Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #17 - From Frontier Developments
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Hi Commander,

Welcome to newsletter number 17, the latest communication from the Elite: Dangerous team!

In this newsletter we take a look at some of the preparation we have been doing for the next big alpha release which is Alpha 3.0. 

First  up will be some Alpha details from Michael Brookes followed by some Community notes  by Mark Boss.


Table of Contents (click subject to jump forward):

Alpha 3.0 Inbound

We recently revealed that the next phase for the Alpha process which would include the two new features of docking and outfitting as well as continued development and tweaking of existing features. Alpha 3.0 is due to land on your systems in mid-March.

We’ll reveal more about the station itself in the upcoming dev diary (coming soon!), but in this newsletter we’ll focus on the design and the preparations for docking.

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The Art of Docking

Docking with space stations is a major part of the game and one that we wanted to be a fun activity. Docking starts as you approach the station and requesting docking clearance. Once that is granted you fly into the station itself, and then proceed to land on the pad you have been directed to within the giant, rotating bay.

We know that many people found docking in the previous games to be a real challenge and while we think that there should still be an element of challenge/skill, we also want to ensure that players have the opportunity to get to grips with what is essentially a complex manoeuvre.

The first part to that is providing information to the player so that they can perform a good landing. To that end we have the new docking assist interface, concept for which can be seen below:

As you approach the pad (some stations will assign specific landing pads so you have to make sure you are landing on the right one), the docking interface is displayed in place of the usual scanner. This provides guides to ensure that you position your ship correctly and helps you land safely.

The docking bay rotates with the space station (the stations rotate to provide an artificial gravity effect). Some stations will provide automatic rotational assistance to make docking easier. Of course not all stations come with this luxury and for players in the alpha wanting to see this they can turn off the assistance in their in-cockpit options.
For the truly skilful player there is an art in turning off the rotational correction and flight assist for a full manual landing, it’s a thing of beauty when done correctly!

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Interior Atmosphere

We’re not showing the exterior of the station in this newsletter, but for docking the interior is all important - once you pass through the docking tunnel you enter a new world; one we want to have full of life of its own. In the illustration below (forum members in the Private Backers Forum have already had a sneak peek at this image) you can see early versions of some of the key components for bringing the station to life.

Some of the features are intended to help you dock, for example the holographic surround and landing pad identifiers, these will also light up when other ships enter to dock.

Space Stations can also be dangerous places to visit, especially if you don’t obey the rules, so as a warning don’t loiter in the docking port. If you’re assigned a pad then it’s a good idea to not use another pad.

And whatever you do, don’t attack the station; it is more than capable of looking after itself.

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Mostly Harmless Questions

Over in the Private Backers Area of our forums we have a thread full of questions from backers about the game, here are a few of those questions:

Rollo: Is the Sirius Corporation a significant player in Elite: Dangerous?

Yes, the Sirius Corporation (and it’s plethora of divisions) are the biggest corporation in human existence, as well as owning several systems outright they are also the dominating player in fuel and power technology, their products can be found throughout human space.

Moriarte: Star Citizen is using cry engine, while Elite is using an unique engine of its own. What advantages and disadvantages do you have, when using a homemade engine, while making the space simulator?

As a developer we’ve used our own game engine throughout the company’s history so we have considerable experience in our own technology. For Elite: Dangerous the game presents a number of challenges that we have to solve. The first (and most obvious) is the scale of the game, putting aside the requirements of procedural generation for a moment the spatial size of the game’s locations are an immense (pun intended!) problem. It’s quite common in space games to fudge the scale to make things look good and work, however this results in spatial locations being condensed. In Elite everything is the scale it should be, so the planets are the correct size and distances between objects are also correct. Using the Cobra engine means that we can tailor our solutions to fit the game rather than the other way round.

Luniticisi: Is Elite: Dangerous a sequel to Elite, or a sequel to Frontier, or a mix of both?

Elite: Dangerous is a game in its own right. In terms of the game history it follows on from Frontier and First Encounters, with Elite before that, but it has been such a long gap since the previous games (Frontier was released over 20 years ago) that the breadth of what we can do now is breathtaking. The term ‘Elite 4’ was used for a while internally, but we are not fans of numeric sequels, especially given the elapsed time and the fact that what we have feels all new.

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We need you!
Each day more and more commanders are signing up for the cause. We are still selling Alpha and Beta access via our shop site where you can participate in our development process as well as try out our game before commercial release!
With new incoming features such as docking and outfitting detailed above there are many reasons to join in on the action right now.
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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Commanders report in to BAFTA for our first public event!

Attention Commanders! We will be having our first public debut at the Bafta Inside Games Showcase event, where you can play the game and meet the team.  There’ll be Oculus Rift units set up as well as TrackIR and 3D. You’ll also be able to play the game alongside other fans as well as the Elite: Dangerous  team!

Other highlights of the event –
  • Developer talks to be held throughout the day including David Braben
  • Fantastic giveaways on our stand
  • Play some of the other most eagerly anticipated titles of the year,  alongside Elite:Dangerous
So Commander, come down and say hi; we’d be happy to have you on board!
For more details please check out the official BAFTA website which can be found here

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Comms Chatter

A couple of weeks ago, we had our first winners from a new series of competitions we’re going to be doing. In this competition we asked for people to submit their best in game Alpha content, be it video or photo format. We were incredibly overwhelmed by all the entries we received but ultimately, we had to choose two winners...

Congratulations to Neon Raven and MikeSnos for their fantastic entries, let’s take a look at them.

Photo entry by MikeSnos

MikeSnos’s untitled entry above is simply harrowing. It encapsulates the importance of stealth within Elite :Dangerous, as well as making one of our signature ships just look plain old cool in the darkness of space. It’s also quite different from anything else we have seen before; not only in the competition but from anything we've produced ourselves.

And Neon Raven’s memorising video entry ‘Reach For The Void’-

What is there not to like about this video that’s the question. Whilst the music itself wasn't user created, the editing of the video to match the tone of what you hear is spot on, and culminates in a visual and aural experience which really grasps at the wonder of space using simple Alpha game play material. Neon Raven recently followed up this video with another more battle focused edition which can be viewed here.  

Huge quick thanks to all those that entered, there really were some amazing entries, you guys surpassed our expectations and I'm looking forward to the next competition where we’ll see what else you can create for us. This shouldn’t be far off, so keep your eyes peeled.

In other news Lave Radio turns one year old this year, so come join us on the forums to wish them a Happy Birthday!

LaveRadio Birthday Thread link

Also stay tuned for more on their yearly community Elite event LaveCon which is shaping up to be pretty special.


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Elite Merchandise Update

As mentioned on the Comms Chatter section we had a competition recently and with that a giveaway. Both winners received the stylish retro official Elite t-shirt below-

If you like the looks of that stay tuned for more as this T-shirt plus more official Frontier merchandise will be available on the soon to be opened Elite store!

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Until next time Commanders...

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Cambridge, England CB4 0WG
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