Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

It came from LaveCon 2019

I made it to LaveCon again this year with my two sons. Like going to a reunion party of strangers you've known for years, LaveCon is an event like no other.

Please accept my sincere apologies if I forgot your name or didn't post your photo. So much happend Saturday, that it's a whirlwind. I didn't take nearly enough photos or talk to nearly enough people. 

Docking permission granted

We drove up to Northampton on Friday afternoon and rolled up at the hotel in the early evening. After check-in and a bit of unpacking we went to the bar lounge, which is the social hub of LaveCon and got some food!

In the bar, John Stabler (Lave Radio presenter retired) was setting up a projector, so my son Alistair and his friend Sam helped get the projection going with the miniature SNES, while John put up the screen. We then had a few games of Street Fighter (which I lost) and then the boys played Mario Kart - to test things were all working you understand.

My sons dispersed to the LAN room and bar, respectively, so I sat down with Colin Ford & Grant Wilcott of Lave Radio and a group of half a dozen others in the bar lounge and joined in a bonkers card game of something (not sure if this is correct) named "We didn't play-test this game". It made no sense even after a few vodkas! Anyway it was a lot of laughs and I turned in around 1am.

No loitering!

I had set an alarm for 8am on Friday night. But after taking off my glasses (and possibly the drinks my son insisted I have) I managed to see a "Weekday" alarm. So I woke up to sound of housekeeping checking rooms! Eeek! Time? 9am! Damn. Washed & dressed as fast as possible and headed for the restaurant, luckily breakfast was served until 9.30 at least, so I got myself a full English. The three boys William, Alistair & finally Sam, joined me before the restaurant closed and all were fed.

Docking is dangerous

After breakfast we went for a walk in the hotel grounds and just enjoyed the air for a bit, before trying some "Hutton Orbital Docking Darts". This is a game some of us had played before. You have three coloured darts a "small", "medium" and "large" dart. The idea is a small dart can "land" on any pad, a medium can use a medium or large pad, and the large dart can only "land" on a large "pad". Hitting the wrong pad gets a penalty, the correct pad a score and a miss gets nothing (sorry if I've got any of the rules wrong).

Will didn't score too well, neither did I, but Alistair scored 1300 points, which was the days best score at that early point.

Just inside from the darts was the games room. Inside (which I stupidly didn't take any photos of) people were playing board games and miniatures. William was rather taken with a Fallout based game as this is a subject he is really interested in. 
Colin Ford from Lave Radio had his Elite miniatures game out and the tiny painted scale models of Elite: Dangerous ships were a sight in themselves.

Because we were only staying the one night, we had to check out of our rooms, putting everything back in the car, except I had a couple of things for the charity raffle. One was a ship scale chart (A0) and an A2 blueprint poster. I dropped off the poster with Karen Fishwick (the awesome lady who organises the LaveCon event every year) and attempted to put the large poster on display - unfortunately the hotel didn't have any string and I'd not been able to bring any - in the end we improvised a hanger from three lanyards and put the poster on display in the bar's conservatory for all to see.

My raffle contribution wasn't the only community effort hanging on the walls. CMDR BeetleJude (Jude Walker) had an amazing array of hand-painted illustrations on display. Below is a photo of just a few of them. 

Jude donated her works to charity and they were auctioned off over the weekend raising over £750 for the Special Effect charity. 

During the morning we had the LaveCon welcome from Lave Radio in the hall and after that had finished the Frontier team started to arrive. Paige, Sally, Zac & Will from the community team as well as a contingent of "behind the scenes" staff.

The hotel was laid out as below (from memory):

Going old school

Our next stop was the retro gaming room, run by the most excellent Stephen Usher. We had a crack at getting high scores on Arcadians as there was a competition to win a space invader plushy and I had a go at Asteroids while the boys tried out some Acorn Archimedes games & Atari titles.

Not bad getting 3rd after 35 years without practice!

The morning was going fast and with an Artemis session booked for 1pm, we headed to the restaurant for lunch.

We come in peace, shoot to kill!

Artemis. How do you describe it? It's a PC game for up to six players. A captain who gives all the orders, but has no control. Then five computer stations: helm, engineering, communications, science & tactical. The various stations report to the captain & do what he says (mostly) but cannot see what any of the other stations see. Only the captain has the whole picture.

The result? Star Trek: Incompetent Pure comedy and tremendous fun. On our 10 minute test run our ship was attacked, dragged away by and destroyed by a space dragon! A space dragon for Kirk's sake!

Our live attempt ended when we (after a successful run of combat) finally took the "mission" from DS3 to collect a message from a ship in far flung sector, however planted on the the ship with the message was a booby trap, which exploded as we approached, taking our ship out in the process. BOOM! Game over man, game over!

The LAN room & VR

Not very visible in my plan and at the end of the hotel complex, was the LAN room. There was supposed to be a VR room (near the panel room) but to be honest there was such a large VR headset contingent in the LAN room, the VR room was somewhat redundant this year.

Alistair scared the snot out of himself playing a haunted mine train VR game (girly squeals of fright!), while Will sat down with the Tenth Doctor to discuss their shared interest in Cities Skylines.
A number of commanders had their - fairly awesome looking - PC's set up around the LAN room and more of them seemed to have Virtual Reality setups than didn't. In the corner a CMDR from Canonn research, wearing a burn-spotted lab coat (whose name I should have written down *kicks self*) was running a 3D printer making Canonn Research key-rings and demonstrating VR on a headset not available in the UK - he'd imported it from the USA.

The CMDR also showed me a two part Asp Explorer model around 25cm long assembled, which tool 40 hours to print! One day my blueprints will be 3D prints!!

He is the one who knocks writes..

Drew Wegar was set up with a small bookstore in the conservatory below the lounge bar and was signing and selling his books Elite: Reclamation, Elite: Premonition & The Shadeward Saga. My personal favourite is Reclamation because the opening chapter is pure cinema in your mind. Drew told me that he found Reclamation the easiest to write. I sat down with Drew and had a nice chat. I've met him at a number of Elite events over the years and he is a really nice guy.

