Pwhoarrery: Elite: Dangerous’s Map View

I'm so there.
My initial sniffiness at the Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter pitch now looks ludicrous given my current pledge level: I have my commander name saved (Buck Sexington), my real name will be an NPC in the game, and I’ll be taking part in the first round of beta testing. I was aiming for the Explorer level pledge (“Have the option to start on the edge of explored space with a long range version of the Cobra Mk III and 3,000 CR”), but I still ended up a bit higher. Money well spent? I have no idea, but it has kept me more engaged in Dangerous’s development process (I have “Always Display Images From Frontier” checked in my inbox, for example). So I thought I’d share my excitement at the recently released screenshot of the solar system map.

This glimpse into one of the game’s functions is heartening to me. Either middle click it, or right click it and open the link in a new tab.

Open it in a new tab for maximum bigness

I used to do trade runs between star systems, as it seemed like planet-to-planet trading wasn’t worth much of my time, but with the “trade/flow” toggle to the left, it suggests a greater diversity within the star’s orbit. I’d guess a lot of those toggles work on the larger scales, too: Federal and Alliance toggles only make sense if it takes whole star systems into account, as those divisions existed system-to-system, not planet-to-planet. Unless that’s changed. I should probably pop into the design forum that I paid to access.

How will you use the toggles? Frontier presents these scenarios.

I have a cargo hold full of beans that I need to sell?
Activate the trading data filter and set it to highlight non-agricultural systems. If your cargo is small, perhaps select a small/low traffic system where prices are likely to be highest, and plot your course.

I am a bounty hunter looking for new targets
Set the filters to highlight high piracy and low security level, and then head to such a system.

When I think of how I’ll play the game, I can imagine myself as a rogue, dialing-up a new bounty in the manner above. Realistically, I’ll probably use it to help move robots between Sol and Barnard’s Star. That signal bar is interesting, and there’s nothing in my Elite memory banks that could account for it. Any ideas?


  1. Lobster9 says:

    Please, please, please be good.

    It is so rare that a developer takes a stab at creating the exact thing you want from PC gaming, and just lately there have been a ton of kickstarted projects doing just that. All I can do is sit back and cross my fingers, hoping that they succeed in their crazy ambitions.

    • Noise says:

      I never get hyped for things anymore because I have been disappointed so many times. Best to keep your expectations low and then maybe you can get a pleasant surprise.

      • Prime says:

        But what if…what if…we could anticipate it AND it turns out to be wonderful? I, for one, think this is going to be amazing and I’m determined not to let cynicism get the better of me this time.

        • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

          I don’t understand how people who’ve been disappointed with A decide to then be prejudiced negatively against S to Z. Can’t people be reasonable and examine each potential experience on its own merits and virtues? Anticipation of pleasure is a pleasure in itself and it’s a foolish thing to deny oneself. To put it another way, just because I was burned at 14 by The Matrix: Reloaded didn’t mean I wasn’t fervently anticipating The Master.

          Of course the counter-argument is that the lowest of expectations colours any positive merit as a default victory but it seems like a very dour and miserable existence that denies oneself the pleasure of anticipation. Honestly, I’ve had far more fun, entertainment and excitement just anticipating GTA V, viewing superb trailers, discussing details with friends and finding screenshots than I have in the entirety of actually playing many games.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I feel like we have been conditioned to expect games to fail to meet their exciting potential due to the traditional publisher model. Whilst developers are typically excitable about their games, optimistic about hopefully being allowed enough creative control to do most of the things they want and happy to talk about all the exciting plans they have, publishers who are investing in the game wish to protect their financial investment and so ensure developers stick to the straight and narrow path of the tried and tested. We end up with a game that usually looks exciting but ultimately fails to deliver.

        Without the publisher control, I am hopeful that we’ll finally see some true gems with developers free to pursue interesting concepts. I am /sure/ that some games will fall flat – concepts not as solid as hoped whilst others will fail to produce the goods without a publisher to keep them in check. However, there will be some games that are able to shine with fresh, exciting ideas or exploring ideas that were considered too risky by publishers.

