Elite Dangerous Newsletter #104 - From Frontier Developments
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Hello Commander,
Welcome to Elite Dangerous Newsletter #104.

This week, we're celebrating the launch of Elite Dangerous: Horizons, showcasing some amazing community content from the game, sharing our Christmas 24 hour stream plans, catching up with the latest GalNet news , sharing a personal message from David Braben, and much more!

As always, you can hear the latest news and updates directly from the development team on our Forums, TwitterFacebook, Community Homepageand right here in the newsletter every week, and we're always eager to hear your feedback. 

Buy Elite Dangerous: Horizons now.

Contents This Week

Elite Dangerous: Horizons is Out Now!

This week we announced the launch of our long anticipated second season of  content, Elite Dangerous: Horizons with the arrival of the first major expansion, Planetary Landings.

You can order Elite Dangerous: Horizons now on the Frontier store here.

Don’t forget, Commanders who already own Elite Dangerous will also get access to an additional ship in-game, the Cobra MkIV, and are currently eligible for a £10 ($15) loyalty discount which will automatically be applied at the checkout when you buy Elite Dangerous: Horizons.

It’s not too late to introduce new players to Elite Dangerous for Christmas, you can gift the game here.

We also have some great new product on the store, so check out the merchandise.

Planetary Landings is an entirely new way to play Elite Dangerous, and is just the first in the Horizons season of expansions. Take to the planet surfaces and explore rich 1:1 scale worlds, master the SRV, find and attack bases, explore wreckages, collect rare materials and much more in this first major release of the season.
Elite Dangerous: Horizons Launch Trailer
Elite Dangerous: Horizons Gameplay Trailer
We have created some quick training guides to get you started. Check out the videos here.
With each major expansion comes hundreds of changes big and small, each bringing a world of new gameplay possibilities. Still to come in the Horizons season we have:

Ship Launched Fighters
Allowing larger spacecraft to carry their own short-range fighter ships for attack and defense. Utilise small, agile and deadly combat fighters for attack or defence. Re-imagine every element of your Elite journey.
Experience and master up to four unique roles and work together to devastating effect bringing a new dimension to multi-play. 
Commander Creator
Create your own in-game avatar and customise every element of your look, with detailed tools that let you alter every facial feature. Check out an early video of it here.
Crafting and Loot
Unlock a world of customization options and add new value and meaning to every action you do with our crafting and loot mechanics.
We expected a lot of brilliant, weird and wonderful screens and videos to come from our players after launch – and only a few days in, the community haven't disappointed. Here are just a few.
This picture of the Veil Nebula West was sent in by Cmdr Theseus Rorschach
CMDR Weyand posted this image of himself and five other CMDRs lined up nicely on a planet-surface with a nebula backdrop
Inspired by Falkrun7's video, Mister Shledge posted this video of his exceptional flying skills on an ice-covered planet
MackTheHunter posted this gif of him and his fellow Commanders
assaulting Bradshaw Vision
Senescent posted this video of him and a friend attempting to lift their SRV as high as possible into space. Warning - lots of laughter and enthusiasm.
During our launch livestream, we asked the developer guests to pick a shortlist of screenshots that they liked from the beta screenshot competition thread. It was incredibly difficult to choose from the hundreds of entries as every single one was fantastic. The viewers in the stream then got to choose between each shortlist - the winners are below. The first entry is actually a video, which we gave an honorary award for creativity.

We've been in touch with all the winners who should receive their prizes shortly! Make sure you check out the complete thread to see how amazing the screenshots are - there have been some great screens taken even since the competition!
Video by MiniwiSatN (click on the video to visit the YouTube page)
Screenshot by Von Dutch
Screenshot taken by Reloooops
Screenshot taken by Charred Felix
Screenshot by Mikael
Screenshot by Captain J'Zargo

Merry Christmas from David Braben

Read the original post by David on our forums here.

We had a great year leading up to the release of Elite: Dangerous from the first Alpha release in December 2013 up to the full release of Elite Dangerous in December 2014, and have now completed another great year with the release of Elite Dangerous: Horizons.

It is incredible to think how far we have come since last year, and the huge amount of work our excellent team have done in that time. This year really is a year of outer space. Not only is our space genre back in games, but we have excellent films like The Martian (truly great and well worth watching if you haven’t seen it), and I so hope the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film is great. I think it will be. It has to be! I am seeing it tonight, and I’m sure it will be a blast of incredible nostalgia for me.

If that weren’t enough, we have the British astronaut Tim Peake launching from Kazakhstan to the ISS – he launched on the same day as Horizons. We also had Raspberry ‘Astro’ Pis launched to the ISS a few weeks ago, with Tim Peake’s experiments with them to come. A great year.

