Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

How do you like your eggs? Alien

UPDATE:
Overnight those busy CMDRs at Canonn Research (http://canonn.science/) have found another FOUR Thargoid Hives / Outposts...

#2 Aries Dark Region DB-X D1-63 A 7 A
Lat 25.94, Long 77.96

#3 Pleiades Sector OS-U C2-7 4 A
Lat 58.21, long -177.04

#4 Col 285 Sector VC-Y D57 AB 4 A
Lat 4.78, long 136.28

#5 HIP 14909 2 A
Lat 26.5 long -27.5

#6 MEL 22 SECTOR ZU-P C5-1 4A
Lat  -63.5, Long 8.02

#7 MEL 22 SECTOR NX-U D2-27
Lat -39.8, Long -56.2

The Interiors have been opened! Two 'keys' can be used: Unknown artifact or Unknown probe. Once inside, there is a room where an Unknown Link is pawned. Take all three to the main chamber and drop each on the correct pad to activated the reactor.

No sooner is an update out the door, than we discover more Thargoid stuff!

Located 357.26 ly from Sol, a short way out of the bubble (too close for comfort if you ask me) is HIP 19026 and on the third moon (C) of Planet HIP 19026 B1, located at lat -17, long -152 is what can only be described as a hive.

It can been seen from orbital cruise due to the size. Is this a Thargoid outpost? or Hive? Sure is creepy.

Very reminicant of "alien", including the currenlty closed tunnels into the structure.

I found a number of flower-like objects around the structure which showed on scanner as "unknown uplink". These gave me three new data scans.

Unknown material

Unknown residue

Unknown structure

There are also a number of "organic structures" which contain meta-material.

There were also, well, eggs. And an unknown object that I picked up (the green thingy on the left) which corroded my SRV systems.

What's behind those doors? I'd sure like to know!

LaveCon 2017

LaveCon 2017

I couldn’t stay at the Sedgebrook Hotel for this year’s LaveCon, as my budget was rather limited, so instead my sons and I jumped into the car early Saturday morning and made the long drive from Maidstone in Kent, up around the southside of the M25, up the M1 to Northampton. We arrived a little after 9.20am. The hotel is on Country lane the “other side” of Northampton town from the M1, so it is quite rural.

Checking in

We walked into the main hotel lounge/bar where for the past few years, the convention reception desk (manned by volunteers) was located. Neither of my boys (Alistair 17 and William 15) had been to a convention before, so they were rather excited to get their badges and lanyards.

After looking at the event schedule for day, we decided to sit in on the welcome introduction in the main hall. The Lave Radio presenters welcomed everyone and ran through the list of activities and events, with the associated banter and heckling “MUG!”.

In 2015, the LaveCon event featured a live Episode of “Dockers” in which a David Braben-like character would smash a 1Direction mug every time the audience shouted “mug”. As a result, “for the mug” became a trademark phrase of the Hutton Truckers player group. There’s a lot more to the story and the Hutton Orbital guys can tell it better, but no LaveCon is now complete without some yelling of “MUG!”.

When the presentation was complete, the first thing we did was go out to the convention desk and sign up for a 12pm game of Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator. More on that later…

The LAN Room

As we had a little time to kill, we wanted to explore, so I took the boys to the far end of the hotel block where the Local Area Network gaming area was set up; the LAN Room.

Last year, I ran a virtual reality shipyard in the LAN room, so this year it was a bit strange being spectator!

My older son soon found the multiplayer projection screen which was running Gang Beasts! and Speed Runners. Alistair is seriously competitive, so he jumped straight in.

William was enticed to have a go at being a fuel rat. What's a fuel rat? The fuel rats are an in-game group within the Elite universe who will fly to anywhere in the galaxy to rescue ships that have run out of fuel. Their motto is "We have fuel, you don't". Playing on an X52 setup much like my own, William performed a real-life in-game rescue of a stranded commander. Flying six jumps out to a stranded Cobra, he manoeuvred around the star to leave super-cruise in the same location and deliver enough fuel-limpets to get the other ship safely back to a station. If you want to know about joining the fuel rats (or getting rescued by them) their website is here.

Before very long, I had to cut them short, as it was already 5 minutes to 12pm and our Artemis game was due to start. We made our way to the “top” end of the hotel in the older part of the building and sat down in the Artemis room.

