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Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #7- From Frontier Developments
Hi Commander,

Welcome to the 7th Elite: Dangerous Newsletter. So far we have focused almost exclusively on the art aspect of development in these updates, but in the future we’re going to be shifting the perspective slightly to also show you as much of the design as possible. Hopefully this will give you all a much better scope of the project! With that said, here are this week’s topics:

Table of Contents (click subject to jump forward):


Permission to Land: Conceptualising Docking in Elite: Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous gives us the opportunity to visualise every aspect of the game in a level of detail that was previously not possible. This means that our team are currently scrutinising how every element of the game looks and functions in great depth, so that the solutions for things such as docking operate in a way that is interesting but also believable in a real-world context.

Ships land on pads within the yellow marks (shown here is one of the largest dock-able ships in the game – more details soon!). The question is then what happens to the ship while I am offline? We’d like to show you what we plan to do here. The two images below show animations of our team’s current development on this. If the images do not show for you, or are not animated, then click here, to view them in your browser






What the team liked about this solution was how grounded and mechanical it felt; there’s nothing fictional about how it operates and for that reason adds a level of believability to a world that is firmly rooted in a science-fiction setting. Whilst this is still only proof of concept and will be subject to a lot more refinement before the game is released, being able to look out the window of your cockpit and see exactly how the functions of a station operate will add a layer of depth to the game that will make the Elite galaxy a much more believable place.

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For the Empire: Expanding the Imperial Fleet

Through these newsletters we have already shared with you the designs for the Empire’s capital ship and short-range fighters.  As one of the game’s major factions they will also have a range of other ships that make up their fleet. Developing these ships that bridge the gap between fighters and capital ships is something that the team have been exploring recently.

There is a range of different ship classes that can make up a fleet, all designed to fulfil specific roles. With the Federation, Empire and Alliance being such dominant factions in the Elite universe they have the capabilities to fulfil as many of these roles as possible. Whilst not all of these will be present in the game at release, here is the hierarchy of fleet-class ships that are available to the game’s major factions:
  • Cruisers (Battlecruisers, Battleships, Interdictors): Long range, independent ships that are capable of controlling entire systems. Heavily armed and capable of deploying large fighter squadrons. The capital ships already shown are an example of this class. In the Empire they are usually known as “Interdictors” – named after the first successful class of cruisers. Currently the most common and most successful is the Majestic class – generally referred to as a “Majestic class Interdictor”. As ships that can also carry out ambassadorial missions they can be used for ‘soft’ power projection, as well as hard.
  • Frigates: These are large ships designed for escort duties. The actual vessels vary greatly between navies, but are all designed to engage multiple small, fast enemies (typically fighters and missile swarms) and are loaded with point defence batteries. They will also have some anti-ship capability, but are not designed to go up against other warships.
  • Destroyers: These are anti-warship vessels, but are generally no longer used in the front line, though some are still in service.
  • Carriers: Designed for the deployment of fighter squadrons. Obsolete in the fleets of the major factions due to the popularity of Cruisers, but small navies still make use of them and some have even been converted into transporters.
  • Transporters (Couriers): Armoured warships designed specifically for transporting valuable assets and cargo quickly and safely.
  • Corvettes (Cutters): Light multirole warships, capable of recon, incursions and escort missions. These small warships are also popular with smaller factions, organisations and even wealthy individuals due to their adaptability. The Imperial Cutter is a lighter and faster Corvette-class ship, that players will be able to get their hands on in the final game (assuming they can make the right contacts).
  • Fighters: Small short-range craft that generally cannot operate independently due to having no jump capability. Their main roles include the defense of stations and the large warships that they are deployed from. Commercial fighters are typically jump-capable and are therefore much more flexible than their faction-specific counterparts.
  • Drones: Small automated ships that have largely been phased out due to the existence of effective counter-measures.
The two images below show you some early designs for ships that we intend to add to the Imperial Fleet, to fulfil some of the roles mentioned above. We will update you on what these roles will be and any changes to their designs in future newsletters, but if you feel like speculating with your fellow commanders then why not head over to the forums and let us know what roles you think they’d best fit into!



