If you want New Players... A rant from a frustrated player.

Elite Dangerous is an example of a game frontloaded with complexity and depth alike...but the depth eventually drops off. The complexity remains. The UI is a mess, even by the standards of last decade. The amount of time spent clicking through menus is ludicrous for a game that advertises spaceships. The economy and background simulation are an afterthought at best. The "rewards" for many accomplishments make a lot of people just frown and discard them (powerplay, anyone?) The tasks required for the ACTUAL rewards can take absurd amounts of time for those without hours available each day and some of those tasks don't even make sense for the rewards they offer (F*%&. Marco. Qwent. F*#& him in particular.) Yet many of these rewards, engineering in particular, are almost mandatory to attain for those who plan on spending any time in the company of other pilots. Setting up new bindings when the new FSS hit was a chore and a half for those of us who actually use a joystick; no idea what it was like for those with full HOTAS but I simply gave up exploration at the time (especially since there wasn't really much point to it anymore.)

Does this mean ED has no redeeming qualities? No. No it does not mean that. There are great things about ED. The sound team has done a phenomenal job, full stop. Flying spaceships, when you finally get around to it, can be a lot of fun and, to a point, very immersive. The fantasy that ED has sold us is a good one and on some levels, it definitely delivers. I do have to agree with the OP on one simple point though: it is NOT welcoming to new players and becomes even less so every time new, more powerful options become available and new, more complex features with dozens of new keybinds are developed. Frontier lacks an eye for elegance in their design; though they have made baby steps to cleaning up their screens, their menu navigation is still more choresome than windows 98 and their priorities are baffling at best. It's not hard to accuse them of being a bit tone deaf with the design of their game; while they do have some amazing visions for it, they seem to lack either the time or the inclination (or both) to actually figure out what makes their game fun.

The game has fallen into the same traps as your standard MMO: hyperinflation, accretion, repeated balance problems, endgame burnout, griefing and ultimately, player division. Let's just pole vault over the idea of anything resembling a secret; the instant one player discovers something, the internet ensures the entire galaxy knows it's exact coordinates and the precise steps to replicate it. This of course leads one to wonder why so much information isn't more easily accessible in the first place and why we rely so much on third party sites--which, let me remind, extract their information FROM THE SERVERS THEMSELVES--instead of having good ways to check important details on demand right there in the game. There are so many things that are exactly wrong with the way ED handles information it's flabbergasting.

ED still has enormous potential but that potential is tragically buried beneath some careless (or just plain stupid) design choices that cripple the experience. Some may say "deal with it" but that misses the point: this game has problems that could have already been permanently solved, making way for bigger and better things. Instead, our perspective on the game is muddied by issues that really have no place in a modern video game and we've simply trained ourselves to forgive, ignore and ultimately accept these bad decisions as "normal" when they didn't used to be and don't have to be.
Key bindings - I thought this after the big change to exploration. But I coped. I'm purely a keyboard player; I only use the mouse to look around my cockpit. I originally got my Elite wings on the BBC Micro in 1984 and have stuck with the keyboard since.

Bear in mind, our ships' cockpits are simple compared to e.g. an IRL jet airliner's cockpit. Our game IS a complex game, with a steep learning curve. As is (I imagine) learning to fly an airliner IRL.

I think the tutorials are a lot better now than they used to be; the addition of default docking computer helps too.
You are right that the game has a steep learning curve. There's plenty of things to pay attention to
and really many buttons. You are completely right there. So yes, starting out can be frustrating.
But it also means you can master the ship. Once you have things down, it feels very rewarding to be able to do things fast and efficient. It contributes a lot to the ship feeling more like a simulator and less like an arcade game.

That being said, perhaps you should also do what i at the start did: i stuck small labels next to the buttons and switches on my joystick for the first time of playing. If i needed a function, i didn't have to check any menu or help page, but was able to directly see on my jostick and throttle, which switch i would need to use for this. Muscle memory quickly took over from that, but for the first few weeks this helped me a lot. Maybe it'd also be a thing for you.

