “championship” with larger rewards.

Players could also opt to watch competitions from an “observation room” in the arena station. Initially this would be a variation of the ship cockpit with player-controller view screens and a window onto the arena play area – basically overview + one or more controlled cameras.

CQC rank would be removed and instead players would be rated on a dynamic league table. Players would be invited to systems to play, based on their current rank.

Engineering materials

Currently (and I know this from bitter experience) finding materials and data for engineers can be a mind-numbing trudge through endless USS points looking for a single material or data item, waiting for the great god of random numbers to grant you those three cherries in a line. I hate random number generators.

Without excellent tools like EDEngineer, Inara and Eddb I’d have given up all together!

How would I change it?

Commanders would be able to pin multiple engineer blueprints for a “shopping list”. This would highlight the data and materials you have in your inventory as “required” or “not required”, so you can discard unnecessary cargo.

Your shopping list would then become a trigger for the game. Now, at the next USS or Nav Beacon or Station, you might be approached by an AI who would offer a mission with an item on your shopping list as a reward or as the mission itself.

“Go to system X and return with Y and I will give you data A”

“There’s a trader outside station X in system Y that will exchange data/material A for commodity B”

By doing this, the materials and data are then made part of the existing mission system and you would feel like you are playing the game, rather than wandering aimlessly waiting for a random timer to complete. Also, station missions would offer cash or the choice of a pinned material for reward.

Surface prospecting suffers from randomness the same way, even when you know there is 75% chance of arsenic on the surface, you can be driving in circles shooting rocks for hours and find none. It’s not fun.

Instead ships would have an “advanced surface scanner” and you would fly around in orbital cruise to map near-surface locations of elements; iron ore, sulphur deposits. Only impact craters would be a pick-n-mix like the current state of affairs. With the surfaced mapped, you would set surface waypoints and take the mining SRV to drill for the required elements or materials. The map would only be held while in orbit. After that, you’d rely on the waypoints you added entirely.

This leads into exploration.

Exploration

Currently there are three system scanners (useless, next to useless and infinite honk). And a detailed surface scanner that can see the far side of planet, when your SRV can’t manage more than a burst of static for radar, not consistent or helpful.

How would I change it?

The basic and intermediate system scanners would detect planets and moons in their range and all stars in the system, but would also display “estimated” orbit lines for objects not in range, but detected through gravitational lensing and radial velocity. Explorers would have to search the orbits for the planetary bodies causing the effect.

Planet scanning would be carried out by orbiting the planet - three types of surface scanner (basic, intermediate and advanced) – these would set the width of area scanned and you would need to scan the whole planet. The GUI would show a 3D graphic of the planet as you scan. This scan would detect the presence of elements.

Detailed surface scans would be carried out using the same scanners in orbital cruise. These scans would detect the location of material deposits on the surface. It would also spot extra-terrestrial objects on the surface.

System bookmarks in the galaxy map would have groups (folders) and surface way points could be bookmarked and used for a heading in SRV and ship Heads Up Display.

The Scarab SRV is fine for pew-pew, but we need purpose-built SRV types for exploration and mining.

The mining SRV “Cicada” (a beetle that digs) would be the mining SRV for extracting minerals, liquids and gases from the ground in areas discovered using surface scanning. This would follow the same method as space mining. Refinery and cargo, but the Cicada would be larger than the Scarab and require cargo transferred to the ship before it could fold for transport. I can also deploy ground-mining limpets (already seen in game) which can be harvested later.



The survey SRV “Coleoptera” scans the surface in a large radius for mineral deposits. This could be used instead of the surface scanner in orbital cruise. Because it is used on the surface, it can detect gas, water and oil deposits under the surface as well.

Explorers would find a planetary body, survey the surface from orbit, provide a detailed survey from low orbit (orbital cruise) and geological surveys from SRV. All saleable information, scaling in value.

The same information then could be bought in Universal Cartographic by miners, so they can get straight to the drilling. The game should treat the data as a commodity. i.e. if nobody has surveyed Moon 3C then the data won’t be available. First survey gets biggest pay out. Repeat surveys get general fee.

Crime and punishment

2.4 is seeking to improve the current lawless nature of the open game. It’s currently a case of “play in private/solo or accept you will be griefed”. Not ideal. Great news for the tiny minority, but bad news for the majority of players and the game itself. After all, how many griefed players, especially new players, never come back to the game? Only takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel.

How would I change it?

In the original Elite, if you murdered someone, the police were on you like flies on dung, so being wanted meant retreating to an anarchy system, or get killed in short order.

I see no reason not to go back to that. Trade should pay more in lawless systems, so players have an incentive to go there. Risk plus reward.

“Report crimes” would be a setting made on the options menu which cannot be altered during play. So no changing your mind about a PvP fight when you start losing and getting the cops to fight for you.

In secured systems, if a commander attacks another (CMDR with report crimes on) or an AI and they are not wanted/in a powerplay faction/in a combat zone (i.e. no in-game reason for an attack), then a police response should be immediate.

What’s more if you are wanted, the police would interdict you in the same way that the powerplay AIs already do when you join a PP faction.

The police response would be proportional to your bounty and ship size, so if you accidentally shot a ship in a Nav beacon and you are in a Sidewinder, then an Eagle or Viper would chase you after a minute or two.
If you have been murdering other ships and you are in a Fer-De-Lance or Corvette, then the police response would be much faster and the ships chasing you would be Anaconda and Vulture wings, dispatched within a minute or less of you leaving super cruise.

