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Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #83 - From Frontier Developments
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Hello, Commander,
 
Welcome to Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #83.

This week we've been playing CQC. We're inching closer to our PVP beta test on Xbox One and playing 4v4 CQC regularly in the studio. In the war between development and QA, there can be only one winner.

Of course, we're also working to get ready for our announcement at Gamescom and we have details below about how you can meet the team at our Cologne fan event. We also have a fresh look at CQC, full details on what NASA's New Horizons flyby of Pluto means for Elite: Dangerous, Mike Brookes' Developer Update, and all your regulars.

As always, you can hear the latest news and updates directly from the development team on our
 ForumsTwitterFacebook, Community homepage and right here in the newsletter every week, and we're always eager to hear your feedback. Have a great weekend!

Contents This Week

Gamescom Elite Meet


We're attending Gamescom in Cologne, starting August 5. This week we're excited to announce a community event at a secret location in the city, and we're inviting you along.

We'll have prize draws, a live Q&A, and some surprises for everyone in attendance. The event is completely free to our community members, but tickets are limited.
There are two ways to receive an invite to the Cologne Elite Meet:

1. You can register your interest by mailing community@frontier.co.uk. We'll pick up to 100 at random from the list to join us at the event.

2. You can increase your chances of joining us by hitting our forum at this link and telling us why you'd love to come or what you'd bring to the event. We have six pairs of tickets to give away for our favourite answers.

For full details, go here, and remember we can't fly you to Gamescom, so only enter if you know you can be in Cologne on August 5. We hope we'll see you in Germany!

CQC Livestream


On Wednesday Community Manager Ed Lewis and CQC Designer Dan Davies hit Twitch.tv to offer a tour of the Elevate and Cluster Compound CQC maps you'll find in the Xbox One Game Preview release.

You can watch the archived stream here
Reddit user SpaceNinjaBear did a good job of keeping up with the stream, and has summarized it on the /r/EliteDangerous subreddit.
CQC is something we've wanted to do for a while, and we're excited to be bringing it to PC, Mac and Xbox One later this year. We revealed last weekend at Lavecon that CQC will be coming to PC and Mac within weeks, not months, of the full CQC release on Xbox One. You can read more about Lavecon in Executive Producer Mike Brookes' Developer Update below.

Our CQC test on Xbox One will be capped at 4v4 and will debut with the Cluster Compound and Elevate maps for CTF, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch competition. Tune in to our social media channels for more on the impending CQC test for Xbox One, and look forward to the full release where CQC will be even bigger.

New Horizons and Pluto in Elite: Dangerous


On Tuesday NASA's New Horizons probe flew by Pluto and snapped the clearest images ever shot of the dwarf planet, revealing towering mountains of ice and a mostly young surface free of impact craters. The pictures reveal the way Pluto's various ices have melted and reformed, likely due to tidal heating from gravitational interaction with Charon. 

We'd like to join the chorus of voices congratulating NASA on the incredible achievement, and we'd like to answer a question we've heard a number of times already from the community.

What does New Horizons mean for Pluto and Charon in Elite: Dangerous?
Beautiful shot of Pluto and Charon in Elite: Dangerous by Aimicara on Imgur
You'll notice Pluto and Charon look a little different in Elite: Dangerous, though we’re pleased by how closely our simulation has matched the ‘smooth’ heart-shaped area on Pluto. Our simulation assumed a more dramatic effect from the mild volcanism caused by tidal heating from interaction with Charon, which would uniformly refresh the surface over time. There’s still 1,300 years between now and 3301, which means around five more orbits and five more heating/cooling cycles between today and the era of Elite: Dangerous. It's possible the renewed surface could spread to cover the entire body by 3301!

Another major factor in the difference is the data available to our simulation "In Elite: Dangerous, we use real world data whenever it's available to make objects as real as we can make them," says Assistant Art Director Jon Bottone. "
With a few exceptions, the surfaces you see are derived from the custom simulation based on things like the distance from the star and Newton's second law, the object's mass, temperature, composition, surface age, atmosphere, chemistry, tidal heating, radiative heating, impacts from other bodies during formation and so forth.

"For familiar objects like Earth, Mars and our moon, we can use real height map data to build a truly accurate model of the surface," he continues. "In the case of Earth and our terraformed Mars, we've used real height map data, simulated the levels of the oceans and added life to the surface in order to make the geography as accurate as we can make it. Those height maps are invaluable to making familiar planets look real, and if NASA is able to release that data for Pluto and Charon – or any other planetary body –we should be able to incorporate that in the future too."
Pluto, as seen by the New Horizons probe
So why don't we just paint a new surface texture based on NASA's new images?  

"All our planets are built using a sophisticated simulation so that one day you can get close to them. Really close," Bottone says. "Right now every planet can only be observed from afar, but Elite: Dangerous is designed for the future, and by sticking to the simulation and constantly improving it to make it as real as possible, we can be sure the canyons and mountains you see from space will accurately be reflected when you skim close to the surface, or even land upon it."

In short: we're leaving Pluto and Charon to the simulation for now because we want to land on them someday, but we'll improve the simulation when we have the necessary data because flying along that four-mile deep canyon on Charon looks irresistible. Thanks to NASA's hard work, that day may be closer than ever.

Peek Of The Week

A close-up look at the Blue Team F63 Condor from CQC.
From the desk of Executive Producer Michael Brookes.

