Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Taking a new player from zero to Python level in a week

dmw-logoLast week at EGX I met a lot of really great people. One person I met was new to Elite: Dangerous, although he knew of the Elite games of old.

CMDR Satvia bought the game at the show and made a note of my gaming community group (www.deadmen.co.uk) as the URL was on my hat.

He popped on our teamspeak channel the following week, after registering with the forums and we started to talk through how to play the game, solve issues with outfitting and where to find things in-game. With all the usual dMw banter!

During the conversation I explained what I had been doing with merits and bounty hunting for Arissa Lavigny-Duval (see my previous post) and Satvia, being more interested in combat, asked if a new pilot could achieve the rank 5 and associated riches with just a basic ship.
Why not?

Challenge accepted!

Satvia threw himself into the task with enormous enthusiasm - first we Winged up and went bounty hunting in a resource extraction site and raised some cash to furnish his ship.

On evening one, we had the Sidewinder fully decked out and ready for long travel. Evening two, Satvia had relocated his ship to ALD space and some more RES hunting brought over a million credits, plenty to upgrade to the slower but hardier Cobra Mk III.

Then the merit hunting began! Slow initially, but with help from CMDR SneakyTiger, CMDR Ranualf, CMDR AgentZigZag from dMw and miscellaneous like-minded commanders in OPEN play, we racked up merits for five days. By Tuesday evening, Satvia had over 8000 merits, with two evenings to go before the PowerPlay cycle, it was a cynch!

When I arrived home from work this evening, CMDR Satvia had posted that he had hit the magic 10,000 earlier in the day!

Here is his video showing him posting the final merits and telling it in his own words!

It came from EGX 2015

egx_thumbWell, this year’s EuroGamer exhibition is over and I sound, well quite sinister! Vocal cords are shot and I have a voice like two miles of rough gravel.

It was four long, but excellent days. We had the show itself, and afterwards a few nice meals out around Birmingham with the other Elite Ambassadors and a few guys and girls from Frontier.

At the show the stand was set up with two long tables with four Xbox One’s per side on one (8 in all) and ten PC’s on the second table – eight for players and two for streaming. All running CQCC.

egx_stand

I’m not a console fan. At all. I don’t get on with the controllers. I use the X52Pro joystick at home and I’d never played anything on an Xbox One, so when I was picked to operate the Xbox stations, I thought “this’ll be a challenge”. But after playing a few rounds of CQCC I got the hang of it and while nothing beats the X52, I found the Xbox conversion of Elite to be very good. Visually, it’s almost identical and plays very smoothly.

We had a separate queue for the Steam VR PC running an HTC Vive and this was always busy. The ambassadors showed players the controls and described the HUD functions and we kept the queues moving in batches of eight players for each match on both platforms. I have to say though, the PC was the most requested platform. The XBOXs weren’t idle by any means, the queue was just shorter. The Vive was amazing. I have a DK2 and while the resolution isn't that much higher on the SteamVR, it makes a big difference. No "screen door" at all.

On Friday we got to hear about the Q&A panel announcements a while after they happened and I will write another article on what came out about “season 2”. Exciting stuff.

Kerrashbobble
Bobble. Heads. Confirmed. (I've pre-ordered my DB bobblehead)

Yogscast crashed James Vigor's livestream (see photos here) and LaveRadio's Ben was around the stand at different times interviewing the crowd (and having a few games of CQCC).

There was a prize raffle, which everyone that played entered. On Friday it was one lad who had been dragged along reluctantly by his friends. He liked the game so much, he kept coming back, then bought the game and won the Victors raffle going home with an XBOX One. The winner on Saturday had initially put his raffle entry into the wrong bucket, but someone spotted his mistake and he won an XBOX as well. The best one for me, was on Sunday, a young man who’d never played Elite on the XBOX had a try and won his first round, so he came back again and won his second game. On the third game, a few Elite Ambassadors had joined as well as Adam Woods, Elite Dangerous producer from Frontier. These guys are competitive. He beat Adam by 50 points! (Not that Adam would have gone in the raffle anyway) and an hour later his was name drawn from the Victors Raffle and went home with an XBOX one.

How can you top that? Elite at number 1 on the Steam charts of course!