The Frontier Panel

In past years Frontier has mostly presented some new feature of the game, but this year was slightly unusual in that the first presentation was a special edition of "Discovery Scanner" from Dav Stott which delved into the details of the changes made to the game last year in the Beyond update. What Frontier were trying to achieve in changing the BGS to use six factors of influence instead of three while retaining a similar end result, what came out of the changes and the modifications they had to make in order to get the desired results in a live environment, which included new factors added in the Q4 update. It was a fascinating peek behind the curtain of Frontier into Elite's ongoing evolution.

September update (Q3)

Frontier outlined the content of the next minor update in September which will contain a voiced tutorial (guided missions) for new players in the game, including flight course, navigating & using super-cruise (faster than light travel), some combat tutorials at a derelict mega-ship and finally a tutorial on interstellar travel in hyperspace.

Frontier then announced that the PC version of the game would be getting a new way of purchasing in-game cosmetics. The console platforms will also be changed to come into line with the same thing. The game will have an in-game currency called "Arx" which can be purchased in the Frontier store or, critically different, earned in game. This Arx credit can then be used to buy skins, decals, bobble heads etc. in the game within the cockpit UI. Whats more, the appearance of your ship will be possible to modify when in flight, so explorers won't have to return to a station to change that dull old skin, but instead can buy and apply the newest paints at Beagle Point!

The currency was named "Arcs" at concept, but then it was discovered Star Trek online already used "Arc Points", so there was a long discussion with many different names examined and discard before returning to the original name, with a different spelling. Arx is not an acronym and doesn't stand for anything. I did ask, but apparently "Space Wonga" wasn't considered. Maybe next time. Also worth noting is that I believe Frontier said the Arx points in the screenshot were not necessarily what the items featured will cost when it all goes live in September.

December update (Q4)

Frontier ended their presentation with "before we go, here's a little something from our December update" and showed this video.

"Massive frame shift disturbance detected!"

It features a short teaser of the squadron fleet carriers delayed from last year's Q4 Beyond update showing them in game. Frontier gave no more details than this. 

All details of Frontier's announcement have been posted on the Frontier forums here.

Group photo

After the Frontier panel finished their Q&A session a little after 3.30pm, everyone filed outside for the annual attendee photo. This year I was better prepared and was outside and ready with my drone in the air waiting when everyone came out into the hotel gardens.

The photo from my drone here is full size, so you can download it. Feel free to spot the top of my shiny head or see what facial expression of your I managed to capture if you were in the photo.

My favourite picture was the one I took to include our "official" LaveCon photographer, Oliver - who never gets to be in the photo at these events - and even Chris "Fozza" Forrester's Mavic Pro drone is seen flying though the picture. We had a pre-agreed height restriction so there was no danger of mid air incidents, so the UK drone air-safety record remains spotless! (suck on that BBC/Horizon)

William went back to the LAN room, as Alistair & Sam had taken advantage of the rush to the Frontier Panel to get another cheeky game of Artemis in at 3pm, so they were still busy doing their own thing.

Cards on the table

William had brought his "Cards Against Humanity" game with us and I had promised Adam Woods a game, so getting on for 5.30pm we started a game with my three reprobates, Adam, a chap from the LAN room William had made friends with (and his son) and a young lady also from the LAN room. 
Cards Against Humanity is a game where you have 7 white cards filled with bizarre and sometimes highly inappropriate statements. Each turn a new player draws a black card from the deck and reads aloud the question or statement on the card - a bit like Blankety-blank - "My father has a smile when he returns from the shed with *blank*" Answers could then range from "Tomato sauce" to "The perfect plan for child murder". You get the idea. The player whose turn it is to deal, judges the winner on which answer (no matter how morally wrong or weird) made them laugh or caused the most outrage.
Adam Woods was not there in an official capacity and if anyone asks, he wasn't there. You didn't see him, right? Sally? Zac? You saw NOTHING. 'kay?

Elite Community Meet 2018 (Wokingham)

This year, in lieu of any kind of holiday, I spent my week off attending a couple of gaming events. On Friday I went to EGX Rezzed which was pretty good, but on Saturday I spent the day at ECM 2018 in the St. Anne’s Hotel in Wokingham.

The event started at 10am and the school holidays plus pleasant weather conspired to make the drive up from Kent fairly easy going, which meant I managed to arrive fifteen minutes before the doors officially opened with no stress at all.

The Elite Community Meet had a large conference room just off the main reception with an anteroom between, where the check-in desk and the all-important coffee & tea supplies were provided. Also, in the anteroom was docking darts (large, medium and small dart with pads as targets arranged like a dart board). I failed to beat my LaveCon 2017 score!

ECM 2018

Table-top RPG games were being played and demonstrated on various tables, with CMDRs playing Zombicide and EDRPG as well as sitting and chatting.

ECM 2018 ECM 2018 ECM 2018

Six degrees of motion sickness

Down in the back corner of the room there was CMDR Blastard, who had brought an extraordinary contraption; a full motion simulator chair of his own construction (complete with working scale prototype model) which allowed him to play Elite and other games in VR with the extra element of motion.

ECM 2018 ECM 2018

Pirates; is that spelt with one ARRR or two?

You always meet colourful characters at these events. Saturday was no exception. I met CMDRs Squid and Defoe Smith (who were having a coffee at the time) and were most noticeable for their Pirate Cosplay. They have been playing Elite: Dangerous since last year and I asked them if they played the game as pirates, but it turns out they are traders and explorers only, preferring the piracy to remain in costume only! Thanks to https://www.hcsvoicepacks.com/ for the photo.

ECM 2018


I managed to jump in a game of Artemis set up in a small conference room further back in the hotel. The principle of the game is that you have five players who get a screen each; Science, Helm, Tactical, Communications, Engineering and a sixth player, the Captain, who has a viewscreen but no control. This means the captain has to yell orders and rely on the other five players to (a) communicate and (b) do as they are told, not just what they want. The end result is either amazing teamwork or farcical comedy!