Basically, you’d be looking at an escalating response to wanted status, as you commit more crimes. First system wide, then faction wide.

The only way to not be constantly harassed is to pay your bounty or leave for a lawless system.

The only way to kill ships and not get dead yourself at the hands of the feds, is if they are PvP willing with Report Crimes off (which would show on your scanner) or if they are in an Anarchy system.

With the balance redressed, Open would have a lot more players. Players should be choosing which systems to avoid, not which play mode.

I would also add a fine for “ungraceful exit” of the game during combat (terminating Elite.EXE or ALT-F4) – so called “combat logging”. The fine would last seven days before you could pay it off. A second offense extends the period to two weeks. A third will carry a wanted bounty for a month “FOR ILLEGAL USE OF TELEPORTATION TECHNOLOGY”. If your PC crashes or your network fails, you will have to avoid all combat in the game until your fine clears, or face the same consequences as if you committed murder.

Piracy tools

Currently to be Robin Hood (or robin’ anyone) you need an interdictor, a manifest scanner and a hatch breaker controller.

What we don’t have is any tools to disable a ship without destroying it.

How would I change it?

I posted about piracy before, as I think (far more than CQC) it should be a recognised career with a rank.

The key element is, while victims are threatened with destruction, a good pirate would rarely have to follow through on the threat. A successful pirate gets their booty without killing the traders.

Currently that is very hard to do, as nearly every weapon available will destroy a ship long before any module is disabled, so any attempt to knock out the targets FSD will likely kill them instead.

What is needed is a “FSD hack” utility module that can be used to “reboot” an FSD on a target ship once their shields are down.

Yes, these could be abused by griefers, but the revised karma system would make their life impossible after a handful of murders by using these, just as any other weapons.

Interplanetary Bounty Hunting

Currently you get bounty missions, assassination missions and can trawl Navigation Beacons and Resource Sites for NPCs to kill for cash.

But there is no mechanism for hunting criminals directly.

How would I change it?

Players and NPCs in the “most wanted” list in any system would be traceable. You would have to sign on at the station they’re wanted by to hunt them (through the mission board). You would then get updates on your transaction panel every time they are scanned by feds in space or super cruise in any system, or dock at any station. For human players, this would cover all game modes and state which mode they were playing in on the updates.

“CMDR Harry Potter just docked at Guest City in Zeta Trianguli Australis OPEN”

“Mrs Trellis of North Wales was spotted near the Nav Beacon in Eravate”

Private Groups

Currently private groups are a nightmare to administer (just ask the guys at MobiusPvE) and the GUI isn’t very helpful when you want to know which one friends are in. And if you want to name an Elite Private Group you have to buy an extra copy of the game, just to create the group name you want.

How would I change it?

The group member list needs a filter. Really. How hard can a text filter be to implement?

The GUI should display the name of the Private Group your friends are playing in, so the friends list says "Private Group (Dead Men Walking)".

Private groups need the ability to nominate more than one admin and name the group. So player Jameson can create a private group and while they remain the owner of the account, other nominated CMDRs can administer the group. The group should also be re-nameable. So it can be "Jameson's Eagles" instead of "Jameson".

Admins of the private group should be able to send group messages (like server messages appear currently).

Ship Transfer

Moving ships between stations was a feature that was offered as a choice between instant or delayed transfer and the community voted for delayed transfer "for thar immershun".
But it costs a fortune to move ships and takes an age. For example a move between two systems 41Ly apart that takes (at most) two jumps and pad to pad takes a CMDR 8 minutes, will take 24minutes for ship transfer and cost 500,000CR for my Anaconda (which makes that in a single jump). It's slow AND expensive. Disproportionately so.

How would I change it?

The ship transfer menu should offer TWO options. Delayed ship transfer which will put your ship on a transport that calls on the hour every hour, or 3D printed ship transfer which is instant. The instant transfer should cost the same as the current process, while the delayed transfer should be a low fee based on pad size (small = 1,000CR, medium = 5,000CR, large = 100,000CR).
The instant transfer will take a minute while your ship is printed. The delayed transfer would be view-able in game.

When the feature was first confirmed, I suggested that a mega-ship would hyper-space in (like capital ships do) at regular intervals outside major stations and your ships would be transported from there into the station, so you would call (or send) a ship, and on the hour, a mega-ship would take/deliver your ship. You'd see the mega-ship jump in. You'd see it unload and you'd be notified your ship had arrived.

There's nothing about either option that does anything the game does not already do. It does more for "mah immurshun" on both counts than the current method.

Opening another possible avenue here, if the mega-supply-ship had tugs with cargo as well and dropped in outside the 10km zone to unload, there would be the option to add cargo piracy and ship theft to the piracy career path.

 

2.2 Guardians BETA First Impressions

Audio

The first thing I noticed about the game when I got things up and running was the sound. It was, to my ears, louder and the sound had a greater range. Once again, Frontier have tweaked various effects. The sound of the Kill Warrant Scanner has changed. I will have to keep an ear out for what else has changed.

Ship launched fighters and crew

Well, they have packaged and delivered that “BattleStar Galactica” moment perfectly. The fighter launch is amazing! I tried out a Condor and a Taipan fighter and had a fly around – I haven’t tested them in battle yet, since I never got that far from the station. The ships seem a little slower than they did in CQC. The AI crew doesn’t fly my Corvette as well as I do! The pilot just loops around me until ordered to stay put.

