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Thread: Open Letter to Frontier Developments

  1. #1

    Post Open Letter to Frontier Developments

    Dear Frontier Developments and Elite: Dangerous team,

    I'm writing to you on behalf of a large part of the third party tool developers community and the many thousands of players who use these tools.
    Please note that this open letter was written and corrected by multiple authors from the third party tools community.

    To get started, let me first introduce myself:

    I am AnthorNet, the lead developer on the EDDN project (also ED-TD.space and EDSM.net).
    EDDN’s main goal is to provide data on the availability of commodities, modules, and ships in the Elite Dangerous galaxy to third-party websites and tools.
    EDDN usually carries around 5,000 messages per day, and cumulatively 2 million messages since May 2015.

    The following websites/software use data from EDDN to provide players with ways to find profitable trade routes and to find starports that stock the ships and modules that they want:



    The fact that these sites exist and generate a significant number of visitors demonstrates that there is high demand from your player-base for the information and tools that they provide;
    information that isn’t provided in an easily discoverable form in-game.

    The majority of the data carried by EDDN has been sourced from thousands of individual players using the open API that you created to support your iOS Companion App.

    On every update to the core ED game, this API temporarily ceases to be functional which we understand perfectly.
    But with the 1.5-2.0 release, the downtime was longer than before, hence our open letter.
    A large part of your community was stuck for days and has waited for a statement about the API’s continuation (or not) to come from on your side.
    Sadly nothing was said officially, and only random testing by the community lead us to realise that the API was once again back online.

    We understand that you are very busy with the improvements to the core game and there is probably not much time left over to concentrate on the API.
    Parts of the community responded by reverting to OCR methods to keep the EDDN data at least temporarily updated during the API’s downtime,
    but it is noticeable that trade data all but dried up, during the API downtime..

    Let's face it, we all know that players prefer to have a one-click method to assist and plan trading than having to juggle with multiple screenshots and potentially misinterpreted OCR data.
    With outdated data and/or heavily time-consuming methods to update information (whether locally for just the player in isolation, or the community at large), it will inevitably lead to loss of interest in trading,
    because for some people it will also mean that the game/trading will become more inaccessible for them. That also means fewer players in the game, which is something that nobody wants.

    Your Companion App API is one intuitive way for players to push data easily to all the community, just like the game’s verbose logging system does for online flight logs.
    As mentioned above, EDDN is handling around 5,000 messages per day, it means less amount of requests to your API server (EDDN can handle up to three type of messages for one API call).
    Compared to the traffic-levels of the web tools mentioned, we think it's a reasonably marginal number of API requests, and we cannot imagine it should unacceptably stress your servers (but please advise us, if this is the case!)

    This recent temporary outage has lead to more pressure from the community for a proper API, and the fear is that not having any sort of API will lead to a loss of motivation
    from third party apps developers and bad feeling in the tool-using player community. And we are not talking just about few players, but tens of thousands of them at least.

    We also understand that you may be worried that providing a proper API from Frontier Developments may demand a lot of your resources to manage it,
    but I and the third party developer community think that you can easily let your community build the management tools for you.
    We already done it, and players think we’re doing it well, and there are more alternatives in the tool ‘market’ than they could dream of.
    By having EDDN sharing the underlying trade information, the door is even open for new developers to join the adventure.

    We hope that our time and effort given into these community sites and tools wasn't wasted and that the Frontier's attitude isn't that such kind of sites are unwelcome - but similarly,
    if that is the case, we really would appreciate knowing this now, rather than later, after yet more effort and work has been expended.

    But if we are correct in our hope, and if it is true that Frontier does want a vibrant, growing community of third-party tools working around your game for the benefit of loyal and committed players,
    please engage with your external development community on the subject of supplying an API for third-party tools that you are happy to officially support us using.
    We are here, willing, able and eager, to support you in the advancement of Elite: Dangerous, and we’d love to talk to you!.

    Authors:



    PS: I tried to add as much third party tools author as I could, but if I missed you, please forgive me and send me a PM so I can add you to the letter if you feel concerned as we are.



