Here’s my take on what Elite Dangerous is getting wrong…

First, some background. I have logged several thousand hours of dedicated game-play in Elite Dangerous. I have completed the superpower rank grind for both the Empire and Federation. I have been to Beagle point and back twice. I have built and engineered over twenty different ships in my career. I have been active on the Frontier forums and am a moderator on one of the more successful Elite Dangerous discords.I have spent close to a thousand dollars in hardware and controllers specifically to improve my experience in this game and have purchased close to one hundred dollars of cosmetic items over the time I have spent in game. I engage with the community; I hear complaints from a whole array of players, and I keep track of what systems in the game are working and which systems are failing. Despite the things the game is doing well, I have not been able to sit down and enjoy a long play session since this spring.

Let me be very clear, I do not want to take a collective dump on the community or on the developers, I find that ire and aggression tends to shut people down and prevent the kinds of discussions that need to be happening right now in order to prevent the community from stratifying. As it stands now, veteran players like me are leaving the Elite Community in frustration because of the overall trend this game is taking.

Elite Dangerous has one of the best player communities of any game I have ever played. If you are a new player, and you ask for help, you are going to get it. If you don’t understand something, a quick post on one of the many discord servers will have other players literally stepping all over each other trying to give you advise. Its wonderful, and it stems from the overall atmosphere the game has. Elite Dangerous is hard, by design, and it’s great because it drives players towards each other in a universe that couldn’t give less of a damn about you. This is not Destiny, you are not the chosen one, you are one cog in a greater machine forging your own path.

It’s a real shame then, that the community developer relationship is one of the worst I have ever seen, though I would have to reserve worse overall for Apex Legends. Where Apex is financially and socially abuse, Elite Dangerous is neglectful and halfhearted. The trend has appeared to get worse despite apparent effort on the part of Frontier to try and patch the road a bit. The Suggestions section of the Frontier forums are rife with free ideas, even if they might be bad ones, I rarely ever see anyone from frontier acknowledging them.

Aside from occasional PR bog standard platitudes mentioned during live streams the suggestions section of the forums appears to be mostly unnoticed. I have posted several long form ideas on the suggestions board, and while I don’t expect personal composed rebuttal letters signed by Will Flanagan, it would be nice to suggestions get brought up and acknowledged more often than they currently are as part of a live-stream or forum post.

The live-streams have come a long way over the last year, with a relative increase in transparency and more information provided to the player base about ongoing work. The trouble here is, that often these live-streams feel far too scripted and their participants far too constrained by company policy to discuss the things the community wants to know about. This is a defensive reaction, and its understandable. However, total radio silence on issues or concerns the community has is a worse solution to a bad problem. It is driving older players directly into Elite’s competitors.

This all boiled over during the Elite Dangerous cheating scandal from a few months back. To summarize the problem, over the last six months there has been a proliferation in cheating tools that take advantage of Elite’s highly client authoritative peer to peer networking system. Several players protested the problem, and so far, the only response that the developers have made is to ban a few token players and issue a press release. This is not good enough and has been directly cited to me by several players as a key reason they stopped playing entirely. These players will not return to elite for any reason until the cheating issue has been addressed.

Another community sore spot was highlighted with the recent implementation of the Advanced Multi Cannon a few months ago. This module is treated by the game as a standard multi cannon that can be synthesized into AX capability. This weapon was found to be completely impractical only a few hours after its formal launch, with the Anti Xeno Initiative conducting a detailed study of the weapons damage and effective usage cases. To be short, there is no reason at all to use this module in practical AX combat under the current AX meta. It was pointless, and it still is pointless, and when the AXI and several other prominent players raised this issue with Frontier about this module we were met with absolute silence.

The Advanced multi cannon is not the only dysfunctional module in the game, You-tuber Yamics recently did a detailed study of the various tiers of weapons available in Elite. Though his tone was satirically aggressive, he highlighted several flaws in the standard weapon balance across the game. Some of these flaws are significant enough to invalidate the practical use of such weapons in almost every PvE and PvP encounter. This too has been an issue raised on the forum’s multiple times, again without any response. This same issue can be raised for several of Elite’s ships, though we will curtail this discussion for the sake of time.

