Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Oh, yes! I have revamped the site

I had some problems with the old blog limiting content for each post, so I have switched blog engines to something a bit more flexible.

I will be back-filling the old site content over the next day or so.

Believe it or not, the Elite: Dangerous Blog has had 569,192 hits in the last two years.

Hope you like the new format!

2.2 Guardians in mid-October

Frontier had a busy week at GamesCom and made a lot of announcements about the coming features of 2.2 and revealed a lot more detail.

Tourst destinations

No ships for ages, then two come along at once

The 2.2 update will bring a new ship; the Beluga Liner, which as its name suggests, is a vast passenger liner. Somewhere between an Anaconda and Corvette in size, this large ship is aimed at servicing the new passenger missions.

Beluga Taipan

Also added is a new fighter craft, the Taipan; this joins the F63 Condor and Imperial Fighter as ship-launch-able fighters. The Taipan is the “tank” of the three. With the fighters added to the main game, along with the Beluga, there are now 33 ships in game.

Guardians Guardian; singular

The reveal of the ship launched fighters show video of a BattleStar Galacica-esque ship launch and the power, speed and manoeuvrability of the new fighters – much more so than their CQC versions – we saw a Condor smack down a Python in very short order. But it was stated that we’d only be able to hold one fighter per ship. A Keelback was used for the demo and it was confirmed that Anaconda, Beluga Liner, Federal Corvette, Federal Gunship, Imperial Cutter, and Type-9 would all be fighter-bay capable mother-ships. You will be able to “hot swap” between your fighter and main ship.

Launching fighter

F63 Condor Imperial Fighter

NPC Crew

Before you deploy your fighter without flying it yourself, you need to hire crew to fly them. You can hire 3 crew and their skill level has a cost attached, although you can rank up your employees as they fly, so fighter pilot apprenticeships are going to be a thing. There is now a “crew lounge” in stations where candidates can be recruited. While you may have three crew employed, you can only take one of them with you.

The Crew Lounge

Station variety, capital ship docks and military bases

Stations will now have very distinct interiors, denoted by their economy so we now have refinery, high tech, tourism and agricultural stations in addition to the plain and palm tree versions.
Frontier are also adding a bit more space furniture in the form of capital ship docks and military bases. They have also promised other unique sights including a ship graveyard from Elite lore.

Tourist station   Agricultural station   Refinery station   High tech station

Captial ship dock

Galaxy maps and surface maps

The galaxy map now has an amazing new feature that allows you to filter routes. Why is that great? Because now you can plot routes that only include scoop-able stars or via high security (safe) systems. Looking in the system map now shows the planet surface in exact miniature, displaying the terrain.

Galaxy map route filters

Stored ship relocation

Why couldn’t we have had this when I needed to move 29 ships to SOL from Shinrarta? Well, now you can select a ship in storage in any station shipyard and for a small fee, relocate it instantly to your present location. What will the transfer fees be to Jacques I wonder?
You could therefore fly to a remote location in your DBX with a high jump range, and then summon your Vulture. You can also remotely sell your stored ships.

Ship relocation

Skins and ship kits

There will be a number of ship skins being added to 2.2 as well as (for the first time) SRV skins and skins for the new fighter-class ships. In addition, there are ship kits (wings and spoilers) for the Vulture, Asp Explorer, Viper Mk 3 and Python.

Python ship kit Vulture ship kit Viper Mk 3 ship kit Asp Explorer ship kit

Fighter paint options

Passengers

So finally (big sigh) the Orca has a point to its existence! And with the new Beluga Liner (whatever that will cost) you can ferry bulk passengers around the galaxy, take passengers on luxury tours and visit the colourful corners of the galaxy and get paid.

First class passengers

Passengers can travel in economy, first class or (with passenger vessels) Luxury suites. You’ll need the passenger ships specifically to carry VIPs around in first class and luxury cabins. Standard ships will take passengers but only in economy cabins.

Beluga Liner

Volcanism (not Mister Spock, volcanoes!)

With 2.2 will come Volcanism, that means geysers, fumaroles and (hopefully full-blown volcanoes) and I hope, the ability to land on lava worlds.

Volcanic world Geysers and fumaroles

The Space Madness Sets In

I've been jumping and scooping and honking.

A lot.

Yep, I'm onwards to Jacques station.

Thing is though, when you only play the game for a few hours a day, the trip takes a long time.

I've been leaving a trail of newly discovered worlds in my wake and haven't seen a soul in well over a week.

Lots of green dots on the galaxy map. There's more than a few CMDRs on their way out or back the the new bubble.