The “orders” menu is fairly intuitive. You can instruct the fighter to fly in formation, stay put, attack your target or attack at will. These options can be picked in either the fighter or the mother-ship to control the one you aren’t flying.

You need a minimum Class 5 internal slot for a fighter bay. A Class 6 fighter bay can have two slots and equip two fighters, sadly however, you can only ever deploy one. I did try sending my crew out in one ship and deploying myself in the second, but it didn't work - the crewman just got swapped back to the mother-ship and I was left flying the already-deployed fighter. Ah well!

If your fighter gets destroyed, you or your crew-mate are unharmed, since it is flown on remote. The fighter bay then rebuilds (grows? prints?) the fighter.

The crew you need to fly the fighters are recruited in the new "Crew Lounge". They have varying ranks and the better they are, the more they cost. I think Austin Powers must be in charge of HR there because the first crewman I saw was Ivanna Bonner and depending on how you pronounce it {bon-nar or bone-her}, the name is slightly comical, if inappropriate!

You can have up to three crew mates on payroll, but only one "active".

New Engineers

Pretty much as soon at the station hangar had appeared, so did an invitation in my InBox. A new Engineer! How many others will there be? I'm not sure. We have fifteen so far and Frontier bandied the number thirty around when Engineers were first mentioned. So will we get another fifteen? Or will we get another five per release for the rest of the season? That's my guess.

As I find out what upgrades they perform, who they are and where, I will publish a follow-up to my earlier Engineers article.

New training missions

The entire set of tutorial missions has been reworked and now includes training missions for mining and ship launched fighters. If you're never tried the training missions, well shame on you! Do them. Now!! Also, if you - like me - haven't played any since the game was released, it is worth a retry. They are a good showcase of the game.

I did find there was a bug in the ship launched fighter mission for VR users and I have reported it.

Blimey! That’s a big one!

New stuff has been added to Elite. Space furniture. Things to see and interact with. All that mile wide, inch deep nonsense is so 2014! Within a few minutes of flying around the game, I came across a "Military Installation" which looked like some part of the CQC scenery. It doesn't matter I've seen the models before, the station looked incredible. And huge. It dwarfed anything I've seen before. My Corvette looked like a Viper next to the massive structure.

It was also rather hostile to my presence and didn't like my fighter taking a poodle around too close. My fighter was destroyed and I had to beat a hasty retreat to super-cruise. That'll teach me to switch to debug camera in unknown territory!

The Beluga Liner

As new kid on the block, the Beluga is the latest ship to arrive in the game. It was priced slightly higher than the Type-9, so I would estimate it will sell for around the 90M CR price-point.
The ship is slow, but feels quite agile for its size and handles well. The audio is, as always, amazing. Being an Oculus CV1 user, I got a good look around the ships bridge and it seems a very shiny hybrid of the Anaconda's bridge and the Orca's.

D rated, the ship had a jump range of just over 21 light years.

Ship relocation

The BETA uses a server backup from a month ago, back then my Anaconda was back in SOL at Mars High, so I requested it's relocation to Jameson Memorial in Shinrarta Dezrha, using the new "Ship Transfer" option in the Shipyard menu. All your stored ships locations are listed with a price and transfer time. My Anaconda cost 6,500 CR and took 15 minutes to transfer. Relocation takes place in real time, so if you set off relocation and come back tomorrow, it'll have all been done while you out of the game.

Pink lasers baby! Yeah!

A new option on the ship livery menu in outfitting is Weapon Colour. Will this be another cosmetic digital download option? Looks like it. For those that want a distinctive look for their ships can have it, without shifting the balance of weapons in the game. So pink lasers for everyone darling!

The not-so-good bits

When I ran the game it crashed. A lot. After five quits-to-desktop, Frontier issued an update, which I duly downloaded - however my PC needed a restart before my Oculus drivers recovered from their earlier harsh treatment.

The servers were clearly overloaded by all the players having a go. I think sometimes Frontier underestimate how popular their game is. A lot of lapsed players come back for new releases.

Anyway, so far all my problems stemmed from server stability and the issues from the first point release (let's call it 2.2.1). Late last night I managed a couple of hours of solid game-play with the 2.2.2 version. That's why they call it a BETA test.

Unlocking engineers

The Thargoids are coming! The Thargoids are coming!

Okay, so that’s probably an overreaction, or maybe it isn’t. It could be a race of peaceful fish. We don’t know. But just in case…

…I need to unlock the Engineers. All the Engineers. Since many of these esteemed individuals require an introduction from each other, you need to unlock Engineers you might not want to deal with in order to gain access to the ones you do want interact with.

Some Engineers have short-cuts, but to unlock levels by building reputation with them, you need to upgrade modules. In many cases the higher level upgrades require rare commodities and materials and data, but the level 1 upgrades don't, so...

A fast way to do to this is to repeatedly generate a low-cost level 1 upgrade that requires an abundant material, such as carbon.

If the Engineer is a prerequisite to another Engineers introduction, then your introduction message will be sent to you when you have unlocked the first Engineer to level 3 and 33% (to level 4).

I've managed to upgrade my primary ships to all have level 5 FSD upgrades, which means my Anaconda now jumps over 40Lyr unladen!

However, if I am going to have super-dooper shields and kill-em-dead lasers, I need to unlock a few other Engineers first.

Who are the Engineers and what do they do?