If elite dangerous only fixed one thing, it should be their community relations. More than anything else, we need to see the developers engaging directly with us more often. When we ask a hard question, we aren’t trying to humiliate and demean, we are trying to understand. When we suggest something and its rejected, we want to understand the thinking behind its rejection so that we can adjust our own expectations and make recommendations and requests that are more attainable. Give us a way to highlight the things we need Elite Dangerous to do in order to be more fun.

One of the best tools Frontier can provide is a way to vote on feature requests the same way we vote on bugs. Give us more control over how new features are implemented, a way to see what our community wants the most. Then use that tool to directly engage with the player base so that we are all working on the same page. So that we all understand the things we want the game to do, and the things the game can do. Fostering better communication, providing better channels for understanding, and providing the community more information about progress will make a world of difference, and will do more to bring the veteran players back than any number of fleet carriers or space legs.


Respectfully Dryheat4u.
 
I do agree. There needs to be more interaction with the community, and more important we need more action based on that input. This game has a lot of bugs and does not get enough updates to fix them. Take the SLF PvP lag bug, for example. This bug has been known for eight months now, and we're only now getting acknowledgement of its existence from FDev. The way they continue to develop the game, by adding only very few "large" updates in seasons, has not been healthy for the longevity of the game. They need to do a LOT more minor balance tweaks and bug-fix updates. They need to stop waiting until the next season to take care of problems the last season introduced. The community identifies these problems almost immediately, the longer it takes for them to be taken care of, the more alienated the community feels.

I'm not trying to hate on FDev either, I know they're not trying to do this. Its just a decision that's been made about how they develop the game that hasn't worked out very well for them, imo.
 
In short:

Lore an afterthought / retroactively changed (so whats the point?). It now seems the detailled lore and characters established at the beginning have now run out of road.

Player driven stories conflict with / largely ignored by FD / not generally reflected in game

Game riddled with inconsistencies (example: if I can mine oxygen, why can't I use it for life support?)

Poor updates

Non existent support for updates (CQC, Powerplay, wings (partly), multicrew)

Bugs that never go away / attention to detail

Balance issues

Content locked away and optional (i.e. you go to the content, making for a dull basic game 'loop')

Content compartmentalized and generic (Example- NPC radio chatter is repeated, little variation in POIs)

Not taking risks / listening to the uninformed (several good changes shouted down that now result in a poorer game)

I also get the sense EDs development is determined by other games in development- so when others need crunch ED slows down. Its also apparent ED has had several directions over the years (Brookes era, Sandro era, etc) and this has resulted in a muddled outcome.
 
While I wouldn't mind seeing the devs commenting on the Suggestion forum, I think it's a can of worms I wouldn't want to open either. If you reply to one, you're expected to reply to each and every one. And no matter what you say, people are going to draw all kinds of conclusions, you end up inadvertently bringing one's hopes up while shooting someone else's down and in the end it all just gets ugly.
 

Robert Maynard

Volunteer Moderator
One of the best tools Frontier can provide is a way to vote on feature requests the same way we vote on bugs. Give us more control over how new features are implemented, a way to see what our community wants the most. Then use that tool to directly engage with the player base so that we are all working on the same page. So that we all understand the things we want the game to do, and the things the game can do.
Frontier have, at least once, reminded us that the development of their game is not a democracy. That said, we have already had an official player-base vote on a single topic - ship transfers. Unsurprisingly, the result of that vote is still contested (even though the result was 70% in favour of delayed transfers).

Then there's the simple fact that "we" don't want the same things - and any expressed preference in a vote that was not a massive majority risks alienating a significant portion of the player-base.

"We" would not all be working on the same page - we would still be trying to pull the game in lots of different directions.
 
I don’t expect personal composed rebuttal letters signed by Will Flanagan
think big, man!

One of the best tools Frontier can provide is a way to vote on feature requests the same way we vote on bugs. Give us more control over how new features are implemented, a way to see what our community wants the most. Then use that tool to directly engage with the player base so that we are all working on the same page.
you got this very wrong. the whole 'we are a team' thing was just the kickstarter mood. frontier is now an established entertainment factory and elite is just one of several channels for generating revenue. one with special attachments, maybe, but still. the thing is, you don't really need deep, original or otherwise nuanced gameplay for that revenue. hint: arx + big fleet carriers will do well more than enough, with very little risk and effort. got the vibe?

i understand your concern about communications, though. but that really follows the same principle: the little effort they put in now seems to be more than enough for their goals, why go into additional hassle and risk of more involved interaction, just for the sake some potential (?) increase in revenue if a happy-happy screenshot post/tweet every month or so does the trick? canned features all the way. it's by design, it works, it's profitable, it's what they do.
 