It is good to have the first part of Horizons finally out, and the team have done a truly great job, with much more to come in 2016. Even in this first Planetary Landings expansion we just launched, we have had to move forward with our minimum machine specs to accommodate this otherwise we would be held back by what we could do. Requiring DX11 and 64 bit OS has enabled us to do truly stunning things on the planets. Elite Dangerous has always been 64 bit internally, but we couldn’t continue to support older 32 bit OS tech. This has meant we needed a new minimum spec, so it needs to be a new game, and as a new game we can set a new minimum spec. We do understand some of the issues players have mentioned with Steam because it is a separate game – for example wanting recorded play hours to be combined across the seasons. We know this is frustrating for some people, and so it is something we plan to address shortly.
There has also been some discussion about pricing; if you buy the game as soon as it comes out, we expect it to cost $60/€50/£40 for your first season, then $45/€37.5/£30 for each subsequent season, including all expansions, ships, vehicles, and features through the season in that price, with just vanity items and clothing etc sold on top of that. It is much less than other multiplayer annually-updated AAA games, and works better than subscriptions, paying for each expansion separately, because these would be more expensive overall, and would not keep the player base together in the same way. The season model also enables us to discount the original game over time, to bring more players to the world. What we are doing is unique in having forwards and backwards compatibility, and our model enables us to do that while moving the game forwards in terms of hardware spec, and keeping the central servers running. I am strongly against pay-to-win by charging for ships or in-game money, so this seems to be a good solution.

Landing on planets seems to be ‘the new black’ as they might say in marketing circles… You can do it now anywhere on the surface of countless 1:1 scale simulated planetary surfaces in Elite Dangerous: Horizons and landing is coming in the future in No Man’s Sky, Star Citizen (as I heard just now – a major new future feature they announced last night), Infinity: Battlescape and many others. This is a great thing, as open world space games have now truly come back with a bang, and I look forwards to playing them – and also huge congratulations to Chris and the team for raising $100M for Star Citizen!

What both Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous are trying to do is very hard indeed. Both games are incredibly ambitious. I am proud and excited about what we are doing, but what they are doing is ambitious too, and I am looking forward to playing Star Citizen when it is finished. What we are both doing is new; we are trailblazing. The scope of both is vast and quite different, and neither have been done before, so there is no right answer for either of the approaches. It is frustrating to see some of the criticism of Star Citizen online. We should applaud when someone tries something that is hard, that hasn’t been done, not discourage them.

Game development is hard, with a great many independent components to get right. The very best development looks easy, but this is because of a great deal of careful planning by very experienced people behind the scenes working hard to make it happen. Like a swan, there may be frantic paddling of feet underwater, out of sight, but the view on the surface is one of serene beauty with barely a ripple. We are very proud of what we do, we have an incredible community supporting the game, and we have an amazing future.

Come and join us!

24 Hour Charity Livestream is on Monday

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and for that reason we’re celebrating with a 24 hour charity livestream! On December 21 at midday GMT, join Community Manager Edward Lewis, and a whole host of guests from Frontier Developments and the Elite Dangerous community, as we spend the whole day raising money for SpecialEffect on our official YouTube Channel.

As we countdown through the hours we’ll be taking part in all sorts of activities to keep Ed awake, including Elite-themed quizzes, musical accompaniments, in-game challenges, ceremonial events, and much more. The serious, the strange, and the wonderful… we’ll have it all on December 21. We also have charity prize draws with some spectacular one of a kind items, and some fantastic hourly giveaways too, so make sure you come back regularly to see what’s coming up next.

Visit the forum to see the full schedule, and visit our Justgiving page for more information and to donate to this amazing cause.
From the desk of Executive Producer Michael Brookes...

Hi everyone,

This week has seen the release of the first of the Horizons’ releases – with plenty more to come in 2016! We’ve also released another major update for Season One on all three platforms. This changing of the seasons also brings this final dev update for the year (worry not – they will return in the New Year!) and I want to reflect on the some of my personal  highlights for the year.

Before doing so I’ll shout out for the heroes of this year’s achievements and that is the team. A few of us are fortunate enough to deal with the fans directly on our forums and through other channels, but we are the public face of a much larger team who’s talent and dedication has pushed the game’s development. Switching to publishing our own titles has expanded the company in many ways and so it’s not just the development team I’d like to shout out for, it’s all the other areas of the company like admin, marketing, tech and customer service that have helped make the game a success.

With so much happening over the past years it’s hard to believe that the base game release was almost exactly a year ago. There have been a number of major releases in that time and I’m not going to talk about them all, but the few that have stood out for me, not just for what they added to the game, but what they enable us to add in the future.

The first was Community Goals back in the early part of the year with the 1.1 release. When I joined the project during the kickstarter, two fundamental pillars separated this game from its predecessors and they are the multiplayer and the evolving galaxy. In truth the two go hand in hand and the community goals added a mechanism to help guide players together with a common purpose.