Thanks to Zac, Rob, Aaron, Jess, Alison, Kenny, Rob and Robin from Frontier for taking care of us Ambassadors an keeping us fed and watered over the four days. A great bunch of people.

Getting to Rank 5 in PowerPlay in three days

powerplay_thumbSince PowerPlay was launched I haven't really enjoyed interacting with that aspect of the game. I tried when 1.3 was first released to pledge my allegiance to Edmund Mahon, because his faction primarily awarded people who traded and trading is my core game play style. So, after a brief stint with Aisling Duvall where I attained rank three, so that I could purchase Prismatic Shields, I have abstained from PowerPlay until now...

On Monday I went into the Mobius group team speak server and chatting with some of the friendly commanders there, I was advised that if I was pledged to Arissa Lavigny-Duval I could attain 10,000 merit points in one week and gain rank five easily. With her faction not only would rank five come with a 50 million credit weekly pay cheque, but it would also give me 100% additional bounties when bounty hunting!

To me this frankly sounded easy, but also impossible. A bit like saying "go to the moon it's only a two day drive (if you have a spaceship)". So can it be done? Well, PowerPlay cycles on Thursday, so I had Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday to attain 10,000 PowerPlay points from scratch. Now I'm in full-time work, so only have 3 to 4 hours in an evening to play Elite.

Challenge Accepted!

How does it work? Well, I signed up with Ms Duval’s faction, I then flew to one of the two systems in expansion from the Galactic Powers interface and found a contact in the system named “Crime Sweep”, which is like a combat zone, but the opposing side is always the local system defence who you are there to suppress on behalf of Ms Duval. You just fly around and kill every ship that's red on your radar - don't hit the green ones! Once you've finished in the zone, jump to a Controlled or Exploited system and hand in the combat merits to convert to PowerPlay points. You also get paid at this point, but the reward is 100CR per merit (I think) so it only covers ammo costs really.

One of the key elements to my success was being able to wing up with various commanders in the Mobius Group (too many to thank here) who helped me take down ships at a very rapid pace. Each ship you kill, regardless of size or difficulty, awards you 10 PowerPlay merits. It is therefore easy to wrack up between 1000 and 2000 merits per hour which meant that on my first day - Monday between 7pm and 10pm I gained 3,100 merits. By 11pm on Tuesday I had 6,910 merits and a little after 12pm last night I had managed to attain 10,030 merits! This meant I would have rank five today when PowerPlay does its weekly cycle; now I stand to gain a 50 million credit pay out at the end of the cycle! Not to mention of course double bounties in the coming week!!!

Can it be done? YES! Was it hard? NO. How long did it take you? A little over nine hours. Was it worth it? In my ‘Conda I can make millions per night trading, but not 50M in three days and on top of that I have the bounties I’ll make in the coming week doubled, so YES!

Even a player in a fairly basic Viper could have joined in over the last three days and be looking at a Python-sized payout by the end of the cycle. Now that’s cool.

Using the ED Tracker Pro with Elite

EDTrackerPro (200x150)While at LaveCon I had the chance to see the ED Tracker, a low budget motion controller for the PC that works with games like Project Cars, Eurotruck Simulator and of course, Elite: Dangerous.
“Why would you want one of those, you’ve got an Oculus?” I hear you ask. Well, firstly I cannot afford another DK2 for my children and my younger son plays a lot of EuroTruck and some Elite. Also, the hot summer weather in the UK has meant I haven’t been using the Oculus as much, to avoid having a stroke – yes, there are brief moments in the UK when it isn’t raining!

So, what is it like? What do you get for £45 ($70)? (Assuming you don’t build it yourself)

Firstly, I would like to say thanks to Dan and Becky at ED Tracker. At LaveCon I mistakenly picked up two ED Trackers instead of two ED Tracker Pros and didn’t spot my mistake until I got home. They shipped out replacements very rapidly, so kudos to them for excellent customer service.

The ED Tracker is a small black plastic box, the size of a matchbox, with a mini-USB socket on one side. To install it, I attached it to the top of my headphones headband with one of Mrs Arithon’s hair-ties (she’ll never miss it) and plugged in with the USB braided cable I bought from ED Tracker.

Windows 8 made the usual “boing” noise and listed “ED Tracker Pro” as a new joystick in my “Devices and Printers” list.

