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Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #18 - From Frontier Developments
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Hi Commander,

Welcome Commanders to Newsletter #18!
Here you can find a roundup of the latest news and community happenings around Elite: Dangerous.
In this issue we have a special look at the Coriolis Space Station, and a look at the docking procedure, introduced in the third Alpha build.
 

Table of Contents (click subject to jump forward):

Progress diary

So - phase one of the Alpha allowed us to test the moment to moment combat gameplay.
 
Phase two got to grips with the multiplayer technology and with your help we were were able to test and battle-harden it in a live environment.
 
Now - Alpha 3 is live and we start to move towards building out the game by adding docking, an early version of hyperspace jumps between multiple locations and ship outfitting within the iconic Coriolis space station.
 
Our latest Progress video diary shows David Braben talking through the features and intricacies of a Coriolis starport, including the procedure for docking. You can view the video here:


Once successfully docked in the station – a notoriously difficult skill to master in the original Elite – Elite: Dangerous Alpha phase three offers progression where you can use your honest profit or ill-gotten gains from your in-game actions to improve your ship.
 
Ship upgrades include modules such as heat sinks and cargo scanners, a variety of weapons, repair to any damage sustained in combat and clear bounties.

Once you have earned enough credits, you can even purchase (and fly) that firm favourite from the Falcon de Lacy shipyards, and one of the most notorious ships in the galaxy – the Cobra Mk III…!



Finally, the consequences of combat now also have a price, with repairs being cheaper than buying a new ship you will need to make split second decisions on when to pull back from battle!
 
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Docking tutorial video

We have also released a guide to the docking protocol for Port Zelada. Different stations will have different sensibilities. Some will have no traffic control at all – they will be little more than hollowed-out rocks.
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A Coriolis space station by Chris Gregory


The Coriolis design of the station, is perhaps the most loved and iconic from the classic game so it’s fitting that it's the first station you will see in Elite: Dangerous. 



Obviously we needed to update the original design but filling in those elegant white lines on any Elite design is always a challenge.
 
The beauty of them, and the reason I think they are so iconic is how one’s imagination fills in the form. Keeping the silhouette intact we added depth and detail with careful consideration given to the scientific realities of the station’s rotation and internal gravity.




The result is a major city in space and the first port of call for weary pilots with cargo to sell and ships to upgrade. There are other types of station to come, and there will be variation within the Coriolis Stations too.

The Hub


The interior of the station, the docking hub was a challenge due to its scale and unique cylindrical design. 
 
For inspiration we looked at mega structures, some of the largest architecture on our planet. In these huge stadia, bridges and towers we found architectural patterns, and structural engineering motifs that were included in our designs.



Airports, dockyards and aircraft carriers were also researched and added to the mix. These familiar elements helped ground the design in reality and give a sense of the immense scale of the station.



It was important to consider the view not just from the players point of view from the cockpit but also from the deck of the landing pad looking up at your ship.



In the higher status stations, this docking hub is pressurised and this allows us to play with some different effects to give the interior of the station atmosphere.  Fog formed from engine exhausts and outlets cling to the surface of the hub and this is illuminated by flood lights around the docking pads.
Here’s a shot of the final in game asset, you might notice a few tweaks and improvements since seeing it first in the Alpha 3 release as we have continued to add details and polish.



It has been great to see the youtube videos of players using the hub. One of our particular favourites was this one from our friend and Alpha backer Scott Manley where he is carefully guiding his ship into dock and unexpectedly another ship comes flying over his head into Port Zelada at great speed to overtake him and dock ahead of him.

Seeing multiple pads in use or watching a pilot violate station law and suffer the consequences really brings the space to life. Going forward, expect to see more of the hustle and bustle of a busy port, ships landing and unloading, drones flying around and more advertising to add interest and variation each time you dock. Other types of space station will, of course, be made available – but we felt it only right that we start the process with a Coriolis!

The Cobra
Once docked and assuming you’ve earned enough credits Alpha 3 gives the Commanders’ the opportunity to trade their reliable and familiar sidewinder for something a little more roomy, the Cobra Mk III.  
 
The Cobra is another iconic and much loved design from the classic game so we took great care to preserve its lines whilst adding details and interest.
 
