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  1. #1
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    Elite: Dangerous

    I probably don't have to ask whom here is looking forward to finally seeing a new game in the Elite series.

    Elite: Dangerous

    But has anyone tried the Beta yet?

    http://www.elitedangerous.com/

    I really wanted to give this a go, especially to see how the multiplayer is handled so far, but I am definitely not paying the current 50 being asked to do so. The game actually started off at $150 on Kickstarter for people to gain access to the Alpha and Beta builds, so it has been reduced now that the Beta's are out.. but that is still too much.. and I bet by the time it reaches retail it will be more like 29 or even 19.

    So want to try this, but had to justify the current price, and you can't keep your game saves when the beta gets updated either.

    Still, it does look good. Take a look at the screenshots on the site.

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  2. #2
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    One of the things you did get with the kickstarter is a lifetime update so you get all the expansion packs etc for free.

    Jeff Minter is playing it and he's loving it and some of the videos going around on Youtube look brilliant. Unfortunately whilst I probably have the CPU that will handle it I certainly dont have the monitor or graphics card to play it. :-(
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  3. #3
    Wiseguy Staff Moderator
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    Actually you had to go even higher than that in the kickstarter to be part of the alpha process. Up in the 200 range. Yes, pounds. Even higher than that and you'd also get access to a special forum where you can suggest and discuss design decisions directly with the developers. Several ideas from there are being incorporated into the game, how they handle in-system travel now that there is multiplayer and you can't just speed up time anymore came out of there for instance. They say the reason for setting the bar so high for this is because firstly they wanted to limit the amount of people who had access to these things and secondly, that all the ones who did have access are the ones really dedicated to the game who would bug-report properly and be serious about design decisions and so on. I do get the line of thought, but.. eeh. Something smells.

    Of course there were other incentives for going that high, both physical and in-game rewards. I went pretty high myself, but not as high as getting alpha access. Not really interested in trying something that early into development. I have had access to all the betas though, but haven't looked at them much for the same reason. The game still isn't feature-complete, and so far they've been really focused on developing multiplayer and combat to get that right. It's been really popular among the ones who are playing, they're really vocal about how well it's working. Which is good, but that's not really what I'm looking for in an Elite game. Frontier Developments have been assuring all the way that the game will still be as open as before. Exploring, trading, mining all these things will be there and will be viable ways to get ahead in the game. You don't have to learn to be good in combat to get ahead here. Also you will be able to turn the multiplayer off and play solo, they are developing a decent AI as even in the multiplayer most of the ships you'll see will be AI controlled.

    I did try the an earlier beta than the current one out a little. And it does look interesting. There are tons of controls to map if you want, or if you prefer you can let the computer handle most of it like in the old games. Physics are still newtonian, and you can choose to turn flight-assist on which means your ship will always try to fly in the direction your nose is pointing. Or, you can turn that off and have complete control of all the thrusters yourself. I tried to map it all to a gamepad and have a go at docking at a space station, but there were still things that showed it was a beta. Trying to manouver over a landing pad I needed to make a small correction with the main thruster and though I just gave it a small nudge like I needed the ship floored it for some reason, resulting in disaster. I kept trying for a bit but the game kept crashing on me as well. After a few hours I gave it up and decided it was too early still.

    The current beta has trading coming along nicely now and the game should be much more stable overall so I'd like to have another go at it soon. I've ordered a Saitek X52 Pro flight stick which comes with a throttle controller and a million buttons to map. A lot of current players are using it and it's supposed to be brilliant for this game. But mine won't arrive before sometime in september, and part of me wants to wait. But another part.. well. We'll see.

    Some features won't be available at all for the initial launch of the game, like planetary landings. They want to do it right, get a proper variety of procedurally generated landscapes which are correct for the type of planet and which always look right. This will take a lot of development time and Frontier Developments just doesn't have the resources to do that on top of developing the rest of the game. So it will come later as DLC. Another thing that comes later is the ability to get out of your seat and walk around on your ship, and on space stations. All ships and stations are being designed with that in mind. But that's also for later, in order to make it good and also to figure out how to make that interesting as well.