I'll get there eventually.

I plan to be back by GameCon, so watch this space for all the 2.2 (and other) Elite news as I get it!

It came from LaveCon 2016

This year’s event was great and I think people enjoyed my VR shipyard. A couple of CMDRs even crashed my racing Courier, although Kerrash failed to live up to his name – he only dented the shields!

I had a hilarious game of Artemis with Frontier & the Elite Ambassadors – they made me captain (eek!) but we didn’t die, so that was a result even if I have no idea how our score rated.

The Q&A session with Frontier was a highlight and FD didn’t disappoint, giving out special edition LaveCon skins for the Eagle, Asp scout, FDL and Anaconda! For both PC and XBOX CMDRs.

skins

Information obtained

I asked Michael Brookes some questions, carefully, because he was taking a six-foot-high axe out of his car at the time!

Will Elite support Nvidia’s new Ansel 360 degree pause and screenshot system?

There are no current plans, but maybe in the future.

Is there a (lore) reason the Imperial Eagle – a Gutamaya ship – has a Core Dynamics logo on the cockpit?

It’s a bug.

Michael also said that the new ship launched fighters would change the dynamic, making traders much more dangerous if they had them. Something we suspected would be the case.

The Frontier Q&A revealed more

Jacques station is going to end its wandering to start 2nd human “bubble”.

2.2 will introduce a local “player journal” containing a wealth of data for 3rd party interfaces and apps. Details to follow.

Passenger missions – CMDRs will need to scan objects at location to confirm they visited. These will include Battle locations and Historical sites. Some as far as 65-70,000 Lyr’s out. Frontier hope to expand the lore and story of the game though some of this “historical sites”.

Community Goals at Jacques will be coming, but will run for a month, to allow CMDRs to make the trip.

Q: System security around start systems?
Would like to increase system security.

Q: What did Frontier think was justified criticism of Engineers?
Material collection was too hard initially. Made mistakes with balance. Weapon effects were supposed to be super-rare. But FD changed tack when they became a role meta. Healer. Tank etc. so make the “exchange rep for desired effect” mechanic.

Q: Ship kits for more ships? More ship kits are coming.

Q: 2.2 A.I. Crew? Multi-crew is purely multiplayer. No AI Crew in the pipelines.

Q: Building based on planets? It's coming, but not this season.

Q: Group management tools? Changing over time. Nothing to announce right now.

Q: Why are all the stations the same? "GamesCon"

Q: Cross platform play with Xbox? Not currently possible.

Q: Planet tourism. Tour buses? Probably.

Q: Jump gates / faster way to get to Jacques station? Michael Brookes said “Like modded FSD drives you mean? Never say “never”, but Jump Gates unlikely.”

Q: Beluga liner? "Wait and see"

Q: AI wing men "escorts"? Can't say anything right now..

Q: Ship naming? "desirable feature" did not elaborate.

Q: Vive rendering any fix? One fix has already been issued, but the problem requires re-engineering - no ETA.

Q: Why no Landing lights when gear deployed? "Good idea"

Q: Decals? More soon.

Q: How is placement of objects and events decided? It depends on context, there are no hard rules. There is no FD Community Goal dartboard!

Q: Where is Formadine rift? Can't help you.

Q: Any plans for group ID in game? E.g. Clan tags.  Michael Brookes said he would prefer to utilise in game minor faction as an ID. Sandro "would like this" but said there are some technical hurdles to overcome. Not straightforward.

Q: If my faction loses all rep, will it be removed from the game? No faction can be kicked from their home system.

Q: The Galaxy map for VR is hard to use. Any changes in the pipeline? "Being looked at"

Q: Slaves. If they "go off" can they be sold as meat or fertiliser? Sandro asked “don’t we vet these questions?” but the answer was “probably not!”

Q: Where are the race of felines from early elite? They are not in ED, so you can decide what happened to them!

Q: Rise of the alliance? Maybe soon-ish.

Q: Could CMDRs with little time drop autonomous materials collectors, then come back for them – say a week - later? Doable but not planned.

Q: Could we have player created ships? New ships are great, but player created ships are not going to be a thing.

Q: Large ships at outposts / supersize ships too large for stations. Can we have them? Outposts don't support large ships for gameplay reasons. FD could do it. If there was a reason.

Q: When can we summon ships? Nothing to announce now. {GamesCon again maybe?}

Engineer workarounds

In previous posts I’ve pointed out the limitations of the Engineering element of the game and how particularly the mission reward commodities cause major road-blocks.

I have been chipping away at these obstacles and with the help of members of the community providing both cargo and practical advice, I have some solutions.