        I remain optimistic

        • Prime says:

          It’s the side-step of publisher expectation that’s possibly the most exciting thing about Kickstarter projects. The freedom to do the things you love without being forced to compromise by people who don’t understand anything about games apart from their potential for revenue generation. It’s a Golden Age, this.

          The more I hear about Elite: Dangerous the more I absolutely adore it. The team seem to be so confident about what they want and how to achieve it and OMG I wish it was March 2014 already!

          • SanguineAngel says:

            I very much agree. I didn’t back Elite originally though, as their pitch fell short for me. However, I have to admit that it does look rather fine and people do seem to be saying that braben’s team are coming up with the goods so far. I will be keeping a beady eye on it in the future

      • Makariel says:

        Ah, the jaded gamer of too many broken promises… well, I refuse to expect nothing from games and be ‘happy’ about not being served garbage for a change. I want great games, not ok-ish ones to kill time. I rather play a game that fails to achieve its grand ambition, than one that plays it safe for the sake of keeping shareholders happy.

    • ZakG says:

      A few things have concerned me about Elite: Dangerous since it was announced.

      The first and biggest concern was that the Kickstarter launch was handled so badly (it didn’t even have a video for the first week or two!) that it took ages to make traction. In comparison Star Citizen was raking in millions on the back of it’s fancy trailer. At the end of the Elite Kickstarter it just felt like a game that should have received at least double what it finally did, but that early poor start really cost it.

      The next concern is the general backers expectations of an Elite game that will challenge Star Citizen in the graphics department, despite the huge disparity in budgets, people really want Elite to match Star Citizen and the forum is full of polls and chat about high end hardware that will be required for all this. I really think in general gamers do not understand the cost of current AAA graphics in the dev process, and looking at the size of budget Elite has, that the game just can not afford to be a glossy high end AAA product graphically. Having said that i think the graphics do look great and the design and style they are using is perfectly good for what they need to do, which is help you believe you are in this Elite: Dangerous future.

      The final concern is about third party investors coming on-board just recently, which sort of shows they did not really make enough money from the KS alone to make the game they had planned to make (that is my reading of the situation), also what effect these investors will have on the dev process. There is also mention of a stock market float, all of which could be pretty risky.

      I backed early at £80, as a longtime fan of the Elite games and in particular FFE (the last one) i need to have the ‘planet landings expansion’, at the very minimum.

      I think it will be a great Elite game in general, and as someone that will be playing it in SP mode only (I hate all MMO’s i’ve tried) am very thankful that this un-trendy form of game mode is supported.

      So far i think, on balance, that Elite: Dangerous will be a more interesting game overall than Star Citizen, which is really pulling in the ‘pay-to-win’ type of game design direction (sadly). I’ve backed both (and the awesome Limit Theory) so my Space Sim gaming is looking secure for the next decade or so, with maybe Elite edging the other titles for that overall more complete and ‘grown-up’ game experience :)

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    So glad I backed this!

  3. Crane says:

    They rose in my estimation for including a Serenity reference in that screenshot.

    • astroscope says:

      They’ve got a Red Dwarf reference, a Doctor Who reference, a HHGttG reference and a Blakes 7 reference in there too. They’re pulling out all the stops. What’s more the only one of those series that ain’t British is Firefly. That’s a compliment.

      • Maxheadroom says:

        I didnt spot the Blakes 7 reference at first, well done sir :)

  4. Anthile says:

    That second image is basically PC gaming porn.

    • jackthename says:

      Amen. My eyes bugged out and my heart rate increased noticeably when I spotted that one.

    • Sir Buildbot Winslave says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m beginning to feel a deep desire for this game.

  5. VCepesh says:

    (continuing my thought from Star Citizen comment section)
    …I want a game that takes space distances and logistics into account. That understands the absurdity of hauling iron ore or canned shrimps from distant star systems for small-scale trade. That will give thought that maybe space faring civilizations of the future, likely post-scarcity, will have entirely different economic, political models and ideologies than what we are used to – and incalculable number of them (or at least some variety), with their own values, priorities, their own ways of interacting with the outside world.
    No “civilizations of hats”, star-spanning empires and federations.
    With something more interesting and valuable than money, property or better and bigger ships to work towards.
    Not having WWII dogfighting as the standard combat model would be nice too.
    Is this new Elite such a game?