    Some or all of this DLC will need to be bought as well of course. I won't have to, I backed high enough to get everything they will ever release for nothing extra. But I wonder how well that will go over with those who didn't. Depends on the pricing they decide upon I guess.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for all that information Teho. Definitely sounds like it isn't quite worth me buying into the beta yet, but it is definitely coming along nicely. It is still tempting, just to be able to play a new version of Elite, but I will hold off and wait a bit.

    Ever since I played the original Elite, and especially all the months playing Frontier back in the Amiga days, I always wished for proper planetary realisation, so in a way it is good they are not just doing a quick planet generator and will be focusing on this properly later. If we can get out and do something on planets eventually that would be nice.. this has been done to some degree in other games the past, but never in a big way.

    Being able to leave your ship on space stations will be good. It's a part of Earth and Beyond I always loved.. being able to walk around stations with other players, visiting shops and talking to NCPs to obtain missions.. and also in that game the atmosphere changed on the stations if you were in different territorial space, with different lighting, artwork, colour schemes and music playing from shops and bars. If they do this that would be great. And also a nice way to arrange meetings with other players for multiplayer gaming. I thing Phantasy Star Online was one of the first online games to get this right, utilising the station as a visual gamers lobby.

    Also the wish to exit your seat and walk around your ship is a nice (if somewhat gimmicky) addition.. but if they utilised it as they have in Star Wars The Old Republic that would be really good. In that you use the inside of your ship to perform different tasks, such as going to be bridge to access the star map and plot destinations and to look at the bulletin boards to take missions. Then to engineering to repair and build items such as weapons and equipment, or to the main area to access the holo-projector to contact and speak to people for mission briefings and updates.

    What would be the perfect utilisation of using the inside of your ship would be multiplayer. If multiple gamers could be within a single ship, with one piloting and other manning turrets that would be cool, but I think special dedicated missions for such a feature would be needed for this, otherwise those not piloting would get bored pretty quickly.

    Again going back to Star Wars TOR, the space combat sections of that game are actually sort of mini games, where you take a combat space mission from your ship's bridge, then you use your star map to hyper jump to the mission location, then the game switches into a different gaming style where you are flying your ship through a combat zone (kind of on rails) completing mission objectives at each waypoint. A better combat system was always needed in Elite and I hope they get it right this time. The problem with Elite combat has always been realistic physics over enjoyable combat gameplay. They need to balance it so when you enter combat the control system alters slightly to allow enjoyable dogfighting on par with something like Wing Commander. I don't personally thing that will happen as the existing Elite fan base would probably be up in arms if the traditional combat system was altered too much, which is a shame.

    That Saitek X52 Pro flight stick does look good. That is very tempting to get myself once the game is ready to play properly. Would the additional rudder foot controls also be of use in Elite?

    I always stuggled along with most games using just a gamepay and keyboard, but recently I obtained a Logitech racing wheel and pedals and that really opened up racing games for more enjoyment, especially with the force feedback, so I expect proper flight control sticks to the same for flight sims and space games. Very tempting. Please let me know what you think if it once you have yours?

    Do you know if specific flight sticks will be directly supported and configured out of the box? Or will all of them need configuring and setting up by the user by mapping functions? Although, saying that I think most higher end game controls have profile saves and the game profiles normally appear pretty quickly for games like Elite, so I doubt it will be a problem.

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  5. #5
    Wiseguy Staff Moderator
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    I don't think there will be that much to do on a planet, not in a big way as you say. There has been talks about some things to do though, like big game hunting for example. There hasn't been released much details about it at all yet.

    There will indeed be different design aesthetics at least where ships are concerned. I'd be surprised if that didn't count for station interiors as well. As you're probably well aware there are three major factions in the Elite universe, the Empire and the Federation which are the two superpowers and the Alliance which is a loose alliance of independent systems. There is also the anarchic systems which doesn't belong to any of these. Anyway, you'll see ships from the Empire that emphasize form over function. Designed mostly for comfort and to look aesthetically pleasing. Not that they're bad performance-wise. Federation ships will be the direct opposite. Designed to perform a function as effectively as possible, their ships are plain tools and will look it. The alliance will mostly have ships from either of the other two powers but do produce some of their own as well. I'm not familiar with their design direction though, but it will probably be something apart from the other two. I'd be surprised if the space stations didn't follow the same general design principles.

