Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #5- From Frontier Developments
Hi Commander,

Welcome back, for our 5th installment of the Elite: Dangerous newsletter! The sun has finally come out here in the UK but with release now less than a year away, the team are far too busy working on the game for such distractions!

We’ll be looking mainly at ships this week. Some you’ve seen before, others that are completely new, and also giving you a little insight into the manufacturers behind them. So let’s get on with it!

Table of Contents (click subject to jump forward):

Inner Workings: Imperial Fighter Schematic & Model

Last time we showed you a schematic of the Sidewinder, which displayed some of its vital statistics, as well as a little bit of information about its origins and designer. This is a process that we’ll eventually go through for all of the ships and this time it is the turn of the Imperial Fighter.

The text on this image may be too small to read within the actual newsletter but, as with all of the images in these newsletters, if you click on the image itself it will take you to a larger version where you can see everything in full detail. Work on the Imperial Fighter model has also started and you can see how that is progressing in the image below.

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Pride of the Federation: Rendering and Lighting a Capital Ship

A ship that has featured heavily in these newsletters is the Federation’s Capital Ship. In the first newsletter it was picked from a litter of contenders and turned from a thumbnail into a full piece of concept art. Then in the second and third newsletters we explored how it would look from a variety of other angles. Since then, work has taken place to turn it into a model for the game and we can now show you how that has been getting along:

The top image is an early proposal of how the federal capital ship decals might look, whilst the other images show the model completely untextured. A few things have changed in the design, since the concept phase. Whilst the general shape of the ship has remained largely the same, the front section has been made more robust, to accommodate its role as the launch bays for the federal fighters more convincingly. The base of the ship has also been redesigned, providing more vertical symmetry and making it look less exposed than it did in newsletter #2.  These changes allow it to keep its aesthetic but work better as a practical capital ship. You can also see for the first time what the back of the ship looks like.

Lighting is also being considered at the moment and as with every other element of the ship’s design, there is a balance to be made between an appealing aesthetic and what makes sense for a functional ship. Whilst the lighting is far from being locked down, it is important to start thinking about where light sources on a ship this size might be located as early as possible.

Whilst most of the ship has now been crafted into something usable in the final game, with something this large the devil will always be in the detail. The next step of the process is to make the ship look convincing when you’re gliding an inch away from its hull and that may prove to be the toughest stage.

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‘Freighter 3’: Packhorse of the Stars

You may remember that in the last newsletter we showed you a sample of the concept art that had been created for freighters. Well since then a decision has been made and we can now share with you the early design of what will be the first playable freighter.

This ship is currently called ‘Freighter 3’, but the name is not the only thing that has not yet been decided. Several elements of the aesthetic are still undergoing a lot of consideration to see if the design can be improved even more. The location of the cockpit is probably the most notable feature that is currently undergoing review, as well as the appearance of the wings, which are designed to lift up for more convenient docking.

What the team likes most about the design of this ship is how believable it looks as a utilitarian, long distance freighter. As you will be able to tell for yourself by the end of this newsletter, this particular ship is designed by Lakon Spaceways and is considered a ‘middle to large’ sized freighter. Hopefully we can bring you more information about it in the future!

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Maker’s Mark: Cockpit Designs and Manufacturers

Much like in other industries, manufacturers of space ships would have their own ‘Visual ID’ that allow you to spot out their products from the competition much as car manufacturers do today. A key part of this is the shape of the cockpits.

The biggest contrast in styles to be seen would be between the sleek, showy styles of Saud Kruger and the Imperial Gutamaya, and the functional form adopted by Core Dynamics and Lakon Spaceways.

Each style has its place and even between two manufacturers that seemingly share values you can see how there are different interpretations of how to embody them. Considerations such as this should help to give the game an added level of depth and make it that extra bit more immersive.

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A Rocky Course: Procedural Planets and Asteroids

This week our team has continued working on procedural techniques for generating orbital bodies. This allows us to show you a few more of the planetary classifications that will be present in the final game, as well as a few examples of the work done to apply the same techniques to generating a range of different asteroids.

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Elite Fiction: To Market

This week’s Drabble is by Kickstarter backer and creator of the Elite Dangerous Roleplaying Game ‘Elite Encounters’, Dave Hughes. Be sure to find out more about Elite Encounters, as well as his other work at

To Market by Dave Hughes
"The manifest says they're food." The creatures just sat there looking at Carlo, their dirty, leathery hides covered in dirt and grime from the cargo bay floor. "They escaped from the cage," Reet said.

Carlo glanced at the soil-covered cage, then back to the escapees with an expression of revulsion, "They're hideous."

"They're really popular in the Core," Reet explained, "We make good profit on 'em."

"But they're filthy. They're covered in their own waste, for Randomia's sake. People eat them?"

"Apparently," Reet shrugged.

"Crazy," Carlos said, shaking his head. "What are they called?"

Reet glanced at her manifest, "Pigs."

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So that’s it for another two weeks, hopefully there’s enough here to sustain you until then! Thank you all again so much for supporting and following our development this far, as usual you can send me your feedback or questions at or via Twitter @Ashley_Barley and I will do my best to answer all of your enquiries. Also, be sure to head over to the forums to join in with the discussion that is taking place there within our growing community!

Thanks again, Ashley


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