    -------------------------------------------------------

    Hello Commanders,
    First thanks for your support.

    Please keep the topic as clean as possible. We do not want a war between pro/cons about whether third party tools are cheats or not.
    We do not enforce their uses.

    Some of you have express their feelings that we should not have an instant API of all the data, and I think we agree.
    Actually the process we have now is perfectly suitable for us, and even add some gameplays into the game,
    think it is some kind of cartographer work being done, where all the data, may not be all up to date.

    You may think an API would be some real work from FD, but actually, a simple dump should not take much time to develop,
    and we would be able to take care of it the way we already work.

    I'll try to add some important quotes in the main topic once I got some time, so they don't fall into the limbo of all those pages.

    To third party tools developer willing to sign the letter with us, simply drop me a PM.


    -------------------------------------------------------

    Originally Posted by Zac Antonaci View Post (Source)
    Dear Tool Developers and clever people,

    Thank you for your open letter. Reading through the letter there appears to be 2 main questions that I can pull from this.

    The first is the down time of the API and question as to whether it will return due to it's downtime. I understand very much that this will cause concern.

    With this specific concern the best bet (when it was down) is to report it on the bug forum and they will be able to confirm whether this is a bug or not. Alternatively you can the community team who would be happy to find out for you. (community@frontier.co,uk)

    The second and deeper question is the one about an API. We understand that there are lots of people who would like to have this API and it is something we have discussed. However, being able to balance when it will be possible is another question.

    I cant give you a date or a rough time but I can at least assure you that the dec team are aware of the desire and it has been considered.

    Other than that, thank you for your support with the community. Community created content and tools are a fantastic way to add more help support or richness to the game and we do appreciate your efforts greatly.

    Yours sincerely,
    Zac
    Dear Zac,
    Thanks for your answer, it's a start!

    We know that holidays can be a busy time (or not at all!), but sincerely I think that this statement is something we already heard multiple times!
    I really hope, you or someone else will get back to us with some other things to say, and we deserve it.

    You can't always respond with some vaguely statement about something that get so less time to implement as other said.
    We're mostly all professional software developers here, so we have a clear statement on how much time some things could take to be implemented.

    Some very quick solutions were proposed that would not take time or resources from FD to be implemented.
    Specially when all the structures needed by third party tool already exists and can be extended on our side to spread the data.

    All things said, it's pretty easy to contact us by email if you prefer to engage in a more constructive dialog in private.


    -------------------------------------------------------

    Originally Posted by Zac Antonaci View Post (Source)
    Hey all I just wanted to follow up with a second reply here.

    For those requesting clarification on the use of the campanion API and also.the future of the API.

    To clarify the previous post. There is no updates at the moment. I will make sure the suggestions and requests are passed on. Hopefully we will be able to have more news in the new year for the possibilities of new API support and clarify the use of the campanion API.

    Sorry for any confusion.
    -------------------------------------------------------

    Originally Posted by Zac Antonaci View Post (Source)
    Hey guys,

    As promised we've discussed the topic for you all, sorry for the delay in replys but today was the first available opportunity to review the thread.

    People are free to continue use of the existing companion app API, though please be aware this is something we hope to expand and improve on the future. Since we don’t yet have a date for that, use of the existing one is fine, but we ask that you do so in a careful and considered manner – for example not polling it continuously. We will bring in guidelines and an approval process over time too, but for now please be aware that we will stop apps that are not well behaved.

    We are passionate about the development of community created content and very much see the value in the tools that are being created which is why we are happy for this API to be continued. As we have mentioned before, we would like to create a new API which allows tool developers support to create their own tools but this will not be a short term implementation and is instead something we are considering for future development.

    Thanks for your patience, we will keep you informed as and when we have more information to share.
    Hi Zac,
    Thanks for your reply, we really appreciate that our thread was review.

    Be assured that we are not polling it too much, we always added in the client (EDCE then EDMC) some time out (Actually one minute) to prevent that.
    I cannot guarantee that it is the case for other clients I'm not aware of, but I'm not sure they are much there.
    EDMC is also open source so we can assure that they are no stollen informations for the player.

