Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

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

Artemis

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.

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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?"

Sandro-
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?"

Sandro-
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.

Sandro-
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.

Thargoids

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!

 

 

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.

Artemis

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.

The road to Thargoids: What we know so far

TTV 2Not everyone is fully up on where Elite:Dangerous is now with its ongoing saga of hunting for alien life, or the rich history behind it.

Alien 101

Back in 1984 when Elite hit the BBC Micro, the “bad guys” were an alien race known as the Thargoids. Beyond that, very little was known.  They flew octagonal saucer ships and would drag unsuspecting commanders out of the hyperspace tunnel (also called “witchspace”) and attack the commander in the deep black gulf of space between stars, where no help was available. Unless you were quick to fight or flee, it was certain death for most ships. The sight of their saucers was feared across the galaxy!

A decade or so later, in Frontier and Frontier 2 the lore of this race expanded and we found out that the Thargoids were an insectoid race with six limbs, resembling a praying mantis.

Since the release of Elite: Dangerous, and even before going right back to the 2012 KickStarter, the community has been speculating how and when the Thargoids might appear in the game.

Early signs

In March 2015, with the release of 1.2, Unknown Artefacts began to appear. These were being carried by Type-9 ships in a convoy in Strong Signal Sources. The NPC chatter was all about the "strange cargo" they carried. We also began to see them floating in space and they made a peculiar noise. You could pick them up in your ship's cargo scoop, but commanders found that their ship became rapidly damaged by holding one of these objects.

What did the noise mean?

There were two signals the UAs made. One was Morse code, which spelled out the system they were located. The other was a mystery until CMDR Mike Juliet Kilo realised the signal was co-ordinates and when plotted, drew his ship - a Vulture!

Throughout 1.3 the UAs kept making these same noises, but began to be found in space always pointing towards the Merope system...

Blistering Barnacles!

In January 2016, after the 2.0 release of the Horizons expansion, explorers found alien structures on the planet Merope 5C. These objects resembled barnacles or some kind of ocean shell, with crystalline spikes appearing to grow out of the ground around them. The spikes could be blasted into fragments with the SRV turret and one spike would yield a large emerald-like crystal, that when harvested using the SRV cargo scoop was revealed to be a meta material.

Meta materials and UA bombing

Commanders who noticed that the Unknown Artefacts damaged their ship, tried various things to avoid having their ship destroyed while hanging on to the UA they'd discovered. However, the side-effect of their sheltering inside a station, was that the station itself took damage and station services would shut down. Enterprising CMDRs then found that by delivering and selling multiple UAs to a single station could shut it down and thus "UA Bombing" was born. Deliberate sabotage of stations using UAs as a weapon.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the Meta Materials harvested from so-called "Barnacles" could repair UA-Bombed stations.

More and more barnacles have been discovered in the systems around Merope and seem to favour systems inside nebulas.

Unknown probe

Unknown Probe

In May 2016, Horizons 2.1 shipped and explorers began to discover smaller unknown artefacts, which were named Unknown Probes. These objects were active rather than passive, like their predecessors. When scanned with a discovery scanner they would emit an electro-magnetic pulse, disabling nearby ships and then play a data signal.

The signal was decoded in June by CMDR Muetdhiver and CMDR Wace. When fed through a spectrum analyser the audio produced a hazy diagram.

Probe signal

When cleaned up, the signal is clearly some kind of iconography.

Clean signal

General consensus is that the diagram represents some kind of address, but no definitive meaning has yet been found.

UPDATE: The guys on the Canonn Research Thread (#8) have noticed that the Unknown Probes appear to be seeking ammonia based worlds.

GamesCon hints

During GamesCom in early August, Frontier's live streams were "interrupted" by alien signals, which were overlaid with binary and ASCII messages.

Once again, the guys at Canonn Research put their collective brains to the problem and solved the puzzle and this week - CMDR Nochtrach, CMDR BALALAIKAX3 and CMDR Ihazevich found the clues Frontier gave led to an alien wreck site on the moon of Pleiades Sector AB-W B2-4,
Planet 9A at co-ordinates -26,3772°, 97,6982°.