Commodity storage

This isn’t going be an option for most players, but it is an option all the same. One CMDR told me his son is a lapsed player, so he has been using his son’s Type 6 as commodity storage. How does that work? The player logs in on two PC’s using two different Elite accounts and goes to the same location and game mode, then drops the mission reward commodity on one screen, the (on the laptop in this case) the CMDR scooped up the canister in his son’s Type 6, then logged out.

He now has storage for up to 100T of cargo.

Obviously not everyone has access to a second account, but maybe you have a friend who can hold on to your cargo for a while?

Upgrading ships that don’t have cargo racks

My Federal Corvette is built for combat and doesn’t have any cargo racks. What’s more once my Python has picked up a mission reward, I have to sell those commodities before I can switch to my combat ship. A major pain if I need the said commodity to upgrade my Corvette’s FSD to a level 3. So what’s the solution? Well, I have an Anaconda, which does have cargo racks and has identical internals to the Corvette, so I can fly the Anaconda out to Farseer Inc and get the Class 6A FSD on that ship upgraded by the Engineer. I then fly back to where my Corvette is stored. Here comes the “tricky” part.

  • I have to sell the modified FSD and buy a lesser model.
  • This puts the modified FSD in the outfitting “cache”.
  • I can then swap ships to my Corvette, in outfitting, using the “buy back” grab the modified FSD.
  • I then swap back to my Anaconda and rebuy the vanilla 6A FSD.

My Corvette now has the better FSD and my Anaconda is none the worse for wear – neither is my bank account!

Why is that “tricky”? Because the server controls the outfitting cache and it resets every five (or maybe ten) minutes. This means if you start doing this at 14:39 (server time) and take longer than a minute when the clock strikes 14:40, the “cache” may reset and bye! bye! goes your modified FSD. So don’t start until 14:41 and get done before 14:44 to be safe! Avoid minutes divisible by 5.

This option is permitted by Frontier, but not officially supported, so while it works now, it may not always work.

Finding tricky mission reward commodities

I have slaved, explored, worked and jumped game modes. But I could not for the love of anything get a mission with Modular Terminals as a reward. I went to stations where people had seen them (or even were at that moment) but zip! The mission board is random and my dice were cursed.

So how to get that one final ingredient to the FSD Jump range spell?

Trading with other players.

CMDR TheArmysRedNeck mentioned to me that he had some Modular Terminals, but needed some Osmium and Praseodymium but didn’t have a mining ship to get them.

I did have a mining ship and knew the exact pristine ring system where these items were plentiful.

I gave him my location, went mining in the ring and by the time Red arrived, I had half what he needed already.

We then made a simple exchange and were both on our way with what we needed for our respective blueprints.

So my advice is, if you have an excess of Praseodmium or you have a bunch of mission reward commodities you don’t want, advertise the fact! Go to FaceBook groups, the Frontier forums – wherever and let others know you want to trade.

LaveCon ship brochures complete

I have completed my ship manufacturer brochures for LaveCon.

cover Eagle Mk 2 Vulture Federal Dropship Federal Assault Ship Federal Gunship Federal Corvette cover Diamondback Scout Diamondback Explorer Keelback Type-6 Asp Scout Asp Explorer Type-7 Type-9 cover Sidewinder Cobra Mk III Cobra Mk IV Viper Mk III Viper Mk IV Python Anaconda

cover Imperial Eagle Imperial Courier Imperial Clipper Imperial Cutter cover Hauler Adder Fer de Lance cover Orca

Click on a brochure cover to view the set.

UPDATE: IMGUR gallery links are in comments. Link to PDFs here.

And here are the full IMGUR albums:

Core Dynamics http://imgur.com/a/3Lmmu
Falcon DeLacy http://imgur.com/a/Z7urs
Lakon http://imgur.com/a/Y7L6F
Zorgon Peterson http://imgur.com/a/y424S
Saud Kruger http://imgur.com/a/JZ7zJ
Gutamaya http://imgur.com/a/jNxKd

Something for LaveCon

Last year at LaveCon (the annual Elite: Dangerous convention) I took my Oculus DK2 along and ran a "VR Shipyard" to let people who had never experienced VR, or seen the amazing cockpits of the ships in game, to have a go.

This year I will be doing the same, however there are now 29 ships in game, so "prospective buyers" will be able to sit in the cockpit of 25 ships at Mars High station. No flying, just trying! The rebuy on my Imperial Cutter is quite a lot. I will be letter people have a go with the SRV on Europa at some point too.