ECM 2018 ECM 2018 

Our first obstacle was our captain (who had signed up to play) didn’t show. However, Ben Moss-Woodward of LaveRadio fame, who had been manning the event check-in, took the big chair.

ECM 2018 ECM 2018

In the game, the space map shows a sector divided up by asteroid belts and mine-fields with a handful of star-bases we should protect and roaming groups of hostile ships to fight.

ECM 2018

Whilst we got to grips with playing the game, the roaming bad-guys blew up the star-bases while we watched, helpless, from the wrong side of the sector to do anything about it. Having engaged some ships in battle, successfully I might add, we had run out of missiles etc. and with no star-bases left to restock, we resorted to what is known as “the Drew Wagar manoeuvre” and flew circles around a black hole, causing the hapless bad-guys to fly into it and die. The final score was we lasted the full 40 minutes without getting killed, but the star-bases were a total loss.

Virtual playground

The end of the room furthest from the “stage” had a couple of virtual reality rigs set up for CMDRs to have a try. The Vive rig being used belonged to Lave Radio’s Grant “PsychoKow” Wilcott and had one of the TP Cast wireless sets fitted. I was interested to see that while it means you are no longer tethered to the PC, it isn’t really wireless, since in addition to the transmitter that sits on the top of your head, there is a chunky cable to the fairly sizeable battery pack. Still, not having a long and trip-worthy cable attached to you must be an advantage.

ECM 2018 ECM 2018

Going Retro

I sat down at the back of the room and managed to have a game of Space Invaders on one of the original 1980s Atari TV game consoles. Where you’d find a CRT television that still works these days boggles the mind, but it definitely took me back to my misspent youth!

ECM 2018

CMDR Bulletford, Stephen Usher (above) had his BBC Micro on display and was busy playing Arcadians – a game dear to my heart – while the Commodore next to him was running another game from my youth; also a game from David Braben, “Zarch” on the Acorn Archimedes which was known as “Virus” on other platforms. A 3D lander combat game.

ECM 2018

There was a projector set up with “Gang Beasts” a physics-based wrestling game for 2-4 players with what I can only describe as jelly babies in fancy dress as combatants. It’s as funny as hell to play. I bought it myself after playing it at LaveCon in 2016.

Seeing your work out there

One thing I found really strange was seeing another PC with one of my ship blueprints in as the desktop background. It is one thing to know people download your work, but to see your creations set in pride of place on somebody else’s computer is an odd experience.

ECM 2018

After a lunch of sandwiches and chips (yeah, I know, right?) which I assume the hotel thought was nerd-fuel, the event continued with a quiz. Two teams, Frontier Vs the Hammers of Slough played “Universally Challenged” in several rounds of questions about the game, the galaxy and general knowledge (with more than a couple of Hitch Hiker’s Guide questions).

ECM 2018

These guys were good. I have no idea off the top of my head what the distance from Colonia to Beagle Point might be! But the teams did.

Tagged ya!

Down by the corner next to the simulator chair, was CMDR Evenstar who was engraving Elite: Dangerous dog tags for CMDRs who had made donations to the www.specialeffect.org.uk and www.hearingdogs.org.uk charities that the event was supporting. I got myself a Coriolis tag and an Alliance Chieftain tag for my son who plays Elite.

ECM 2018 ECM 2018 ECM 2018

Special Effect

The guys from Special Effect were there to show off the great work they do and I watched a young CMDR playing Rocket League using a chin controller. Raising money for the charity enables people with physical impairements to play PC and console games the same as everyone else.

ECM 2018

Frontier were there

Ed, Paige and Will from Frontier had come along to the event and were mixing with all the CMDRs. I managed to collar poor Ed and confront him with my “Who makes the Nav Beacon” question. Ed also acted as compare for some of the “Universally Challenged” quiz rounds.

Prizes for all, but mostly for CMDR Jester!

The finale of the event was a prize raffle, with nearly 250 prizes (see amazing swag below).

 ECM 2018

The raffle sold over 3,000 tickets at a pound a ticket, some serious money was raised for charity. One CMDR had purchased (it is rumoured) 500 tickets. As a result, a great number of the prizes were drawn for CMDR Jester but being a fairly typical member of the Elite community, more than a few of the prizes drawn for him were returned to the raffle to be re-drawn for another winner. He wasn’t the only CMDR who won a great prize, then passed it back to be redrawn, either. The Elite community are a generous lot.

ECM 2018 ECM 2018 ECM 2018 ECM 2018

The first prize drawn, was a Hutton Orbital Mug won by John, the CMDR I was sitting with. He then won a second prize a few minutes later, you guessed it – a second mug!

ECM 2018

Our announcer for the raffle, Steph, did an amazing job, despite her voice going toward the end – it took over an hour to announce all the prizes drawn!

 ECM 2018

It was a great day and it went so fast. Thanks to CMDR Zulu Romeo, Dan from Fantastic Books publishing, Kate Russell for being her amazing self, Paige Harvey from Frontier with whom I had a lovely chat, Baz from Special Effect, Amy and Kerrash (much love to you two), Jon Lunn of EDRPG, Stephen Usher, the pirates Squid and Defoe, John & Mia, Dave Pearson and Mike Snoswell for organising the blueprints raffle prize booklet, turning my lunchtime hobby into a collectable - I apologise to anyone I didn’t mention, I met so many lovely people on Saturday and I probably should have photographed name badges.

I would say if you can make it to an Elite Meet event, it is well worth making it a date in your calendar.

Ships Skins and Thargoids

Ship skins

At the Frontier Expo on Saturday October 8th I got to chat with Sandro Sammarco, Frontier's Lead Designer, about paint jobs.

