An open letter to Frontier Development

I am a huge fan of your company and devoted player of your game, as well as purchaser of many, many paint jobs. I am the co-host of a podcast every week that is dedicated to the amazing thing that you have created. I love so many aspects of it that were I to fully unpack that statement it would require a whole other thread. The faithful one-to-one recreation of our entire galaxy is monumentally impressive to me.

This, along with the fact that unlike almost every other MMO out today you can actually play this game as something other than a murder hobo. 99.9% of all the games on the market are some variation of ‘go to a cave, meet an orc, kill the orc, take its cake, go to next cave’. This may be dressed up as changing the cave to a space station, arena, jungle zone etc; and changing orc to terrorist, space marine or zombie, etc; but the experience is the same. Elite, however, allows me to meaningfully fly around and explore (wherein I get to live out my NASA fantasy) or engage in many other meaningful non combat activities. When you add that to the superb flight mechanics for combat activities (for times that I do wish to do combat) you have quite simply created a wonderful product which I call (stolen quote from a friend) “my forever game.”

One of the most impressive and beloved aspects of this game, and indeed one of the things that convinced me to purchase it, is the amazing depth of the narrative and lore of Elite. The entire series going back to 1984 was created with a superb eye to detail on the story of the expanded universe. The inclusion of the novella ‘The Dark Wheel’ in the original game box was visionary and quite simply ahead of its time. The inclusion of five different in-game newspapers that were accessible in the game menu of ‘Frontier: First Encounters’ (1995) was an act of pure genius that to this day I have not seen recreated. This eye for detail was lovingly carried forward all the way to Elite: Dangerous.

In this current iteration of the Elite series you kept so many of the lore touchstones and masterfully seeded the galaxy with little gems of both lore and narrative to be enjoyed by both returning veterans and fresh new commanders alike. The lively and colorful Galnet News articles that could be read or listened to directly in the cockpit were a vital part of weaving a deep and rich tapestry that transformed this title from a game to a fully immersive world in which we live.

On August 7 2019 you announced through Community Manager Stephen Benedetti:


Hello Commanders,

Our galaxy is filled with a plethora of stories, places, and people, which are all part off the rich canon of Elite Dangerous, explored through many of our GalNet articles.

While GalNet provides an understanding of life in the 3300s, it hasn't always had a direct impact on your gameplay. We have been reviewing the effect this has had on your in-game experience, along with your feedback, and as a result, we’re going to be reducing the number of GalNet stories that we produce and instead focus on covering in-game content.

In the foreseeable future, GalNet articles will concentrate on in-game activity, such as Interstellar Initiatives, the release of new ships and modules, and significant narrative developments. With this change, we will be stopping the 'off-camera' narratives that we have previously published via GalNet.

We hope you have enjoyed the many stories that we have told, and as always please share your thoughts and feedback with us.


At the time I was a little disheartened by this event but unsure of the exact nature of the extent of the change. Now, I believe sufficient time has elapsed that I may thoughtfully give you the feedback you requested in that post.


“While Galnet provides and understanding of life in the 3300s, it hasn’t always had a direct impact on your gameplay.”


I am sorry, but I must say that I do not agree with this statement. A vital part of my experience within this game was simply existing in the rich world of wonder and mystery that the greater canon of both lore and narrative created. The fact that some stories may not (as of yet) have some tangible location in game that is known to me (Raxxla, The Halsey incident and the “caretakers of the galaxy”, or even the “place of light and wonder” that the maddened mechanic who stole a DBX was attempting to reach that apparently prompted you to scale back Galnet) is immaterial. The fact that they could potentially exist is fuel for my imagination and is to my mind a source of immeasurable added wealth to the experience.

I would like to most sincerely beseech you to bring back the gift of wonder that you previously provided to us on a regular basis; and if you must appease some people who would complain about stories that are not 100% concretely tied to a specific ISI or CG, then consider allowing them a toggle box to ‘turn off’ this feature lest they be burdened with hearing awesome stories.


“In the foreseeable future, GalNet articles will concentrate on in-game activity,”

You have been blessed with an embarrassing wealth of riches when it comes to a varied and enthusiastic community that provides completely tangible in-game activity on a weekly basis. At the time of this writing you have multiple in-game expeditions and events going on including:

  1. The Expedition of Perseus Reach, which was planned for a year and has over 400 members taking small ships out to the furthest point of the galaxy.
  2. The Hutton Orbital Truckers are continuing in their mission to share the joy of ‘player with player’ content with ‘Operation Hot Mess’ in which they are doing an active survey of every station and market in the entire game.
  3. HAXCOM has planned an event for February 26th in which they will be showing players the finer points of anti-xeno combat culminating with a class on ‘How to Pop a Clops!’
  4. Frontier Developments (you may have heard of them) are doing a charity event in which they will be auctioning off naming rights to certain galactic bodies and stations as well as special limited edition paint jobs.
  5. HCS Voice packs have released their new “Alpha” voice pack.
  6. GameGlass have just rolled out their new product line for use with Elite: Dangerous.
  7. Drew Wagar is beginning preparations for his Lore Tour and has put out details of where and when people can come in-game to join in on the tour in person that will be taking part every week for 15 installments celebrating the history of the Elite series.
  8. Frontier Developments livestreams:
    1. Put out a call for submissions of #Stellar Screenshots and
    2. Featured AXI and demonstration to commanders new to AXI combat how it works.
  9. Commander Exigeous's group, Level 11, every week hosts ‘Sidewinder Slaughter’, a fun and new player-friendly PVP event. This event is held every Monday at 8pm EST as it's a convenient time zone for American players and every Wednesday night at 8PM UTC as it's convenient for European players.
  10. Operation Ida are celebrating their 100th station repair which is an epic achievement with a weekend-long celebration including various activities and contests.
  11. EDTutorials.com launched as a database specifically designed to assist Elite commanders to locate guides on every aspect of the game.
  12. Reddit dropped an excellent Thargoid Activity Map to help illustrate to commanders the nature of the AX conflict as it now stands. (https://i.redd.it/fvlx4wn38if41.jpg )
These are all current news items off the top of my mind alone (and I do not doubt that others would easily triple the size of this list). They could all be given ‘in-universe’ descriptions that could be announced on Galnet. I would encourage you to use them to help you provide news as well as provide free content which you have the ability to pass onto your playerbase to keep them engaged, and grow the game.


“and significant narrative developments. With this change, we will be stopping the 'off-camera' narratives that we have previously published via GalNet.”

While you did publish an article announcing the return of the Thargoid attacks, there has been a significant change to the level and nature of the attacks as well as the usefulness of the Eagle Eye Network. These are concrete in-game events that very clearly and directly match the criteria above. In addition to this, there are a long list of modifications that have been made and are continuing to be made resulting from the January patch. These include a significant modification to our FSS systems, the addition of crewmembers to our insurance policies, and the ongoing story that is the many changes to the market system pertaining to mined materials - just to name a few. All of these items on their own could have been turned into a Galnet article.

I freely acknowledge that those articles will then need to be translated to all of the covered languages but as you already have a mechanism in place for this I feel the added value of the content warrants this time expenditure.

In spite of the abundance of material cited above, at the time of this being written there are no available articles on Galnet in the cockpit, as the last official article rotated out of service and no new articles have been published for over 30 days. For a game built on a backbone of some of the finest storytelling in the industry this is truly a sad moment. The forums are awash with commentary on this: Obsidian Ant, Buur Witchspace News, Hello Dave (D2EA), Lave Radio, Galnet News Digest, Hutton Orbital Radio, Loose Screws Podcast, Guard Frequency Podcast and more community-driven news sources have all lamented this fact. You stated that the purpose of this change was in response to feedback you received on the issue, and I would like to state now that the community feedback seems to be fairly unanimous on this fact: we would all like to implore you to bring Galnet back to us.

In addition to these items listed above I would like to implore you to make use of the following sources of information for future articles:

  1. Galnet News Digest (Commander Wotherspoon): Who regularly puts out witty and fascinating news from around your galaxy, such as the recent story of the five commanders on an expedition who went on an SRV excursion and when they recalled their ships watched on in horror as the ships nose dived directly into the planet in a ball of fiery destruction. These pilots refused to pay their insurance premium but rather ‘sued the manufacturer for the defect’ (opened a ticket to report the bug and get their ships back). While Wotherspoon does cover some topics that could potentially be outside the scope of what you want covered in Galnet, he is a pro and could certainly filter out those while submitting you suitable content.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG8WqlR1ua6mjkq9qQHrnZQ]

  2. Sagittarius Eye magazine, who put out the finest community-created content that this (or any other game in my opinion) has ever made. This staff includes real professional journalists and editors alongside intelligent and engaged community members. They regularly produce all in-game lore publications that are both fascinating and meticulously-researched to match in-game lore. They could submit edited content for you to supply to your players. https://www.sagittarius-eye.com/

  3. A player submission process: this one is slightly more of a reach and I would understand if it simply involves prohibitive cost at this time but I would so very much love a process whereby players can go to your site and submit articles of upcoming events or stories in an in-game, lore-friendly format that would hopefully require minimal effort for someone in your Community Management Team to filter and pass on suitable submissions to whomever in the Development Team would be handling Galnet.