I then downloaded and ran the ED Tracker Pro software, which detected the device immediately and instructed me to calibrate it. This involves turning your headphones around on various axis.

calib

Once that’s done, you find the 3D head model on the screen moves to mirror your own heads tilt and turn.

Getting it working with Elite: Dangerous

This was a little harder, as the instructions on ED Tracker’s website didn’t match the current version of the OpenTrack software used. I didn't get the joystick selection right and couldn't figure the OpenTrack setup. Never fear there’s loads of information on Forums everywhere! I got mine here. The OpenTrack software turns your virtual joystick into an emulated TrackIR.

So, having got it working, what was it like?

Well, it isn’t an Oculus, since you don’t have 3D vision and for 18% of the cost, I wouldn’t have expected that. But it is pretty damn good! You move you head left or right slightly and the screen turns to match your head movements. In combat you can look around to follow the action (very useful when pulling up and banking to follow a target) – you can look up and down and tilt your head and Elite’s display matches.

It is very good for viewing side panels too. All in all a very cool solution for anyone who doesn’t fancy the Oculus or cannot afford one (or is just waiting for the CV1) and a much cooler option for the hotter weather.

I will set up my second unit on my sons PC for him to play EuroTruck and get his input – saving it for the dull end of the school holidays!

I know what you did last weekend

i_know_what_you_didNo, I didn’t run down a homicidal spaceman while at the wheel of my Anaconda and stash his lifeless body in a resource extraction site, only to be stalked and killed along with my implausibly attractive female friends at a later date. The truth is worse….

On Sunday CMDR Albert and myself were all Winged-up and patrolling Tau Bootis for enemies of the Edward Mahon faction in Super-cruise. We’d been lapping the system for a couple of hours. Albert in his Anaconda and me in my “Combat” Python – my Anaconda is set for trade, so while armed, it doesn’t have the extreme shielding and various scanners and shield cells needed for a good scrap.

We’d been knocking anyone marked as “enemy” out of super-cruise with my FSI, scanning them and if they held a bounty, collecting it. With extreme prejudice. Now Powerplay is far less rewarding than real bounty hunting, because killing a faction enemy only gets you 200CR and 15 merits if you are in the right system and they are carrying faction goods and the moon is full etc. Which is why we were scanning for bounty, making sure any combat paid for the ammo and fuel at least.

The odd NPC Asp or Python showed up and they went down easy (the bigger they are the harder they fall) but the real challenge were Wings of small ships, such as a Vulture and three Cobras. A challenge to take down a ship with two or three others pounding your shields. The AI ships are determined little buggers in the latest release.

Time flies when you’re having fun, so before long CMDR Albert had to sign off, European time being an hour ahead and I was left patrolling alone.
It was at this point that the first non-faction human CMDR showed up. After a quick scan in super-cruise, it became obvious that the CMDR in the Fer-de-Lance was pledged to Zachary Hudson, the very enemy we were here to oppose!! After a few maneuverers in super-cruise to get behind the ship, I fired my FSI. The FDL struggled and fish-tailed, but I’d been doing this for hours, so getting the fish landed was a forgone conclusion.

BOOM! Dropped to normal space and the FDL took off away from me like a startled hare! I fired up the KWS and scanned the ship for bounty, by which time it had left me way, way behind. Finally with more than 5km between us, the FDL jumped back to super-cruise, so I span up my FSD and jumped back after it.
The Fer-De-Lance was still in the system and not far ahead, so I got into FSI range and tried again.
BOOM! Back into normal space and this time the FDL turned to fight. I opened up briefly with all lasers then switched to KWS while my turrets continued to fire at the FDL while he tried to get behind me and out of range. However, my Python has Class 6A Thrusters, so I could keep turning fast enough to keep my guns and scanners on the FDL.
After the first pass, the Fer-De-Lance’s shields are down to one ring, but clearly firing a shield cell or two, as they returned quickly to three rings. On the second pass, the FDL’s shields are down to one ring again and then I realise my shields are also down to one ring, so I fired a shield cell.
Sadly, too late as on the third pass, as the FDL’s shields collapse, mine quickly follow.
By this point my grip on the stick of my X52 is leaving finger marks and the adrenaline is really pumping. The FDL’s hull is at 20% when my cockpit blows! Shhhhh out goes the atmosphere and a muted ships computer tells me I will shortly be screwed.
The FDL has realised this is not one it can win, as despite taking damage, my ship is still at 60% hull and firing continually with two sets of pulse-lasers and a C3 cannon, so the ship turns to make a run for FSD and safety.
It’s now or never to finish the FDL off! Boosting like mad to keep up, I keep firing relentlessly... 8%.. 5%, “Frameshift charge detected..”, 3%, 1%, 0% BOOM!

