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Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #19 - From Frontier Developments
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Hi Commander,

Welcome to the latest Elite: Dangerous Newsletter!

If you haven’t received a newsletter from us before, we thought we would give you a taster as they are a great insight into what is coming up, with in-depth features on game play, sneak peeks, insights from the dev team and comments and questions from you, the Elite: Dangerous community.

You can access all our previous Newsletters here

If you do not wish to receive any more then you can unsubscribe here

In this newsletter:

Table of Contents (click subject to jump forward):

 

 Cool Running



Heat generation is a significant issue that has to be managed as you pilot your spacecraft.  There is no conduction or convection available in a vacuum, so the heat has to be radiated away to prevent overheating and degradation of system performance.  This radiant heat provides a tell-tale signature that is used to provide the information on your scanner about the other ships in your local space.  Unfortunately, it means you show up on everyone else’s scanners, too..!

The general rule is: the hotter you are running, the easier it is to ‘see’ you.  The operation of every module on your ship contributes to the load on your power-plant and hence your heat signature.  A representation of your current signature is shown on your ship’s display, along with a percentage measure of your heat relative to the allowable maximum.

Faster-than-light travel in-system using ‘super-cruise’ of course uses prodigious amounts of power, and the heat signature generated lights you up like a beacon on everyone’s scanners. And even that pales in comparison with the amount needed for long-range hyperspace travel between systems.

Normal propulsion using main engines produces significantly less heat than faster than light travel, and is normally not a limiting factor in general manoeuvring and combat.

Other sources of heat are weapons – some more so than others.  For example, kinetic weapons are a good choice to keep your heat signature low, as the heat is generally ejected from your ship with the projectiles.  Lasers and other energy weapons and shields, however, do contribute to the heat signature of your ship.  In general the energy demand of every system you have contributes to the heat generated by your ship.

The heat vents on your ship operate automatically to attempt to regulate your ships temperature and keep all systems operational.



Additionally heat-sink modules are available as part of your loadout configuration which allow you to jettison heat stored by heating physical blocks to white heat, then ejecting them, having the additional benefit of acting as a decoy to other ships’ scanners and any incoming heat-seeking missiles.

In more extreme situations you can choose to ‘button down’ your ship for a short while, which stops the normal operation of the heat vents.  Your shields are inoperative whilst you are in ‘silent running’ like this, and the heat that is still being generated by your ship’s systems builds up.  Effectively your ship is ‘holding its breath’ and this is only a temporary measure – your ship will become disabled if you carry on too long.

Switching off your ship’s systems (even flight assist!) and using only gentle nudges of your thrusters to manoeuvre can result in a very stealthy profile, and you can combine this with the right weapons and tactics and achieve a whole new dimension to space combat.  But beware - the hunter can easily become the hunted..!

If you are playing the Alpha or have Premium Beta access to the single player missions and haven't already mastered it, start experimenting and see how you can add pro-active thermal management to your repertoire of Elite: Dangerous Pilot Federation 'tricks of the trade'!
 
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  Cobra MK III - Design Philosophy




The Cobra Mk III is easily the most iconic ship in the lore of the Elite universe; a robust, multi-role vessel favoured by lone wolf space farers - hard-bitten mercenaries, intrepid explorers and entrepreneurial traders alike. It’s also one of the smaller ships in Elite: Dangerous, which presents an interesting challenge: how to make this favourite shine as always, without making it punch too far above its weight.

For a start, we reason that it should not be able to match smaller craft such as the Eagle or Sidewinder for straight agility. We categorise both of these vessels as “super manoeuvre” ships – they rely on being able to affect direction changes faster than their opponents to get on their target’s six in a dogfight – and we want to ensure that they maintain viability in this role.
To compensate, the Cobra has more main drive power, giving it a higher top speed. It’s not the fastest ship, but coupled with very respectable hull strength and shield capacity for its size and cost, the Cobra is usually able to dictate engagement ranges when combating smaller ships; having the speed to break off and recover, as well as run down smaller prey and project superior firepower.



The Cobra isn’t a complete dogfighting slouch either; it’s able to run rings around many of the larger ships, and with four weapon-capable hardpoints it demands respect. The flip side is that it’s at greater risk from larger tracking-weapons that struggle to keep up with smaller fighters.

Elite: Dangerous isn’t all about combat though, as the forthcoming rollout of trading within a 200 cubic light year play space in Alpha 4 will reveal. Possibly the Cobra’s main appeal is that it combines a good degree of “yanking and banking” combat with solid trade and exploration options, representing a sweet spot for pilots wanting to do a little bit of everything on a budget.

Of course it’s not the be all and end all in space flight. For those looking to specialise, there will be vessels that are more effective in narrower fields, and due to its relatively small size, there are limits to the kind of endeavours it can safely engage in.

Alpha and soon Beta testers can look forward to continued ship-based tweaks as we strive to achieve the perfect balance for the Cobra, even as we add new vessels into the mix. But one thing’s for certain – the Mark Three is back with a bang!
 
Check out this great image of the Cobra that was used recently for an Edge magazine cover; you can also view the animation that was used in their interactive version of the issue here.



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Alpha 4 on the scanner, one more week left to join 





Alpha Access
There is one more phase of the Alpha to be released, covering travel and trading.  In order to give Alpha players fair notice before Premium Beta starts on 30th May, your last chance to join the Alpha will be April 25th.
After this date we will stop taking Alpha orders.

- All Alpha players will be granted a life time discount of 50% on ship insurance in game as a ‘thank you’ for your support.
- Alpha players continue to get early access to Beta builds to test before they are more widely released.