    I am not disparaging the title (I still hope it ends up an enjoyable game) – but I am genuinely seeking a game that would be closer to my tastes.

    • Reapy says:

      All these space games have had me thinking about alternative navigation schemes between systems. I have thought it would be interesting, as a mini section of a space game, you had mapping of star lanes.
      So basically the game would have to procedurally generate all of the things from one long distance to another, but essentially you would hand map your coordinates to get from one place to another.

      Basically I can see a system where the ships can accelerate in a straight line only between two points. A course would be a series of these points, with a bit of time taken to decelerate and adjust to the next heading between points, so essentially the longer you can go in a straight line the faster you get there.

      Add to that things like planet gravity affecting your speed/course and some random anomalies that could occur and you have a neat minigame of chart plotting.

      If that were wrapped around a game where you could sell or trade your plots to other players who could not be bothered with it, and distances were large enough that even slight adjustments to a well known course would add a huge speed up, that would be quite an addition to any space game.

      I picture the scenario where you have a 10 min travel time to a well known system with lots of traffic, but another player has found an alternate route where a slingshot past a planet that is well out of the way, past some anomolie that makes you go even faster, and you cut this time down to 2 minutes. Could sell this route for a high price, or use it to gain a trade / war advantage or just hold on to it for a rainyday.

      I could see spending all day in the right set up trying to plot out things like that in a huge expansive space game.

      • DarkMalice says:

        A bit like planning the flight trajectories in Kerbal Space Program? That the sort of thing you mean?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Elite 2 and onwards had pretty weird space combat. I always kind of ended up circling at kilometer ranges around a shared centre with the opponent, lasering frantically when they got close.

      ‘Realistic’ space combat might be hard to make interesting, it probably all happens too far away to see and too fast to react to at human speeds

    • ZakG says:

      @ VCepesh

      Elite: Dangerous will have ‘sort of’ WWII fighter combat as in the original Elite. It will have the ‘Federation’, the ‘Empire’ (imperial) and the ‘Alliance’ as main factions as in Frontier and FFE (the last two previous versions of Elite). It will be all about getting better equipment and ships. So it may not be the game for you?

  6. Brun says:

    The signal bar could be used as an indicator of the activity of various factions in a particular system (notice there are filters for “Imperial” and “Alliance”). Stronger signals means more activity from that faction, etc.

  7. c-Row says:

    Damn, that’s one pretty map!

    From some of the latest updates I got the impression that Roberts is trying to bite off more than he can chew with Star Citizen, so despite its initial problems, my hopes for the Elite KS are much higher right now.

  8. SgtStens says:

    This looks indeed tasty. Is it single-player, multi, or MMO? I loved the originals, even though I was always crap at docking.

    • The_Mess says:


      Between this and X:Rebirth (and X-Tended TC 2.1) my space gaming needs be met.

    • Prime says:

      I absolutely adore the aesthetic Frontier have chosen for this game. It’s about bloody time we got a game where space looks like the pictures NASA have been showing us since the 60s, and not the obligatory tokyo-neon candy-crush accident in a paint factory.

  9. The_Mess says:

    Pretty, but my internal astronomy geek is going “lolwat?” over those orbits.

    Not stable in the slightest, as orbital objects in highly elliptical/eccentric orbits tend to either get captured or ejected and in the case of planets, usually interactions with other gravitational bodies leads to “fun”. With gas giants, they end up settling into a close, hot jupiter type orbit, ejecting other planets as they go. While smaller rocky bodies, depending on gravitational influence of other planets, either end up captured or undergo increasing eccentricity until they end up ejected from the system.

    uh, over astronomical time frames of course…

    I’ll still buy it though.

    • Cinek says:

      hehe, my thought exactly.
      So much for any illusion of scientific accuracy or Newtonian laws. Can’t even make a basic system remotely believable.