Is this how Luke Skywalker felt killing his first Tie Fighter? Probably.

The bounty? 742,000CR - to quote Monty Python, “He’s a very naughty boy”. So I’ve killed another CMDR. Do I feel bad? A little. Did I enjoy it? Hell yeah!

With the 5 minutes of oxygen I had left I jumped to super-cruise to get urgent repairs. As anyone who has flown with a blown-out cockpit knows, flying without the HUD takes a bit of concentration. But I got there with three minutes of oxygen to spare.

Now you know what I did last weekend.

Elite Dangerous Ship Sizes to scale (updated)

ship_size_smallSome updated ship size data started floating around on reddit yesterday, along with some awesome 3D renders of ships. Thanks to Prefim/Mat Recardo for these.
So I updated the pixel-to-metre scaled ships chart and here it is. Sizes are based on the table below.

 

It's not the size of your ship, it's what you do with it!

Ship Dimensions (in metres)

Ship Length Width Height
Adder 31.5 28.8 9.6
Anaconda 152.4 61.8 31.0
Asp 56.5 51.3 19.7
Cobra 27.1 44.0 7.9
Eagle 31.2 29.7 7.1
Federal Dropship 73.9 52.3 21.7
Fer de Lance 73.6 51.6 15.4
Hauler 28.6 26.2 10.4
Imperial Clipper 106.7 103.7 24.8
Lakon Type 6 48.4 27.2 15.0
Lakon Type 7 81.6 56.1 25.4
Lakon Type 9 Heavy 117.4 115.3 33.2
Orca 130.4 50.8 22.7
Python 87.9 58.1 18.0
Sidewinder 14.9 21.3 5.4
Viper 29.8 24.0 8.6
Vulture 43.1 34.7 12.3


2015-05-21-elite-ship-sizes

There's also a really cool video render of the ships to scale as well

3-2-1, and you are back in the room. Have 5M CR!

Just an update from yesterday; after putting a long 4,500 light years under my belt last night (from 6pm) at just before 10pm I touched down at Zeta Trianguli Australis, by adopted home world, and cashed up my Cartographic exploration data.

A cash payout of 5.5M CR was a nice end to the evening.

I'm going to do a bit of trading now until I feel the pull of deep space once more!

So I'll go no more a roaming!

exploring_hyper-space-smallI've been out of it this week. Well, several thousand light years out anyway.

I popped into my Stealth-fighter-skinned exploration Asp and headed out for parts unknown on Friday of last week. The idea was to head into the centre of the galaxy, as all my previous explorations had been outward rather than inward. The furthest I had been previously was 2,000 Light Years, making a total round trip of over 4,000Lyrs.

Initially I found all the systems I visited had been previously explored, but by the time I was out of inhabited space by around 500 Light Years, I started to find the odd unexplored planet – usually 100,000Ls distant from the hyperspace exit point! Gradually it became every third jump that I found a system unexplored, then every other jump, then I was in uncharted space.

exploring_big-system
This system was the largest I found, with 70 astronomical objects.

Just to say a little bit about my ship. My Asp is equipped with two heat sinks, no weapons (weight) and two auto-repair modules as well as a class 6 Fuel Scoop. When out in the deeps of space, scooping takes up a lot of time, so if you’re going out there, buy the biggest one you possibly can. My Asp has a jump-range of 34.16 Light Years. Something that sets it above the capability of most non-explorer ships. Only an Anaconda can jump further (so far).

After two days of jumping, scooping and scanning systems I had reached 8,000 Light Years from home. Nearly there right? Wrong! 18,000 Light Years still to go. Plus, due to a couple of sun-related collisions my hull was at 96% and my power plant was damaged.
Now, while auto-repair can fix most systems, it cannot fix hull damage and it can’t fix the power plant, because you can’t take it offline. With the damage to the power plant, I couldn’t raise the MW to run my heat-sinks, so I had to shut them down. With such a large distance still to go, I had to make a decision whether to forge on and hope for the best or turn back and return (alive) with all the massive amounts of scanning data I had amassed.

