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?

Something to do until next year

So there's not a lot going on in the galaxy, so while you're waiting for the end of 2020. What to do? How about some paper craft. Here's a Coriolis station, the Sidewinder & a Cobra Mk III.

Update: On request, I've added a small landing pad for the Sidewinder and Cobra.

Port Zelada was published in Newsletter #18 circa April 1st 2014.

 

 

 

All credit to whoever created these (they've been on IMGUR and Reddit for years).

Elite: Dangerous Ship Size Comparison for 2.2 Guardians

With the addition of the Beluga Liner and the new Taipan fighter, I have created a revised version with the new ships added.

1080p version

For those of you with big screens, the 1080p version (above) and a 4K version are on an Imgur.com gallery here.

By request of CMDR Cullingworth on the Elite: Dangerous Facebook group, here is a PDF version. Be warned - it's a big file!

elite-ships-11.pdf (35.61 mb)

UPDATE: I had the Hauler and Adder's function transposed. This is now fixed. Well spotted CMDR Orpheus.

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.

LaveCon ship brochures complete

I have completed my ship manufacturer brochures for LaveCon.

cover Eagle Mk 2 Vulture Federal Dropship Federal Assault Ship Federal Gunship Federal Corvette cover Diamondback Scout Diamondback Explorer Keelback Type-6 Asp Scout Asp Explorer Type-7 Type-9 cover Sidewinder Cobra Mk III Cobra Mk IV Viper Mk III Viper Mk IV Python Anaconda

cover Imperial Eagle Imperial Courier Imperial Clipper Imperial Cutter cover Hauler Adder Fer de Lance cover Orca

Click on a brochure cover to view the set.

UPDATE: IMGUR gallery links are in comments.

PDFs  core-dynamics-brochure.pdf (10.05 mb)

falcon-delacy-brochure.pdf (4.26 mb)

gutamaya-brochure.pdf (1,008.52 kb)

lakon-spaceways-brochure.pdf (6.75 mb)

saud-kruger-brochure.pdf (1.83 mb)

zorgon-peterson-brochure.pdf (17.54 mb)

And here are the full IMGUR albums:

Core Dynamics http://imgur.com/a/3Lmmu
Falcon DeLacy http://imgur.com/a/Z7urs
Lakon http://imgur.com/a/Y7L6F
Zorgon Peterson http://imgur.com/a/y424S
Saud Kruger http://imgur.com/a/JZ7zJ
Gutamaya http://imgur.com/a/jNxKd

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.

The Criminal Elite

ranksThis is an opinion piece, so nothing in it is official, confirmed or in any design documents – it’s just a culmination of ideas.

Currently if you want to be bad in Elite: Dangerous, you kill people. Players or NPCs. Currently there is no recognition for being good at it, or consequences for being too bad.

Piracy and/or smuggling is supposed to be a career path in Elite, so I would like to see some changes on how this path is presented in the game.

Firstly, successful criminal behaviour should gain status. If we can have a rank for CQC then we sure as heck can have a “Criminal Rank”.

ranks

 

Okay, that sounds cool, but how would it work?

Other career paths grade you on how much you trade, or how much exploration data you collect, or how much kill-bounty you amass. The criminal career path would take into account the quantity of smuggled, stolen and black market goods, weighted by the security of the system they are sold at (high security systems score more than low security systems).

This would be augmented by the bounty on your head, which adds to the total, however if you are killed this goes down, so you could lose criminal rank. Only the most hardened and dangerous pirates and killers would make Elite.

That’s where consequences come into play.

A cargo scanner should add a “demand cargo” function to the communications panel, so pirates can easily send a message to prospective marks. This is something that should be key-bound. That way getting this message the victims know how to respond.

“A pirate is demanding you drop some of your cargo. Failure to do so will result in your ship being attacked”

If you kill someone currently, you get a 6,000CR fine and wanted status in just the local system for a period of six days, after which you can pay it off. You can kill ships (human or NPC) then avoid the “scene of the crime” and unless you get scanned with a Kill Warrant Scanner, you’re home free.

To change this, I would propose that if you kill someone the first time, the same mechanic is employed, but if you kill a second person while you have an outstanding warrant, then the outstanding fine becomes a permanent bounty and cannot be paid off. This would be repeated for each subsequent kill.

