Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #50 - From Frontier Developments
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Hi Commander,

Welcome to Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #50!

We are sending our newsletter early this week, as we wanted to highlight what you can expect in Beta 3.9 tomorrow (Thursday 20 November), and are getting ready to host the Premiere event this coming weekend (Saturday 22 November).

We take a look at the many additional features you can expect from this last Beta build before we start the Gamma phase on Saturday.

We also wanted to round up and address the common questions we have received after last week’s announcement that there would not be an offline version of the game.

Beta is ending this Saturday – there are now just 3 more days to become a Beta backer.

If you can’t already play, becoming a Beta backer is the only way you will be able to play Elite: Dangerous until 16th December.  In addition to that and the other existing Beta benefits such as Mercenary Edition and automatic permit to visit Sol, Beta backers also receive 25% off in-game ship insurance for life, plus free access to one of the 5 new ships we announced last week!

Elite: Dangerous will be released on 16th December, so there are also only 27 days left to pre-order the game and get The Elite: Dangerous Mercenary Edition additional content and benefit from the £4.99 discount. Available to buy now.

If you have already pre-ordered the final game you can still become part of the Beta now and take advantage of the lasting benefits that will give you, by upgrading your account, which will cost you an additional £15. Interested? Just go to the store, put the Beta in your basket and the correct discount will be applied when you checkout.

Contents this week (Click subject to jump forward):

Newsletter Peek of the Week

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Beta 3.9

We announced in the last newsletter that Beta 3.9 would be arriving tomorrow.

Beta 3.9 is the last Beta build, with Gamma 1.0 to be released on Saturday 22 November and, of course, Elite: Dangerous 1.0 goes live on 16 Dec.
Beta 3.9 is a stepping stone to Gamma and represents a very large amount of ongoing under the hood work, as well as new features.

There will be some significant additions on Saturday for Gamma 1.0, too.  The Gamma phase itself will then be about polish, fixes and optimization rather than major new features.

The 16th December release of Elite: Dangerous will see the Federation, Empire and Alliance start their machinations in earnest, adding a new depth to your experiences in the galaxy. The design team are being tight-lipped about this. All we have heard is that “Hengist Duval is sick”. More on 22 November.
Here’s a quick overview of what to expect from Beta 3.9, above and beyond the countless fixes, tweaks, improvements and optimizations that have been going in.

Top of the list is the exciting news there are now multiple ways to reach the rank of Elite!  You now progress to that exalted status via Trading and/or Exploration and/or Combat, rather than Combat alone.

You can also now gain ranks with both the Federation and/or Empire as you work on their behalf.
There is a further step forward in the ongoing changes to the mission system in preparation for the 16th December, generally increasing the richness of what you are able to do. This includes an associated significant overhaul of Unidentified Signal Sources, giving increased variety and added mission related context.  USS are now well worth checking out.

You can now barter with other players in deep space, by transferring non-stolen goods to them.

Ship outfitting and Galaxy map have both had major overhauls.

Last but not least for this brief summary, open-mic voice communications between up to 6 players in a group has been added.

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Elite: Dangerous Offline Mode - Q&A

From David Braben:

Each of the “Elite” games pushed the boundaries of the technology available. With Elite: Dangerous a major new feature is playing online, and we are pushing that hard now. Offline support was not one of our original aims, though we did believe we could support it at the start of the project. We do a great deal of processing in the cloud, and this benefits everyone playing. We had considered that an online connection is a reasonable pre-requisite for a game delivered online. I am really sorry this has upset people, but we have a strong, consistent vision that we do not want to compromise.

Below we have collected common questions from backers and the press and our answers so we can be clear about the situation.

Can I still play in single player mode?
Yes. Some people have thought that dropping 100% offline play means there wouldn’t be a single-player mode - to be clear, the single-player game is already there, but it requires a low bandwidth online connection for the reasons we explained.
I’ve even played on a laptop using a tethered connection on the train.

When was the offline mode dropped?
The decision was made recently, and was not made lightly as we have been looking for ways to satisfy everyone.  We announced shortly after we concluded that it wasn’t possible to create an offline mode without unacceptably compromising the game.

Offline-only support was a requested feature during the Kickstarter – why was it dropped?
Back during the Kickstarter, we were clear about the vision, to make a phenomenal new sequel to Elite in an online world, which we believe we are about to deliver. At the time we believed we could also offer a good single player experience, and base an acceptable offline-only experience off that.  As development has progressed, it has become clear that this last assumption is not the case.

Why wait so long to announce this?
In retrospect we should have shared the fact that we were struggling with this aspect with the community, but we were still trying to find a solution. As features were implemented, for the best results we chose to prioritise delivery of the online single and multiplayer experiences, with a view to providing the offline version later in development. We had to make a decision for the good of the game, and that is what we did.