    It's supposed to be possible to have several human players aboard the same ship, yes. And it is mostly tied to missions if I recall correctly. I'm not sure if they can act as proper crew, can't remember if I heard anything about that. There's not a lot of information about it at all yet so what exactly you'll be able to do is speculation for now. I'm guessing you likely will need to hire crew for the bigger ships, like before. But I can't see how that would work if it was other players. What is certain is that they are conscious about not being another Eve, or X3 for that matter. They're determined that this is still going to be and feel like an Elite game. One backer suggested at an early stage being able to own stations and fleets of ships you could micro manage and Braben himself just shot that down right away. That's not what Elite is about at all. So I'm guessing there won't be Eve-like levels of interaction between players either. But with no definite announcements it's up in the air.

    Combat was certainly broken in the old games but I don't agree with you that it was because of the physics. In my opinion it was the AI. Because of the way it behaved it was impossible to dogfight it properly. It would always accelerate straight at you no matter what. No. Matter. What. Meaning he'd crash straight into you if you flew in a straight line. As long as you didn't he missed you as he never corrected for his own momentum. Still there was no way you could get behind him and tail him, he would just rotate and pummel into you. No turning radius even, he'd just swivel on the spot while firing the proper thrusters so he'd always be flying right at you no matter which way his nose was pointing. The kind of flying only a computer can do. There was no way to fly properly against that.

    The very first beta I had access to was just a couple of small fight scenarios in a small portion of space. No free-flying yet. I barely went through them all once so I'm not sure what to say about the AI in those. Didn't notice anything terrible about them anyway. It was still very early though. But at least they didn't behave like in the old games. It was nothing like that at all.

    As for player vs player, well, some guys out there have gotten incredibly skilled. Managing shields, engines and weapons while piloting perfectly around a space station, like in this video here. Just watch what this guy is doing when things go a little pear-shaped for him. He keeps a running text-commentary so it's easy to follow what's going on:



    They've also introduced this new concept of silent running as you could see in that video. What this does is disable your heat output rendering you effectively invisible on radar. People can still see you with their eyes, but you're a lot harder to keep track of. You can't manouver much though or else their radar will lock on to your thrusters flaring. Also your shields are disabled in this mode. There are other videos demonstrating how this works great for sneaking up on someone, or ducking behind an asteroid to hide from a pursuer. You're further limited by the way this is supposed to work, your ship is storing heat in sinks instead of venting it while in this mode and the sinks can only store so much. Sooner or later your ship has to vent your heat regardless, announcing your presence to everyone around. Could create some interesting situations.

    I'll definitely let you know what I think about that Saitek controller. No idea if those extra foot controls will work, I didn't order them anyway. I'm pretty sure that the game will support several flight sticks natively, that was announced somewhere. This Saitek is sure to be among them.

  6. #6
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    I wish you hadn't posted that video link... now I want to get hold of the game ASAP!

    I also just found another video which you will find really cool. It's using a joystick and throttle, combined with the Logitech steering wheel I have (only using the foot pedals for Yaw control) and to make it really cool an Oculus Rift VR headset. Looks quite amazing.


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    Wiseguy Staff Moderator
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    Yeah, the Oculus Rift is tempting. Especially as everyone says it works so well with this game. Frontier Developments decided very early on that they would support it, so they've had it in mind for most of the design process. I will definitely wait for the retail version though. Then there's Sony's Project Morpheus, which people say has both advantages and disadvantages when compared to Oculus Rift. Now Sony has said that they don't intend to support PC with it, but I expect someone will hack up a PC driver whithin a day of its release. Really tempted to get one of them for Elite.

  8. #8
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    The folk at Beex (http://www.beexcellenttoeachother.co...d76a&start=480) are enjoying it, one guy has tried with an Oculus dev kit and the posh joystick and was quite positive.

    I have to admit, the thought of a space shooty fly game is even quite appealing to me but I simply don't have the time or the money to upgrade my PC to anywhere near the required standard. But still, I'm quite curious about E

  9. #9
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    I understand in addition to the PC Windows release the game will also be coming out on Mac and later for Linux, so the system spec requirements might be lower and allow those with older hardware to enjoy the game. Would be good if that is true.

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  10. #10
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    ...I don't think there will be that much to do on a planet ....
    Well, you can have a space station, something like a planet station.. so, buildings, radars, cities, so many stuff...
    And is fun to dive into a planet and go land in a base. That was one of main things elite did that all other games (most of them) never did.
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