There's a lot to consider when designing a ship for Elite: Dangerous, space must be found for landing gear, cargo hatches, heat vents and hard points; all of which are fully functional with animation, lighting and VFX to be considered.



The view from the cockpit is considered at an early stage to ensure that there is enough visibility when flying and docking the ship. 



Note that the Cobra has a two-seater cockpit with an offset pilots view; this opens up interesting possibilities for future releases!



Once you have your Cobra Mk III you’ll be able to take a close look at the exterior of the ships in the outfitting mode. These views show the weapons which can now be upgraded.... for a price.
We’ll be adding more variety to the weapons and modules available as well as the services offered whilst in outfitting to allow you to customise and make the ships your own.

Whether you are an Alpha member or not you can still get your hands on your own Coriolis right now…We have created this fantastic Coriolis star port paper craft model for you to make yourself!

Simply print out the layout HERE




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Join  Us Now!



We still need your help!

Each day more and more of you are signing up; this is fantastic and we are grateful not only for the support but also for the insights we are getting from you which are helping us to continue to make improvements so that Elite: Dangerous becomes the best game it can be.

We are selling Alpha and Beta access via our shop site where you can take to the stars before commercial release as you participate in our development process!
With new features such as Docking and the Cobra MK III detailed above, there are many reasons to join in on the action particularly now the game play is developing and we have the first ‘game-loop’ to experience.

The Alpha will soon be coming to an end as we prepare for the Premium Beta stage. There is one more phase of the Alpha to be released, covering travel and trading.  We have always said we will give prior warning of the end of Alpha, and here it is: your last chance to join the Alpha will be April 25th.  After this date we will stop taking Alpha orders.

For anyone still interested in joining the Alpha now but unsure if it is worth it for a short period of time before we start the Premium Beta - here are two fantastic reasons;
- As we move into the Beta process, all Premium and standard Beta builds will be given exclusively to the Alpha players first.
- Also, all Alpha players will be granted a life time discount of 50% on ship insurance in game as a thank you for your support!


Your last chance to participate in Alpha will be the APRIL 25TH
From then forward you can expect our Beta to roll out for Premium Beta players - more information on that is coming soon. Watch this space!
Want to upgrade from Beta? The upgrade path from Beta to the Alpha is still active! If you go to the shop and put the Alpha product into your basket, a discount will automatically be applied to reflect the level you are already on.

Sign up here!


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Comms Chatter

Plenty has been going on this month. We were excited to be at the BAFTA Inside Games Showcase in London for our first public debut!
There we demoed the latest Alpha game-play along with Oculus Rift headsets and Saitek Joystick peripherals. We had queues right around the stand with people waiting to get their hands on the game!

There was a green screen photo booth to put attendees in the game, a developer talk by David Braben and loads of giveaways -The Elite: Dangerous pin badges and key rings proved particularly popular and will soon be making an appearance in our store!
Check out some of the photos from the event and spot the celebrity fan! –



Following on from our Forum Competitions, we were lucky to have two of our Alpha players come and join us to act as Elite :Dangerous Ambassadors for the day.
We owe much thanks to Commanders John Virgo and Liam Rafferty for helping out on the day and showing visitors how to play Elite: Dangerous, we couldn’t have asked for better Ambassadors.



More photos can be found on our Facebook page here

This month we were also at GDC where Producer Adam Woods and David Braben demoed the game to journalists from around the world. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. After five incredible days of interviews and demos, ranging from PC World US, Gamespot USA, PC Gamer US, Gamasutra, MMORPG, Games Global, Yogscast, US Gamers and a host of freelance journalists too.  You can expect to see lots of articles in the coming weeks.

We were really pleased to hear that the previously mentioned Scott Manley was attending GDC. This gave us the opportunity to meet Scott, who has posted many videos of his own Elite: Dangerous gameplay, in person and he took the time to video an interview with David Braben which can be seen here.

GDC was dominated by Virtual Reality – the Sony Morpheus VR headset was announced, which is a great looking piece of kit.  Elite: Dangerous is a fantastic experience full-stop, but we think our VR experience really is the best there is, so we are eagerly anticipating the groundswell of support for VR devices.