They’ve also added to our arsenal for involving players in the events of the galaxy, a particular favourite of mine was the Cerberus Plaque. Here we had dedicated pilots battling to prevent the spread of a horrible disease and the players involved brought a richness to the experience.

We’ve seen a similar effect with community inspired CGs, notable examples are the Battle for Lugh and the Hutton Orbital mugs. As well as continuing our story threads we’ll continue working with the community and player groups to involve them in areas of the galaxy.
Community goals are also a superb framework for expansion. Like many features in game, they are a tool that allows us to inject activities into the game and the library of activities associated with community goals is something we plan to continue expanding. Along with other actions we track, these community goals help us develop storylines and the direction they take and that player impact is something we will continue to support and expand further.

Powerplay was another highlight release for me, although it does seem to be a bit of a marmite feature! For me it works on two levels. There’s the more obvious level of working for and against the powers, but there’s also the second benefit of the dynamism it brings to the galaxy on a grander scale. There are benefits to being in certain regions as well as downsides.

It’s also a high level framework that we can develop further and here there are two approaches that I see as strengthening Powerplay. The first is on a personal level to make interacting with the powers more interesting and more diverse, adding powerplay mission is an example of this. The other is building more of a connection with the galaxy simulation both in being able to resist powers and developing minor factions into powers.

As part of season 2 we will be elevating a minor faction to a power, we’ll reveal more on this early next year. For fun here are the most influential minor factions in game:

Sirius Corporation
Alioth Independents
Dukes of Jotun
League of Amemait
CD-44 10336 Industries
The Dukes of Mikunn
Eta Draconis Gold Vision Co
Nagii Union
Workers of Manite Labour Union
Marquis du Ma'a

The development of influence is a key function of the galaxy simulation and also one of the more complicated aspects to the game. In my opinion one of the biggest issues is one of communication, there are a range of subtleties that aren’t immediately obvious which is no doubt causing frustration. This is something we shall be tackling as well as addressing any core issues and developing the system further to support more interaction.

My penultimate highlight was the Xbox One release. It was an incredible achievement to get the game working on the console and it looks marvellous on my home set up! It also brought CQC Championship which is a lot of fun for a quick blast as a change of pace for my journey to Sagittarius A* - over halfway there now :-)

 And we end with our most recent launch – Horizons. Considering all the other releases we did during the year this was a phenomenal achievement. I think the name is most apt as I love just driving around and seeing some of the vistas. Chasing people in a ship as they drive around is amusing too! And it’s only the start of the season – there’s so much more to come!

So I will end this post with a big thank you to all of you. Thank you for playing the game, your community spirit and the feedback. Merry Christmas to you all!

New Merchandise in store now!

Visit now to pick up one of our brand new Elite Dangerous: Horizons T-shirts. While you're there make sure you check out our festive digital in-game content, such as the Christmas Cobra paint job pack which you can see below.

Community Goals Update

Greetings, Commanders, and welcome to this week’s Community Goals blog.

Professor Ishmael Palin, the scientist leading research into the Unknown Artefacts, has announced plans to establish a new research outpost on Maia B1BA in the Maia system. “I am not alone in observing that starports where UAs are sold in large numbers rapidly develop severe technical issues,” said the professor. “I have therefore decided to establish a research base away from the civilian population, where my team and I can analyse the artefacts without endangering others.”

Palin also said he would be appealing for help in setting up the new outpost:

“The most efficient way of establishing the outpost will be to use prefabricated components, which is why we’re asking for people to bring evacuation shelters to us here in Dahan. We’re also asking for combat pilots to clear the spaceways in Dahan, to ensure those delivering evacuation shelters to Nelson Works can do so safely.”

Meanwhile, the Hel Purple Energy Industry, an organisation based in the Hel system, has issued an appeal for Crystalline Spheres to commemorate the approaching winter solstice. A spokesperson for the Hel Purple Energy Industry issued a brief statement:

“It might be an antiquated festival, but we believe the winter solstice is a great opportunity to unwind and spend some quality time with friends and family. Our plan is to give the Crystalline Spheres to deprived families throughout the system.”

Hel Purple Energy Industry has also asked for combat pilots to protect the traders delivering the rare Crystalline Spheres to the Hel system. “Our highest priority is ensuring the safety of the pilots contributing to this initiative,” said the organisation’s spokesperson, “so we will reward all those who hand in bounty vouchers at Jones Orbital”.

To cap things off, eccentric billionaire Alfred Jeffress has announced a third treasure hunt, and once again has promised to reward the winner with a share of his vast personal fortune and the deed to a Federal Corvette (insurance not included). Pilots interested in participating are encouraged to keep a close eye for clues from Jeffress on GalNet.