    I know that all of this may seem ambitious but this would cover my entire list of desires for the game’s news system.
So, to sum up:

1. Please re-institute the fictional narrative that was removed.

2. Please expand coverage to include tangible community events and stories that are now happening.

3. Please consider reaching out to Galnet News Digest, Sag-I and the playerbase for in-universe story submissions.

I freely admit that the added work which would need to take place by your staff to incorporate any or all of these changes would be considerable but I believe the added value to the players of your game and the player experience, as well as the overall growth and viability of your product, would be demonstrably greater.

I would completely understand if you are not swayed entirely by this letter but would like to thank you for taking the time to read this and listen to my feelings on this matter. Your company has been often cited as industry-leading with your customer service policies and I know that this comes from a sincere desire to provide a great product for your customers. Maybe as a compromise you would consider posting a poll to help you gauge the playerbase’s feelings?

One last thing - while I know that I have no power to control how others choose to express themselves I would like to personally ask each player who responds to this thread to please try and be civil in their criticism to Frontier on this issue as I believe that negativity does nothing but close down access to the people we would hope to persuade.


Thank you,

CMDR Kai Zen
 
Totally agree. Being able to immerse ourselves so fully enables a rich environment to "live" within. I would also add, maybe a war between two big player factions that has been ongoing for months could be interesting fodder for galnet? We have a log of the timeline of our events for just such a purpose.
 
Serious face:

I wholeheartedly agree with this, players are a goldmine of enthusiasm and content.

This suggestion seems to fit:


Less serious:

Galnet has been struck down, but has become more powerful than FD could imagine:


 
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I couldn't agree more. This is a Space Simulator. I want immersion. I want to listen to news bits around the galaxy.
How has the war in sector A between faction a and faction b affecting the global average of material.
What has happened with weapon development, guardian myths, iconic pirates, etc.

Look, you have a universe that is breathing, don't take away the oxygen. I LOVE listening to this content and the game loses so much without.

I volunteer my time to write articles or random stories, and I'm absolutely sure there are more that would as well. If you need content, you have a universe that is ready to deliver it.

Thanks Kai for posting this, I couldn't agree more.

I LOVE THIS GAME.

#LetLoreLive
 
A whole month with nothing on Galnet has been too long in my opinion so I agree with the op. However I do also understand that much of the teams current time is likely taken up with future content for fleet carriers and the big update at the end of the year. And in that case, it would be good if these suggestions could be taken on board for the future. In the mean time, any sort of brief story or news item would be much appreciated to keep us going :)
 
I totally agree and hope FDev do in fact listen and act POSITIVELY, but I'm not going to hold my breath..... unless they can spin this further Open Letter into yet another totally-negative-get-out-clause impact for players like they did with the last open letter. o7 😢
 
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While I agree with everything stated I fear that this could be the catalyst of another delay of fleet carriers and new era because this will be interpreted as "the community" would rather have bug fixes new lore over new content...

In all seriousness...please, please, PLEASE bring back Galnet content, it gives the galaxy life! The OP's suggestions are right on the money.
 
I wholeheartedly agree with this original poster's thoughts on the matter of Lore and Galnet. I would love to see Frontier add "competing news" to galnet like there was in some of the older versions of the game... giving news from a different slant … Imperial, Federation, Alliance, Independent. and I love the idea of creating a way to allow players to submit some of this "Off-Camera Narative" for news items to add some flavor and life to the galaxy. I hope Fdev hires a writer or two with some understanding of the Lore... and lets them review and edit and create some new stories for the game.

I don't know if Fedv decided to cut out this storytelling because players only wanted stuff they could find in game or if it was Fedev saving money and effort of not having to write it. But your game has probably the richest and deepest lore of anything out there in this genre' of game... don't ignore it! USE IT... EMBRACE IT! SHARE IT!

and if you have to make an option so that players who don't want to read this stuff do that instead of taking it away from everyone!
 
Oh christm another Open Letter no one asked for.. At least you seem to be a player, not just a youtuber.. But really, after the last 'Open Letter', you thought another was a good idea? I'm also entertained that, once again, a player thinks they know better than the devs about a game.

If anything else is delayed and/or 'bufixing mode' goes for more than a couple of months, it'll be you that gets the blame..
 
I have seen some comments on the nature of me calling my post "An open letter" while this may be a little click baity to garner attention I sincerely hope that I have properly conveyed that my letter is submitted with respect and affection for the amazing job that the entire staff at Frontier have done in creating this game. My sentiments are, I believe, demonstrably different from the previous letter that you are referring to.
 
I concur to the initial idea, especially concerning the implementation of existing player content. But I also agree with the decision to drop the 'fluff'. I stopped reading Galnet when I realised most of the content was pure fiction. Many a goose chase followed and it became impossible after a while to figure out the clues from the filler.

I do feel it can be handled better and FD should embrace player content more. But please no more fluff.
 
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