Meet the Team Interview
The 13th ‘Meet The Team’ interview is now available, this time with the forum famous Sandy Sammarco with some great advice on getting into the video games industry.



You can read all about it right here
 
Also on the forums...
  • A new thread in the Fan Creations section of the forum has opened up to list any Elite themed events or meet ups that are coming up! Feel free to join in and add your own meet up to the list so we can help advertise it for you!
  • Forum member ‘RoryScarlett’ has created an ale in celebration of Elite: Dangerous details for which can be found here  
  • And fan video creator Neon Raven has created another amazing video for us using Alpha 3 footage this time. Witness the beauty of our Coriolis star port Zelada in this breathtaking video


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Gollancz books incoming

Frontier Developments and Gollancz, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Company, are delighted to announce the three tie-in novels set in the world of Elite:Dangerous...

ELITE: WANTED, by Gavin Deas, is a rip-roaring space epic told from two points of view – the hunted, and the hunter. When a routine bit of piracy goes wrong, the crew of the Song of Stone realise that there's a bounty hunter on their tail. One who might, finally, be able to outclass them. The Dragon Queen is feared across space, and for good reason. But even the bounty hunter doesn't realise what she's been hired to do. Or what is in the container she's been sent to retrieve. And she's not the only hunter in the game...
Gavin Smith and Stephen Deas are regular Gollancz authors – having produced 15 books between them over the last few years – and their combined talent makes this a gripping tale.

ELITE: NEMORENSIS, by Simon Spurrier, tells the story of an unlikely pair of star-crossed lovers who steal a spaceship and go on the run, attacking at random and revelling in the fame and glory their violence brings them. Celebrated by the jaded youth of the Federation and urged on to ever more flashy acts of destruction, they know it won't be long before they are caught and killed. But someone is following the couple. Someone who knows why they are so obsessed with each other. Who knows where they are heading. Who knows why. Someone who knows more about them than they do themselves. And has another plan for their deaths...
Simon is currently writing X-MEN for Marvel Comics and CROSSED for Avatar Press, and has written for Judge Dredd, Wolverine and many other popular characters. He has published two novels with Hodder and five licensed novels based on Warhammer and 2000AD properties.

ELITE: DOCKING IS DIFFICULT, by Gideon Defoe, humorously explores what life in the future is really like.  On what might be the worst planet in the universe, a young man dreams of the stars. Adventure! Lasers! Women! And the ultimate goal - to become Elite! Unfortunately, Misha has to do his chores first. And learn how to talk to Phoebe, the beautiful customs officer. And leave the planet. But the death of a famous author unexpectedly drags Misha and Phoebe into a system-wide conspiracy, complete with smuggling, international art thieves, multi-system corporations, canapés and exploding pigs. This is Misha's chance to prove he has what it takes! After all, surely anyone can be Elite if they dream...













You can pre-order these titles on the links below –

Elite:Wanted
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Apple UK

Elite: Nemorensis
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Apple UK

Elite: Docking is Difficult
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Apple UK

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Mostly harmless questions

In the Private Backers forum we have a thread where commanders can pose questions for the development team. In this section of the newsletter we’ll take a look at some of those questions and provide answers from Executive Producer Michael Brookes.

Slawkenbergius - Will planets and stars be to actual scale?
 
Yes, celestial bodies and the distances between them will be correctly scaled, wherever possible real astronomical data is being used. To give you an idea we're currently at 116,000 stars from various catalogues and includes pulsars and black holes as well as main sequence stars. Exo-planets are the other big import which we're about to start working on!
 
Scot - Will the old design of the PYTHON be in the game?
 
The Python will be in the game.
 
Le-Betz - Will there be ships without hyperspace capability in the game?
 
Yes, some ships are too small to have hyperdrives (such as the small fighters and some shuttles).

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Elite Merchandise Update

The Elite merchandise store is now online! We’ve got some fantastic retro t-shirts on there at the moment, and there’s even more to come in the future.  The first Elite: Dangerous themed items will of course be the badges and key rings that were so popular at our BAFTA event!




Click here to see more!

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Until next time Commanders...


 
 
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