Anyway, to make the wait for each person's turn less dull, I have created ship manufacturer brochures (modelled on car showroom brochures) to flick through while they wait.

UPDATE: The complete finished set is now available here.

Friends, Romans, CMDRS lend me your Engineers

Long term members of the community have been expressing frustration and dismay with the latest update to Elite, like Titus Balls https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/267381-My-Elite-Dangerous-inflection-point, Thrudd (author of Thrudd’s Trade Tool) https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/263684-The-Engineers-is-turning-into-a-deja-vu-for-me?p=4070730&viewfull=1#post4070730 and Obsidian Ant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKeC-FBomCw

This isn’t the AI changes that came into 1.6 and 2.1, what we’re talking about here is the Engineers.

What’s the problem?

To “unlock” most Engineers (so you can visit them) you have to reach a certain level with other Engineers. This means a certain level of grind. Either repeated upgrades to unlock higher levels or some form of trade (if you know what that engineer wants).

To get an Engineer to modify something, you must provide all the ingredients from the blueprint. Initially these are just materials or data, but higher upgrades include commodities (cargo).

Most of which cannot be bought, but must be earned as mission rewards. If you get a reward of cargo you can’t swap to a ship that doesn’t already have a cargo rack fitted. It also means you cannot apply these mods or use any ship that doesn’t have a big enough cargo rack for the items you need to hang on to for upgrades. So you might have to jettison rare cargo, just so you can carry on playing the game. Currently there is no way to locate a mission offering the reward you need, other than just visiting the Mission Board at every station and reading every mission.

Now assuming you do have everything, you go to the Engineer’s (remote) hideout and you request an upgrade, hand over the beans and pull the handle. The lights flash, the wheel spins and you get… numbers. Mass, Integrity, power draw, optimised mass. You have no idea what it all means. So, you won’t find out if your top speed or jump range is better until you apply the upgrade. It’s then you find out if the results are in fact worse. A level 5 upgrade can easily prove worse than a level 3! Now during the BETA when all the Engineers wanted was fish it was inconvenient and puzzling; now when you might struggle for a month to find the items for a blueprint, only to have it produce bad results, it is very disheartening, knowing you've got to start the search again and when you finally get back to where you started, the results may (again) be just as random.

So what?

Engineers is part of a paid expansion and was supposed to add more game play. It shows a lot of promise and the Engineer modifications are interesting, but are let down by an illogical and random delivery system.
Like a chocolate bar stuck half-way out a vending machine, the goods are in sight but blocked by mechanical failure!

It’s easily fixable.

Short term improvements

  • More transparency with upgrades i.e. "Your FSD max range is 12Ly and with this modification would be 14Ly. Apply Y/N?"
  • The ability to deliver cargo/data/materials to an engineer in advance of using blueprints, no longer making it mandatory to have cargo racks for most mods.
  • Change the randomness on modifications so it is within tiered bands, not a 0 to 100% range, so that a level 5 mod should always be better than a level 4, even if it isn't the best. i.e. level 1 = 1-20% improvement, level 2 = 20-40%, level 3 =40-60%, level 4 = 60-80% and level 5 = 80-100%.
  • Find a better way to communicate where materials etc. can be found on blueprints. The Galnet news post was a quick-and-dirty fix.

These would make a significant improvement to the existing mechanic making it more logical, transparent and progressive (rather than pot luck).

In the long term

A player market in materials would allow all players to sell on items not required and you could purchase that oh-so-hard-to-find material or cargo if you have more credits than time. These could be like rare goods, but in reverse. Materials would cost the most (and sell for the most) close to Engineer outposts, but get cheaper further away from Engineers. Materials would gravitate towards where they are needed.

The ability to apply same upgrade to multiple items with the same result. i.e. If I have enough materials for 3 blueprints, I should be able to apply the same upgrade to all three multi-cannons with the same outcome (if done together).

Expand cargo and material storage to all stations (not just Engineers) and add module storage, so you can refit your ship for another purpose without losing the upgraded modules you own.

Tips for Beginners: Fight or flight

beginnersSo you’re in a basic ship without all the toys of combat, or in a trade-ship that simply cannot manoeuvre or fight. What do you do? "Run away" sounds simple enough, but there is more to it than that.

You don't need to "GIT GUD" you just need to "GIT AWAY"

Interdiction

You are minding your own business when a ship flies in close behind you and locks on with a Frame Shift Interdictor. There are three possible options.

  • You submit immediately (cut throttle to zero).
  • You fight it and win.
  • You fight it and lose.

What then?