Here’s a quick list of the fifteen Engineers discovered so far. The numbers indicate the level of upgrade they provide. Each Engineer is discovered an unlocked by a variety of criteria. Thanks to CMDRs Huntemdown and Sir Clip for providing some of the information here.

Broo Tarquin

Muang  Muang 5A Broo's legacy
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% reputation with Hera Tani.
Gain access: when you reach Competent or higher combat rank.
Initial contract: 50T of Fujin Tea - obtain this from Futen Spaceport at Fujin.
Modules / maximum level: Beam lasers , Burst lasers , Pulse lasers
Short-cut to reputation: none.

Colonel Bris Dekker

Sol Iaptus Dekker's yard
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% reputation with Juri Ishmaak.
Gain access: reach Friendly status with the Federation.
Initial contract: 10,000,000CR of Combat Bonds (double-ouch!).
Modules / maximum level: Frame Shift Drives , Frame shift drive interdictors
Short-cut to reputation: none.

NOTE: Sol is a permit-only system so you will also need to earn a Sol permit by doing missions for the Federation and attaining the rank of Petty Officer (rank 4) in the Federal Navy.

Didi Vatermann

Leesti Leesti 3A Vatermann LLC
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% reputation with Selene Jean.
Gain access: reach the rank of Merchant or higher.
Initial contract: 50T of Lavian Brandy - this is a rare commodity purchased at Lave Station in Lave, but can only be bought in volumes of 3-6T, so you'll have to make multiple trips.
Modules / maximum level: Shield boosters , Shield Generators 
Short-cut to reputation: Sell goods at Vatermann LLC station.

Elvria Martuk

Khun Khun 5 Long sight base
Learn about: revealed by default.
Gain access: travel at least 300lyr away from your start system.
Initial contract: 3T of Sooltil relics - obtain from Soontil at Cheranovsky City station in Ngurii.
Modules / maximum level: Frame Shift Drives , Shield Generators , Thrusters , Shield Cell Banks
Short-cut to reputation: Sell her cartographic data.

Felicity Farseer

Deciat Deciat 6A Farsee Inc
Learn about: revealed by default.
Gain access: reach the rank of Scout in Exploration.
Initial contract: 1T of Meta-Alloys - obtain from Darnielle's Progress planetary base in Maia.
Modules / maximum level: Frame Shift Drives , Frame shift drive interdictors , Power generators , Shield boosters , Thrusters
Short-cut to reputation: Sell her cartographic data.

NOTE: Farseer Inc also sells Enhanced Performance Thrusters at the station outfitting. These can be bought regardless of the Engineer unlock state. EPT's come in Class 2A and Class 3A only.

Hera Tani

Kuwemaki  Kuwemaki A 3A The jet's hole
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% reputation with Liz Ryder.
Gain access: reach an Imperial Navy rank of Outsider or higher.
Initial contract: 50T of Kamitra Cigars - obtain these at Hammel Terminal in Kamitra.
Modules / maximum level: Power distributors , Power Generators
Short-cut to reputation: Sell goods at The Jet's Hole station.

Juri Ishmaak

Giryak Giryak 2A Pater's memorial
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% reputation with Felicity Farseer.
Gain access: when you have earned more than fifty combat bonds.
Initial contract: 1,000,000CR of combat bonds (ouch!).
Modules / maximum level: Mine launchers , Missile racks , Torpedo pylons 
Short-cut to reputation: Handing in combat bonds at Pater's Memorial station.

Lei Cheung

Laksak Laksak A1 Trader's rest
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% reputation with The Dweller.
Gain access: when you have bought or sold goods at fifty different stations.
Initial contract: 200T of gold, which can be bought in system from Laumer City or West City stations.
Modules / maximum level: Shield boosters , Shield Generators
Short-cut to reputation: Sell goods at Trader's Rest station.

Liz Ryder

Eurybia  Makalu Demolition unlimited
Learn about: revealed by default.
Gain access:
take missions for or trade with Eurybia Blue Mafia in the Eurybia system until you reach a Cordial state with the faction.
Initial contract: 200T of Landmines, which can only be bought at planet bases (such as Leonov Depot in Alpha Caeli, Eckford Survey in LHS 1651 or Dedekind Bastion in Njojujil).
Modules / maximum level: Armour , Hull reinforcement packages , Mine lauchers , Missile racks , Torpedo pylons
Short-cut to reputation: Sell goods at Demolition Unlimited base.

Marco Qwent

Sirius Lucifer Qwent research base
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% with Elvira Martuuk.
Gain access: by invitation from Sirius Corporation - this is obtained by taking mission for the faction at Sirius until you reach Allied status with Sirius Corporation.
Initial contract: 25T of Modular Terminals - obtain these from missions for Sirius Corporation at Efremov Plant planetary base, close to Qwent Research base.
Modules / maximum level: Power distributors , Power Generators
Short-cut to reputation: Sell her cartographic data.

NOTE: The Sirius system is a permit-only system and can only be accessed by completing missions for Sirius Corporation until you reach Allied status with the faction. Procyon is a system where your can find Sirius Corporation missions.

Professor Palin

Maia  Maia A 3A Palin research centre
Learn about: reach level 3 at 33% reputation with Marco Qwent.
Gain access: when you have visited a system at least 5,000Lyr from your original start system.
Initial contract: 25T of Unknown Fragments - these are found by visiting HIP 14479 and looking for Signal Sources called "Anomaly Detected [Threat 4]". In these you will find an Unknown Artifact floating in space. You need to carefully shoot this object so it shatters and collect the fragments. Each bit you collect contains 3 Unknown Fragments.
Modules / maximum level: Frame Shift Drives , Thrusters
Short-cut to reputation: Sell him cartographic data.