Following my article last week, the FD Power Survey, I thought I would go to the source and ask Frontier how they decide which ships get paint jobs and ship kits, and what - if any - criteria was used to make this decision.

Sandro is a very approachable person and offered to talk to me any time I wanted during the Expo. So, between presentations I put on my "Journalist" hat (or Elite: Dangerous cap at least) and asked the question.

"How do you decide which ships get paints in the store?"

The paint jobs, ship kits and other DLC are all managed by the marketing department. The development team are not directly involved in the selection process.

"From the numbers I've gathered from Inara, the most popular ships are the Asp Explorer and Anaconda, but the store mostly has Viper and Cobra paints; do marketing not look at ownership stats?"

Marketing choose what skins they want to sell based on their own research of player purchases, but they do approach the developers for numbers of ships owned.

So that answered my question.

Sandro had a bit of chat with me; he's a very amiable and we spoke about ship roles and where different ships fit in, with the popularity of the Anaconda.

The Anaconda is a bit of an overpowered ship, but we can't change it now, as it is very popular. Players wouldn't like us changing their favourite ship.

Our conversation tool place before the presentation, so he couldn't say anything without spoilers, but he did say there were ships coming to the game that would make some exciting changes.
Looking at the Krait, Type-10 and Chieftain, I can see what he means, as these are the first wave of a number of ships to come in 2.4 and Beyond.


On an unrelated topic, I drew a new blueprint on Friday of a Thargoid Interceptor; leaked from an undisclosed source in the Federation here is the Cyclops!



Frontier Expo - Elite 2.4 And Beyond

On Saturday the first Frontier Expo took place. It was held at “Here East” in the Olympic Park in north London near to Stratford. The expo showcased Frontier’s past games, many of which I personally was unaware of, and featured heavily the existing games of Planet Coaster and Elite: Dangerous, as well as promoting Frontier’s new IP which is the Jurassic Park Evolution game, scheduled for release next summer; probably to coincide with the release of the next feature film.



When I arrived at the venue there was a queue outside arranged around the large Cobra scale model we’ve see before at the launch party. There was also a Jurassic Park explorer on display and the Chief Beef character from Planet Coaster was “working the crowd”.

Once inside after a security check, we took a lift upstairs and were greeted with a “goody bag”. The more expensive Founders tickets got a bright orange gloss-card bag, while the rest of us got fabric bags (I think the Founders dibbed out there). The bag I received contained a cool galaxy map mouse-mat, a Planet Coaster water bottle, digital game codes for Planet Coaster and Elite: Dangerous DLC, a T-shirt, some artwork postcards for both games and a really amazing large card print of a scene from Jurassic Park Evolution.

The Expo was held in two halls, with a third side hall devoted to 3rd parties and refreshments. These included Lave Radio, Hutton Orbital Radio, the Special Effects charity and Spidermind Games. There were also a number of well know Streamers in the streaming room and I think I might have spotted a few Hutton Truckers.

The main hall and secondary hall both hosted presentations throughout the day, I will included URLs to these streams as soon as they are available, so you can watch them – take the time, as they are all very interesting. Also in the main hall there was a diorama of dinosaurs as a backdrop to Jurassic Park Evolution trailer running and the two Frontier exhibition stands - one with the console version of Elite on it and the other with the PC version of Elite.

There was a section of PCs all devoted to playing Planet Coaster and attendees could all sit down at these workstations and play the game. There unfortunately wasn't a playable copy of Jurassic Park Evolution at the expo... early days!

While the events of the day were interesting and it was certainly great to catch up with those commanders who I haven’t seen, some since the premier event in 2014 and others who I have never met before, like the contingent of French and German commanders who helped with the translation of my blueprints (great to see you guys!). The Elite community is a fantastic bunch of people and I could probably fill my blog with a long shout-out to all the people that I met there just on Saturday.

The Juicy Bit

Thing that most people will be interested in was the talk given at 5pm when Frontier announced what they will be doing for the coming year for Planet Coaster, the launch of Jurassic Park Evolution and the big “and finally” which was what’s next Elite: Dangerous, which they have subtitled “2.4 And Beyond”!

What was made very clear, was that the coming year’s releases will be free to anyone that has already bought Horizons, so that means the coming years-worth of DLC is basically inclusive!
Starting with a teaser video, which included the Thargoid scan making a green laser sweep over the audience (very cool Frontier), the presentation got off to a great start.

The first feature announced for Elite was wing missions, which is something that the community, my own gaming group of Dead Men Walking included, really wanted to have so that our group complete missions together.

Frontier also stated that better trade data would be available in game.
They announced that one of the changes they are making to the gaming engine was improved planetary tech, which in simple terms means more variety on planet surfaces, with better textures and better landscapes. A greater variety were demonstrated by showing some slides of different types of planet which looked very impressive in the flesh.

Then they teased some new weapons. No details were given, so feel free to speculate!

Frontier announced new narratives for the game meaning new story lines to take players in different directions; They also plan to continue the Guardians storyline and the new narratives to come will have a lot of crossover with this and the ongoing Thargoid narrative.
A behind the scenes video (which I haven’t yet seen published online) gave us a peek at the Frontier offices and the design of new ships and weapons that will be coming to the game, all of which looked very interesting.
Frontier then stated that the game will be receiving “a lot of new ships”, some of which they showed us -  some of which we caught a glance of (in the previously mentioned video) all of which were completely new ships. See left-hand screen below; what ship is THAT? (Krait on right).

Now my prediction that the Type-10 Defender would be a variant of the Type-9 proved to be correct. Shown in the teaser video from several different angles, you could see that the Type-10 is a militarised Type-9, which clearly has a lot more engine power!

Credit to @EliteCast for the excellent Type-10/Type 9 comparative screenshot.

They’ve also narrowed the hull with flight-deployed winglets. The vessel shown appeared to have a ship kit fitted (spoilers!!!).

