Gameplay & Immersion: Changes / Improvements

(Over the course of my playing, i’ve documented areas in which the game could be greatly improved upon without needing massive or game changing overhauls to existing systems in place. These are 13 different changes or implementations that could be made to drastically set Elite: Dangerous apart from its competitors.)

Orbit Pathing
When orbiting around landable atmo-free bodies, there is a new “sweet spot” where you enter a sort of perfect orbital glide. This is a fantastic addition, but leaves me wanting more. With either a module, or a flick of a switch (screen prompt) one could “lock in” to an orbital path, around a planet, a star, a gas giant, or even a black hole, and their ship would take control of maintaining the orbital eccentricity. This would allow the player to fuel scoop/surface scan/take pictures without having to come to a true “stop” or hold controls throughout. This stands to reason as the kind of technological advancement that would absolutely exist in this universe, as in reality, matching & locking in to an orbital path around an object in space is indeed very necessary.

Earthquakes / Solar Flares / Meteor Impacts & Flyovers
Landing on planets must have been no small leap for the Fdev team. Though I still find myself thinking that there were a few major strokes missed here. Sure, the planets don’t have atmosphere, so there’s no storms or weather.. But that doesn’t make space a peaceful place. Some of these landable worlds have volcanic activity. Geysers. Where are the earthquakes? Even just an announcement and some ground rumble effects. Additionally, solar flares blasting the planets surface, minor meteor impacts, or flyovers would be a nice touch.

Comets
Travelling larger asteroids. Think the size of the “asteroid station” model. You’d be able to lock orbit with one, land on the surface, and mine/SRV. This would obviously come at great risk to yourself and your craft, but while also yielding high value resources.


Mining
Understandably so, most of the asteroids we can mine from are small enough that “landing” on one is unrealistic. Though, with larger asteroids, or landable worlds, where is the option to set my ship down and use my mining laser while set down? The Python, for example, has one frontal under-chassis hardpoint. Fitted with a mining laser, you’d enter a “turret” view that would display a camera from underneath your ship, where you could mine the surface creating materials for limpets or your SRV to pick up. Small improvements to move mining away into its own category of systems would greatly streamline and specialize the experience. But i’ll talk about that later.

Bookmark Catalogue
Currently you can place bookmarks on any location, and easily locate them in the galactic map. Or can you? Is it really that easy once you fill the initial text box space? What if you edit the name, and it's too long to fit that text box? With the Catalogue, players can bookmark a location, and then within the edit feature, choose a folder, a name, and a color for the bookmark icon. Allowing players to quickly filter through their discoveries or locations based on visual recognition. Additionally, edited system names now display in the galactic map, meaning what you type will show up for you and everyone you share the plot point with in your squadron.

Multi-plot [Multiple destination plotting]
Got a new Python, eh? Pretty snazzy. But oops, you haven't seen Farseer yet. Looks like you’re off to Decait. But you also need a new FSD? For sure, there’s a station in Ceos, and after that you might need a new hull, Cubeo has that. Excited to replot and replot over and over while you’re out? With multiplot, you’d have access to exactly that, creating routes with multiple stops. Speaking of routes..

Route sharing
Plotting option “Route share” would plot your route in a range, and not a hard limit, so anyone within a scale set range (e.g. 25-35ly) would be able to use the route. Storing like a bookmark, you could share within your squadron or to friends, leading to promotion of player discovered travel lanes. Forging a new era of support around the “Neutron Highway”


Multicrew - [Individual firegroups. Seat switching. ACTUAL copilot controls.]
I bought E: D for the Ps4, and played for about a month alone. I got so into the game I actually purchased a second Ps4 and a second copy of the game/horizons so that my partner and I could play together. You know what I found? Nothing.

Like, an incredible amount of nothing.

This one was definitely shelled out earlier than it should’ve been.

You can select from a list of “activities” to describe your multicrew experience. Why do you even list Exploration? Your copilot is basically reduced to only being able to surface scan, and the rest of the time stares at an empty screen they can’t really interact with, and even though it lists “Crew shares” in the Universal Cartographics, your “copilot” gets nothing.

If they change their firegroups to be more comfortable for them. Guess what, they change for you, too. In horrible and unexpected ways. If you try to use something they’ve got assigned, it’ll lock them out of it, and now you control every system and they can’t do anything but FSS. Why are the firegroups shared? Would it be so difficult to have individual firegroups for each seat? Consider it this way.

You have a 3 seat Multicrew. Seat 1(S1): Occupied by ship owner (P1) with Seat 2(S2) and seat 3(S3) Occupied by his friends pilot two, and three. (P2/P3).