Selene Jean

Kuk Kuk 3B Prospector's rest
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% with Tod McQuinn.
Gain access: when you have mined 500T or more.
Initial contract: 10T of Painite - this can only be obtain from mining.
Modules / maximum level: Armour , Hull reinforement packages
Short-cut to reputation: Sell her cartographic data and sell goods at Prospector's Rest station.

The Dweller

Wyrd  Wyrd A2 Black hide
Learn about: revealed by default.
Gain access: You must do business at at least five black markets before he will see you.
Initial contract: 500,000 CR donation.
Modules / maximum level: Beam lasers , Power distributors , Pulse lasers
Short-cut to reputation: Sell goods at Black hide base.

Tod "The Blaster" McQuinn

Wolf 397 Trus Madi Trophy camp
Learn about: revealed by default.
Gain access: hand in fifteen or more bounties.
Initial contract: Bring him 100,000CR worth of bounty.
Modules / maximum level: Cannons , Fragment cannons , Multi-cannons , Rail guns
Short-cut to reputation: Hand in bounty for Alliance systems at Trophy Camp station.

Zachariah Nemo

Yoru  Yoru 4 Nemo cyber party base
Learn about: reach level 3 and 33% reputation with Elivira Martuuk.
Gain access: You must then do missions for Party of Yoru in the Yoru system. Once allied with the faction, you will receive an invitation to the Engineer.
Initial contract: Zachariah requires a donation of 25T of Xihe Biomorphic Companions - get these from Xihe at Zhen Dock.
Modules / maximum level: Fragment cannons , Multi-cannons , Plasma accelerators 
Short-cut to reputation: Sell goods at Nemo Cyber Party base.

 

Engineer workarounds

In previous posts I’ve pointed out the limitations of the Engineering element of the game and how particularly the mission reward commodities cause major road-blocks.

I have been chipping away at these obstacles and with the help of members of the community providing both cargo and practical advice, I have some solutions.

Commodity storage

This isn’t going be an option for most players, but it is an option all the same. One CMDR told me his son is a lapsed player, so he has been using his son’s Type 6 as commodity storage. How does that work? The player logs in on two PC’s using two different Elite accounts and goes to the same location and game mode, then drops the mission reward commodity on one screen, the (on the laptop in this case) the CMDR scooped up the canister in his son’s Type 6, then logged out.

He now has storage for up to 100T of cargo.

Obviously not everyone has access to a second account, but maybe you have a friend who can hold on to your cargo for a while?

Upgrading ships that don’t have cargo racks

My Federal Corvette is built for combat and doesn’t have any cargo racks. What’s more once my Python has picked up a mission reward, I have to sell those commodities before I can switch to my combat ship. A major pain if I need the said commodity to upgrade my Corvette’s FSD to a level 3. So what’s the solution? Well, I have an Anaconda, which does have cargo racks and has identical internals to the Corvette, so I can fly the Anaconda out to Farseer Inc and get the Class 6A FSD on that ship upgraded by the Engineer. I then fly back to where my Corvette is stored. Here comes the “tricky” part.

  • I have to sell the modified FSD and buy a lesser model.
  • This puts the modified FSD in the outfitting “cache”.
  • I can then swap ships to my Corvette, in outfitting, using the “buy back” grab the modified FSD.
  • I then swap back to my Anaconda and rebuy the vanilla 6A FSD.

My Corvette now has the better FSD and my Anaconda is none the worse for wear – neither is my bank account!

Why is that “tricky”? Because the server controls the outfitting cache and it resets every five (or maybe ten) minutes. This means if you start doing this at 14:39 (server time) and take longer than a minute when the clock strikes 14:40, the “cache” may reset and bye! bye! goes your modified FSD. So don’t start until 14:41 and get done before 14:44 to be safe! Avoid minutes divisible by 5.

This option is permitted by Frontier, but not officially supported, so while it works now, it may not always work.

Finding tricky mission reward commodities

I have slaved, explored, worked and jumped game modes. But I could not for the love of anything get a mission with Modular Terminals as a reward. I went to stations where people had seen them (or even were at that moment) but zip! The mission board is random and my dice were cursed.

So how to get that one final ingredient to the FSD Jump range spell?

Trading with other players.

CMDR TheArmysRedNeck mentioned to me that he had some Modular Terminals, but needed some Osmium and Praseodymium but didn’t have a mining ship to get them.

I did have a mining ship and knew the exact pristine ring system where these items were plentiful.

I gave him my location, went mining in the ring and by the time Red arrived, I had half what he needed already.

We then made a simple exchange and were both on our way with what we needed for our respective blueprints.

So my advice is, if you have an excess of Praseodmium or you have a bunch of mission reward commodities you don’t want, advertise the fact! Go to FaceBook groups, the Frontier forums – wherever and let others know you want to trade.

Friends, Romans, CMDRS lend me your Engineers

Long term members of the community have been expressing frustration and dismay with the latest update to Elite, like Titus Balls https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/267381-My-Elite-Dangerous-inflection-point, Thrudd (author of Thrudd’s Trade Tool) https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/263684-The-Engineers-is-turning-into-a-deja-vu-for-me?p=4070730&viewfull=1#post4070730 and Obsidian Ant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKeC-FBomCw

This isn’t the AI changes that came into 1.6 and 2.1, what we’re talking about here is the Engineers.