New Alpha players will have immediate access to the Alpha 3 multiplayer build, which includes both single and multiplayer combat, docking and ship outfitting, and of course Alpha 4 as soon as its released.
Join the Alpha Here!

Premium Beta Access
Alternatively, join the Premium Beta and you can immediately download and play a Single Player Combat test so you can practice your sidewinder skills before the first Premium Beta build is released on May 30th.

You can upgrade from your current purchase to Premium Beta - just checkout with Premium Beta in your shopping cart and the correct discount is automatically applied.  If you want to upgrade to Alpha, please contact our customer service team.
Join the Premium Beta Here!

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  Special Preview 




Here is a work-in-progress in-game gas giant. The turbulent layers of gas are being modelled as they swirl around each other in giant towers of cloud. You can just about see the height variation from the shadows they cast on to each other near the day/night line where the star is low on the local horizon.

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  Comms Chatter 




This issue we have a very special Comms Chatter feature from Commander Keith Harris, a physically disabled gamer who has modded his PC unit to play the Elite: Dangerous Alpha–

For those who don’t know me I am a physically disabled elite gamer who is trying to mould the game for future disabled players. I became disabled at the age of six months having contracted an adult strain of flu. This sent my temperature soaring up to 105° which burnt out the nerves which controls limb movement. At the age of nine I discovered that I could use my mouth and tongue to control various items of equipment including an electric wheelchair and computer.

Okay enough about the boring stuff and on with when I first became aware of elite, which was in 1988 when at school, when I used to watch my friend, Steve, play in our lunch breaks on his BBC B. It was quite amusing watching Steve play because he used to have spasms which meant his ship used to go all over the place but he still managed to get to the rank of Dangerous.
Having borrowed Steve's copy which was then on a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk I started playing myself but not being one for combat simply because of my computer set up I decided to go into trading. I used to get so frustrated when I used to get onto a good trade run and then kept getting blown up by pirates.

I then bought a copy for the Acorn Archimedes which from what I remember was in colour. I was controlling the ship with a joystick operated by my tongue but couldn't press any of the keys on the keyboard which was pretty limiting. In the school holidays I used to get my younger brother to sit next to me and press the keys for me. Together we made a pretty good team as he used to work out the profit margins and I was in charge of finding the route.

In 2003 I started playing Eve online and played it solidly for nine years. I believe one of my friends on their said I should look at the elite dangerous website as I was going to leave Eve as I was completely bored of it. As soon as I saw the kickstarter I pledged for the £50 package which then escalated up to the £100 beta testing offer, but then I ponied up for the alpha testing because I was so impatient and really couldn’t wait until beta test.

Okay as you can see from my photograph I am now using a 32 inch TV to play Elite: Dangerous on! This looks absolutely awesome especially when in the dark. My mouse control is a stick joystick, the right-hand stick controls the mouse pointer and the left stick does my mouse clicks and the scroll wheel.

Although I love the idea of dogfighting especially when using gimballed weapons I don't really think combat is for me, so you will find me either exploring the universe once the game is released or more than likely trading my wares out of a suitcase like in “only fools and horses” at various space stations. I want to be the one who has the biggest cargo ship out there with multiple gun turrets and have a fighter Wing of mercenaries escorting me into the most dangerous territories, so when you see commander Keith Harris flying about please don't shoot me as I am a lonely trader trying to make his mark in the universe LOL!
I look forward to seeing you all out there exploring the billions of star systems when Elite: Dangerous gets released

 
Commander Keith Harris Out…
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Thanks for that Keith! If anyone else has any interesting stories they would like to send our way regarding Elite, please send them to elite-newsletter@frontier.co.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.

 
  • Perrie67: How will E:D make travelling the insane distances for exploring the galaxy without making it too easy to travel around the populated systems?
There are two modes of super luminal (faster than light) travel.
Super cruise (or frame shifting) is used for travel inside systems. It was originally conceived as a sub-luminal drive, but based on the fantastic collaboration we have been having with our Design Decision Forum backers it was re-worked and is now itself a super luminal system to allow relatively rapid travel within systems.
Hyperspace drives are used to travel between star systems.  Hyperdrives with different ranges, charge up times and fuel consumption parameters are available, and so your particular model of hyperdrive governs your specific ability to move around the galaxy.
Both will make their debut in Alpha 4 (not counting the early version of hyperspace in Alpha 3).

 
  • bedroc: Hi, If you explore far out, will there still be stations and an ability to trade?
Most of humanity inhabits a few hundred light year bubble around Sol, Achenar and Alioth. Beyond this are a lower density of isolated systems with small communities on them that can be used by explorers to resupply, with small/basic orbital stations. These are the “Frontier” systems. Beyond this, you will still encounter occasional ships (including other players), but no stations; not to start with at least. There will be ship-ship docking though too, so it will still be possible to resupply. The ships suited for long range exploration will require a greater degree of self-sustainability, for example fuel scoops and repair and maintenance equipment, and we expect players to cooperate to meet the challenge!

 
  • Wreckage: Is the Kepler data for planets being figured into the galaxy map?
We’re striving to make the Elite: Dangerous Milky Way as accurate as possible.  As part of this we are using a variety of sources for the celestial bodies data, and that includes confirmed exoplanets from the Kepler data and many other sources.

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That does it for this newsletter - thank you again for reading and supporting the development of Elite: Dangerous so far!

As always if there is anything in particular that you’d like to hear more about, tell us about or even ask a question, then please contact us at elite-newsletter@frontier.co.uk

The Frontier Team
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Frontier Developments plc
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