The first of the two new ships that were shown to us was the “Chieftain”, which is a Lakon Spaceways designed ship produced for the Alliance, which makes it the first alliance vessel in the game, which has a passing resemblance to the Pelican dropship from HALO. We were shown a 3D rotating textured model of the ship as it will appear in game, and while there’s been some speculation as to the size of the vessel, we were given no statistics of either vessel, so it will be quite difficult know for certain this size of these ships (other than the Type 10).


The second ship shown was in its early design stages and they only had an untextured model to display, however the ship will be very popular with fans of the 1984 Elite, as it is a legendary fighter from the original game the “Krait”.

Speculation Alert!

The Krait

Using captures from the videos, I have been able to speculate the approximate size class of the two new ships. Please bear in mind this is not much more than an educated guess, so don't go buying curtains based on my measurements, okay?

The sneek peek video shows a Cobra next to the Krait, so scaling the image after a bit of perspective correction, the Krait would be 42m x 51m (height unknown) making it similar in size to an Asp Scout.

One thing very noticeable on the animated render, is that the Krait has two crew positions either side of the main cockpit and clearly shows a fighter bay behind the cargo hatch, making it both an SLF capable ship and a multi-crew ship!

UPDATE: Using perspective editing I took some (rough) measurements from the video render to compare with the earlier top-down screen grab and found the Krait *might* be larger and squarer than I first estimated. Based on a 18m launch bay and 5m cargo hatch, the ship is 62m long and 62m wide.

That would make the Krait between the Asp Explorer and Fer De Lance in size, so the cost could be anywhere between 6-50M CR! We won't know, until we have more about the ships core internals. One thing from the render is the clearly visible Class 3 hardpoints on the front underside. However, there are no other visible hard-points top or bottom, so would this make the Krait a Vulture XL? The lack of weaponry would have to be balanced with something (more than a fighter bay) so is the Krait super-fast and agile? We'll find out. 

The Chieftain

The Chieftain is a Lakon ship, which kindly have the same cockpit configuration, so based on that, the ship is quite a big one!

Comparing with a Type-9, you can see that while a little narrower, the Chieftain is a good 10m longer. That makes this ship in the same size class as an Anaconda.

After getting hold of some better quality bitmaps, I redid this based on the size of the cargo hatch (which is universal) and the ships comes out much smaller, a little larger than a Federal Gunship. But it does appear to have six Class 2 hard-points and two Class 3 hard-points.

Based on my revised size estimates and what can be deduced from the pictures shown, we have two medium sized combat vessels. One aparently armed to the teeth, but with no fighter bay and the other with minor armaments and a fighter bay and some possible X factor we don't know about yet.

Frontier announced that they would be bringing GalNet Audio to the game. This means no more text-walls for galactic news. Instead each article can be played as an audio track, from the looks of it while flying the ship (i.e. out of menu).

Another big game changing and exciting announcement made was that of Squadrons. Squadrons will be in-game player groups with in-game membership, and admin tools. The squadrons will be able to purchase in game Capital ships for their group, designated as a “Carriers” which will be exclusive to the members of the squadron. I would imagine (purely speculating) these would be a specific class of megaship with large, small and medium landing pads on board. Either way this is something that gaming groups (my own included) have been crying out for.

As promised 2.4 is going to see some major revamps to existing game mechanics and core gameplay one of those being a revamp of mining, offering new mining tools for both extraction and detection of minerals and metals and the ability to carry out operations like asteroid blasting and deep mining.
Frontier showed us a concept art (which I think I’ve seen before) of a snowy planet surface, they have said is that they are working on a new lighting model and new planet surface types with localised ambient effects, like fog. The concept art was set as a target for the developers to match for the in-game graphics.

Exploration is going to be getting a major revision, with more tools for exploration - many new items are out in deep space, outside the bubble, that have yet to be discovered and Frontier are also adding a Codex for explorers to log their discoveries. Frontier described the exploration changes as having “new anomalies and content to discover out in the black”.

Lastly part of the 2.4 teaser video showed off a new class of Thargoid ship – the red Thargoid!

I’ve not covered any of the Planet Coaster or Jurassic Park Evolution as these are not Elite-related, but both presentations were amazing and while I already own Planet Coaster, Jurassic Park Evolution is now on my “Must have” list.



Logo a go-go

For the various brochures, charts and illustrations I've drawn in the last two years there are a number of Elite: Dangerous corporate logos I've needed to draw. Following a request for logo vectors on Twitter, I'd thought I would publish those I've done already.

Company Logo Vector
 Achilles Robotics    

achilles-robotics.svg (12.80 kb)

 Brewer Corporation    

brewer.svg (3.06 kb)


caine-massey.svg (3.77 kb)

 Core Dynamics    

core-dynamics.svg (13.63 kb)

 Faulcon Delacy    

faulcon-delacy.svg (7.02 kb)


gutamaya.svg (196.85 kb)


lakon.svg (33.20 kb)


remlock.svg (6.39 kb)

Saud Kruger

saud-kruger.svg (59.78 kb)


vodel.svg (3.72 kb)

Zorgon Peterson

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LaveCon 2017

LaveCon 2017

I couldn’t stay at the Sedgebrook Hotel for this year’s LaveCon, as my budget was rather limited, so instead my sons and I jumped into the car early Saturday morning and made the long drive from Maidstone in Kent, up around the southside of the M25, up the M1 to Northampton. We arrived a little after 9.20am. The hotel is on Country lane the “other side” of Northampton town from the M1, so it is quite rural.

Checking in

We walked into the main hotel lounge/bar where for the past few years, the convention reception desk (manned by volunteers) was located. Neither of my boys (Alistair 17 and William 15) had been to a convention before, so they were rather excited to get their badges and lanyards.

After looking at the event schedule for day, we decided to sit in on the welcome introduction in the main hall. The Lave Radio presenters welcomed everyone and ran through the list of activities and events, with the associated banter and heckling “MUG!”.