Any permanent bounty is attached to your rebuy, so if your ship is destroyed you have to pay your own bounty plus the normal rebuy to get the ship back. This means being killed as a bad guy carries a lot more risk, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still be a bad guy.

Once the local plus permanent bounty reaches a threshold value (1M CR), if you are in a Federation or Empire system the warrant would then go Federation or Empire wide.

High security systems should become just that. Any interdictions or attacks should attract an immediate and robust security response in seconds. This will push piracy into low security systems where the response is minutes, and killers into anarchy systems where they can kill pilots without any bounty on their head. Making anarchy systems dangerous and shady places.

I would at the same time, raise the value of legitimate goods (by 10% and 20%) in those systems. Best commodities markets are also in the most dangerous systems. Don’t want danger? Stay away.

Rather than a list of bad guys in stations that tells you nothing, bounty hunters should get a live feed in GalNet of the top five criminals in the area online in the same game mode - including NPC bad guys where no humans are around.

“CMDR Braben has been spotted leaving White City at Zeta Trianguli Australis eight minutes ago”

The game should generate a few persistent NPC pirates and griefers that are each local to a handful of systems. So you know if you visit the Leesti area you may well run into the mad-dog killer “Captain Ed Lewis” who’ll blow you away for kicks. Or the dread pirate “Don Antonaci” who’ll take 20T of whatever you’re carrying or else!

Finally the game needs NPC Wing Men and a method of hiring wingmen (human or NPC) at stations for a fixed fee (hourly rate) with human CMDRs getting their rebuy discounted by 25% if they die during a contract. NPC Wingmen cannot differ greatly from whatever AI is being written for ship launched fighters, so I see no insurmountable obstacles to getting this added.

Ship Size Comparison with real-world objects for scale

freighter_concept_thumbSince the weekend I have had the chance to add a better graphic of the Imperial Majestic Class Interdictor.

I have also had the time to lay out the ships by their category of combat, freighter, passenger or multi-purpose.

On request I have included the Scarab SRV (which is a measly 4.7m). Also on the revised diagram is a Boeing 777, because it's something large that most people have seen. The "Oasis of the Seas" which at 362m long is the world's largest cruise ship and carries 6,296 passengers, is probably the largest thing anyone may have seen and shows just how massive the larger Elite ships really are.

Place holders for the coming Elite: Dangerous ships; the Dolphin, the Beluga Liner and the Panther LX have been added with estimated sizes.

I have added the pad sizes and colour-coded ship names by pad size. There is also a scale representation of the station access corridor.

UPDATE: I've re-drawn the whole thing from scratch as vectors, so no bitmaps at all! This means I can re-draw at any resolution, so see the 4K edition of the chart below.

ship size comparison

Click HERE for full size 4096x2896 (4K) image.

ship size comparison

Click HERE for full size 2560x1440 image.

Elite ship sizes to scale for all ships post Horizons launch

conda_blueprintWith the release of the 1.5 Ships update, Elite has had an additional five ships added to the game and the previous scale diagram I'd done was was both outdated and missing several keys ships - so especially for you, I have re-drawn the whole thing using all new graphics and the most up-to-date size information.

The diagram uses a scale of 1 pixel to 1 metre.

Credit goes to Mat Ricardo (Prefim on Reddit) for creating the ship renders.

UPDATE: Now with more capital ship goodness! Thanks to ElitePvE group Mobius for helping me hunt down the Imperial Capital Ship.

Ship sizes to scale

The ship sizes are taken from here

Ship sizes table

PS4 will get Elite but consoles won't interact with PCs

over-the-fenceThe claims of XBOX exclusivity were greatly exaggerated.
It seems the PS4 version will follow along after the XBOX version in due course.
But it has also come out that the PC Elite community won't be able to pew-pew with their console cousins, mainly due to the constrained and limited nature of console software updates in Microsoft's and SONY's walled gardens.

David Braben, speaking in an interview with games website PC Games N said “I think the challenges for us, which sort of fights against it, is we’ve also said that we’ll continue to do updates across all platforms, and what we didn’t want was PC updates to be held up for whatever reason, like if there’s a delay on another platform."

It's pretty clear that if the PC community were told an update was on infinite hold while SONY or Microsoft signed off on the console version, the news would go down like a cup of cold sick.