Talking about bugs and bug-fixig and attention to detail, I think there should be an easy to spot quick-link to the Issue Tracker on the Fourm. As far as I have seen, one has to dig for the information where to report bugs, if one has not bookmarked the Issue Tracker.
 
Frontier have, at least once, reminded us that the development of their game is not a democracy. That said, we have already had an official player-base vote on a single topic - ship transfers. Unsurprisingly, the result of that vote is still contested (even though the result was 70% in favour of delayed transfers).
Well, its completely stupid. If something to do while waiting for the delay was also to be provided (eg space legs), absolutely. All we got was blinking triangles so it made no sense. The one and only time i ever agreed with Sandro Sammarco and it didn't stay like that.

I bet if you look at metrics, theres a 99.9% result of player logs out within the next 5 mins after doing a transfer. The actually a built a mechanic that triggered people to people log out of the game. Mind blown.
 
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I bet if you look at metrics, theres a 99.9% result of player logs out within the next 5 mins after doing a transfer. The actually a built a mechanic that triggered people to people log out of the game. Mind blown.
nothing wrong with that:

arrive in taxi
call ship
log off
have a smoke / gush the cat / go pee / have some deep conversation / watch some crap on the internet
log in
jump into ship

it's a real time simulation, there's no teleport. you are not forced to fly the distance, somebody else does it for you but you still have to wait. if there's nothing in your game to keep you occupied, jump out to your real life. oh surprise, that's what a real cmdr would do if he had his ship transferred! 🤪
 
Well, its completely stupid. If something to do while waiting for the delay was also to be provided (eg space legs), absolutely. All we got was blinking triangles so it made no sense. The one and only time i ever agreed with Sandro Sammarco and it didn't stay like that.

I bet if you look at metrics, theres a 99.9% result of player logs out within the next 5 mins after doing a transfer. The actually a built a mechanic that triggered people to people log out of the game. Mind blown.
You could just fly the ship you want to the place where you want it. Too many people use ship transfer because they are lazy. Which is okay, since I've done it too, but then to complain about it is just silly.
 

Robert Maynard

Volunteer Moderator
Well, its completely stupid. If something to do while waiting for the delay was also to be provided (eg space legs), absolutely. All we got was blinking triangles so it made no sense. The one and only time i ever agreed with Sandro Sammarco and it didn't stay like that.

I bet if you look at metrics, theres a 99.9% result of player logs out within the next 5 mins after doing a transfer. The actually a built a mechanic that triggered people to people log out of the game. Mind blown.
Thanks for making my point.

OP: then there are Frontier's apparent "red lines" - fundamental design decisions made before the game design was published in late 2012 - some players have been trying to get these changed for years - and Frontier, while well aware of those seeking change, have not chosen to change their game in that manner. For example, the debate over all players affecting the single shared galaxy state has been going since some players realised that other players would not require to play with them to affect the galaxy.
 
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While I agree that the communication from FD really isn't good enough, the idea of fixing it by allowing votes on suggestions is, I'm afraid, highly problematic.

Very, very few suggestions have any consideration for the practicality of implementing them. Which is fair enough, I mean, only a tiny number of regular forum users have any experience of development on this scale. But if you have the community voting on ideas, you'd get:

1st place: something that is either impossible, or would take so much work as to be commercially unrealistic
2nd place: something that most players don't want, but a few do and they're VERY vocal
3rd place: something that most players don't want and is also impossible
4th place: a different game entirely
...
...
...
1265th place: something that might be feasible for the devs to add

And even if someone from FD does chip in on the suggestions with 'great idea!', you'll just end up with moans about why they don't think x,y,z are great ideas, and also moans if they aren't able to introduce it as planned.

Greater contribution/explanation from FD would be very welcome for bugs and cheating issues. But suggestions? Better off just to quietly take note of the realistic ideas, and not talk about it unless they actually appear in the game one day.
 
I think this comment is right on spot. I would like to know if someone who can take decisions can read it, but as the same post implies, we are never going to know for sure.
 
