Elite Dangerous: What a Burro wants from the next Elite game, part three…

At my gaming heart I’m an explorer, but a lazy explorer. If you say to me “Here’s the whole universe to explore!” I will think this is a good thing. If you then also add that to do this exploring I will have to spend a long time flying through boring black space and along the way there will only be a slim chance I will witness anything more exciting than a nice sunrise over a gas giant then I’m going to suddenly be much less inclined to explore. That kind of exploration has all the hallmarks of grinding and we all know by now how I feel about bloody grinding, don’t we.

Now in the many fan eulogies of Elite & Frontier I have heard how people would just set off to cross the galaxy or to find generation ships and asteroid hermits and whilst these have all sounded like great fun as a concept, the execution did not. Mostly they are tales of people wasting hours just going nowhere or, more accurately, finding nothing except more procedurally generated empty black space and that is, frankly, a dull waste of my time as I said here.

I don’t want Elite Dangerous (*name shudder*) to be like that. I want to explore it and I want it to want me to explore it. How can Frontier Developments do that? Well I think a little like this…

  1. Put lots of exciting things to find and see in there. Exploding stars, old space battle wrecks, glorious nebula, dou ble ice rings that we can fly through and any number of other marvels that can be generated on the fly. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – I want ED to grant me the chance to see the sort of cosmic wonders & interstellar events that I will never, ever get to see for real.
  2. Put achievements in there. At one time I hated them but Guild Wars 2 showed me the light. They are fun and give just the right boost of energy to a flagging desire to explore. I want to collect all the super novas, lost ships and forgotten miners in the game so I can paint the achievement badge decal on my cockpit dash 🙂
  3. Another lesson to learnt from GW2 is that of Dynamic Events. In somewhere as big and empty as space there needs to be some stuff happening for me not to nod off at the joystick and I want to see a DE engine built in to keep even the deepest of deep space explorations interesting. Imagine an old hulk you find that explodes out with pirates or hidden military forces! What about the deep-black sci-ship that will be sucked into a black hole unless you refuel the engines? The possibilities are endless!
  4. A last lesson they could take from GW2 is that of jumping puzzles. In GW2 these have always been a real marmite issue but well handled by Arenanet so that the people who hate them don’t have to do them whilst those that love them have turned them into an almost e-sport within the game. I’d like to see this happen in ED but instead of jumping, I’d like to see flight skills such as slingshoting, aero-braking & maybe even warp-skipping employed to reach an otherwise unobtainable location.

This is only a flavour of what it will take to keep me exploring and I have no idea if the Devs are considering anything like it, but if they are not and they just expect people to fly off for three hours of pretty screensaver time then I know that I’ll be bitterly disappointed.



        1. Shhh, don;t tell anyone but I’ve never had a console of any sort 😉 I’ve just searched YouTube and found this:

          This already looks 900% more fun than the combat in either Frontier or First Encounters 😀

  1. It got much better later (although I hates some of the missions…) Best combat dynamic was that enemy shield had to be destroyed with 1 weapon and craft with another….

    1. There was one mission in X-Wing vs Tie Fighter I could never master – in the end it was butting up against this too many times that stopped me playing it so I hope ED won’t have any brick walls such as this.

  2. Quick point:

    “I want to collect all the super novas”

    The galaxy is procedurally generated. There are going to be at least 100 billion systems, possibly 400 billion. No one, including the developers, will know how many of anything there are. 🙂

    Another quick point, are you reading the development newsletters? Much of what you’ve asked for has already been confirmed or hinted at.

  3. Hi there and thanks for the comment.

    Good point on the generation of the universe, I guess that will make it hard to collect stuff in that way, but there could still be an aspect of collection to be afforded, One question of procedural generation – if I visit location A one night and then the very next night you visit the same location, will both our location As look the same or will their be differences? If the later, would this be where selling map data would come in, so players could experience the same space?

    I skim the newsletters, to be honest they are a wee bit empty of detail so I don’t do more than a glance.