What would you lose in offline mode?
We have developed a multi-player game with an unfolding story involving the players, and groups collaborating with specific objectives and taking account of all player’s behaviour.  This is what the game is about.  Without this it would not be the rich gaming experience that we will deliver, and would be a great disappointment to all players.

Any offline experience would be fundamentally empty. We could write a separate mission system to allow a limited series of fixed missions, but that would still not be a compelling game, and is just the first step in the mountain of work that would be required.

Do you now consider Elite: Dangerous to be an MMO?
Technically, it has always been. There are already over 100,000 people playing in the same world. We believe that always-online entertainment is already a reality for the majority. We are delivering a truly huge game using the best technology and designed to stand the test of time, played for many years to come and still be relevant.

What do you say to people who backed Elite with an offline experience in mind?
Many of the conversations we have had during development focussed on backers wanting to play the game without the downside of online – griefing especially – ie a single player experience. We considered this to be the main issue and focussed on making sure we had a great single player offering. We have also ensured that the solo play mode has a minimal network requirement(about 10 kbps).

Are you confident the servers will be stable come launch day?
Yes, as confident as we can be, because we have been testing our servers throughout the development process, and continue to do so. Our servers are the same ones that Amazon uses, and can (and have) scaled up quickly to deal with demand when needed.

What is Frontier's plan for when the servers shut down?
We do not plan to shut the servers down, but understand it is a reasonable question. We are at the beginning of the game not the end and are focused on creating a game that we hope will be played for many years in the future. We do plan to take regular archives of the game and the servers, to preserve the game for the future.

Could the server code be released publicly some day when the servers are shut down?
Yes. This is something we would do if for whatever reason we cannot keep the game going.

Will offline mode ever be implemented? Why not create a second "offline galaxy" with different secrets than the online one?
It is not out of the question we will create a cut-down game that is offline only, but this is not currently in our plan. It would still be a big undertaking to do well.

Will you give people refunds?
We have started responding to requests where there is a clear outcome:
-    Those who have pre-ordered an Elite: Dangerous release version from our online store and have therefore not yet played the game are eligible for a refund.
-    Those who have already been playing the game online in the Alpha and/or Beta phases, regardless of whether they backed the project via Kickstarter or purchased access to Alpha and/or Beta through our online store, are not eligible for a refund.
We want to make sure we treat each person's situation with the thoroughness it deserves, and have contacted each of them to ask that they bear with us over the next few working days if their circumstances do not fit either criteria above as we look into individual requests.

Is offline mode an impossible problem, or just unfeasible?
It is a creative decision, not wanting to produce an empty game. It is technically possible, but it would be a largely separate game development.

Why not delay the decisions and put extra resources on this after the release?
We will review the decision after release, but our priority is moving the game forwards for the great majority of players, and are wary of producing a sub-standard game.

Was this because offline players are less likely to get involved in microtransactions? Is this just about the money?
No. We have been clear and consistent. This is about the game experience. I have always been against ‘pay to win’ – in a game like Elite: Dangerous there are a great many opportunities we could have taken already that would have amounted to ‘pay to win’ but we have chosen not to.

This whole issue comes down to what the vision is of the game we are making, and whether people trust us to make the right decisions. We made this decision with heavy hearts but for the right reasons.

David Braben
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The Elite: Dangerous Premiere Event 22.11.14 Update

Our plans are almost complete for the Elite: Dangerous Premiere event this weekend. We hope that you join us on our Twitch channel at 8pm GMT for the livestream of the event. You can also join us on all our social media channels throughout the evening and we will be keeping you all posted on the events of the evening

Twitch channel

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Comms Chatter

You thought your Elite: Dangerous set-up was impressive? Take a look at Markus Boesen’s video.
For non-German speakers, the images speak for themselves.
Marcus Carra sent us the design for his Board game. The instructions are all in German, but it certainly got us excited to sit down and play – “I built this board game just for my own pleasure and played it with friends who pushed me to talk to publisher throughout Germany. It is said to be way too complex for the German market. The rules are tight to the original game ELITE by David Braben and Ian Bell from 1984, this is a prototype designed by me and some enthusiasts of the Oolite community (new drawings of the old ELITE concept ships).” 
Titus Balls bids a fond farewell to the Beta with episode 6 of his Wonders of the Galaxy series.
Gnepcoyi on Youtube put this humorous video together about your first ever docking experience: expectations versus reality.
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That’s it for newsletter #50 - thank you for reading and supporting the development of Elite: Dangerous.

If you are new to the newsletters you can read all our previous newsletters

As always if there is anything in particular that you’d like to hear more about, or you'd like to ask a question, then please contact us at

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