I see the core of the issue as that for the past ~2 years elite has not been a priority for Fdev. Elite was the springboard for their other efforts, and Elite was left to basically rot. To be fair we did get some nice reworks, new ships, II and QoL updates, but nothing on the scale of horizons. Even horizons was somewhat barebones. Core parts of what made elite unique and worth playing have been neglected or otherwise put on ice (story lore).

Fdev seem to be trying to take a niche sim game and transform it into a lowest common denominator space game. It may be due to 84ers and younger like minded players don't particularity like the idea of cosmetic dlc. The younger folk who play the typical modern mass market games (including F2P titles) have been conditioned to see cosmetics for real money as normal, and thus spend more even if they move on after a month or two. We may have been better with a sub based funding model in the first place in hindsight. The focus on cosmetics also seem to favor the social player group aspects of elite (player clubs) which give players a reason to want to get the cosmetics. (since typically players do not run into each other, or are at such a distance the cosmetics are not visible. (the social stuff gets promoted heavily in Fdev's socials as are the seeming endless stream of new cosmetics.)

Fdev seem determined to become a juggernaut in the industry at all costs (as both self published dev, and 3rd party dev.) and everything else is just a means to an end. If this is the correct business decision is beyond my purview, but it has been kinda crappy as a long term elite player.

The new info on the Fleet Carriers seems nicely timed to distract from the galnet gutting fiasco.

Suggestions to Fdev:
1) Don't create issues for no real reason. W.r.t. galnet we have had dryspells in the past with very limited galnet articles. Coming out and flat out saying that galnet is being gutted is going to provoke a reaction. Often what matters is not just what is said, but how it is said. Context is important in avoiding pointless backlash. Calling out the galnet cuts was probably totally unnecessary, and would not have been seen as out of the ordinary for a long while. I suspect the writers are being retasked to either some sort of mission packs, or for space legs based npc voice dialog stuff for the 2020 update. Focusing on the positive, or hinting at what we might be getting in the future can be far more constructive than focusing on what we might be losing in the interim. (Teasing more II and more fleshed out II stories in some tangible way, or hinting at what will come in the 2020 update that needs so much writing is going to get a much better reaction than focusing on what is being lost. Saying another writer is being hired out of context does little to calm the fears of the masses that elite is being neglected.)

2) Don't duplicate effort. The streams that are already being done by many other youtubers don't require duplication by the devs. ideally dev streams would focus on things like discovery scanners, and similar dev special content but on a less regular basis. If a potential player wants to see what it is like to do combat in elite they have better options than dev streams. This does not mean the devs should not have occasional feature highlight streams focusing on a certain aspect of the game i.e. thargoids in the Pleiades, or guardian stuff, player groups(DW2) or an II/CG that is happening, or is soon to happen. The regular streams seem a waste if that time could be re-tasked to interacting via other socials etc.

3) Look for positive Solutions with minimal impact. Making Lave Radio or Sag eye audio, and possibly a few other select elite related podcasts etc available via the cockpit similar to galnet audio could be a fitting way to augment the diminished galnet. If making new content for galnet is too taxing why not lean on the community created content? There could even be player group curated lists related to certain topics like Raxxla or Elite 84 or Elite II or FE lore, or current player group activities happening in the galaxy.
 
I bet if you look at metrics, theres a 99.9% result of player logs out within the next 5 mins after doing a transfer. The actually a built a mechanic that triggered people to people log out of the game. Mind blown.
That is just a matter of planning, a lot of people may not be thinking ahead OR perhaps they are.

Case #1: Finished gaming session but want access to ships/modules when the CMDR starts the next one (or at some point in the future), it is only natural to transfer them before shutting the game down.

Case #2: Relocating to a new area - fly there in the ship the CMDR is most likely to use most often and then trigger a transfer of the rest after arrival which would probably be at the natural end of a given gaming session if it is far enough away.

Case #3: Gone somewhere in one ship, found it was not the ship the CMDR really wanted/needed to take there, request ship transfer, get impatient/bored so quit.

Case #4: Gone somewhere in one ship, found it was not the ship the CMDR really wanted/needed to take there, request ship transfer, do something else with the ship they have taken in the meantime, then return later to switch ships.

Ultimately, the problem with your assertion is you are assuming Case #3 is the primary circumstance which may or may not be true but is fundamentally down to issues with the CMDR in question than the design of ED itself.
 