Alien wreck site

The wreck is very reminiscent of Ridley Scott/H.R. Gieger's Alien spacecraft. A bio-mechanical craft, laying in the bottom of a valley. The craft was huge – far bigger than any human ship in the game.

CMDR Niamhy has even mocked up what the ship may have looked like before it crashed. Scary.

Alien ship

So, is it Thargoids?

Well truthfully, nobody outside Frontier knows. The ship doesn't resemble the earlier Thargoid ships. Are they friendly or not? Again, we don't yet know. What transpires next is anybody's guess and may be decided by who finds them first and who shoots first (or not).

Be careful out there. We are not alone...

 

It came from LaveCon 2016

This year’s event was great and I think people enjoyed my VR shipyard. A couple of CMDRs even crashed my racing Courier, although Kerrash failed to live up to his name – he only dented the shields!

I had a hilarious game of Artemis with Frontier & the Elite Ambassadors – they made me captain (eek!) but we didn’t die, so that was a result even if I have no idea how our score rated.

The Q&A session with Frontier was a highlight and FD didn’t disappoint, giving out special edition LaveCon skins for the Eagle, Asp scout, FDL and Anaconda! For both PC and XBOX CMDRs.

skins

Information obtained

I asked Michael Brookes some questions, carefully, because he was taking a six-foot-high axe out of his car at the time!

Will Elite support Nvidia’s new Ansel 360 degree pause and screenshot system?

There are no current plans, but maybe in the future.

Is there a (lore) reason the Imperial Eagle – a Gutamaya ship – has a Core Dynamics logo on the cockpit?

It’s a bug.

Michael also said that the new ship launched fighters would change the dynamic, making traders much more dangerous if they had them. Something we suspected would be the case.

The Frontier Q&A revealed more

Jacques station is going to end its wandering to start 2nd human “bubble”.

2.2 will introduce a local “player journal” containing a wealth of data for 3rd party interfaces and apps. Details to follow.

Passenger missions – CMDRs will need to scan objects at location to confirm they visited. These will include Battle locations and Historical sites. Some as far as 65-70,000 Lyr’s out. Frontier hope to expand the lore and story of the game though some of this “historical sites”.

Community Goals at Jacques will be coming, but will run for a month, to allow CMDRs to make the trip.

Q: System security around start systems?
Would like to increase system security.

Q: What did Frontier think was justified criticism of Engineers?
Material collection was too hard initially. Made mistakes with balance. Weapon effects were supposed to be super-rare. But FD changed tack when they became a role meta. Healer. Tank etc. so make the “exchange rep for desired effect” mechanic.

Q: Ship kits for more ships? More ship kits are coming.

Q: 2.2 A.I. Crew? Multi-crew is purely multiplayer. No AI Crew in the pipelines.

Q: Building based on planets? It's coming, but not this season.

Q: Group management tools? Changing over time. Nothing to announce right now.

Q: Why are all the stations the same? "GamesCon"

Q: Cross platform play with Xbox? Not currently possible.

Q: Planet tourism. Tour buses? Probably.

Q: Jump gates / faster way to get to Jacques station? Michael Brookes said “Like modded FSD drives you mean? Never say “never”, but Jump Gates unlikely.”

Q: Beluga liner? "Wait and see"

Q: AI wing men "escorts"? Can't say anything right now..

Q: Ship naming? "desirable feature" did not elaborate.

Q: Vive rendering any fix? One fix has already been issued, but the problem requires re-engineering - no ETA.

Q: Why no Landing lights when gear deployed? "Good idea"

Q: Decals? More soon.

Q: How is placement of objects and events decided? It depends on context, there are no hard rules. There is no FD Community Goal dartboard!

Q: Where is Formadine rift? Can't help you.

Q: Any plans for group ID in game? E.g. Clan tags.  Michael Brookes said he would prefer to utilise in game minor faction as an ID. Sandro "would like this" but said there are some technical hurdles to overcome. Not straightforward.

Q: If my faction loses all rep, will it be removed from the game? No faction can be kicked from their home system.

Q: The Galaxy map for VR is hard to use. Any changes in the pipeline? "Being looked at"

Q: Slaves. If they "go off" can they be sold as meat or fertiliser? Sandro asked “don’t we vet these questions?” but the answer was “probably not!”

