Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Not shooting the breeze

Having been working on Aegis CGs for weeks, I felt like a break. It's all very well humping AEGIS' leg for new toy guns, but there's more to Elite: Dangerous than shooting stuff and I wanted to see some of the new content of 2.4.

Blistering barnacles

First I went seeking one of the recently discovered barnacle forests. The original forest was located on the C2 Moon of the Hyades Sector AQ-Y D81 system, so I prepped my Asp Explorer and set off to see vistas new.

The forest is located in a valley on the moon's surface at LAT 8.89 LONG -153.8 and as you approach all you see is a area filled with a green mist.

I landed at the outer edge of the formation. There is one slightly more prominent barnacle at the centre of the forest and then others arranged in a fractal-like geometric web out from the middle.

I deployed my neon-green SRV and drove into the field. The green mist was less visible at ground level, but the usual whale-song noises we have come to experience at the barnacle sites were also accompanied by something more menacing and quite creepy.

As I moved around the barnacles and scanned structures and scavengers (yes these strange insect-like droids are found here) there were also noises coming from underground. The sounds gave the distinct impression that a LOT more was going on down below out of sight and I was looking at the tip of the iceberg.
Is the forest a bio-organic shipyard? You have to wonder. Either way the noises reminded me of the film "Tremors"; something was definitely moving around underground.

I harvested some materials from shooting a couple of Scavengers and some meta alloy from a few of the "ripe" outer barnacles. Then I packed up my SRV and left the planet. Way too creepy to stay!

Only humans can make a tourist site out of an accident

Next stop on my "tour" was the crashed Thargoid scout ship. I needed LOADS of screen shots to get what I needed for drawing the blueprint, so a visit was a must.

I plotted the route to HIP 17125 and this time took my Anaconda to LAT -65.8 LONG 48.8 on the A 3 A moon. The crash site is visible from quite a long way up in orbital cruise, so it wasn't too hard to find.
I had brought the Anaconda so I could scout ahead with the SLF, so I launched in a F63 Condor to survey the crash site from the air.

Once my Anaconda had caught up, I docked the SLF and landed, then deployed my SRV.

The crash site is basically a giant skid-mark ending in a pile of rocks with a flying saucer sticking out!

There are no scavengers at the site - everything is dead. I looked around and drove some way from the site looking for additional debris or signs of what might have brought the Thargoid ship down, but there is nothing else to see.
You can scan the wreck, but this is a bit of challenge as the SRV will only perform a scan when you are close to the top of the Thargoid and that requires some acrobatics in your SRV to accomplish!

One thing to look at is the top of the ship. I've not shown it here, because [SPOILERS]. Go and see it for yourself.

Space 3303: Moonbase INRA

My next stop was the most recently discovered 8th INRA (Intergalactic Navy Research Arm) base. Being military (and possibly a Thargoid target) I took my Corvette this time.

I landed at the base accompanied by Sir Clip in his Asp. The base is abandoned. A haunted house in space.

The two silos that once contained the Navy's bio-weapon that defeated the Thargoids (or so we thought) stand like dark monuments.

The base itself though, is not entirely dead. There are four data-points around the base, which when scanned, reveal audio logs which tell of the fate of those who manned the station. The only shame is that these logs are not dated, so we don't have any context of when these events occurred.

As I flew away from the site I couldn't help, but wonder why there were not signs of what took place. No wreckage human or Thargoid is there and nor are there any signs of weapons installations. The whole experience raised more questions than it answered.

What this visit has done is make me want to visit the other seven bases and try to put more of the picture together. Rumour has it that there are twelve bases in all, so we have yet to find the other four.


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.


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.


Tips for beginners: The galaxy, far, far away

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

Getting to planets and stations in other star systems is about having a Frame Shift Drive that can “throw” the weight of your ship far enough and sufficient fuel to get there.

Rule#1 - Don’t run out of fuel

Never set out with an empty fuel tank. Ever. There will be tears. Then gasping, followed by death. Bad idea.

Pick a star

You are out of the station, you’ve cleared mass-lock and you’re ready to see the galaxy. Unlike most other games the starry sky is not a painted backdrop, but a realistic render of the stars as viewed from that position in space. If you can see it, you can go there!

“All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”

- John Masefield

The first to be aware of is what your ship’s jump range is in light years. This is show on the Systems Panel on the Functions TAB. For the basic Sidewinder that will be 8Ly. Not much. With upgrades the humble Sidey can leap 22ly in a single bound, so don’t dismiss the capability of ships before you’ve upgraded a few systems.

The Target Panel

On the left-hand side of the HUD, triggered by the “1” key, the Target Panel shows the Navigation TAB, which lists local bodies and (towards the bottom) the nearby star systems in range of your Frame Shift Drive (FSD). If you select one of these, you can then engage your drive with the joystick (or keyboard) and make the jump into hyperspace. A hyperspace tunnel lasts ten seconds and drops you out close to the Nav beacon of your target star.