What’s the problem?

To “unlock” most Engineers (so you can visit them) you have to reach a certain level with other Engineers. This means a certain level of grind. Either repeated upgrades to unlock higher levels or some form of trade (if you know what that engineer wants).

To get an Engineer to modify something, you must provide all the ingredients from the blueprint. Initially these are just materials or data, but higher upgrades include commodities (cargo).

Most of which cannot be bought, but must be earned as mission rewards. If you get a reward of cargo you can’t swap to a ship that doesn’t already have a cargo rack fitted. It also means you cannot apply these mods or use any ship that doesn’t have a big enough cargo rack for the items you need to hang on to for upgrades. So you might have to jettison rare cargo, just so you can carry on playing the game. Currently there is no way to locate a mission offering the reward you need, other than just visiting the Mission Board at every station and reading every mission.

Now assuming you do have everything, you go to the Engineer’s (remote) hideout and you request an upgrade, hand over the beans and pull the handle. The lights flash, the wheel spins and you get… numbers. Mass, Integrity, power draw, optimised mass. You have no idea what it all means. So, you won’t find out if your top speed or jump range is better until you apply the upgrade. It’s then you find out if the results are in fact worse. A level 5 upgrade can easily prove worse than a level 3! Now during the BETA when all the Engineers wanted was fish it was inconvenient and puzzling; now when you might struggle for a month to find the items for a blueprint, only to have it produce bad results, it is very disheartening, knowing you've got to start the search again and when you finally get back to where you started, the results may (again) be just as random.

So what?

Engineers is part of a paid expansion and was supposed to add more game play. It shows a lot of promise and the Engineer modifications are interesting, but are let down by an illogical and random delivery system.
Like a chocolate bar stuck half-way out a vending machine, the goods are in sight but blocked by mechanical failure!

It’s easily fixable.

Short term improvements

  • More transparency with upgrades i.e. "Your FSD max range is 12Ly and with this modification would be 14Ly. Apply Y/N?"
  • The ability to deliver cargo/data/materials to an engineer in advance of using blueprints, no longer making it mandatory to have cargo racks for most mods.
  • Change the randomness on modifications so it is within tiered bands, not a 0 to 100% range, so that a level 5 mod should always be better than a level 4, even if it isn't the best. i.e. level 1 = 1-20% improvement, level 2 = 20-40%, level 3 =40-60%, level 4 = 60-80% and level 5 = 80-100%.
  • Find a better way to communicate where materials etc. can be found on blueprints. The Galnet news post was a quick-and-dirty fix.

These would make a significant improvement to the existing mechanic making it more logical, transparent and progressive (rather than pot luck).

In the long term

A player market in materials would allow all players to sell on items not required and you could purchase that oh-so-hard-to-find material or cargo if you have more credits than time. These could be like rare goods, but in reverse. Materials would cost the most (and sell for the most) close to Engineer outposts, but get cheaper further away from Engineers. Materials would gravitate towards where they are needed.

The ability to apply same upgrade to multiple items with the same result. i.e. If I have enough materials for 3 blueprints, I should be able to apply the same upgrade to all three multi-cannons with the same outcome (if done together).

Expand cargo and material storage to all stations (not just Engineers) and add module storage, so you can refit your ship for another purpose without losing the upgraded modules you own.

Tips for beginners: Engineers

Who are they?

There are currently thirty engineers to be found. Each one has a face and their own small biography. The upgrades they offer reflect their interests or former professions.

See HERE for up to date information.


Below is an example of the Engineers screen. It's accessed from the Status TAB on the Systems panel.

What do they do?

They trade materials and data and commodities for ship upgrades. These may be faster FSD drives, longer jump range, stronger shields, faster engines, etc.

Some of them also sell upgraded modules directly. Farseer Inc. is where you can buy racing thrusters.

Where do you find them?

On planets. Depending on your progress in the game (your combat, exploration, trade and CQC ranks) you will have "introductions" hit your mailbox. Once invited by an engineer, not before, you can visit their base and if you can meet their initial requirements, may begin a barter relationship where you trade materials for upgrades.

Each engineer base location will appear as a point on the Galaxy Map once you have that engineer "Unlocked".

As you progress with an engineer, they will introduce you to other engineers. Also, progress in different fields in the game will unlock more. I’ll try and get the unlock information as the full list develops.

Upgrades and unlocks

The upgrades offered by each engineer depend on their area of expertise. Initially you start at level one (very minor upgrades) and as you buy more upgrades, your business relationship with engineer improves and more upgrades unlock. Upgrades go up to level five. Each engineer’s "special interest" may allow a faster path to higher levels. For example Felicity Farseer was an explorer, so will accept exploration data and the more you give her, the higher the level of upgrades become unlocked.

Blueprints

Each upgrade has a blueprint, like the one above for increased FSD range. This tells you what the upgrade will do and what the pros and cons of the modification might be. It also tells you what data, materials and commodities are required. Once the upgrade is unlocked you can “pin" the blueprint to refer back to when away from the engineer’s base. You can only “pin" one blueprint per engineer.

Where do I find materials?

Everywhere! However to find the specific materials you need, look at the blueprint you pinned and selecting the material needed will display a clue as to where the item should be found. This is in the form of a general location such as “at navigation beacons" rather than a specific planet or system.