      • The_Mess says:

        Oh it’s definitely possible*, it just that the [back of the napkin] chances of a system like this staying stable long enough for us to find it and have other planets in more normal orbits is rather very low. But given the shear numbers of stars in the universe there’s probably at least 1 system like this out there.

        *n-body-problem is what you want to start from, warning, may melt brain.

        • Cinek says:

          I’m quite sure this system would collapse after 2-3 orbits of planets around the star.
          So… actually: There’s no chance it would even be created in a first place (unless some anomaly happened, like exoplanet flying through the system). I wouldn’t bet on anything alike being in space.

    • WrenBoy says:

      I know next to nothing about astronomy but given that it appears to be a 3D map then the orbits are not necessarily as elliptical as they appear in this 2D image.

      • The_Mess says:

        @wrenboy – still applies with orbits at acute to larger angles from the elliptical*, though gravitational interactions are reduced slightly. Also you can use other information in the 2d image to nut out approximate 3d orbitals :P And while the image is not to scale, even at scale it would generate a fairly unstable orbital system.

        *basically – it’s the plane in which most other planets orbit in. Maybe fixed to one planet’s orbital plane though

    • ZakG says:

      Just in case it was missed, the top right of the map has the legend ‘Not too scale’, so i guess the map in that shot is more an abstraction to aid the gameplay aspect of navigating around it? Anyway there is a bunch of other details in the newsletter that all that came from, and maybe in that detail it will explain the non-factual aspect of the nav screen for our astronomers out there?:

      link to

      I think, for a game, it looks really good, exactly the kind of thing full of detail (even if not ‘correct’) i was hoping for.

  10. Liudeius says:

    It really annoys me how many crowd-funded games don’t actually explain themselves properly. Like with Star Citizen, I didn’t back that initially because they didn’t make it clear what it was, I thought it was just another one of the many space dog-fighting games.
    Even now SC has that problem, you can’t find out what it is on the main page, it needs to be clearly and concisely stated on the main site page that it is.

    1) Control: The player can fly their ship in first or third person with complete 6 axis control over its motion. Additionally the player can control their player character in first person both walking inside their ship and when exiting their ship at planets.

    2) Scope: It takes place over 100+ systems, each system allowing freedom of flight within the system, but “jump points” (worm holes) to travel between them. The player can exit their ship at specific landing points, with at least three in each system, more in the more populated ones (four on Earth alone). There is both an MMO version, and a single player version of the game (it’s still not clear if the open universe is available in single player).
    You can fly ships anywhere from a tiny one person (~18m) junk hauler to a massive space aircraft carrier (~1Km, requires multiple players to fly).

    3) Gameplay: Players can run trade routes, pirate, hunt pirates, assassinate (or assist) famous NPCs, explore for derelict ships and jump points, take over territory and factories. When they land on planets they can walk around cities to buy upgrades or look for work, or they can board enemy bases and ships and engage in FPS combat with them.

    And Elite Dangerous has the same exact problem. I can’t tell what it is from the main page. All they say is that it’s a sandbox and I can improve my ship, but what exactly do you do?

    • Cinek says:

      You complain about websites not being clear, meanwhile you fail yourself in being clear. “The player can fly their ship in first or third person (…) Out of ship control is first person.” – I have no clue what that means. Out of ship implies 3rd person.
      It’s also hard to figure out which game you are describing in these 3 points. If not the fact that I backed them I wouldn’t know that it’s a Star Citizen.

      • Liudeius says:

        And I wrote that in three minutes, without the intention of selling anything, yet there is only one flaw, and that is only because you misread it, not because it is unclear.

        SC has had tens of people, 8 months, and $14 million to actually tell people what their game is (and have failed to even give a basic description), I’m posting alone, on a comment thread, for $0 in 3 minutes.

        But you share the identical problem that the SC community does, rather than admit that the holy Chris Roberts has made a mistake, you would prefer to be a dick to the people pointing out the mistakes.

    • Cinek says:

      Anyway… as for Elite in 3 points:

      1) Control: same as Star Citizen, only their flight model doesn’t include computer assistance guiding all thrusters – so it’s claimed as “more Newtonian”. E:D also won’t have any limits on a top speed of the ships, unlike Star Citizen where each ship will have maximum speed. Other than that they are roughly identical when it comes to combat – 6 degrees of freedom, inertia, thrusters going off, etc. etc.