Here’s the scenario-

P1-S1 brings ship to a 30.0km/s cruise once they enter the new system. Locking in to orbital cruise, the ship begins fuel scoop and is in Autopilot around the host star.
P3-S3 switches to their appropriate firegroup and activates D-scan.
P1 switches off helm control, passing it automatically to S2(The default for non-assigned copiloting), currently occupied by P2. P2’s hud changes to pilots hud.
P1 is given modes to choose from (Scan/Mine/Combat) P1 chooses (scan), hud changes to copilot hud.
P1 begins FSS, discovering the details of the system, while if necessary, P2-S2 can reposition the ship should any bodies be obstructed from view.
P1 discovers a noteable body, worth exploring. They tag the target, which pings on every seats console, and displays for every Pilot the target. Any pilot can target any body, but only one target can be up at a time, again, displaying for everyone on board.
P2 navigates to the noteable body while P1 continues their FSS
With P1 in scan, and P2 at the helm, P3 is free to take the copilots controls, or navigate the galactic map and plan a future route.
As the ship comes in to land, P3 takes copilot controls and lowers the landing gear when given the appropriate distance from the surface.
SRVs are deployed. P3 & P1 disembark on the two available SRVs while P2 follows along in the ship, scanning the horizon and using the Pulse Wave scanner to map/mark points of interest from a distance. (Think planetary D-scan)

(In this example, each cockpit seat is modular, allowing control of any type of system, and creating a sense of purpose for each person on the ship beyond just controlling a laser. Individual firegroups and controlsets mean no conflict where control is concerned. Order of priority is Pilot->Copilot->Copilot2 with permissions being set by the ship owner on who can take what roles. To prevent a scenario where a matchmade copilot would be able to purposefully destroy your ship.)

Squadron - [Minor faction creation / Stations / terraforming as a form of economy.]
Build on a future of Player backed Major powers risen up by player-supported minor NPC’s
This is more pie in the sky, even for me. These next two are concerning the longer-term capabilities of a universe like the one presented in Elite: Dangerous. Squadrons as they exist are a group organization system. Yet you can choose to “support” or “pledge” yourself and your allies to a major/minor faction. Why can we not create our own? Whether this exists as something of a direct NPC representation of our own squadron. (seems easiest, featuring the same name as your squadron, would be improved on by any self-improving or credit making action performed at your “home system”) Either way, allowing a deeper level of investment would mean something very important..

Stations - [Support leading to advanced services, creating new “bubbles” throughout the Galaxy.]
Free players from the confines of the “bubble”, make Exploration mean something beyond a payout.
Think 6 months real life time, casual/dedicated gameplay between yourself and a 19-person squadron. 20 people playing 4 hours a day would collectively log 80 hours per day. In six months time that team would log 14,560 hours of gameplay. Let it mean something! Say we discover an Earthlike between the bubble and Colonia. We pool our money for the initial “investment” of a small-class station purchase. A modest 5bn credits. Pooled together through the “squadron donation” option, you and your group have managed it. The station has been ordered, and you can all see from the Galactic Map that your system station is now listed as “Under construction” and selectable/visitable in the system for the duration of the construction timer. For this example, we’ll say 5 days. During that time, local threats can slow or completely stop your station progress if not dealt with. After which it will be completed, landable, and fully operational. From here it can be built upon the old fashioned way, or a station management screen accessible by the leadership of the squadron would be able to directly purchase expansions to the station for construction. Now you have in place a system for driven groups of players to -choose- to expand and colonize the deep parts of space that currently sit unloved and unexplored.

Station Specializations
Just as stations and minor factions already have specializations, it stands to reason that Player factions/stations would be able to choose a specific focus, like mining, trade, engineering and manufacturing, exploration, Xeno research, or terraforming. Each of these would come with their own perks and disadvantages, giving the options weight as they would determine what your group does and how well it pays out. Additionally, a station specialized in certain areas would benefit from non-squadron player visits. Exploration data sold at an exploration-focused station would both net the player a higher credit payout, and net the squadron faction both access to that data & the option to sell specific high value target data (earthlikes, terraformables, Xeno sites) to other factions who might be looking for that sort of information. (Think a market/trade system for data. Allowing Earthlikes and T-worlds to be traded and offered up to new or prospective Squadrons looking to find a home system.)

Ships
Hardest request, legitimately only including it because it needs said. This game is huge, huge huge, but limits you to the cockpit of your ship. You ARE your ship, in essence. So it stands to reason as the defining factor of character “foundation” that there would be a lot of options, right? Hell yes! 35! Except even avoiding the meta, there’s still only a handful of ships to truly choose from. The way credits are earned, you make enough to buy something that isn't a sidewinder- you either stay in that long enough to afford one of the three-ish medium ships, and then that long enough to afford the -literally three- large ships, or you go straight for the large ship from the small ship, because you’ve already managed to find your niche and have been making millions of credits a week. There’s variety, sure, but it’s all found in the lower completely inefficient tiers of ships compared to the likes of the Anaconda, Cutter, or the Federal Corvette.

The only true limitation between a new player and getting into an Anaconda in the first ten hours of gameplay is the effort it takes to grind engineering and guardian tech to raise the jump range to where it should be. Otherwise, a quick grind will net you hundreds of millions, and you’re in, again one of three top tier end game ships.

This isn’t to say getting these ships should be harder, it stands as the reason that focus should be spent on expanding the large craft catalogue, fostering an age of players having discussions and varying opinions, rather than a set meta. Secondary to this, more high end ships gives players something to aim for that feels like a choice rather than a singular option.

