Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #2- From Frontier Developments
Hi Commander,

Welcome to the second newsletter for Elite: Dangerous. As development continues we’re beginning to see many things that were no more than concept art and early ideas a few weeks ago turn into tangible elements and proposals for what will be in the final game a year from now. As we continue on this journey hopefully you too will be able to see this evolution take place.

With this in mind, the two main focuses of this edition of the newsletter will be on the jump from a ship’s concept art to a serviceable 3D model, and an evolution of the ways in which the Elite universe’s fiction will help inform the visual choices of the game. So without further ado, here are this week’s topics!

Table of Contents (click subject to jump forward):

Sidewinder: from Concept to Model

Last time we showed you some of the early concept art for the player’s starting ship, the Sidewinder. From the multiple iterations that were drawn up, it was the dev team’s opinion that the variation that you can see below on the right was the closest to what they had in mind for the ship’s appearance.

As an Independent Alliance ship, it was important for the Sidewinder to have a utilitarian feel to it (as you will read more about later). Taking this piece of concept art as a broad guideline a 3D model was created.

The initial model took some artistic license with things such as the placement of heat vanes, which give the Sidewinder a much more distinctive look. That said, there were still several aesthetic and practical questions from the rest of the dev team. A major query related to the appearance of the ship’s landing gear and how this would work in relation to a cargo hatch that was located on the base of the ship.

Other considerations were whether certain characteristics of the ship should be ‘fared in’ more, to make it more aerodynamic, particularly in regards to the front of the ship and in general with grab handles and hinges. It was also proposed that things such as retro thrusters and full intakes should have a standardised design across multiple ships. With this feedback, a revised model was created.

In the revision some of the harder edges on the front end of the ship were smoothed out, without compromising the aesthetic that personifies an Independent ship, a proposed design for the landing gears was also added. You also get to see the scale of the Sidewinder, which will be one of the smaller ships in Elite: Dangerous.

In the pictures below you can also see that the main entry point has been moved to the back of the ship and a ladder was also added. The inclusion of these stylish headlights on the front of the ship was also proposed. Whilst there are still some considerations to be made, such as the design of the ladder (which is currently placeholder), the team are satisfied that the design of the Sidewinder is making good progress.

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Ship Styles: Imperial Curves

As we explore what defines the ships there are two factors that drive the design. These are form and function. For Imperial ships the form is described as a grand style. It is flamboyant and should be a work of art. The already released concept for the Imperial Cruiser showed this on a mega scale, but we can see the same in the smaller ship explorations shown below:

Note that these aren’t approved ships at this stage, they’re investigations into shapes that might later become ships.

Returning to the Imperial Cruiser we approach the second key factor: Function. Not only must an Imperial warship look like a work of art it must also be ready to pack a punch. The concept below shows the main functions of the warship, especially its scale compared to the Anaconda. One of the issues that arose from discussing the concept is the large ship docking just wouldn’t work for a warship. So the Anaconda’s can now dock into the recessed groove along the ship.

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Federation Cruiser: The Belly of the Beast

Those of you that have watched the recently released fiction diary will have noticed the concept used in the background. Here we’re looking at the belly of the Federation cruiser from underneath. As with the previous Imperial concept, it sketches out the teeth these massive warships can bare.

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Planets: Prettiest at Night

Our planet is an amazing sight when viewed from orbit, and when viewed at night something spectacular can be seen – the lights of cities across the globe. This vision probably exemplifies more than anything else humanity as the dominant species on the planet. That got us thinking. In game we’ll be visiting many inhabited planets and we want to replicate that awesome sight, but could you tell what faction the planet belonged to from orbit?

And so this lovely image was created to see if there was a simple method this could be achieved. It might not be a practical solution, so it’s not part of the design at the moment, but we have to examine every possibility we can so that each part of the game fills the player with wonder.

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Design Decisions: Death in Elite: Dangerous

With the Design Decision Forum well under way we can now begin to share with you the results of the community feedback we have received on our design proposals. The first topic to go through the DDF was the topic of death and what happens when you die, in-game.

After going back and forth for several weeks it was decided that there should be two different rule sets that a player can impose on themselves, a standard mode and a more challenging ironman mode. The whole proposal is too long to share all of the details with you in this newsletter but Click here to check out the whole proposal and the differences between the two modes, which will be tested in the Alpha version of the game.

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Calling all E:D Authors!

If you are a writers pack pledger or one of the anthology writers then make sure to join us in the private writers forum. You should already have access. We need to hear from you all as soon as possible.

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Lave Radio- An Elite: Dangerous Podcast!

Outside of development, several members of our fantastic community have started running a regular Elite podcast, called Lave Radio!

Allen Stroud, Chris Forrester, Chris Jarvis and John Stabler are the names behind the podcast, which currently has 3 full episodes available for your listening pleasure . If like many of our fans you do not have time to regularly check out the forums, Lave Radio is a great place for you to get your regular fix of Elite related banter and news.

Be sure to check out the first three episodes of Lave Radio at or subscribe via iTunes to be updated of all future episodes!

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Lave: Revolution

While the dust may have settled on our own Kickstarter campaign, one more community member is looking for your support in backing their vision for Elite fiction. Lave Revolution is a book by Allen Stroud that will tell the story of how the citizens of Lave fought back against the dictatorship that ruled ruthlessly over its people, to become the democracy that it is in Elite: Dangerous. As an added extra, if Lave Revolution not only achieves its funding but reaches its stretch goals there will also be a short film made!

To find out more or pledge towards this exciting project, check out the Lave Revolution Kickstarter page.

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That concludes this edition of the Elite: Dangerous newsletter, thank you all again for your incredible support so far and look out for more updates from Frontier as development continues. To discuss this newsletter as well as everything else Elite related, why not head over to our official forums, at Until next time, thank you for reading!

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