On the rest of what you wrote: yes, the game urgently needs to give more support to the new player. Luckily FD is well aware of that. You claim that the last patch was all quality of life for the older players. I think you should check out the patch notes again. The last patch included a locked off area for new players, along with specially designed missions, more info on activities in game, etc. (Just check all the buttons we now have in the UI, which take you to the codex and the help pages there. A veteran player knows all these things, he uses the links once out of curiosity, to see what they do, then forgets about them. The new player can use it to quickly get information. ) We also got things like the new docking computer and supercruise assist and they now come pre-installed in all small ships. Thus in those ships which new players most likely use. The new docking computer can also help with launching and supercruise assist, while being slower than when an experienced player uses supercruise, helps a lot in making people see how they could do things, without repeatedly overshooting the target and getting too frustrated. They are of no interest for the experienced player, but they provide helping hands to the new player. (Also, tutorials and training missions were upgraded a bit and made more accessible. But i know that most players still don't touch those. Some would rather quit a game a minute after buying it than ever doing a tutorial. )

Despite plenty of thingss were made for the new player, they don't cover all the bases yet. There's still plenty to do. But it seems like FD finally acknowledged the problem and decided to act. Supposedly the next patch also aims at improving the new players experience. We have to see what they come up with next. The last patch took some steps in the right direction, but the game can need a lot more. I am hoping for a pack of context sensitive help. It's not easy to detect when a player struggles and provide good feedback, without also sometimes seeming patronizing. Thus it's not easy to do, but if done well, it would improve things for the new player a lot.

We have to see what we will get. But unlike many other things reported, this is something where FD has shown that they are aware of the problem and are working to improve upon.
Rep to you CMDR.

I would tentatively agree on the cockpit mode issue and have suggested (in the correct place) that two different sets of fire groups could have been set up relatively easily to save issues.

The rest of it is just foaming dog fever I'm afraid.
Just my two cents as a brand new player to this game:

I bought this game only a few weeks ago. I play with a Logitech X56 HOTAS and Oculus Rift, both of which I got specifically for ED. When I first went through the tutorials, it took me a couple of minutes to fully understand how everything worked and I got through the tutorials with considerable ease. Once I got into the actual game, I took the time to read through what all of the modes and actions did, how everything activated and worked, etc. That took maybe an hour, but by the end I had a complete understanding of it all. Then came the keybinding. I got everything mapped out exactly how I wanted it and was very comfortable with. That took me about an hour at most (including going through the X56's manual of what button is Joy# on the stick and on the throttle, trying different combinations, trying a couple of different setups, mapping chaff/shield cells/heatsinks/etc to specific buttons, lots of things). And all of that time, I was going at a relaxed pace. And in under two, maybe two and a half hours, I was in the live universe flying around and enjoying the sights that surrounded me.

In short, I'm not sure where or how people are running into difficulty with the controls for this game. Maybe it's because I've been an active gamer since I picked up my first Atari 2600 back in the 80's, maybe it's because I've played many different flight sims and other games with complex controls. Or maybe it's because I actually have a brain and some common sense and can use both to figure out how to do something for myself when I encounter a problem that needs to be solved instead of expecting everything to be given to me on a silver platter when I cry about it. Seriously, with as technologically-driven as the current generation(s) is, you'd think they would be running circles around an old fart like me when it comes to things like this. Kids these days...

-An old and grumpy gray-haired gamer
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Seriously, with as technologically-driven as the current generation(s) is, you'd think they would be running circles around an old fart like me when it comes to things like this.
I saw a study that was done by some university (forgot which one) where they determined that the younger generation is so used to their phones being able to answer any questions that they do not actually know the difference between "what they know" and "what their phone knows" (i.e. Google/siri). This suggests that technology is producing a populace not inclined to think or problem solve for themselves.
I saw a study that was done by some university (forgot which one) where they determined that the younger generation is so used to their phones being able to answer any questions that they do not actually know the difference between "what they know" and "what their phone knows" (i.e. Google/siri). This suggests that technology is producing a populace not inclined to think or problem solve for themselves.
Actually, you've reminded me of something that goes with this; I was at a house party maybe a year or two ago and the guy hosting it was controlling his TV with those "Okay Google" voice commands to make it change channel and search and whatever. After listening to him say "Okay Google" about 15 damn times trying to get it to understand the voice command to turn off, I got up and walked the 8 feet or so over to the TV and pressed the physical power button. The sheer laziness just baffled me since it took me less than 10 seconds to get up out of my chair and go to the TV and manually do the task myself while he had taken over half a minute, PLUS he was the closest one to the TV to begin with.
this happens, i rage quit... or burnout and come back all the time.