How do I find data?

Different types of data are gained from different types of scanning. Normal basic scanning of ships in super-cruise and normal space will collect data. Also some data (such as Atypical Wake Echoes) will require a Frame Shift Wake scanner, which is a utility slot item.

Do materials take up cargo space?

No. They list in your inventory panel and (we must assume) fit in your flight-suit pockets as they remain with you, even if you swap ships or are destroyed. You don’t need cargo racks for any materials, however some engineer modification blueprints do require commodities which will need to be stored in your ship’s cargo rack.

Where can I get blueprint commodities I can't buy?

These are only available as mission rewards. Again, the tooltip will give you clue as to the type of mission you'll need to take in order to obtain the rare item you seek. You could also ask other commanders. A lot of bartering has already begun. This will only increase with time.

A. I. feel your pain

Elite: Dangerous shipped version 1.6 and 2.1 last night and a massive update it was.

Following the launch (and a fair bit during the BETA as well) there have been complaints about changes to the A.I.

NPC

What’s that? Well, if you are not a ED forum regular or don’t know what I mean, what we refer to as the NPCs or A.I. are the Non Player Characters in the game – the spaceships you fight that are not other players and the A.I. being the combat logic program that controls them. Much of this written by Sarah Jane Avory at Frontier, who has been christened the “Mistress of Minions” by the community. She takes great delight in the achievements of her “children”.

Now to the controversy; one camp is complaining that the A.I is now impossible to beat. That all the NPCs use all the Horizons Engineer upgrades. That the NPCs don’t follow the same rules as players, such as having infinite ammo and being immune to heat build-up.

The other camp, is saying that the NPCs were harder in the first BETA of 2.1 and have been “dumbed down” because of complaining from players who just can’t hack combat. Their argument, is that the game is called Elite: Dangerous and combat should be life and death. Not a stroll in park picking daisies. Their response has been the phrase “GIT GUD” meaning learn to fight.

There’s also the group who are in the “goldilocks zone” who think Frontier have got it just right. They are currently the majority.

Where lies the truth of the matter?

The NPC behaviour was different in the first BETA of 2.1 and it did make it harder, because the moment a ship lost its shields, the NPC would flee beyond your range and return when their shields were back up. This might have been harder, but was it better? It made combat take a LOT longer, but it wasn’t very intense as a result. So Frontier changed that and NPCs don’t flee like that now.
Do NPCs use infinite ammo? Are they cheating? I’ve seen no evidence of this.

I asked Zac at Frontier:-

Does the AI cheat?
No, the AI ships work in the same way as any other ships. Anything an AI can do a Commander can do (with exception of one small point noted below in Q3… )
Do ALL NPCs have access to Engineer Mods?
No, NPCs of a higher rank, much like Commanders of a higher rank, will have explored and done far more in our vast Galaxy than lower ranked NPCs. The higher the rank, the more likely you are to see Engineers upgrades
Do NPCs have unlimited ammo?
No. HOWEVER, they do have unlimited multi-cannon ammo. This is a deliberate decision and is designed as such because the multi-cannon fire is made to miss far more and generally to improve the combat experience.
Are NPCs immune to heat build-up?
No, in fact there have been some interesting times when NPCs have blown themselves up from heat build-up. This is a common misconception but NPCs do definitely suffer from heat.

So the claims of cheating don’t really hold up to scrutiny. What I have observed, is that NPCs are vastly different to fight, depending on their rank and the likelihood of meeting high-ranked NPCs increases with your rank.

Harmless, Mostly Harmless, Novice, Competent, Expert, Master, Dangerous, Deadly, Elite.

You now need to check what the NPCs rank is, before biting off more than you can chew. I could swat a wing of three competent Eagles, but a Deadly Dropship took all I had to stay alive.

Whatever camp you are in, the days of NPCs barrel-rolling in a stationary position while you kill them is over. The minions are fighting back!

Engineers could do BETA

The latest addition to Elite Horizons is the 2.1 engineers update.

Having played with it for the last seven days, I’ve began to get a feel for what it brings to the game.

The engineers are a bunch of solitary individuals who camp out on remote planet bases. These bases are by invitation only. The engineers require an initial “offering” before they’ll deal with you. Once there you can opt to upgrade components of your ship, in exchange for combinations of materials and data. In simple terms, you collect loot to craft better ship components.

Each engineer has different specialties, so some can pimp your FSD while others make your pulse laser blue and "fizzy".

Materials and data

How do you get materials and data? When you destroy another ship, it will explode and eject parts that can be collected (via limpet or cargo scoop).

These can also be found in wreck sites, USS’s and other POI’s in space. They are stored, like materials and are not part of the cargo. Data is obtained whenever you scan an object in space, such as another ship or an FSD wake.

Upgrades

Once you’ve got your loot, you can proceed to the base of the engineer of your choice (shown on the new panel) and exchange them for a spin of the roulette wheel. What? Yep, when you pick your upgrade, there is a sizeable degree of randomness to the result. What’s more, is that any special effects (such as healing lasers or shock blast) is also random chance. Which means, like any fruit machine, you’re more likely to get mixed fruit rather than three cherries. This is why the forums have been up in arms about Random Number Generators (RNG).

Upgrades may go down as well as up

The upgrades you can purchase come in four levels, one being the lowest and four the highest. As you "buy" more upgrades from engineers, higher levels (and other engineers) unlock. You get “referrals” from one engineer to another, while other engineers are unlocked by actions within the game - such as visiting Sag A or getting friendly with a minor faction.