      2) Scope: It’s procedurally generated universe, so there can be thousands of systems. Freedom of flight will be included, though no jump points, everyone need to use jump engines to leap between systems and/or planets.
      Game initially will be ship-centric unlike SC which is player-centric. So if there will be any walking around the hangars, etc. – it will be added in a DLC. Unlike in SC – no RPG aspects are planned (eg. no environment for players to interact In Character – it doesn’t mean that there will be levels and skills in any of these games, there won’t)
      Single-player and multi-player aspect will roughly be the same thing in Elite – a huge universe and “do what you want” philosophy. There will be some storyline in the game, but it won’t play any major role (unlike in SC).
      All playable ships are roughly the same size – corvette in Star Citizen would be nearest equivalent to playable ships in Elite: Dangerous. You won’t be able to obtain a ship that’s over 55 times bigger than your initial one.

      3) Gameplay: Very similar to Star Citizen in terms of possible roles. But as said – no walking around the planets, no beers, no girls performing a pole dance, no boards to draw on, no first-person combat, no boarding actions.

      The most significant differences between these two games can be shortened to two points:
      1. Hand-crafted universe vs Procedurally-generated universe
      (even if it’s made of hand-crafted “bricks”)
      2. Character-centric vs Ship-centric

      • Liudeius says:

        Well that’s interesting, I may just throw some money at Elite in case Star Citizen is pay to win (as I expect it to be).

      • SuicideKing says:

        Ship centric sounds interesting. Both have their advantages.

        FreeSpace 2 was ship centric. I like that. I can fly around and shoot other ships.

        Player centric is nice too, but might not really be what i want. Will check it out though.

      • The_Mess says:

        ” E:D also won’t have any limits on a top speed of the ships,”

        Definitely buy this then.

        Accelerating up to crazy speeds in Independence War 2 for hit and runs on cargo ships and their escorts was always fun :3

  11. SuicideKing says:

    Second pic reminds me of Mass Effect. I don’t want Mass Effect. This isn’t really that though.

    I’d probably be in the navy or the police. Dogfighting away.

  12. TychoCelchuuu says:

    Looks like they need a copy editor. “It’s” does not mean the same thing as “its.”

  13. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Aargh, why did I kickstart this and Star Citizen? There’s no way I’ll have time to play both to the full.. *beats head on desk*

  14. Makariel says:

    “Either middle click it, or right click it and open the link in a new tab.”

    We left-handed mouse users left click to open in a new tab.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      ZOMG, they didn’t take all users into account! What If I don’t have a mouse, and am using a thumbstick? Or voice control? Or am not even on the page?

      This is an outrage, and clearly racist against black people. I’m going to call report them to the complaints commission.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        You should also report them for Terrorism

      • Makariel says:

        I am outraged by the non-inclusion of the two people worldwide who might use Kinect to browse RPS. Down with that sort of thing! To the pitchforks!

  15. Lemming says:

    I fully expect to buy this on release. I decided against kick starting it (and Star Citizen) as they’d clearly had enough money by the time I came to the party anyway. I look forward to the reviews.

    • Prime says:

      I was struggling horribly with myself about donating. I chose not to. Now I feel so guilty about being so horrible about Braben in the years prior to this, and want the game so much, that I’m seriously considering pledging at the £80 band to get all the expansions free!

  16. zarnywoop says:

    Nice Hitchhiker’s Guide reference in the chat box from Ford.

  17. Werthead says:

    This reminds me of the starmap in FRONTIER. You had a very stylised view of the system in 2D (like this, but a ‘side view’) but could then explore the system in full 3D, spot each space station and so on. It was a way of indulging in pure space pron (albeit with rudimentary graphics) without having to physically fly to every part in space. It was basically CELESTIA, but in the game engine, in 1993.

    Hope this has something similar, as that was quite cool.

  18. Iskariot says:

    This game will rock. Just subscribe to their newsletter and admire the quality of what Braben and his team is doing with this game. This is a dream come true.