Artemis

Imagine the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Now imagine it manned by uncoordinated buffoons, with no clue what they are doing. Then you’ll have the general idea of Artemis.

There are six or more ship positions. The Captain, who can see everything, but can do nothing. Then the Helm, Weapons, Engineering, Science and Communications who can carry out their own isolated tasks, but cannot see the whole picture and rely on the Captain to command and co-ordinate.


"Captain Will" took his position with brother Alistair on weapons and myself on Helm, with other attendees on the remaining stations. This year, there was a lighting rig connected to the game, so raising shields turned the room blue. Red alert caused flashing red lights and so on. Very atmospheric!


We were fairly disastrous in our mission, having survived, but running out of fuel and leaving our starship helpless and adrift after all our space stations were blown to dust by space pirates and only managing to kill our pursuers by circling a minefield. It was a lot of fun though.

Bar snacks!

By the time the Artemis game was done, it was gone 1pm so we headed to the bar area and ordered food. The boys had a game of pool while we waited for lunch to arrive and then tucked into some very nice fresh-made pizzas and an angus steak burger, both with chunky chips.

William took a few slices of his pizza home and had them hot for breakfast on Sunday!

The lounge area had leather sofas and coffee tables all over, with a huge selection of board games for anyone to play. The room also had tea and coffee machines with a fridge full of soft drinks underneath. We didn’t go thirsty! The lounge was full of people at all times, chatting, gaming and socialising as well as propping up the bar.

We finished lunch just before 2pm, so we headed into the main hall for the Frontier Q&A presentation.

Frontier Reveals more about 2.4

The boys and I got a seat near the front and we waited for the fun to start. Which it did almost straight away.

David Braben (who did not attend) had a personal message for the LaveCon attendees, but no amount of sweat from the back room. Could get it to play! We either got picture or fluctuating audio, but not both at the same time. After five or six attempts and a long delay, Ed and Zac decided to skip it and start the proceedings. We never did hear what Mr. Braben’s message was… ...the men behind the curtain looked stressed!


Edward Lewis announced that those attending would receive three new ship skins exclusive to LaveCon. These were for the Python, Type-9 Heavy and Imperial Cutter.



After some clapping and cheering, the Frontier panel were introduced by Ed and the presentation began. The video is available here.

Sandro Samarco kicked off with a talk about the coming Thargoid menace in 2.4.

We will be getting new weapons and modules to combat the Thargoids. But it won’t just be about pew-pew! Sandro Samarco said (from my notes) that we would need to study and explore their ecology, science and technology. That they would be truly ALIEN in their responses to us.

He then flashed us some concept art and renders of new devices and weapons. I can only theorise, but the first item looks like a defensive utility module item, so maybe a Thargoid EMP shield? The other weapons looked like rocket or missile launchers; high velocity projectiles that would not be defeated by EMP, I would hazard to guess.



Thagoid EMP defence?


Hull repair limpet?


Anti-Thargoid missile or rocket launcher?

Sandro confirmed that we would be getting hull repair limpets in 2.4 and a new sythesis for making them while out in deep space.

Adam Woods announced a of quality-of-life feature for the menus in 2.4 - filters for the inbox. Another screenshot appeared to show a four-part chained mission.

Steve Kirby announced that there would be a new search & rescue menu in stations, where salvage and recovered cryo pods can be handed in for reward. This means they are no longer black market items.

Finally Sandro announced some changes to crime and punishment for 2.4, first the Sidewinder exploit will be removed. Now when you die with a bounty on your head, the rebuy will always be the cost of your most expensive ship. So if you've been naughty in your Corvette, dying in a Sidewiner will now cost 30M CR, not 300!
If you kill a human player, in addition to the normal bounty you'd get for an NPC, you will also have a Pilot's Federation bounty added to the tally.
And a little good news; if you have been destroyed and lack the cash for rebuy, you can now sell your other ships remotely to make up the rebuy cost.

After Frontier's presentation, there was then the annual Q&A session.

Because of D-d-d-d-david Braben's message overrun and the general enthusiasm in the hall, the Q&A had barely started at 3pm when our second game of Artemis was booked! So the boys and I sneaked out of the hall early. I knew from the past two LaveCon's, no amount of squeezing would get any more info out of Frontier's panel, so I wasn't too worried I'd miss anything. I had this confirmed later by another CMDR.