In 2015, the LaveCon event featured a live Episode of “Dockers” in which a David Braben-like character would smash a 1Direction mug every time the audience shouted “mug”. As a result, “for the mug” became a trademark phrase of the Hutton Truckers player group. There’s a lot more to the story and the Hutton Orbital guys can tell it better, but no LaveCon is now complete without some yelling of “MUG!”.

When the presentation was complete, the first thing we did was go out to the convention desk and sign up for a 12pm game of Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator. More on that later…

The LAN Room

As we had a little time to kill, we wanted to explore, so I took the boys to the far end of the hotel block where the Local Area Network gaming area was set up; the LAN Room.

Last year, I ran a virtual reality shipyard in the LAN room, so this year it was a bit strange being spectator!

My older son soon found the multiplayer projection screen which was running Gang Beasts! and Speed Runners. Alistair is seriously competitive, so he jumped straight in.

William was enticed to have a go at being a fuel rat. What's a fuel rat? The fuel rats are an in-game group within the Elite universe who will fly to anywhere in the galaxy to rescue ships that have run out of fuel. Their motto is "We have fuel, you don't". Playing on an X52 setup much like my own, William performed a real-life in-game rescue of a stranded commander. Flying six jumps out to a stranded Cobra, he manoeuvred around the star to leave super-cruise in the same location and deliver enough fuel-limpets to get the other ship safely back to a station. If you want to know about joining the fuel rats (or getting rescued by them) their website is here.

Before very long, I had to cut them short, as it was already 5 minutes to 12pm and our Artemis game was due to start. We made our way to the “top” end of the hotel in the older part of the building and sat down in the Artemis room.


Imagine the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Now imagine it manned by uncoordinated buffoons, with no clue what they are doing. Then you’ll have the general idea of Artemis.

There are six or more ship positions. The Captain, who can see everything, but can do nothing. Then the Helm, Weapons, Engineering, Science and Communications who can carry out their own isolated tasks, but cannot see the whole picture and rely on the Captain to command and co-ordinate.

"Captain Will" took his position with brother Alistair on weapons and myself on Helm, with other attendees on the remaining stations. This year, there was a lighting rig connected to the game, so raising shields turned the room blue. Red alert caused flashing red lights and so on. Very atmospheric!

We were fairly disastrous in our mission, having survived, but running out of fuel and leaving our starship helpless and adrift after all our space stations were blown to dust by space pirates and only managing to kill our pursuers by circling a minefield. It was a lot of fun though.

Bar snacks!

By the time the Artemis game was done, it was gone 1pm so we headed to the bar area and ordered food. The boys had a game of pool while we waited for lunch to arrive and then tucked into some very nice fresh-made pizzas and an angus steak burger, both with chunky chips.

William took a few slices of his pizza home and had them hot for breakfast on Sunday!

The lounge area had leather sofas and coffee tables all over, with a huge selection of board games for anyone to play. The room also had tea and coffee machines with a fridge full of soft drinks underneath. We didn’t go thirsty! The lounge was full of people at all times, chatting, gaming and socialising as well as propping up the bar.

We finished lunch just before 2pm, so we headed into the main hall for the Frontier Q&A presentation.

Frontier Reveals more about 2.4

The boys and I got a seat near the front and we waited for the fun to start. Which it did almost straight away.

David Braben (who did not attend) had a personal message for the LaveCon attendees, but no amount of sweat from the back room. Could get it to play! We either got picture or fluctuating audio, but not both at the same time. After five or six attempts and a long delay, Ed and Zac decided to skip it and start the proceedings. We never did hear what Mr. Braben’s message was… ...the men behind the curtain looked stressed!

Edward Lewis announced that those attending would receive three new ship skins exclusive to LaveCon. These were for the Python, Type-9 Heavy and Imperial Cutter.

After some clapping and cheering, the Frontier panel were introduced by Ed and the presentation began. The video is available here.

Sandro Samarco kicked off with a talk about the coming Thargoid menace in 2.4.

We will be getting new weapons and modules to combat the Thargoids. But it won’t just be about pew-pew! Sandro Samarco said (from my notes) that we would need to study and explore their ecology, science and technology. That they would be truly ALIEN in their responses to us.

He then flashed us some concept art and renders of new devices and weapons. I can only theorise, but the first item looks like a defensive utility module item, so maybe a Thargoid EMP shield? The other weapons looked like rocket or missile launchers; high velocity projectiles that would not be defeated by EMP, I would hazard to guess.

Thagoid EMP defence?

Hull repair limpet?

Anti-Thargoid missile or rocket launcher?

Sandro confirmed that we would be getting hull repair limpets in 2.4 and a new sythesis for making them while out in deep space.

Adam Woods announced a of quality-of-life feature for the menus in 2.4 - filters for the inbox. Another screenshot appeared to show a four-part chained mission.

Steve Kirby announced that there would be a new search & rescue menu in stations, where salvage and recovered cryo pods can be handed in for reward. This means they are no longer black market items.

Finally Sandro announced some changes to crime and punishment for 2.4, first the Sidewinder exploit will be removed. Now when you die with a bounty on your head, the rebuy will always be the cost of your most expensive ship. So if you've been naughty in your Corvette, dying in a Sidewiner will now cost 30M CR, not 300!
If you kill a human player, in addition to the normal bounty you'd get for an NPC, you will also have a Pilot's Federation bounty added to the tally.
And a little good news; if you have been destroyed and lack the cash for rebuy, you can now sell your other ships remotely to make up the rebuy cost.

After Frontier's presentation, there was then the annual Q&A session.

Because of D-d-d-d-david Braben's message overrun and the general enthusiasm in the hall, the Q&A had barely started at 3pm when our second game of Artemis was booked! So the boys and I sneaked out of the hall early. I knew from the past two LaveCon's, no amount of squeezing would get any more info out of Frontier's panel, so I wasn't too worried I'd miss anything. I had this confirmed later by another CMDR.