Hi everyone,

Last weekend was Lavecon and a group of us went there and a good time was had by all! We enjoyed meeting the fans and discussing the game both in the panel’s Q&A and one to one as we mingled. A big thank you to Karen and her team for organising the event and to everyone who made us feel welcome. We had so much fun that this update has a bit of a Lavecon theme :-)
The panel at Lavecon. Mike Brookes in blue at center. Credit to photographer Oliver Facey
The next major PC/Mac release (which was 1.4) is now headlined CQC Championship and will be released within as short a window as possible after the Xbox release. We’re looking at weeks, rather than months as has been speculated.

As with all of our major updates there is more than just the headline feature. There will be new ships, one of which we announced at Lavecon – the Imperial Eagle. This new ship is more of an interceptor than the original Eagle with better straight line speed and less manoeuvrability. It also sports a medium hardpoint as well as two small ones, giving it a bit more of a punch than its counterpart.

Something else that came up in conversation with fans is how vulnerable the Anaconda is to having its powerplant shot out. We’re going to change how taking out the powerplant works in the CQC update. There will still be a very small chance of powerplant destruction blowing up the ship, but it will also suffer module malfunctions like the other modules. Specifically it will lose power and will need to be rebooted. For the Anaconda we’re also making it a bit harder to hit the powerplant.

Player groups was something that came up quite a bit in conversation at Lavecon and in relation to powerplay as well. During the run up to Powerplay’s release we talked about how a player sponsored minor faction can rise to become a power. We’ve been working on the process for this and will be talking about it in more detail next week. For players already supporting a minor faction in game, they will be eligible.

The Elite: Dangerous team have never been bigger, and we’re working long hours and weekends to have our major announcement ready in time for Gamescom. It’s something we’ve be building to for a long time and something we can’t wait to reveal. You’ll hear all about that when Gamescom opens to the press on August 5.

Comms Chatter

Ace pilot Isinona makes his return to videomaking after a short break. Using Flight Assist Off to give himself a massive advantage, Isinona heads in to the unknown for a spot of pirate hunting.
Did you miss this year's Lavecon? We loved meeting members of the community at the science fiction festival, and it was amazing to see so many familiar faces. If you were unfortunate enough to miss out, you can find a collection of all the livestreams from the weekend by clicking here. Once we receive the audio from the Elite: Dangerous panel we'll send a link round as soon as possible.
Multiple sclerosis can be a debilitating disorder. Treating it and curing it is something Frontier believes in wholeheartedly, so Join Rega on July 18 from 10am to 10pm BST as he streams in aid of the MS Society. Rega will be joined by other regular Elite: Dangerous streamers as he raises money for the charity and arranges prize giveaways.
And finally, CMDR Araen has prototyped an Elite: Dangerous card game based around Wings and missions in Elite: Dangerous.. You can see the all the images including a few example cards, by clicking here.
News of technical documents posted anonymously via the shady dark network are causing concern among Imperial Pilots. According to the documents some of the new Imperial modules that have been appearing recently are linked to research carried out by the discredited Professor Denzile Dex and doubts about their safety have been raised. Professor Dex has been missing for several years and it is widely believed that his sudden disappearance was connected to the 4EverYoung life-extension technology scandal. The story suggests research seized from Professor Dex at the time of the 4EverYoung scandal formed the basis of the design for a number of the latest Imperial prototypes including the Imperial Hammer and the Prismatic Shield Generators. Anecdotal reports of side effects from the new technology have already begun surfacing. One report claims that the harmonic adjustments in the design of the Prismatic Shield Generator can cause temporary cognitive impairment and even psychosis. 

The commanders of the Alliance and Sirius Corporation are celebrating the one month anniversary of the Inter-faction Mutual Benefit Agreement (IMBA). This agreement declared that pilots of both powers shall aid one another wherever possible towards goals of mutual profit, in the expansion of business and in actions against mutual enemies. Pilots of both factions have been bringing commodities unique of their region to the capital of the other power as a sign of goodwill and of respect of an agreement between natural allies.

Senator Anders Blaine, Chancellor to Emperor Hengist Duval made a surprise statement on the steps of the Imperial Palace today. With obvious joy on his face he declared that the Emperor has awoken from his coma. “It is with great pleasure I can announce that Emperor Hengist Duval awoke from his coma in the early hours of this morning. His physicians have completed extensive medical tests and declared him well on the way to becoming fit and healthy. They have advised a few days of rest and monitoring before he resumes his state functions. He has expressed his intention to lead the senate in a few days time.” Amidst the well wishes a small number of the more cynical pundits have muttered that they will believe the good news when they see the Emperor in person. As part of the celebrations for this news it was also announced that all independent pilots with an active rank with the Imperial Navy will be able to purchase the Imperial Courier and Imperial Clipper ships.

After several decades as a Freelancer member of the Pilots Federation, Commander DarkStar united a fleet of former Imperial and Federal pilots. Working closely with Commander Equin0x, he formed a freelancer fleet to patrol the frontier and assist in the economic development. The long term aim is to help free them the superpowers. CMDR Equin0x commented to GalNet: "The superpowers exploit the populations of the frontier colonies to gain cheap labour and materials, in conditions that are near to, if not actual slavery." Their influence and fame seems to spread fast, and with over 100 ships, their number of associates grows even faster.
That’s it for Newsletter #83. 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 elite-newsletter@frontier.co.uk.

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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Copyright © 2015 Frontier Developments plc, All rights reserved.


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