Elite Dangerous mappers go on strike over ‘poor communication’ (but only for, like, three seconds)

A bunch of maps and tools for space sim Elite: Dangerous [official site] were shut down today by their creators as part of a protest over what they called a “lack of consistency from Frontier in effectively fostering third-party development”. The picket line of third-party tools was set to last until Sunday and included some very useful stuff for pilots like maps, trading databases and ship designers. The main complaint these folks had is that Frontier was not communicating with them well when it comes to updates (when a patch comes out the tools are often thrown into disarray without much warning, introducing new bugs and problems for the toolfolk). But spacetalks have already been held and most of the sites will be back up tonight, leaving me in the lurch with absolutely no drama. Disgraceful.

The list of sites that went offline is pretty extensive, including Captain’s Log, which keeps a record of all the systems you’ve been to (kind of like internet browsing history but for black holes) as well as other useful features. ED Shipyard is another of the downed sites, which normally lets you design a wee ship using various menus, adding and removing shiny parts to see if your ideal murderboat works as expected before investing in those lovely machine guns in-game. Here, you can see a full list of the tools that went on strike, along with some of the reasoning behind this move, and the history leading up to it.

“We believe that our tools greatly enhance the game playing experience,” read the statement from the collective, “and yet we often feel that Frontier does not actively encourage the effort that goes into supporting their game with these tools. We believe they can and should improve on this situation by maintaining clear and open communication with the third-party developer community.”

But what were their demands? Well, they suggested that Frontier appoint a liaison for third-party peeps, implement better bug tracking, and put their full weight behind an external API. In other words, a less leaky and rusty pipe for pumping out up-to-date game data about star systems, trading goods and the like.

In the end, it wasn’t long before Frontier got in touch with the collective and, although it isn’t clear if the above suggestions have been agreed-upon, the third-party strikers seem to have left satisfied and are restoring their tools in time for the bank holiday weekend, putting many of the websites back up tonight.

“After a very fast approach from Frontier… we in the EDCD [Elite Dangerous Community of Developers] feel that Frontier have been earnest in their positive response to the third-party developer community today,” they said in a forum post. “As such, and so as to not cause further disruption to the playerbase or upcoming game events, we thought it would be a good idea to reopen our web sites in good faith of their announced commitment.”

So there we go. In the six hours it took us to notice that there was a strike and to begin writing about the fracas, it had already been resolved, leaving me as the rabid journalist snapping my pen and looking miserable. No union bashing, no scabs on buses, no Pinkerton agents standing around with shotguns. Very unsporting, everyone.

But it’s a good thing for players. As an old and terrible pilot I know that many of these tools can be extremely helpful, sometimes moreso than the in-game menus, especially when it comes to finding decent trade routes. So the removal of them for the weekend would have been a burden, especially to hardcore spacers like the Fuel Rats (a group of players who will come to your aid if you get stranded in space without jump fuel) and other space whiskey traders. Anyway, all in all, a complete non-story. Thanks a lot, amicable negotiation.



  1. Someoldguy says:

    If amicable negotiation alone was enough, they wouldn’t have needed to actually go on strike, however briefly.

  2. geldonyetich says:

    3 months later, Frontier releases official in game features that do the same thing.

    “Oops.” – Braben

    • FeepingCreature says:

      “Who do they think they are,” Frontier CEO Braben has commented, “doing the job we’ve been kind of failing at for several releases now? Well, now we’ve done their job, which was our job to begin with, so who’s laughing now?”

      Widespread laughter and mirth was said to be heard throughout the player base.

      More realistic version:

      3 months later, Frontier begins requiring an API key for the mobile APIs many tools have been using. After a brief but total playerbase uproar, the change is quietly reverted and never mentioned again.

  3. causticnl says:


  4. CartonofMilk says:

    all the players should strike until the designers are forced to become good at designing. Ive definitely been on strike for months but nobody cares.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Hah. Well that’s quite the can of worms.

      I get the feeling at the core of Elite: Dangerous’ general lack of endgame satisfaction is the rot of insistent kickstarter backers.

      It’s like if a vocal minority on an MMORPG forum became main investors. It looks great on paper, but just like real investors, they’re no game designer.

  5. ColonelFlanders says:

    Good on them though, I hope this kicks Frontier’s ass a little. They are so close to being a great developer, but communication has been one of the biggest of their many irritating shortcomings. Next they need to work on taking all of the amazing sound design, graphical prowess, charm and great ideas in their games and make some actual fucking games out of them.