Second Game of Artemis

When we arrived at the Artemis room, it was of course deserted! Another person joined us, an author who was doing a reading for one of the writers panels. Her name was Anna Smith Spark.
After a few minutes, the Artemis game organisor managed to tear himself away from the Frontier Q&A and get our game started. Anna told us that she had no experience of computer games, but we did no better or worse than we had done in the earlier game. We ended up adrift and out of fuel....

Where's my Krait?

The CMDR who managed the Artemis sessions was busy building a paper spaceship during our game and I recognised it as a Krait. He made a small one first with A4, then proceeded to use copious amounts of whiteboard paper to construct a 18" version (seen part completed below).

I asked him what it was for and he explained that he presented a Krait model (in one form on another) to Frontier every year to remind them that his favourite ship from the original game was still missing from Elite: Dangerous.

This year it turned out to be Ed Lewis's turn to get ambushed which was why he didn't look happy to have been gifted with the model!

Game Cab

Back down in the LAN room, while Alistair was busy slaying everyone at Gang Beasts (did I mention he was competitve?) Will was trying out the GameCab Elite setup. GameCab are a UK company that makes custom desks for gaming. Their website is here. The desk was really cool, with side-pods, a pull-out keyboard rack and built-in chair vibration and Will claims "very comfy", so this is on my "man-cave" list for when I am not broke!
They were at LaveCon last year, so I'd seen the setup before, but I thought it would cost £1,000s but actually the basic setup was £400, which did surprise me. That's less than a mid-range video card! Anyway, this year they had a new USB keypad with custom Elite keys. Drop landing gear? There's a button for that!

The games room

Between the main lounge and the VR room, was the games room. Every RPG and board game you've ever heard of was laid out in there and quite a few I've never heard of! Another thing they had was glitter tattoos. Yep, LaveCon has everything! William and Alistair both got them, while I demostrated my poor eyesight with Elite Darts. Two "nil point" and a "100" scored! Terrible.

Virtual Reality Room

William wanted to try out some VR games with motion controllers, as we have a rift but no motion controllers. Alistair had a crack at Elite on one PC while Will gave Job Simulator a go.

Alistair had a successful mission, but found watching William playing job simulator more entertaining!

Saying goodbye

We had been sat behind Kate Russel at the Frontier presentation and Will wanted to catch up with her to get a selfie. He'd met her at the 2014 Elite: Dangerous premiere event, where she'd been great and in 2015 I'd managed to have her sign a copy of her book, "Mostly Harmless" for him, which he loved. We managed to catch up with her and Will got his selfie.
This time Kate wasn't armed and Will was a bit taller! Liek I said at the start, the Elite community is great.

2.4 "The Return"

The Thargoids are coming!

Frontier have announced that the next update to Elite: Dangerous will be released in Q3 of 2017 and will be titled "The Return".

This new update will be bringing the Thargoid race back to the Elite universe with a vengeance! They will require new weapons and new tactics to survive and exploration to discover their origins as well as research to discover their weaknesses and study their technology. The human race is not prepared…

The teaser trailer Ed Lewis showed us on the E3 LiveStream this evening showed an Elite: Dangerous logo being overflown by a number of octahedral alien craft and then being slowly corroded by a green glowing crystalline fungus. All very atmospheric and creepy!

It's wabbit human season

Ed topped off his stream by globally broadcasting to all players of the game that the Thargoids are back!

"This is an urgent message from Commander Edward Lewis. There are forces out there who do not want you to know the truth, but I have to make this public. I found a ship in HIP 17044. A Federal Capital ship, shot to pieces. They were carrying the data the Feds stole from Professor Palin. The crew is dead, but they discovered something important about the Unknown Ships. There is a beacon in the wreckage broadcasting a message, over and over. It proves what we suspected. They are back. And the whole galaxy needs to know. The Thargoids have returned."

To find the wreck site and beacon...

Travel to HIP 17044 and fly to the second planet (around 1,800 ls) then set a heading for the Asterope system, some 52Ly away but continue in super-cruise for a further 10,700ls until you see the unregistered comms beacon and distress call.

When you drop into normal space, you will see the wreck site. There are a destroyed fleet of Federal ships, some on fire and a green mist in the space around them. Spooky..

"Why the damage doesn't look too bad from out here!"

Mega Ship Locations

UPDATE: 28th June - twenty seven mega-ships now discovered

I have now visited twenty of the documented mega-ships. I will continue to visit the remaining ships as game-time allows. If you hear of any I've missed, please post the details in the comments.

Also, CMD Sektion has created a list of transcripts for all the discovered Generation Ships datalink logs, so if you don't want to fly there but still want to hear the generation ship's stories, view the uplink logs here. I'd recommend visiting the ships though, as seeing the huge derelict ships with the voices of long dead ghosts coming from the audio logs are something no transcript or screenshot can convey.

What are Mega Ships?

The mega-ships are huge, station-size ships that float or fly in deep space. While they have existed in Elite lore for some time they were only added into the Elite:Dangerous game at the 2.3 "Guardians" update.
They come in nine types; Tanker, Cargo, Asteroid Miner, Flight Operations, Prison Ship, Science Vessel, Passenger, Dredger and Generation Ship and those that have been found (so far) are all over populated space and out into deep space. So far nobody has seen a Dredger....
The flight operations type are dock-able (you can land a ship on them) and generally have small and medium pads. As my exploration ship is an Anaconda, I haven't landed on any as yet.
The generation ships were colony ships, launched from the centre of the bubble centuries ago before the FrameShift drive was invented, the crew intended for their children or grandchildren to be the colonists on distant worlds. There were thousands launched, but only a handful have so far been discovered. Those found all appear to be the ones that the colonists died and the mission failed. Those that succeeded may well have founded human colonies we have yet to discover.