So last night, I turned my Asp around and headed back. Buy only stopping for fuel every third jump and scanning the star while my ship slurp hydrogen from the star, I made much faster time. I managed to put 4,000 Light Years under my belt in the course of three and a half hours.

Ironically after coming so far, it wasn’t until I had turned back, I found my first undiscovered earth-like world. I shall call this planet “Muffet” after my childhood pet guinea-pig which itself was named after the robot dog in BattleStar Galactica.

exploring_earth-like

Within another thousand light years I had discovered a second. I haven’t thought of name for that one yet. I’ve found more than a few Water-World’s, but as my fellow CMDR Kalen said, “No sign of Kevin Costner anywhere!”.

When I finally parked up my ship last night, I was still around 4,500 Light years from my home system.

exploring_long-way-home

I have to get back to Quivira to collect my 6,000,000CR payout from the last community goal!

Parking issues

in-my-space_thumbYou sir, are in my space!

I popped into Ballandin Gateway yesterday evening and took my Fer-de-lance into the outfitting to swap some internals around.

When I surfaced, I came face to face with an Adder, in my spot. And I quite literally mean “in” it – his ship was embedded in the nose of my FDL!

I have no idea what happened, but I guess he was inbound to my pad when I returned to the surface. Is this an example of failed A.I. or a warts-and-all simulation of real like parking issues?

20150328Screenshot_0016

We exchanged insurance details and my paint work has been subsequently repaired. Although I’m sure that someone has “keyed” the side of my Anaconda…

No good crying over spilt insurance

fdl_moneyAfter Sunday's Anaconda crash, I didn't have any chance to play, having been away on business - ironically I drove through Cambridge, probably only a few miles from Frontier on Monday and Wednesday. Didn’t see their offices on the route I took though!

My funds were just under 11 million, having been depleted by 6M after crashing the Anaconda, so the objective was to revitalise the bank account.

Last night was my first day back in the game since Sunday and first play with my new GTX 970 graphics card. I got the Oculus wired into the new card and ran up Elite with the graphics options on Ultra and the resolution set to 2560x1440 down-sampled. I cannot describe how sharp it looked and how fast it ran! The best I can say, is it’s like the super-realistic video you see shot with 48fps. Anyway, enough about how shiny my rig looks; back to the game!

I took out my Anaconda and started doing a Palladium run from Gliese 868 to LHS 3802 which netted around 1M CR per return trip. On my first leg, CMDR SneakTiger logged on and came on dMw’s teamspeak, so I suggest he join me as he was trading. We joined a Wing in Gliese and started doing the run together. At the end of each leg, as soon as both of us were in the station vicinity, I could sell my cargo and Sneaky got a dividend of 20K and I got a dividend of 6K (his 100T Type 6 doesn’t carry as much as my 420T Anaconda). The dividend payments are a bonus, like an extra few tons of cargo every trip. We did three runs, then Sneaky had log off, so I flew back to Zeta Trianguli Australis to pick up my Fer-de-lance. By this point I was up to 14M CR.

I went over to Lugh and found when docked at Ballandin Gateway, that the Trade Community Goal had completed while I was away, so I cashed it in collected 2M CR. Now I had 16M CR. Kerrching!
Also, while I was out of commission, the Spear of Lugh had continued without me and I had dropped out of the top 40% into the top 70%. That wouldn’t do at all! I launched my FDL out to the high intensity combat zone and started picking fights with Anacondas and Pythons. After around twenty minutes in “the zone” I had racked up 200K CR combat bounty, so I returned to Ballandin to reload and cash in.
Three days of missed TV was calling, so I logged off and called it a night. After the evening’s trading and combat I was 5.3M CR up on the night.

I see this morning that the Spear of Lugh mission is now over, so when I log on tonight, (if I’m still in the top 40%) I might be 12.5M CR better off, so despite my setback of last weekend, I’m still quids in.

That A rated thruster for my Python will cost 14M CR at Jameson Memorial, so the money won’t sit in the bank for long…