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Frontier Dev (FDev) Discloses Elite Refinement Schedule Through 2020

01-Mar-19 09:35 pm EST 1 comment

Frontier (the software design company behind “Elite Dangerous”) released the schedule of its forthcoming development of the Elite universe this morning (EST) with the revelation there are no plans to enhance the current edition of the Milky Way galaxy further. Instead, the company reports it will be sticking to a strategy of player retention while it completes some major upgrades to the simulated environment through to the midpoint of 2020. Through 2019 there will be a gradual replacement of “Community Goals” to player missions. Though the parameters given in the release from Frontier were quite vague, there is the possibility that some of the original storylines around Raxxla (a long sought-after planet within the gameplay) might be used to aid player retention.

Initial CMDR (player) response was extraordinarily negative with one initial reaction reading as follows:


Wow. Pretty weak Frontier. The promised Premium Content delayed again. After being delayed again and again. 
Just another announcement of another coming announcement. This one in 18 months. You have really outdone yourselves this time. 

— User “Cmdr Ultra

Another writes:


The white knights are going bananas trying to explain away this. 5 years between horizons and whatever the next dlc is. There’s slow…then there’s FDev development slow.

— User “Rambojambo

But CMDR reaction wasn’t universally negative — a number lept to FDev’s defense with comments like the following:


Whilst I’m sure late-2020 will disappoint many, I’m actually very pleased that FDev have learned from the LEP-fiasco of 2018 and are being up-front with us. We may not like the news, but at least we know.

— User “PiLhEaD

Another writes:


I think you missed the part where he said that [life account] owners get the whole new content for free…

Also I got news for you: Making content, especially as big as advertised, takes time.

And it’s not like they stop making any updates until 2020.

— User “Hellfire85

It is this journalist’s own view (as a professional software developer) that really given what we’ve seen in-game so far there should be no great surprise at the time being invested toward developing new features into the game in a manner consistent with its vision. When the Elite Dangerous project first began, they could add landing on planets without atmospheres, change mission structures and make other relatively superficial changes without too much effort. Also, they were working (at least in part) on a crowd-funded budget. The gameplay that resulted from this effort was a hair’s width short of miraculous.

But now CMDRs want to land on atmosphere-ready planets with the ability to fly through gas giants if need be. That means taking into account physics and graphics the initial engine just could not provide. And the gaming universe continues to change too — we’ve got StarCitizen (very-well funded by Hollywood corporate money) and now not just cinematics but full feature-length movies to contend with. Elite Dangerous 1.0 (if I can call it that here) just wasn’t built to deal with such niggling business realities. At the very least the players will need to see Earth-type planets from orbit with 20,000 inhabitants not already inlaid with apparent civilizations on the ground. They’ll need to see at most a scant few dim lights around a stronger-lit central hub. And that kind of dynamic means getting a software architecture into place that can meet such a demand.

Not to mention all of this needs to run seamlessly on 4 or 5 major gaming platforms, including the PC and virtual reality. That’s a tall order and after all the debugs and testing (I’m told they have it, despite the obvious bugs that have recently hampered gameplay) 18 months isn’t hard to see. You can likely get a shorter deadline, but Frontier still has ownership that expects to turn a profit over the long-term. Addressing these problems with a new software architecture in itself could easily add up to the proposed timeline. And I don’t even work at Frontier and am unaware of all the technical challenges and realities the teams there need to face.

Hopefully, the existing user-base will be tolerant over this intervening period as a new platform for future growth of the environment is developed. But keep an eye on Star Citizen and Squadron 42 — they won’t be out-of-the-market forever!

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