    • Asurmen says:

      They’ve communicated just fine, just not with this group it appears :(

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        I kind of have to disagree with that a bit based on my own experience. I’ve been very active on the Planet Coaster forums and lurk on the ED forums, and Frontier can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. They are always very evasive about their roadmap, and with Planet Coaster it has led to a certain degree of frustration from many users including myself.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Frontier – they have some amazing devs working for them and I want to keep supporting them so I can see them grow, but they really need to work on a few things that they just kind of don’t address.

        • Asurmen says:

          Weekly newsletter tells me everything I need to know really.

          Additional things I get from their YouTube videos, announcements during events and their forum posts.

          Different strokes I guess. Can’t speak about Planet Coaster though.

  6. PancakeWizard says:

    If a developer is good enough to open their game up for modding, that’s At Your Own Risk. If you start complaining because their patch updates don’t account for your mod then you’ve lost sight of what you’re doing, frankly.

    • April March says:

      It really depends on what the developer wants and if they said they’d actively support modding of if their reaction was a shrug. I don’t know how Frontier work, but it seems like most of these modders’ issues could be solved if they simply gave some forenotice of updates.

      • cckerberos says:

        Indeed. I certainly don’t read this as demanding that updates be tailored around mods.

        While I’ve been out for a couple years, I used to be a fairly active modder on Paradox games and patches were a major problem due to a lack of information. A patch would come out and suddenly a mod would stop working, requiring debugging that could be quite time intensive at times. That could have been fixed by a quick note from the devs saying, for example, “we’ve changed the name of file X to Y”.

    • Geo Da Sponge says:

      You misunderstand; the third party resources aren’t mods, they’re websites which provide information that the game itself completely fails to communicate. To put it simply, there’s a lot of information such as commodity prices, where to buy ships and modules, and so on that can only be gathered without these resources by physically flying from station to station and checking yourself. Given that Elite: Dangerous portrays the galaxy as being every bit as big as it really is, this gets tedious fast. So it’s incredibly useful to be able to check, say, where the nearest station that will sell me a particular ship module is, or what the best price I can get for all this cargo I’m carrying is, and it’s something the the game simply lacks.

      Another example are the websites that let you design ships based on all available modules; it would be incredibly tedious and awkward to try and experiment with what module combinations would be most optimal in game, as it would take a prodigious amount of note-taking interspersed with flying from one station to another to see how other modules that are available there compare to the ones available in your current location.

      I hardly use these sites at all compared to most of the playerbase, but even I find that the game would be far more annoying without them.

    • scatterbrainless says:

      As I understand it, these are API queries not mods. And given that you don’t seem to realize that, I find it strange that you take such an aggressively defensive tone in favor of the developers whilst clearly not understanding the issue?

  7. Kerenn says:

    Hello, Kerenn from The Fuel Rats Mischief here.

    “So the removal of them for the weekend would have been a burden, especially to hardcore spacers like the Fuel Rats (a group of players who will come to your aid if you get stranded in space without jump fuel)”

    Uh… Have you seen the Fuel Rats in action ? We don’t need those tools to find you and save you. Sure, it makes our work easier here and there, but that’s just the cherry on top.
    As for the hardcore part, we’re not ! As one of us said :
    “We don’t take ourselves seriously. But we take rescuing you, seriously.”

    I have been pushing for RPS to get in touch with us and see what we do for over two years now, and the first mention of us is such a tiny disqualifying one ? Come on. We’re better than this. We can prove it to you. And we surely will.

    Fly Safe ! o7

    • Gorncaptain says:

      A ridealong with the fuel rats would be a pretty great article

    • Premium User Badge

      ooshp says:

      I’m kind of disappointed no one at RPS has taken the time to write such an article, Fuel Rats is definitely one of the more interesting organisations I’ve come across in an online game.

      I did come frighteningly close to needing your services one exploration trip when I stumbled into the largest patch of brown dwarves I’ve ever seen. Barely made it to a scoopable star with a G5 engineered Asp.

    • zeep says:

      A ridealong article, great idea!

      Thanks for being there Commanders o7

  8. zeep says:

    Aaand cue all the Frontier hate from people who want moar action now, even though ED is exactly what the original Elite was. :)

    Thank heavens you all have stopped using that overused “the quote” in every reply.

  9. AthanSpod says:

    Just so you know Brendan, the dev of Captain’s Log liked your “Captain’s Log, which keeps a record of all the systems you’ve been to (kind of like internet browsing history but for black holes)” line so much that he’s making “kind of like internet browsing history but for black holes” the new tag line for his app ;)

    link to forums.frontier.co.uk

    Oh, and he’s taken the suggestion of being sure to credit RPS and is firing up GIMP to make a better version now ;).