Pushing through this “end game” the implementation of station advancements, capitol ships, and terraforming, long term “true endgame” goals can be set in the multi-billions. Ensuring any one player couldn’t reasonably do the work alone, but a squadron collective could pool their credits to “buy in” on a squadron-controlled “station”

Station to station “Taxi travel”
Parking your ship in Decait, but realizing you’d actually benefit more from using the ship you left behind on Khun.. can be a real pain. How do other people, shipless people get around? They’re flown places. By other people. You, and NPC’s. Why is this not something we can access. Say there’s some requirements.. You have to jump from a station with a shipyard, as yours needs to be stored. You need a specific amount to jump. (Think rebuy, a guarantee you aren't getting yourself stuck too far from your ship.) and you can only jump to stations you’ve visited before. As for distance v. time, that’s another issue. How best to separate the experience of flying somewhere and taking a taxi to where both are individual enough from each other while also not making the other feel ostensibly boring, is the true challenge here. I’d figure personally that each trip would feature an extended “Mini spacelegs” like environment, inside whatever ship you were travelling in. You could wander, or “wait it out”, wandering would mean anywhere from 5-20 minutes of “messing around” alone in the ship, or with friends who’ve also taken the taxi with you as you’re in a squadron, or linked up into a “party”. Pop, you’re there. You dock, and wham-o, you’re at your other ship, or getting on board your friends ship to take a tour in a completely different area.


(All in all, there is a lot here, but in the grand scheme of some of the major changes and updates coming to this universe, it would be difficult to not eventually require a large portion of what is on this list, otherwise E: D could run the risk of ending up like other.. unnamed.. space sims, lots to see, nothing to do. Let me know how you feel about these changes, what balancing issues they might bring that i've overlooked, or other ways Fdev could look to improve our Galaxy.)
 
Station to station “Taxi travel”
Parking your ship in Decait, but realizing you’d actually benefit more from using the ship you left behind on Khun.. can be a real pain. How do other people, shipless people get around? They’re flown places. By other people. You, and NPC’s. Why is this not something we can access. Say there’s some requirements.. You have to jump from a station with a shipyard, as yours needs to be stored. You need a specific amount to jump. (Think rebuy, a guarantee you aren't getting yourself stuck too far from your ship.) and you can only jump to stations you’ve visited before. As for distance v. time, that’s another issue. How best to separate the experience of flying somewhere and taking a taxi to where both are individual enough from each other while also not making the other feel ostensibly boring, is the true challenge here. I’d figure personally that each trip would feature an extended “Mini spacelegs” like environment, inside whatever ship you were travelling in. You could wander, or “wait it out”, wandering would mean anywhere from 5-20 minutes of “messing around” alone in the ship, or with friends who’ve also taken the taxi with you as you’re in a squadron, or linked up into a “party”. Pop, you’re there. You dock, and wham-o, you’re at your other ship, or getting on board your friends ship to take a tour in a completely different area.
I always thought it would a good idea to be able to transfer CMDRs from station to station. I don't see why we couldn't hire a ship like NPC Passengers.
 
+1

Some really well thought out ideas, and many of them not overly development intensive.

These would help bring the game to life. I’d also add NPC crew and dialogue/chat options for communicating with NPCs, which should have a number of different personalities.
 
All in all, good, well thought-out ideas.

Route sharing is something I've been needing badly, when going on exploration trips with my son, since "Synuefai EB-R c7-5 " and such don't quite roll off the tongue. It could really start small, with features I'd imagine to be a handful of days to implement. For example, first it could be just a "galmap link" feature: with a destination star system chosen, click a button in the context menu and the wing members receive a message, which can be accepted or dismissed, and when accepted opens galmap with the system chosen. Also, setting waypoints (basically an option to add instead of replace route, with the previous destination becoming a waypoint) would be awesome. With both waypoints and sharing, each wing member would plot the course according to their filters and jump range normally, but could meet up at the waypoints - this way, they can cover more systems when exploring.

Multi-crew would definitely deserve some more love. It's not only hollow, but also full of holes: the couple of times I tried it, joining was a very flaky experience, with plenty of disconnects until it started behaving. I'd love to see more fleshed-out multi-crew, with more specialized crew UIs and roles. Also, I'd love to see an entry level "deck hand license" for reduced price, which would only allow crewing someone else's ship. This would open up possibilities for introducing kids and friends to the game without dishing out the full price for a copy. Also, Frontier could use it as a gateway drug by occasionally opening crew-only playing as free-to-play for limited time.

Planetary mining I think is something that would come naturally if/when player installations are added, or even before that. Automated mining rigs, that could be, along with self-assembling defence modules (skimmers and turrets) and landing pads, bought and deployed. This could perhaps require a special "engineering bay" similar to fighter and SRV hangars, with limited equipment capacity. Mining rigs and defences would be detectable by surface scan probes, or just passing close enough and picking the scanner blip. Perhaps they would feature some kind of a beacon, which would assist their owner in finding back to them, but could also be detected from a modest distance with specialized scanners. Stealing someone else's mining loot should be possible, and a welcome addition to bad boy professions.
 
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