Second Game of Artemis

When we arrived at the Artemis room, it was of course deserted! Another person joined us, an author who was doing a reading for one of the writers panels. Her name was Anna Smith Spark.
After a few minutes, the Artemis game organisor managed to tear himself away from the Frontier Q&A and get our game started. Anna told us that she had no experience of computer games, but we did no better or worse than we had done in the earlier game. We ended up adrift and out of fuel....

Where's my Krait?

The CMDR who managed the Artemis sessions was busy building a paper spaceship during our game and I recognised it as a Krait. He made a small one first with A4, then proceeded to use copious amounts of whiteboard paper to construct a 18" version (seen part completed below).

I asked him what it was for and he explained that he presented a Krait model (in one form on another) to Frontier every year to remind them that his favourite ship from the original game was still missing from Elite: Dangerous.

This year it turned out to be Ed Lewis's turn to get ambushed which was why he didn't look happy to have been gifted with the model!

Game Cab

Back down in the LAN room, while Alistair was busy slaying everyone at Gang Beasts (did I mention he was competitve?) Will was trying out the GameCab Elite setup. GameCab are a UK company that makes custom desks for gaming. Their website is here. The desk was really cool, with side-pods, a pull-out keyboard rack and built-in chair vibration and Will claims "very comfy", so this is on my "man-cave" list for when I am not broke!
They were at LaveCon last year, so I'd seen the setup before, but I thought it would cost £1,000s but actually the basic setup was £400, which did surprise me. That's less than a mid-range video card! Anyway, this year they had a new USB keypad with custom Elite keys. Drop landing gear? There's a button for that!


The games room

Between the main lounge and the VR room, was the games room. Every RPG and board game you've ever heard of was laid out in there and quite a few I've never heard of! Another thing they had was glitter tattoos. Yep, LaveCon has everything! William and Alistair both got them, while I demostrated my poor eyesight with Elite Darts. Two "nil point" and a "100" scored! Terrible.

Virtual Reality Room

William wanted to try out some VR games with motion controllers, as we have a rift but no motion controllers. Alistair had a crack at Elite on one PC while Will gave Job Simulator a go.

Alistair had a successful mission, but found watching William playing job simulator more entertaining!

Saying goodbye

We had been sat behind Kate Russel at the Frontier presentation and Will wanted to catch up with her to get a selfie. He'd met her at the 2014 Elite: Dangerous premiere event, where she'd been great and in 2015 I'd managed to have her sign a copy of her book, "Mostly Harmless" for him, which he loved. We managed to catch up with her and Will got his selfie.
This time Kate wasn't armed and Will was a bit taller! Liek I said at the start, the Elite community is great.

2.4 "The Return"

The Thargoids are coming!

Frontier have announced that the next update to Elite: Dangerous will be released in Q3 of 2017 and will be titled "The Return".

This new update will be bringing the Thargoid race back to the Elite universe with a vengeance! They will require new weapons and new tactics to survive and exploration to discover their origins as well as research to discover their weaknesses and study their technology. The human race is not prepared…

The teaser trailer Ed Lewis showed us on the E3 LiveStream this evening showed an Elite: Dangerous logo being overflown by a number of octahedral alien craft and then being slowly corroded by a green glowing crystalline fungus. All very atmospheric and creepy!

It's wabbit human season

Ed topped off his stream by globally broadcasting to all players of the game that the Thargoids are back!

"This is an urgent message from Commander Edward Lewis. There are forces out there who do not want you to know the truth, but I have to make this public. I found a ship in HIP 17044. A Federal Capital ship, shot to pieces. They were carrying the data the Feds stole from Professor Palin. The crew is dead, but they discovered something important about the Unknown Ships. There is a beacon in the wreckage broadcasting a message, over and over. It proves what we suspected. They are back. And the whole galaxy needs to know. The Thargoids have returned."

To find the wreck site and beacon...

Travel to HIP 17044 and fly to the second planet (around 1,800 ls) then set a heading for the Asterope system, some 52Ly away but continue in super-cruise for a further 10,700ls until you see the unregistered comms beacon and distress call.


When you drop into normal space, you will see the wreck site. There are a destroyed fleet of Federal ships, some on fire and a green mist in the space around them. Spooky..

"Why the damage doesn't look too bad from out here!"

The road to Thargoids: What we know so far

TTV 2Not everyone is fully up on where Elite:Dangerous is now with its ongoing saga of hunting for alien life, or the rich history behind it.