    It is easier for us to concentrate on one client republishing the informations to EDDN, those every third party developer is able to grab the informations, and your API is not pulled too much.

    As usual, if you need private intel about how we use it and what should be corrected in the API, feel free to contact us in private.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    OMG, Spoiler sites, if a large part of the community can't play without them then there is a huge issue, gamers becoming too lazy to find traderoutes the old way ? How is it possible they are even sharing that data? Doesn't it completely spoil the game if everything is already on a website?

  3. #3
    I think that third party tools help to fill a void in documentation and information that is sorely lacking in Elite:Dangerous. While I can appreciate that some think that the lack of available information is part of the E:D experience, I think that the massive sandbox that is the E:D galaxy allows for different approaches to the game that go beyond that lone-pilot-in-the-galaxy template. Not all players want to be lone wolves, as demonstrated by the plethora of player groups, nor do all players enjoy tracking down that elusive module they want for their ship.

    I appreciate the time and effort the third-party tool makers have put in and would love to see them continue their efforts in the future. Preferably, while working together with the E:D team. Combining the broader vision of the developers with the practical experience of the third-party tool developers.

    If you ask me, it is a win-win scenario.


    My 2 credits,
    Grim

  4. #4
    I like the 3rd party tools, however I would like it to be more Incorporated in the game.

    Its a tool not a guarantee to success.

  5. #5
    Moving forward, good luck to OP as FD is pushing so much the grinding in order to hide broken gameplay mechanics and lack of content.

    Again, good luck.

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by Mark Lock View Post (Source)
    OMG, Spoiler sites, if a large part of the community can't play without them then there is a huge issue, gamers becoming too lazy to find traderoutes the old way ? How is it possible they are even sharing that data? Doesn't it completely spoil the game if everything is already on a website?
    An API is not only about trading, there is many thing that could be done:
    - Exploration logs for explorer to keep a trace of their journey,
    - deep CMDR stats,
    - live data about player factions/groups to help group owner having a global view of their expansion,
    - Powerplay live data (atm already done with a csv dump but could be improved with a live API)
    sure many other usefull thing could be done depending on what data we will have,
    as ED is an online game, it could help a lot to afford to players some tools to extend the game experience and help players focused on Open play to have what they need to have a deeper experience on Elite world.

    FD already talk about an official API & said something will be done, now we just wait for news.
    CMDR Biobob - ED Pilot License - Elite Galactic Wiki
    Explorer, Mercenary, Bounty Hunter
    EDCodex.info: 110+ Tools --- 80+ Threads / Guides --- 20+ Community / Videos


  7. #7
    Originally Posted by AnthorNet View Post (Source)
    Dear Frontier Developments and Elite: Dangerous team,

    I'm writing to you on behalf of a large part of the third party tool developers community and the many thousands of players who use these tools.
    Please note that this open letter was written and corrected by multiple authors from the third party tools community.

    To get started, let me first introduce myself:

    I am AnthorNet, the lead developer on the EDDN project (also ED-TD.space and EDSM.net).
    EDDN’s main goal is to provide data on the availability of commodities, modules, and ships in the Elite Dangerous galaxy to third-party websites and tools.
    EDDN usually carries around 5,000 messages per day, and cumulatively 2 million messages since May 2015.

    The following websites/software use data from EDDN to provide players with ways to find profitable trade routes and to find starports that stock the ships and modules that they want:

    • CORIOLIS.io (Monthly: 1M+ views / 80K+ users / 350K sessions)
    • EDDB.io (Monthly: 1M+ views / 70K+ users / 280K sessions)
    • EDDiscovery
    • ED-TD.space (Monthly: 300K+ views / 30K+ users / 60K sessions)
    • ETN.io (Monthly: 90K+ views / 25K+ users)
    • INARA.cz (Monthly: 1M+ views / 35K+ users / 120K sessions)
    • ROGUEY.co.uk (Monthly: 500K+ views / 50K+ users / 115k sessions)
    • Trade dangerous via Maddavo Market Share (MMS) / EDAPI


    The fact that these sites exist and generate a significant number of visitors demonstrates that there is high demand from your player-base for the information and tools that they provide;
    information that isn’t provided in an easily discoverable form in-game.