Bigger may not be better though. I applied a level 3 upgrade to my FSD and got a range of 42Lyr, but when I applied a level four upgrade once unlocked, the FSD range went down to 39Lyr! RNG strikes! If I had spent all week hunting materials for that upgrade, I'd be less than happy.

Living la Vida Piñata

Phase two of the beta has unlocked all engineer upgrades - you no longer need materials, just fish; so I have been able to try a number of them and experience the fickle RNG effects. Because the results can be less than great, it might take several attempts. When you only have to hand over a few ton of fish, like now, it’s mildly annoying. When you have to hunt for materials for days for each try, it's going to be at best very frustrating.

Here’s the problem. Materials are random. Data scans (as far as I can see) are also random. I flew around for a week and failed to find enough ingredients for a single engineer upgrade! With only two or three hours to play per evening, having to stop after every ship kill and at every USS to scoop for materials was a major chore. The alternative was to fit every ship with a collector limpet controller and cargo rack (to hold limpets) losing two internal slots. That still didn’t help the fact I couldn’t target the components I needed in any way. There is, as far as I can see, no logic that can be applied, other than collect everything all the time.

Easter egg hunt, or virtual housework?

At this point my feeling is that Engineers will be a lot of trawling around in the dark to get a single attempt at an upgrade with a dubious outcome. I've never needed or wanted to grind in Elite and I don't want to start now.

Either the resulting upgrades need to be less random, so that special effects are influenced by the amount or type of materials and data used, or the materials themselves need some logic to their acquisition. Two randoms don't make a right.

The Engineers is still in BETA and some of this is bound to change. I hope it does, because I want the game to be more of an easter egg hunt and less like doing housework.

All the dirt on 2.1

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the core game content click here

Elite: Dangerous Horizons 2.1

  • Engineer modifications won’t just be weapons.
  • Hostile NPCs will now attack on planets.
  • NPC traffic between bases will be seen on planets.
  • Engineer mods are mostly beneficial. Only a few have negative effects.
  • Rebuy will cover the Engineer modifications on your ship, so you won’t lose them if you vessel is destroyed.

Engineers

  • Engineers are planet dwelling individuals (around 30 to start with).
  • They will deal with you based on your reputation and rank and your relationship to them.
  • Relations are built with Engineers by bringing them materials and carrying out missions for them.
  • They will sell modifications to ships systems as well as awarding them for services carried out (missions).
  • Some Engineers will be approachable immediately, while others must be found and some will only deal with players of rank from their faction.
  • There may be PowerPlay specific Engineers.

Visual changes

  • Improved graphical fidelity for planet surface textures.

Exploration

  • Man made Points of Interest on planets will be mostly within the bubble (i.e. crashed ships)
  • Natural Points of Interest now exist to be discovered.

Confirmed Engineer modified weapons

  • Regeneration laser – a beam laser that will recharge a wing-man’s shields.
  • Feedback cascade – a new rail gun that, if fired when a shield cell is being used, collapsed the targets shields instantly.
  • Thermal shock – heats up a target.
  • Force shock shells – projectile version of shock-mines.
  • Emissive munitions – applies to cannons and multi-cannons. This ammo will increase the radar signature of target ship. Counters silent running. Larger signature also means the target will take more weapon damage. Causes weapon used with ammo to heat up more.
  • Incendiary Rounds – turns kinetic weapons into thermal on impact.
  • Effects of these weapons is multiplied when used by more than one ship on the same target.

Horizons speculation alert!

buggyOn Friday Frontier, for the first time it should be noted, laid out a general plan for most of the coming season of expansions to Elite: Dangerous Horizons. Giving us an outline for what content was coming and when. So what are we getting? Well the first instalment is soon, probably next month, and is titled “The Engineers”

2.1 – The Engineers - Coming Spring 2016

"Everything changes. Introducing an expanded mission system and game-changing loot. Craft exotic weapons and modules for your spacecraft and build a ship unlike any other."

It is confirmed that we’ll have around 30 persistent NPC characters to interact with. These characters will process loot into crafted weapons and modules for you from blueprints. The toys on offer will depend on your pilot and federation, or empire, rank. Using the character creator, Frontier will give these engineers a face to see.

elite_frontier


We can speculate that these characters, called Engineers, will abide on the surface of planets at certain locations, which makes them by default, a Horizons-specific feature. Since they require loot to work, you will have to bring them materials(?) to work with in order to make your green beam laser (or more useful), a longer range FSD drive. They also require blueprints. How will these be acquired? Stolen? Found? Clearly a new avenue to explore. You can’t just grind 30T of hand-wavium and have the best ship in the galaxy; you are going to have to find, steal, trade or buy the means to make these upgrades.

Over the last year Frontier had expanded the bulletin-board missions, but as they’ve done so, the basic framework has started to creak under the load. In 2.1 we’re getting a total replacement of the mission system, incorporating these talking head NPC characters which will also be persistent, depending on your pilot rank, faction rank and possibly location. I would love to speculate that these characters will speak (audio? Text to speech?), but in all likelihood they will simply be the face of your mission-brief text, much the same as the characters were in Elite Frontier (shown above). The good news for players without the Horizons expansion is that this element of the game is generic to all, so it is highly likely that the new NPCs will be seen by players of the core game as well as Horizons players.

The new "mission givers" might look something like this:-

mission_face Continued..