The Billionaire released the following statement:

“I have always enjoyed giving gifts, especially at this time of year. I wish all the pilots taking part the best of luck.”

If you’re looking for a goal, the breakdown below should help:

Research Outpost Appeal

Dahan system, Nelson Works: Deliver Evacuation Shelters to support Professor Ishmael Palin’s new project.
Dahan system, Nelson Works: Hand in Bounty Vouchers at Nelson Works.

A Snowglobe’s Chance

Hel System, Jones Orbital: Deliver Crystalline Spheres to Jones Orbital.
Hel System, Jones Orbital: Hand in Bounty Vouchers at Jones Orbital.

Treasure Hunt

Location Unknown: Solve the billionaire’s treasure hunt to win a Federal Corvette and a share of his fortune.

See you out in the black, Commanders!

HCS Voicepacks - Verity

The latest voice pack from HCS Voicepacks, Elite: Dangerous "Veritywill be released today, Friday December 18.  Packed with over two thousand responses, Horizons ready, and also full of education facts about the galaxy and constellations.

Comms Chatter

Elite Racers have a ton of new Horizons to cover... check out their latest video here!

Dat RPG on the Elite Explorers subreddit posted this image of their ship in deep space.

The final episode of the Deep Space Surveys series sets the stage for the next series which will document the huge fleet expedition 'Distant Worlds'. Featuring Erimus, this episode explores the route, as well as planetary landings in deep space, and is as always filled with fascinating science, adventure; stunning imagery and soothing music.

JPaulWilson1982 sent us this short story; below is a snippet of it..

As a young journalist I’ve been craving the opportunity to crack open that first big story and expose it to the universe. After years of studying and hard work, I was finally hired on with GalNet where I knew I’d have such an opportunity. My first assignment was unbelievable; investigate the Unknown Artefacts with a group of fresh-faced, xenophobic explorers and self-proclaimed guardians of all humanity, The Knights of the Black.

The Ghost Squadron group in elite sent us this promo video. We thought it was pretty neat, have a watch of it below.

Powerplay Punditry

Keep up-to-date with the latest news and information from all of the major powers each week at the Powerplay Herald. This Community ran site is a fantastic tool, packed full of punditry and analysis of the latest happenings in the Galaxy.

Word has reached this reporter of a massive fraud involving fake precious gems originating from the Prism system region over the past few hours. A security services spokesman admitted that they had been caught unawares of the scale of the problem and that thousands of these fakes had already been sold. "We will hunt down the perpetrators of these crimes, who have cost the the regional economy millions of credits." Efforts are now under way to locate the source of these convincing fakes and put an end to their trade. The spokesman promised that those identified as dealing in these items would be punished to the full extent of the law.

Eccentric billionaire Alfred Jeffress has made headlines in recent weeks with not one but two galaxy-wide treasure hunts, each of which saw the reclusive philanthropist give out enormous cash prizes. Now Jeffress has announced a third treasure hunt, and once again he has promised to reward the winner with a share of his vast personal fortune. The event is expected to follow the same format as the previous two. A mystery object has been placed somewhere in space, and the first person to find and deliver it to a specified location will win the competition. As before, the hunt begins with a riddle, composed by Jeffress, which will lead participants to the mystery object: "To win the prize, follow a story of kings, crowns and jewels, not tall tales told by fools. Your quest to restore the king's crown starts in the middle. Travel where all frequencies of light reside to start solving my riddle."

Despite sharing a standard galactic calendar, most human societies prefer to mark the passage of days and years in relation to the stars of their home systems. But a large proportion of the galaxy's human population still observe some shared traditions, despite those traditions being rooted in the seasons of a planet many have never even visited. Of these, winter solstice festivals are perhaps the most prevalent. This year, an organisation based in the Hel system is issuing a special appeal to commemorate the approaching winter solstice. The Hel Purple Energy Industry has issued a request for Crystalline Spheres – a commodity currently available only at Snow Moon in the Bento system. A spokesperson for the Hel Purple Energy Industry issued a brief statement: "It might be an antiquated festival, but we believe the winter solstice is a great opportunity to unwind and spend some quality time with friends and family. And what better way to mark the occasion than to invite people to gather up snowballs – I mean, crystalline spheres – and haul them across the galaxy?" The appeal begins today and is scheduled to run for one week.
That’s it for Newsletter #104. As always, if there's anything in particular that you’d like to hear more about, or if you'd like to ask a question, then please contact us at

Click for the latest Game Manual, Quickstart Guide and Pilot Training Videos. Visit our Support team here and read our previous newsletters here.

Until next time, fly safe and Right On, Commander.

The Frontier Team
Jobs at Frontier
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