    The majority of the data carried by EDDN has been sourced from thousands of individual players using the open API that you created to support your iOS Companion App.

    On every update to the core ED game, this API temporarily ceases to be functional which we understand perfectly.
    But with the 1.5-2.0 release, the downtime was longer than before, hence our open letter.
    A large part of your community was stuck for days and has waited for a statement about the API’s continuation (or not) to come from on your side.
    Sadly nothing was said officially, and only random testing by the community lead us to realise that the API was once again back online.

    We understand that you are very busy with the improvements to the core game and there is probably not much time left over to concentrate on the API.
    Parts of the community responded by reverting to OCR methods to keep the EDDN data at least temporarily updated during the API’s downtime,
    but it is noticeable that trade data all but dried up, during the API downtime..

    Let's face it, we all know that players prefer to have a one-click method to assist and plan trading than having to juggle with multiple screenshots and potentially misinterpreted OCR data.
    With outdated data and/or heavily time-consuming methods to update information (whether locally for just the player in isolation, or the community at large), it will inevitably lead to loss of interest in trading,
    because for some people it will also mean that the game/trading will become more inaccessible for them. That also means fewer players in the game, which is something that nobody wants.

    Your Companion App API is one intuitive way for players to push data easily to all the community, just like the game’s verbose logging system does for online flight logs.
    As mentioned above, EDDN is handling around 5,000 messages per day, it means less amount of requests to your API server (EDDN can handle up to three type of messages for one API call).
    Compared to the traffic-levels of the web tools mentioned, we think it's a reasonably marginal number of API requests, and we cannot imagine it should unacceptably stress your servers (but please advise us, if this is the case!)

    This recent temporary outage has lead to more pressure from the community for a proper API, and the fear is that not having any sort of API will lead to a loss of motivation
    from third party apps developers and bad feeling in the tool-using player community. And we are not talking just about few players, but tens of thousands of them at least.

    We also understand that you may be worried that providing a proper API from Frontier Developments may demand a lot of your resources to manage it,
    but I and the third party developer community think that you can easily let your community build the management tools for you.
    We already done it, and players think we’re doing it well, and there are more alternatives in the tool ‘market’ than they could dream of.
    By having EDDN sharing the underlying trade information, the door is even open for new developers to join the adventure.

    We hope that our time and effort given into these community sites and tools wasn't wasted and that the Frontier's attitude isn't that such kind of sites are unwelcome - but similarly,
    if that is the case, we really would appreciate knowing this now, rather than later, after yet more effort and work has been expended.

    But if we are correct in our hope, and if it is true that Frontier does want a vibrant, growing community of third-party tools working around your game for the benefit of loyal and committed players,
    please engage with your external development community on the subject of supplying an API for third-party tools that you are happy to officially support us using.
    We are here, willing, able and eager, to support you in the advancement of Elite: Dangerous, and we’d love to talk to you!.

    Authors:



    PS: I tried to add as much third party tools author as I could, but if I missed you, please forgive me and send me a PM so I can add you to the letter if you feel concerned as we are.
    My name is Macros Black, and I approve of this post.
    Fly dangerous, CMDR Macros Black

  8. #8
    Don't you think it would make more sense to post this when they are back in the office?

  9. #9
    I agree the logistics of trading leave a little to be desired. Third party engines such as Thrudd do not seem to be maintained by the users, data being up to 200 days out of date. Old school players may reply use old school methods (back to the slide rule and dip in pens).

    However, the economics of the game do not seem equitable. As trading item prices and margins seem to have taken a recent battering in price and reward, why is this not reflected in the price of ships and equipment?
    Tell me, O muse, of travellers far and wide” ― Homer

  10. #10
    Originally Posted by Red Zodiac View Post (Source)

    However, the economics of the game do not seem equitable. As trading item prices and margins seem to have taken a recent battering in price and reward, why is this not reflected in the price of ships and equipment?
    There are still routes with very high pay outs, I'm sitting on one right now there are just less of them now. The thing is most of the systems economies had another economy introduced to it(planetary bases) which often changed its own supply and demand. A surface planet might fill the demand of a good that a station would have prior to planetary bases being added.