Q: Where are the race of felines from early elite? They are not in ED, so you can decide what happened to them!

Q: Rise of the alliance? Maybe soon-ish.

Q: Could CMDRs with little time drop autonomous materials collectors, then come back for them – say a week - later? Doable but not planned.

Q: Could we have player created ships? New ships are great, but player created ships are not going to be a thing.

Q: Large ships at outposts / supersize ships too large for stations. Can we have them? Outposts don't support large ships for gameplay reasons. FD could do it. If there was a reason.

Q: When can we summon ships? Nothing to announce now. {GamesCon again maybe?}

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

Something for LaveCon

Last year at LaveCon (the annual Elite: Dangerous convention) I took my Oculus DK2 along and ran a "VR Shipyard" to let people who had never experienced VR, or seen the amazing cockpits of the ships in game, to have a go.

This year I will be doing the same, however there are now 29 ships in game, so "prospective buyers" will be able to sit in the cockpit of 25 ships at Mars High station. No flying, just trying! The rebuy on my Imperial Cutter is quite a lot. I will be letter people have a go with the SRV on Europa at some point too.

Anyway, to make the wait for each person's turn less dull, I have created ship manufacturer brochures (modelled on car showroom brochures) to flick through while they wait.

UPDATE: The complete finished set is now available here.

Using the ED Tracker Pro with Elite

EDTrackerPro (200x150)While at LaveCon I had the chance to see the ED Tracker, a low budget motion controller for the PC that works with games like Project Cars, Eurotruck Simulator and of course, Elite: Dangerous.
“Why would you want one of those, you’ve got an Oculus?” I hear you ask. Well, firstly I cannot afford another DK2 for my children and my younger son plays a lot of EuroTruck and some Elite. Also, the hot summer weather in the UK has meant I haven’t been using the Oculus as much, to avoid having a stroke – yes, there are brief moments in the UK when it isn’t raining!

So, what is it like? What do you get for £45 ($70)? (Assuming you don’t build it yourself)

Firstly, I would like to say thanks to Dan and Becky at ED Tracker. At LaveCon I mistakenly picked up two ED Trackers instead of two ED Tracker Pros and didn’t spot my mistake until I got home. They shipped out replacements very rapidly, so kudos to them for excellent customer service.

The ED Tracker is a small black plastic box, the size of a matchbox, with a mini-USB socket on one side. To install it, I attached it to the top of my headphones headband with one of Mrs Arithon’s hair-ties (she’ll never miss it) and plugged in with the USB braided cable I bought from ED Tracker.

Windows 8 made the usual “boing” noise and listed “ED Tracker Pro” as a new joystick in my “Devices and Printers” list.

I then downloaded and ran the ED Tracker Pro software, which detected the device immediately and instructed me to calibrate it. This involves turning your headphones around on various axis.

calib

Once that’s done, you find the 3D head model on the screen moves to mirror your own heads tilt and turn.

Getting it working with Elite: Dangerous

This was a little harder, as the instructions on ED Tracker’s website didn’t match the current version of the OpenTrack software used. I didn't get the joystick selection right and couldn't figure the OpenTrack setup. Never fear there’s loads of information on Forums everywhere! I got mine here. The OpenTrack software turns your virtual joystick into an emulated TrackIR.

So, having got it working, what was it like?

Well, it isn’t an Oculus, since you don’t have 3D vision and for 18% of the cost, I wouldn’t have expected that. But it is pretty damn good! You move you head left or right slightly and the screen turns to match your head movements. In combat you can look around to follow the action (very useful when pulling up and banking to follow a target) – you can look up and down and tilt your head and Elite’s display matches.

It is very good for viewing side panels too. All in all a very cool solution for anyone who doesn’t fancy the Oculus or cannot afford one (or is just waiting for the CV1) and a much cooler option for the hotter weather.

I will set up my second unit on my sons PC for him to play EuroTruck and get his input – saving it for the dull end of the school holidays!

Details of new ship emerge from LaveCon 2015

top_secretThis weekend is LaveCon 2015, the convention for the game of Elite and the science fiction universe that surrounds it.