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2) Don't duplicate effort.
This I disagree with - ultimately, FD should be presenting their own viewpoint in their Live Streams/Official Videos/Official Posts and arguably the people duplicating effort are the You-Tube/Twitch glory hounds and not FD. Where the you-tubers/twitchers are concerned - fair play to them if they are able to build a following but personally I would rather have FD's official stance.
 
Suggestions to Fdev:
1) Don't create issues for no real reason. W.r.t. galnet we have had dryspells in the past with very limited galnet articles. Coming out and flat out saying that galnet is being gutted is going to provoke a reaction. Often what matters is not just what is said, but how it is said. Context is important in avoiding pointless backlash. Calling out the galnet cuts was probably totally unnecessary, and would not have been seen as out of the ordinary for a long while.
In other words? Fdev, please communicate less. Players hate it when you're honest with them about what you're doing.

I really don't see the Galnet thing as a fiasco. Players had been saying for ages that they hated the current Galnet approach - with, as usual, those players who liked the articles not generally bothering to reply to thread #24 about how bad they were with yet another "well, I like them" response. Frontier said what they were doing and why, they got a range of positive and negative feedback on that decision, they clarified some points. That's exactly how they should be handling this sort of thing. Yeah, I'm still a bit disappointed because I liked those articles - but I understand why they're doing it a lot better now, whereas if they'd just stopped doing them and not said anything I'd probably have posted a "have Frontier lost the (literal) plot?" thread in a few months time to ask what was up.

Similarly things like the Gnosis and the Salome storyline got massive complaint mega-threads on the forums afterwards. And then we found out, in the nine months gap between the Gnosis and the Enclave, what the alternative was of Frontier never running anything interesting enough to be even slightly controversial. I'd far rather that they did stuff and said stuff and took the risk that it's not going to be universally popular, than they did nothing to ensure that no-one had anything to talk about.
 
There is a certain irony in posting a thread about how frontier snub the suggestions subforum, in that same snubbed suggestions subforum, but I like the op's logic for the most part and +1'd the thread.

@rlsg has a very valid point about the gloryhounds, for there is one streamer who grates my nerves as they always make their content recapping the most interesting reddit/forum posts, a plug for their patreon "gimme moneyz so I can play the game more and make more videos showing others work" and ends with a list of their "patrons", which is getting rather extensive. But having said that, I'd rather FDev did less streams, and released more trailers/teasers and more dev diary types of things. Even say that one Community Manager was tied up for 2 hours per stream, twice a week and it was them alone, that could be a morning or afternoon spent prowling the forums and interacting with their current customers. But a stream never is just one employee and a webcam, there is always at least two FDev staff on the streams - and often more, plus the prepwork writing the scripts, vetting the content, etc, those streams must chew up at least 20+ "man hours" per week, twenty hours a week would generate lots more engaging things than a couple streams. The FDev streams also show a dissonance from the developers and their playerbase's demographic. A large number of us came from one or more of the previous installments in the elite franchise, meaning we are not of the stream culture generation. We also have careers and families, and recreational computer time is limited by those other real life constraints. If the streams are lengthy, that leaves us a choice, watch the stream or play the game. The forums are easier to dip in and out of, even short teaser trailers are easier to dip out of. Can you imaging trying to watch a two hour long livestream five or ten minutes at a time between other tasks?

So current format long streams from FDev ought to be rare occurrences on special occasions, but more teaser trailers would be welcome, and the "man hours" (not sure if that term is considered sexist in todays climate? hence the quotes) devoted to prepping for and performing the streams would be better spent on forum, and newsletter content, particularly peeks behind the curtain stuff like the discovery scanner / dev diaries series'.

Currently I notice FDev are focussing on dumbing the game down to make it much easier for new players, this is being done at the expense of ignoring long standing issues/bugs with the game, and not adding popular suggested/requested features, its like they are snubbing their current players. For example nearly four years has passed since horizons launched, and how many new surface vehicles have we had? Old ducks "elephant but leather" shader bug has been ignored so long that in and of itself its became a meme in this forum/the larger community.

I'm not going to go on a tirade listing every blanked bug, relegated request and snubbed suggestion, but I will say that it seems obvious that if FDev rejigged their community engagement strategy they could garner a lot more good will from the community.
 
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