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by Biobob View Post (Source)
    An API is not only about trading, there is many thing that could be done:
    - Exploration logs for explorer to keep a trace of their journey,
    - deep CMDR stats,
    - live data about player factions/groups to help group owner having a global view of their expansion,
    - Powerplay live data (atm already done with a csv dump but could be improved with a live API)
    sure many other usefull thing could be done depending on what data we will have,
    as ED is an online game, it could help a lot to afford to players some tools to extend the game experience and help players focused on Open play to have what they need to have a deeper experience on Elite world.

    FD already talk about an official API & said something will be done, now we just wait for news.
    I'm aware of that but some info should not be disclosed, trade routes and prices for example or ships' location, it breaks the immersion of the game, stations can't communicate with eachother cause of the huge distances, having to discover traderoutes and where to buy ships is part of the game, all the other stuff you mentioned should be ingame, there is no way to track your explorations right now

  12. #12
    I'm all for 3rd Party access to an Open and Published API.

    FD has provided little in the way of "value-added" tools for ED and has so far ignored the revenue opportunity it represents.
    Behaving in a "dog in a manger" fashion would do FD a great dis-service and I sincerely hope they provide a fully supported & published 3rd-party API ASAP.

    My life has no time for purists that want to whinge about doing it the "old way". Slide-rules and notepads were the old way, computers and applications is the new way, get on board. :-)
    Trade Rank: Elite ¦ Combat Rank: Elite ¦ Explorer Rank: Elite¦ Federal Navy Rank: Admiral ¦ Imperial Navy Rank: King

  13. #13
    Most of the functionality in these sites should be in-game anyways. Whats the deal with immersion when we have to alt-tab all the time to, say, find the equipment or ship we're looking for? And please don't tell me that looking for it is supposed to be an engaging part of the game, especially since technically I could write down all the data of any station I ever visited, which would be ridiculous in 3030 or whenever this game takes place, why not let my ship computer log all station data after I've visited a station and I can just look up whatever I need and get a handy plot route button on top of it?

    Not to mention completely misguiding statistics on ships or weapon performances. I get that they don't want it to be a numbers game and pull a dark souls, but honestly even dark souls gives you more information once you learned how to read it and in this very techno-centric game, technical data should be more easily accessible.

  14. #14
    InMemoriamSirocco is offline
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    Originally Posted by Mark Lock View Post (Source)
    OMG, Spoiler sites, if a large part of the community can't play without them then there is a huge issue, gamers becoming too lazy to find traderoutes the old way ? How is it possible they are even sharing that data? Doesn't it completely spoil the game if everything is already on a website?
    Sorry that the rest of the world has moved on into the age of information while you are still content with Amiga 500 gameplay requiring the use of pencil and paper, but your whining won't stop the human need for information and communication. As long as the game itself stays devoid of the necessary tools, third party tools will continue to thrive. Most gamers don't have the time to blindly fly from station to station and keep documenting market prices until by mere chance they happen to stumble upon a profitable trade route.

    Every previous iteration of Elite had better ingame Information about how to make a profit via trading.

  15. #15
    Originally Posted by Mark Lock View Post (Source)
    I'm aware of that but some info should not be disclosed, trade routes and prices for example or ships' location, it breaks the immersion of the game, stations can't communicate with eachother cause of the huge distances, having to discover traderoutes and where to buy ships is part of the game, all the other stuff you mentioned should be ingame, there is no way to track your explorations right now
    The lore argument has been brought up quite a few times in the past. I personally think that the lore argument has gone out of the window the moment CQC has been introduced. An explorer in the middle of the galaxy can participate in CQC with others anywhere else in the galaxy. Hence its possible to communicate with each other over long distances instantaneously in the ED universe. But lets remember its just a game......

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