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Design Discussion: A Workman and his Tools

The main tool of any pilot, whatever their profession, is of course their ship. A conversation that the designers have been having recently has to do with ship ownership and how the ability to own multiple ships in Elite: Dangerous should work.

After an initial proposal was put forward to the DDF, the team revised the design and this is currently undergoing further scrutiny. Whilst not all the details of how multiple ship ownership will work have been ironed out yet, there are some elements of the proposal that are already well established, which we can share with you:
  • Players will be able to own multiple ships in Elite: Dangerous. What limit will be on the number of ships (if any) has not been decided as of yet.
  • There will be other methods of acquiring ships other than a direct purchase. This may include special missions, or as rewards for bets and competitions. These however will not be common.
  • Players can trade in their current ships for credits or as part-exchange for a new ship. The condition that the ship has been kept in will help determine its value at sale.
  • Ships that are kept in storage incur a storage fee.
  • Ships are stored at a real-world location and must be picked up for the player to pilot them, or alternatively the player may pay to have it transferred elsewhere. Players can store different ships at different locations, if they like.
Another thing that the team are keen to explore further is the idea that clean, expensive or prestigious ships will run a lower chance of being scanned for contraband and bounties at stations. This means that players that choose a life of lawlessness will have a way of hiding in plain sight, which should add an additional dimension to careers in smuggling and piracy.

In the Design Decision Forum this month we’ll be discussing in great depth the various roles that you’ll be able to play in Elite: Dangerous; so what it means to be a bounty hunter or a trader and ways we can translate that best into game play. If you pledged £300 or more and have not yet joined in with the DDF discussion, then why not head over and get involved with the conversation.


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Elite Fiction: Empty

This week’s drabble comes from Elite Anthology writer Ramon Marett. You can find out more about Elite Anthology: Tales from the Frontier at www.elite-anthology.co.uk

Empty by Ramon Marett
Space. It used to be so small, jumping from one system to another in the blink of an eye, just popping over to the Star and back for fuel, or talking to friends billions of miles away. Space was so small, but now…

I sit staring out at an endless expanse of black. I’ve been staring for years, no planets, no ships, no contact with anyone. Just floating in this broken down piece of junk they call an escape pod.

Space used to be small. Who am I kidding, Space was never small, it is massive and it is lonely.


On the subject of Elite fiction a new Fiction Diary was recently release, for those who missed it. In this edition Michael discusses the initial setting that Elite: Dangerous will be set in, as well as answering a few questions from our community. Check it out now!


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Com Chatter: Happenings in the Community

One of the best things about Elite is the fantastic community surrounding the game. Without it we would not have made our Kickstarter target and we would not have all of the great fan projects that are taking place alongside development. These newsletters seem like the perfect place to celebrate everything that our loyal fans are up to, so we’re happy to bring you this quick digest of the main happenings right now:

The first ever LAVECON will be taking place taking place in Cheltenham on 29th June and there are still a few tickets left for anyone that wishes to go along. For those that don’t know, LAVECON is a convention for the fan-made Elite podcast series- Lave Radio, which can be found at laveradio.com and is well worth a listen for any Elite fan! Find out more information at our forums.

We have recently created an Astronomy section on our official Frontier forums, so if you have a taste for space then why not head over there and join the conversation!

Finally this week, I’d like to give a shout out to community member Dobrijzmej, who made a fantastic timeline plotting all of our updates since the beginning of the Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter. He has also been working hard since the Kickstarter ended to translate all of the updates released for our Russian community. If you are a Russian speaking fan then head over to his Russian Community thread, for all of our updates so far.


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That’s it for another 2 weeks, thanks for reading! For those of you who have not seen it, we have recently redesigned the Elite website and will now be adding notifications for each new update we release on the home page. So if you have trouble keeping track of updates on Elite: Dangerous the official Elite page is now a great site to bookmark.
Thanks again,
Ashley








 

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