When you target a star, your fuel gauge shades a section in blue, indicating the amount of fuel needed for the FSD to make the jump. If there is little or none left AND the system you are travelling into doesn’t have anywhere to refuel, don’t make the jump! Remember rule #1.
You use more fuel the further you travel in one jump. Eh? What? Yes, the amount of fuel used increases with distance, so you use less fuel making 2 jumps of 8Lyrs that 1 jump of 16Lyr. Short jumps are "economic" while long jumps are "fast".

If you want to make more than one jump to get to your destination, you need to plot a route. To do this, or to see information on the target star system, you must open the galaxy map

The Galaxy Map

Open the galaxy map from the Navigation TAB of the Target Panel. This will display your current location and the nearby stars in a 3D map. I will write an article on the galaxy map, but for now we’ll concentrate on what’s needed here.

On the tool panel, there are four TABs; Info, Navigation, View and Options. Select the Navigation (2nd) TAB and enter the name of the system you want to travel to into. This moves the view to centre on the destination system.

You can then click on the system and select from the pop up menu. The options are Target, Plot and View. Target selects the star for a direct jump (not possible if too far away). View displays the system information if it is available. You want the Plot option. The route type will be determined by whether you’ve selected the economic or fast route methods.

The route is plotted as a series of orange lines.

If the lines change from solid to dotted, that leg is the point where you’ll have run out of fuel.

Remember rule #1. Don’t let that happen! Find a station on route, or purchase a fuel scoop for your ship.

When making a trip using a plotted route, the total number of jumps remaining is displayed in the Target Panel's Navigation TAB. As you make a jump, your FSD charges for 15 seconds, then counts down from 4, the jump takes 10 seconds and your FSD needs to cool for another 15, so each jump cycle takes 40 seconds.

If you jumped 30Ly per jump you'd take 2200 jumps to get to the other side of the galaxy!

Okay, so I did run out of fuel. Now what?

What did I say? Never mind. All is not lost. There are a group of players in the game who make it their mission to rescue people in your position. They are The Fuel Rats. These guys will fly to your location with fuel and get you moving again. All the information you need is on their site.

3-2-1, and you are back in the room. Have 5M CR!

Just an update from yesterday; after putting a long 4,500 light years under my belt last night (from 6pm) at just before 10pm I touched down at Zeta Trianguli Australis, by adopted home world, and cashed up my Cartographic exploration data.

A cash payout of 5.5M CR was a nice end to the evening.

I'm going to do a bit of trading now until I feel the pull of deep space once more!

So I'll go no more a roaming!

exploring_hyper-space-smallI've been out of it this week. Well, several thousand light years out anyway.

I popped into my Stealth-fighter-skinned exploration Asp and headed out for parts unknown on Friday of last week. The idea was to head into the centre of the galaxy, as all my previous explorations had been outward rather than inward. The furthest I had been previously was 2,000 Light Years, making a total round trip of over 4,000Lyrs.

Initially I found all the systems I visited had been previously explored, but by the time I was out of inhabited space by around 500 Light Years, I started to find the odd unexplored planet – usually 100,000Ls distant from the hyperspace exit point! Gradually it became every third jump that I found a system unexplored, then every other jump, then I was in uncharted space.

This system was the largest I found, with 70 astronomical objects.

Just to say a little bit about my ship. My Asp is equipped with two heat sinks, no weapons (weight) and two auto-repair modules as well as a class 6 Fuel Scoop. When out in the deeps of space, scooping takes up a lot of time, so if you’re going out there, buy the biggest one you possibly can. My Asp has a jump-range of 34.16 Light Years. Something that sets it above the capability of most non-explorer ships. Only an Anaconda can jump further (so far).

After two days of jumping, scooping and scanning systems I had reached 8,000 Light Years from home. Nearly there right? Wrong! 18,000 Light Years still to go. Plus, due to a couple of sun-related collisions my hull was at 96% and my power plant was damaged.
Now, while auto-repair can fix most systems, it cannot fix hull damage and it can’t fix the power plant, because you can’t take it offline. With the damage to the power plant, I couldn’t raise the MW to run my heat-sinks, so I had to shut them down. With such a large distance still to go, I had to make a decision whether to forge on and hope for the best or turn back and return (alive) with all the massive amounts of scanning data I had amassed.

So last night, I turned my Asp around and headed back. Buy only stopping for fuel every third jump and scanning the star while my ship slurp hydrogen from the star, I made much faster time. I managed to put 4,000 Light Years under my belt in the course of three and a half hours.

Ironically after coming so far, it wasn’t until I had turned back, I found my first undiscovered earth-like world. I shall call this planet “Muffet” after my childhood pet guinea-pig which itself was named after the robot dog in BattleStar Galactica.


Within another thousand light years I had discovered a second. I haven’t thought of name for that one yet. I’ve found more than a few Water-World’s, but as my fellow CMDR Kalen said, “No sign of Kevin Costner anywhere!”.

When I finally parked up my ship last night, I was still around 4,500 Light years from my home system.


I have to get back to Quivira to collect my 6,000,000CR payout from the last community goal!