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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!

Novas, Aliens and Dates — Oh My!

18-Mar-18 07:52 pm EDT Leave a comment
E

MagellanicClouds

Taken from the Elite Dangerous Wiki images, here we see the LMC and SMC as they appear within the Universal Cartographics galaxy map as it appears in Elite Dangerous.

veryone has been talking about it — where are the Thargoids?  Are the Guardians still around somewhere (in hiding?), and why is the galaxy so static?  In reality, a recent Cornell University study suggests our best observations predict a rate of ~35 to ~75 novas annually.  There stands a very good chance that the Thargoid homeworld could be located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) — a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way that is quite evident in the galactic map.  One proposal for transiting human ships to the LMC could involve a megaship similar to the ICS Indra, equipped with an intergalactic hyperdrive (available only to large capital ships) and transiting docked player and NPC vessels to/from the LMC according to a schedule.  And why have we not encountered more alien civilizations yet?  Not all would need to be spacefaring after all — some could even involve the introduction of Dyson spheres or have still other motives for not exploring the surrounding galaxy very far.  Could these ideas for system-managed dynamic content be somehow integrated into the game universe created for Elite Dangerous?

 

Astronomical Events

It’s likely that stars in “the bubble” (core systems) would have to be exempted for obvious reasons.  Systems close to Sol going nova would pose a meaningful contradiction to the known history both of our own galaxy in reality and the scripted timeline for Elite (c. 2050-3404[-3410?]).  However, having a star explode in-game would not only provide a spectacular event for players to watch, it could stir things up in some areas of the galaxy — especially those with Thargoid bases or fledgling human colonies, for example.  And it would serve to add a whole new dimension to gameplay if a system like Betelgeuse had humans in it who noticed the death throes of such a huge star and had to escape either by jumping away or hitting supercruise in order to stay ahead of the large, destructive shock-wave that will surely chew up the last 2 planets in that star system.

Using Megaships to Transport CMDRs Inter-Galactically

Indra-Wells-class-Carrier

The Wells-class Carier Ship (Source: Elite Dangerous Wiki)

I doubt we’re likely to see Frontier trying to model the Andromeda Galaxy anytime soon, much less provide the capability to transfer CMDRs there.  Or anywhere else in the Local Group, for that matter.  However, the Milky Way extends a halo of disconnected (and largely dark) matter around the outer rim systems for quite some distance (~30,000 ly, I believe I’d heard) and then there’s largely empty space until the much-abbreviated halo around the LMC gets encountered at ~150,000 ly from Sol.  Although the Thargoids could originate elsewhere, it seems likely the LMC is the logical place to start looking based on how their activity has spread near to human-controlled space.  And given that large jumps have been achieved with capital ships featuring docked CMDRs in the past, one thinks it only logical to rely on the superior ability of capital megaships to spearhead such an exploration effort.

After all: one won’t win any conflict with the Thargoids simply by defending human space and hoping they go away at some future date.  What if they chose not to?

Aliens

MCQ_IA_111It is my belief that aliens are likely to be more common than simply having one species occupy all of the Milky Way galaxy at a time.  And it seems that with the ever-expanding exoplanet index revealing the likelihood of Earth-like worlds (not to mention the atmospheres of such worlds being catalogued by the James Webb Space Telescope or JWST set for launch no later than early 2019) will present us with irrefutable evidence concerning the likely existence of sentient species elsewhere in this galaxy soon.  Should not additional alien civilizations be introduced to the galaxy now — while there is still time for fantasy species to be included?

Of course, one could argue a sentient alien civilization was destroyed in the Elite timeline already with the founding of the Galactic Empire on Capital (Achenar 6D) in ~2250 CE.  This it itself could suggest others both in the Milky Way galaxy, the LMC and elsewhere beyond (though it’s not clear of what practical benefit there’d by to an attempt at contact from species too far away to be otherwise involved in the game).

The Update vs. Scheduled Events

I’d propose that adding some of the aforementioned concepts to create a more “living galaxy” could be done most simply via scheduled events that occur outside the PowerPlay update (which occurs in North America on Thursday mornings).  Players interested in using a jump to the LMC could assemble at a predetermined location (perhps a “checkpoint”?) and dock their ship prior to the announced jump time.  At the appointed time, an intergalactic hyperspace jump would occur and after a few moments cause arrival at a set of coordinates in the outer sectors of the LMC.  From here, CMDRs would disengage from the mother ship and return when the schedule announced a forcast return to the core systems in the Milky Way.  Costs would be associated with financing the jump and an early Galactic Goal might involve the creation of a starport at the arrival point in the LMC.  Here, humanity would manage its beachhead

Comments and questions on the content presented here are welcome regardless of brevity.  But my goal would to be to present the discourse to Frontier via their forms or through the public network services (Twitter, Reddit, etc.).  Thanks for your participation!

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