Generation Ship Atlas

System: Charick Drift
Ship type: Bulk cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: 3.4Ls from main star. There are five ship log uplink nodes, which you can scan with a datalink scanner from 200m away. These reveal audio logs titled "no brakes" which tell of the crew's fate.
Distance from Sol: 28.6 ly

Naphtha Class Tanker

System: Okinura
Ship type: Tanker
Dockable: Yes
Location: 318Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 32.5 ly

Hercules Class Bulk Cargo

System: Oduduro
Ship type: Cargo
Dockable: Yes
Location: 854Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 40.11 ly

Alcatraz Class Prison

System: Milscothach
Ship type: Prison
Dockable: No
Location: 1,385Ls from main star in orbit around Milscothach 1A
Distance from Sol: 42.68 ly

Generation Ship Lycaon

System: Alaunus
Ship type: Bulk cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: Fly from main star to Alaunus 10, then set destination to the Horae system, but stay in supercruise in Alaunus and fly a further 22,000Ls away from Alaunus 10 until you see the generation ship POI on your contacts. There are five ship log uplink nodes, which you can scan with a datalink scanner from 200m away. These reveal audio logs titled "contagion" which tell of the crew's fate.
Distance from Sol: 52.62 ly

Generation Ship Thetis

System: Nefertem
Ship type: Bulk cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: fly 1,934Ls from main star to Nefertem 6A. There are five ship log uplink nodes, which you can scan with a datalink scanner from 200m away. These reveal audio logs titled "madness and ghosts" which tell of the crew's fate.
Distance from Sol: 53.46 ly

Lowell Class Science Vessel

System: Wolf 485A
Ship type: Science vessel
Dockable: No
Location: 9.67Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 58.75 ly

The Midas

System: Zeus
Ship type: Flight operations
Dockable: Yes
Location: 7.89Ls from main star in orbit around Zeus 1.
Distance from Sol: 62.53 ly

Generation Ship Venusian

System: Kitae
Ship type: Bulk cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: Fly from main star with destination to the Zephyrus system, staying in supercruise in the Kitae system and fly a further 2,500Ls until you see the generation ship POI on your contacts. There are four ship log uplink nodes, which you can scan with a datalink scanner from 200m away. These reveal audio logs titled "boarding party" which tell of the crew's fate.
Distance from Sol: 63.12 ly

Fisher's Rest

System: Aldebaran
Ship type: Flight operations 
Dockable: Yes
Location: 2,513Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 66.65 ly

Aquarius Class Tanker

System: Maya
Ship type: Tanker
Dockable: No
Location: the tanker is in orbit around Maya 5 an earth-like world with an ice ring, 530Ls from the main star.
Distance from Sol: 72.57 ly

Collinson Class Asteroid Ship

System: Gateway
Ship type: Asteroid miner
Dockable: No
Location: 299Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 78.62 ly

Bowman Class Science Vessel

System: Asgaa
Ship type: Bulk Cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: 11.9Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 90.05 ly

Bellmarsh Class Prison

System: Pohnpet
Ship type: Prison
Dockable: No
Location: 242Ls from main star orbiting Pohnpet 2A
Distance from Sol: 92.04 ly

Riker Class Prison Ship

System: Imiutli
Ship type: Prison
Dockable: No
Location: 1.72Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 95.71 ly

The Harmony

System: Yum Kamcabi
Ship type: Flight operations
Dockable: Yes
Location: 1,235Ls from main star
Distance from Sol: 104.99 ly

Generation Ship Hyperion

System: Lalande 2966
Ship type: Bulk cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: fly 2,300Ls from main star to Lalande 2966 4, then set course toward the Yemaki system and fly a further 7,300Ls until you see the generation ship POI on your contacts. There are five ship log uplink nodes, which you can scan with a datalink scanner from 200m away. These reveal audio logs titled "the promised land" which tell of the crew's fate.
Distance from Sol: 121.53 ly

Generation Ship Odysseus

System: Ross 859
Ship type: Bulk cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: Fly from main star to the secondary star which is 52,000Ls away, when you reach the secondary star target Ross 859 B 1, you should then see the generation ship POI on your contacts. There are five ship log uplink nodes, which you can scan with a datalink scanner from 200m away. These reveal audio logs titled "our new eden" which tell of the crew's fate.
Distance from Sol: 165.98 ly

Generation Ship Pleione

System: Hez Ur
Ship type: Bulk cruiser
Dockable: No
Location: Fly from main star to the fifth planet in the system, when you reach Hez Ur 5 target the Teuten star system for a heading and fly a further 8,403Ls in super-cruise and you should then see the generation ship POI on your contacts. There are four ship log uplink nodes, which you can scan with a datalink scanner from 200m away. These reveal audio logs titled "the chromosome incident" which tell of the crew's fate.
Distance from Sol: 174.01 ly

The Gnosis (pronounced "no sis")

System: Varati
Ship type: Flight operations
Dockable: Yes
Location: 822Ls from main star.
Distance from Sol: 213.21 ly

Survey Vessel Pandora

System: HIP 21478
Ship type: Unknown
Dockable: Unknown
Location: orbiting 1st planet
Distance from Sol: 289.44 ly


Survey Vessel Victoria's Song

System: HIP 17125
Ship type: Unknown
Dockable: Unknown
Location: orbiting 5th planet with purple rings
Distance from Sol: 354.94 ly



System: HIP 22460
Ship type: Unknown
Dockable: Unknown
Location: [Permit locked system]
Distance from Sol: 362.01 ly


The Cete

System: Col 173 Sector LJ-F C12-0
Ship type: Unknown - Professor Melville's mega ship
Dockable: No
Location: find out when I get there...
Distance from Sol: 1,232.09 ly


Sagan Class Tourist Ship

System: IC 1805 Sector AV-O C6-6
Ship type: Passenger
Dockable: No
Location: find out when I get there...
Distance from Sol: 6,194.64 ly



System: Syreadiae JX-F C0
Ship type: Cargo
Dockable: No
Location: find out when I get there...
Distance from Sol: 12,082.88 ly


Foster Terminal

System: Coeus
Ship type: Flight operations
Dockable: Yes
Location: find out when I get there...
Distance from Sol: 22,027.98 ly