Alien 101

Back in 1984 when Elite hit the BBC Micro, the “bad guys” were an alien race known as the Thargoids. Beyond that, very little was known.  They flew octagonal saucer ships and would drag unsuspecting commanders out of the hyperspace tunnel (also called “witchspace”) and attack the commander in the deep black gulf of space between stars, where no help was available. Unless you were quick to fight or flee, it was certain death for most ships. The sight of their saucers was feared across the galaxy!

A decade or so later, in Frontier and Frontier 2 the lore of this race expanded and we found out that the Thargoids were an insectoid race with six limbs, resembling a praying mantis.

Since the release of Elite: Dangerous, and even before going right back to the 2012 KickStarter, the community has been speculating how and when the Thargoids might appear in the game.

Early signs

In March 2015, with the release of 1.2, Unknown Artefacts began to appear. These were being carried by Type-9 ships in a convoy in Strong Signal Sources. The NPC chatter was all about the "strange cargo" they carried. We also began to see them floating in space and they made a peculiar noise. You could pick them up in your ship's cargo scoop, but commanders found that their ship became rapidly damaged by holding one of these objects.

What did the noise mean?

There were two signals the UAs made. One was Morse code, which spelled out the system they were located. The other was a mystery until CMDR Mike Juliet Kilo realised the signal was co-ordinates and when plotted, drew his ship - a Vulture!

Throughout 1.3 the UAs kept making these same noises, but began to be found in space always pointing towards the Merope system...

Blistering Barnacles!

In January 2016, after the 2.0 release of the Horizons expansion, explorers found alien structures on the planet Merope 5C. These objects resembled barnacles or some kind of ocean shell, with crystalline spikes appearing to grow out of the ground around them. The spikes could be blasted into fragments with the SRV turret and one spike would yield a large emerald-like crystal, that when harvested using the SRV cargo scoop was revealed to be a meta material.

Meta materials and UA bombing

Commanders who noticed that the Unknown Artefacts damaged their ship, tried various things to avoid having their ship destroyed while hanging on to the UA they'd discovered. However, the side-effect of their sheltering inside a station, was that the station itself took damage and station services would shut down. Enterprising CMDRs then found that by delivering and selling multiple UAs to a single station could shut it down and thus "UA Bombing" was born. Deliberate sabotage of stations using UAs as a weapon.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the Meta Materials harvested from so-called "Barnacles" could repair UA-Bombed stations.

More and more barnacles have been discovered in the systems around Merope and seem to favour systems inside nebulas.

Unknown probe

Unknown Probe

In May 2016, Horizons 2.1 shipped and explorers began to discover smaller unknown artefacts, which were named Unknown Probes. These objects were active rather than passive, like their predecessors. When scanned with a discovery scanner they would emit an electro-magnetic pulse, disabling nearby ships and then play a data signal.

The signal was decoded in June by CMDR Muetdhiver and CMDR Wace. When fed through a spectrum analyser the audio produced a hazy diagram.

Probe signal

When cleaned up, the signal is clearly some kind of iconography.

Clean signal

General consensus is that the diagram represents some kind of address, but no definitive meaning has yet been found.

UPDATE: The guys on the Canonn Research Thread (#8) have noticed that the Unknown Probes appear to be seeking ammonia based worlds.

GamesCon hints

During GamesCom in early August, Frontier's live streams were "interrupted" by alien signals, which were overlaid with binary and ASCII messages.

Once again, the guys at Canonn Research put their collective brains to the problem and solved the puzzle and this week - CMDR Nochtrach, CMDR BALALAIKAX3 and CMDR Ihazevich found the clues Frontier gave led to an alien wreck site on the moon of Pleiades Sector AB-W B2-4,
Planet 9A at co-ordinates -26,3772°, 97,6982°.

Alien wreck site

The wreck is very reminiscent of Ridley Scott/H.R. Gieger's Alien spacecraft. A bio-mechanical craft, laying in the bottom of a valley. The craft was huge – far bigger than any human ship in the game.

CMDR Niamhy has even mocked up what the ship may have looked like before it crashed. Scary.

Alien ship

So, is it Thargoids?

Well truthfully, nobody outside Frontier knows. The ship doesn't resemble the earlier Thargoid ships. Are they friendly or not? Again, we don't yet know. What transpires next is anybody's guess and may be decided by who finds them first and who shoots first (or not).

Be careful out there. We are not alone...