  • If you submit immediately, your Frame Shift Drive will cool down faster and you won’t go into a flat spin when you drop out of super-cruise.
  • If you fight and win, you can carry on your way, but it is a gamble.
  • Because if you fight and lose, you spin uncontrollably into normal space and your Frame Shift Drive will take a lot longer to cool down before being able to jump once more.

The best option for a guaranteed safe outcome is to submit immediately.

Power management

Having dropped out of super-cruise, you put all power to engines right? Wrong! Put all power to SYS. Your shields will last a lot longer with four "pips" set.

[edit] Your boost speed is no faster at four pips than at two & while your top speed & rate of recharge on the engine capacitor is slightly lower, the shield benefits are worth the trade off.

High wake

When you jump to super-cruise you leave behind a low-energy wake and when you jump to another system through hyperspace, you leave a high-energy wake. You are trying to get away, so does it matter if you jump to super-cruise in the same system or jump through hyperspace to another system? Yes.

If the other ships is bigger than you, it creates a mass-lock, preventing faster-than-light travel (super-cruise) so you cannot jump to super-cruise if your pursuer is close and in a larger ship.
You can however, jump to hyperspace, as this is not affected by mass lock!

As soon as you have been interdicted, get the enemy ships(s) in your rear radar view, hit full throttle, boost as well, then switch to the navigation panel and pick the nearest system in range. Once the ten second FSD cooldown is over, jump.

Run interference

You may have to last twenty five seconds or more between dropping out and jumping safely away.

Got any mines or shock mines? Feel free to share them while your FSD is cooling. They’ll leave a nice surprise in your wake as you run.

Any chaff or a heat-sink? Firing these makes you a harder target for gimballed weapons and missiles. ECM too if you have it.

Or…

If the ship that just interdicted you was an Eagle. On its own. And you are in pretty much any ship from a Viper up.

Kill it with fire and laugh. A lot.

Tips for beginners: Engineers

Who are they?

There are currently thirty engineers to be found. Each one has a face and their own small biography. The upgrades they offer reflect their interests or former professions.

See HERE for up to date information.


Below is an example of the Engineers screen. It's accessed from the Status TAB on the Systems panel.

What do they do?

They trade materials and data and commodities for ship upgrades. These may be faster FSD drives, longer jump range, stronger shields, faster engines, etc.

Some of them also sell upgraded modules directly. Farseer Inc. is where you can buy racing thrusters.

Where do you find them?

On planets. Depending on your progress in the game (your combat, exploration, trade and CQC ranks) you will have "introductions" hit your mailbox. Once invited by an engineer, not before, you can visit their base and if you can meet their initial requirements, may begin a barter relationship where you trade materials for upgrades.

Each engineer base location will appear as a point on the Galaxy Map once you have that engineer "Unlocked".

As you progress with an engineer, they will introduce you to other engineers. Also, progress in different fields in the game will unlock more. I’ll try and get the unlock information as the full list develops.

Upgrades and unlocks

The upgrades offered by each engineer depend on their area of expertise. Initially you start at level one (very minor upgrades) and as you buy more upgrades, your business relationship with engineer improves and more upgrades unlock. Upgrades go up to level five. Each engineer’s "special interest" may allow a faster path to higher levels. For example Felicity Farseer was an explorer, so will accept exploration data and the more you give her, the higher the level of upgrades become unlocked.

Blueprints

Each upgrade has a blueprint, like the one above for increased FSD range. This tells you what the upgrade will do and what the pros and cons of the modification might be. It also tells you what data, materials and commodities are required. Once the upgrade is unlocked you can “pin" the blueprint to refer back to when away from the engineer’s base. You can only “pin" one blueprint per engineer.

Where do I find materials?

Everywhere! However to find the specific materials you need, look at the blueprint you pinned and selecting the material needed will display a clue as to where the item should be found. This is in the form of a general location such as “at navigation beacons" rather than a specific planet or system.

How do I find data?

Different types of data are gained from different types of scanning. Normal basic scanning of ships in super-cruise and normal space will collect data. Also some data (such as Atypical Wake Echoes) will require a Frame Shift Wake scanner, which is a utility slot item.

Do materials take up cargo space?

No. They list in your inventory panel and (we must assume) fit in your flight-suit pockets as they remain with you, even if you swap ships or are destroyed. You don’t need cargo racks for any materials, however some engineer modification blueprints do require commodities which will need to be stored in your ship’s cargo rack.

Where can I get blueprint commodities I can't buy?

These are only available as mission rewards. Again, the tooltip will give you clue as to the type of mission you'll need to take in order to obtain the rare item you seek. You could also ask other commanders. A lot of bartering has already begun. This will only increase with time.