The event is organised by the creators of the Lave Radio podcast, the weekly web-based chat show and this year the event is pretty big. I’m told the first LaveCon was just 40 people. This year added a hundred to that number at least.

One guest today was Frontier, who held a Question & Answer session, open to the floor. Michael Brookes, Chris Gregory and Sandro Sammarco were on the panel with Sarah-Jane Avory and Mike Evans also present.

So did they spill any beans?

Well.. yes!

Firstly they gave away a unique paint skin for the Vulture, Cobra and Asp – but sadly for you, only to those commanders present for LaveCon. This was a flaming Elite logo and a flame skin. So if you see these in game, you know that commander was here!

laveskin

They then announced a new ship variant, the Imperial Eagle (Impegal) a stylish (and blue lit) variant of the Eagle, less manoeuvrable but fast and tough with a medium hard-point on the top and a bigger power plant. This Imperial variant will be very like the old Frontier II version of the Imperial Eagle (or that at least is the intention). David Braben specifically requested this ship variant.

impegal3

Other gems of information that were “leaked” when the panel were questioned by the audience.

  • The Thargoids are still a way off yet, however there is already evidence of them to be found in the game.
  • The game has a ten year plan.
  • All the ships fit on a “backbone” which is an outline of the total ships and where they fit in the game, although this backbone is revised based on player feedback after each ship is introduced.
  • The LaveCon skin was done by one of the Frontier artists in his evenings to get it done specially for LaveCon.
  • No part of the game is currently considered finished. That is Frontier feel that there is plenty of room for addition and adjustment (see ten year plan).
  • The power-play characters appearance was modelled initially on the actors David Braben would have selected to play them in an Elite feature film (“which is not being made” – Michael Brookes). According to Sandro they are not all modelled on the actors that some have speculated.
  • The PC release of the free CQCC expansion will follow as rapidly as possible after the XBOX One release. So it will be exclusive for an exclusively short period!

What's going to be the BIG Elite Dangerous announcement at GamesCom?

whats_the_big_idea

With GamesCom in Cologne coming up next month (August 6th-9th) Frontier have said they are making an announcement at the event.

 

"The Elite: Dangerous team is bigger than ever, and the majority are working on something secret for PC and Mac. It's not quite ready for the world just yet, but we'll be able to tell you more at Gamescom. Believe us: we can hardly wait."

 

So what is this big announcement?

Put on your tinfoil hats and follow me….

A LOT of people on the forum have been “SQUEE”ing (prematurely I think) that the announcement might be the Planetary Landing expansion.

For those who don’t know, Frontier have said, in addition to the core game which all players get, there will be two major expansions for Elite: Dangerous.

The first will be the Ship and Station exploration expansion that will allow players to leave the cockpit and explore their ship, as well as disembark at outposts and stations, go visit Starbucks and get a manicure etc.

The second expansion will be Planetary Landings, where players can take their ships into planet atmosphere and land on the surface to trade, set up terraforming and interact with native fauna & flora. 


planetary_landing

Both of the First Person expansions are paid extras, except for those players who signed on for the Alpha and Premium Beta.

It follows that Ship Exploration has to be launched before Planetary Landing, else why land on a planet when you cannot get out of your ship? For that reason I think it would have to be ship exploration first, or a simultaneous release of both.

More likely is the addition of passenger transport, as the Orca is currently a 43M Lakon Type 6 with some paint options. Passengers would give the Orca a game role and would allow for the introduction of the Beluga Liner and the Dolphin small passenger craft, giving players a whole new avenue to explore.

What else has been teased?

  • Stations in asteroids (very early on)
  • The Federal Corvette
  • The Panther Clipper.
  • Ship transport (mentioned early on, then teased in XBOX trailer - sidewinder launching from Anaconda).
  • Thargoids (the insectoid alien race from earlier games)

What of these constitutes a "big" update? Or will it be none of the above; something totally from left-field, like PowerPlay? A race of fashion-concious cats?

Like Mr Creosote (my personal hero) I would love to have everything, in a bucket, with the eggs on top, but it could just be a wafer-thin mint, so don't blow your air-lock just yet! We’ll know for sure in August.