    1. The procedural generation is seeded so whenever you visit a particular location, it will be generated exactly the same and be the same for everyone else who visits it. Exactly the same as the original Elite – the details of all the planets weren’t stored anywhere, they were generated on the fly but every time you played the game, they were in the same places with the same descriptions etc.

      There’s an excellent description of this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTBvpd3_Vqk

      I guess the devs could write a program that visited every single system and counted up how many X, Y and Zs have been generated but TBH part of the fun of Elite for me is to go out into genuinely unexplored and unknown space to discover things for myself. If I know the devs know everything about the galaxy it takes a bit of the magic away for me.

      1. Cheers, I’ll watch that later.

        I love the idea of exploring but, as I said in the post, I’m a lazy bugger and I want some rewards for my explorations – just noodling around a big, black universe isn’t going to interest me that much. In that respect it’s not the collecting that matters, it’s there being stuff worthy of collection – I am willing to be there is only so many times I’ll be willing to fly out for an hour just to see yet another pretty planet 🙂

        1. “noodling around a big, black universe”

          It’s not going to be a big black universe. There are going to be all sorts of astronomical and man made phenomena. Think about it – from a light year away, our solar system is basically an unremarkable star. Get closer and there are 3 different kinds of planets, 100s of minor planets, tens of moons, asteroid belts, comets, artificial satellites and probes. Of course the further out you go, the fewer man made things there’ll be but it’s certainly been hinted that there will also be alien artifacts and civilisations to find.

          Rewards for exploration? Selling your maps and data to others. Finding resources for mining. I guess there may be a leaderboard of the most prolific explorers (speculation, not even hinted at AFAIK). What “reward” did early Earth based explorers get for exploring new lands? Not a lot usually. Coming back alive was normally the best they could hope for! The exploring itself is the reward.

          If that’s not enough for you then perhaps exploring isn’t the role for you. You’ll just have to busy yourself with trading, missions, bounty hunting, piracy, mining etc.

          It’s like life, there’s lots of different things to do and not everything will be interesting to everyone. You just have to go and do something else. Nothing in Elite is compulsory. You choose your path and get on with it. It’s not the sort of game where you’re given essentially meaningless tasks to complete for badges.

          1. Ahhh you should know that arguments of gameplay style never go anywhere – you play X way, I play Y way neither is right or wrong – I want one thing from exploring, you want another it’s all the same really. if exploring is just going to be flying off into space for the serendipity of a beautiful find then I’m damn sure it will be worth it to some players, but not to others. For me, limited time and a short attention span are always going to dictate my gameplay choices – it has to grab me quickly each and every time and reward me with something early on and then again at regular intervals otherwise the chances are high that I’m going to get bored or, more likely, called away before anything actually happens. I simply don’t have an hour to waste doing nothing but getting somewhere like I did when I was a spotty youth – I’m a knackered, harassed old man now 🙂

            1. Sound like you’d prefer a different part of Elite gameplay then. Trading’s good for instant(ish) rewards assuming you know what you’re doing. Bounty hunting is pretty action packed if that’s your thing. Piracy, similar. In the original Elite there were probably very few, if any players who explored all 8 galaxies and there were only 2048 stars in total.

              If you want a game where you are constantly given tasks to complete to get some kind of reward, Elite’s not it. And that’s fine. I don’t want Elite to cater for that kind of player because then I won’t like it. 🙂

              Final point, you might not have realised the nature of travel in Elite. It’s not going to take an hour to get from one system to another (I’m not even sure if it’s possible to fly normally from system to system). There is hyperspace travel so you can get from one system to another in a minute or so. In an hour you could probably be out of inhabited space completely. Assuming you take enough fuel and/or have fuel scoops installed.

              1. Trading was always fun so I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing a fair bit of that and way back in the original I love fuel skipping from suns so I’ll be doing that too… The rest I’ll just have to see what grabs me 🙂

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