i agree, the growing sentiment with flight mode is redundant when there's already fire groupings... just another growing pain. the stuff elite gets wrong is glaring and questionable, but the stuff it gets right - it gets right in spades. however, giving you the choice to map the buttons how you want IS one of the things they got right. binding buttons is a necessary tedious chore... and it can take hours at first and probably wont be perfect either, we've all been there. (i take an hour just generating a character too, but i'll admit it's more entertaining than binding buttons) i'm still tweaking my settings today... i cant tell you how many times i've paid the ultimate price for it either (it's like anytime i think the coast is clear and edit my settings a wild ship appears and i exit the menu just in time to see the insurance screen)

i would consider button binding the virtual equivalent of getting your license in this game. you really shouldn't be flying if you can't familiarize yourself with the controls. originally i started with joystick then immediately switched to dualshock4 controller (if you're familiar with midi mapping, layering a controller with modifiers is the way to go chef-voila.jpg) heavily relying on modifier buttons which affectively layer the controller into individual suites for engines/booster/FSD, targeting/MISC, weapon, and power distribution... all while maintaining core flight functionality mechanics.

i would say the biggest turnoff of this game is the malicious paywall... it's basically engineered for you to get bored and go to the fridge and pay a premium for vanilla ice cream. it becomes less of a space simulation and more of a scam when you see through the facade. apologists will claim server expense / developer reward / bottom line profit for investors... but the bottom line are company expenses are a write off, and investors should be satisfied considering this title was crowd funded in the first place. the developer reward should be users playing the game and overwhelmingly positive reviews! who would of thought paying retail for a freemium crowd funded game would generate resentment? it doesn't take captain hook to know that's bad form!
I saw a study that was done by some university (forgot which one) where they determined that the younger generation is so used to their phones being able to answer any questions that they do not actually know the difference between "what they know" and "what their phone knows" (i.e. Google/siri). This suggests that technology is producing a populace not inclined to think or problem solve for themselves.

If you find the source, would you please send that to me?
Seems self evident, lol, but I'd like to read the study...

I remember it took 3 (three) attempts spread over several weeks before I had my Controls all setup and was beginning to fly my Ship to places.
Arguably, that was long before release - but today we have plenty of more Keybinds than back then.

Considering we're looking at nearly 300 different Controls, It >is< a massive undertaking and huge hurdle to new Players.

My suggestion to solve that "entry barrier" would be :
  • have FDev assemble a collection of Input devices most commonly used by its community
  • have very experienced Players present their personal Control Config with detailed explanation (why which keys, what's the benefit of the selected assignments, the logic it follows)
-> then have a Usability specialist filter for the most logical and intuitive combined layouts and provide those as optional Defaults

So whatever common HOTAS you connect, you'd get a sensible default for basically every single possible Control setup to build muscle memory upon.

Make a dedicated long, detailed and supported-by-Video tutorial on the entire Controls Configuration.
Show precisely which function does what in-game (Video + Narration) and why, when and where it is important, plus certain key Game elements could be explained/showcased along the way, so the viewer could quickly learn what everything is all about.
That might be the easiest thing to do and well worth the trouble.

While the current in-game Controls Config has improved dramatically compared to old Days - it's still huge and many of the key functions just aren't a concept to a brand new CMDR yet.
Very easy to get lost in that large list and still not knowing "What is important and needs to be assigned now, what Controls can I leave for later? I want to play!"

To any new Player I can only say :
  • keep patient, it's well worth it
  • Forum is a helpful place to get those Controls sorted and those needed recommendations for any specific HOTAS and/or Keyboard shortcuts
i would say the biggest turnoff of this game is the malicious paywall...
Um, what paywall? You buy the game, then play the game. You can't pay (read: waste) real money for a new ship like Star Citizen, there's no micro-trans boosters, no locked characters you have to pay to access, none of that. The only thing you can buy outside the game itself is cosmetic stuff.

i cant tell you how many times i've paid the ultimate price for it either (it's like anytime i think the coast is clear and edit my settings a wild ship appears and i exit the menu just in time to see the insurance screen)
That's your own fault. If you're playing in Open, you should know that the coast is NEVER clear. If you want to fiddle around with settings and NOT die, do it at a station. Or here's a better idea: Do all of your play testing and controls adjustment in Solo where you can be left alone while you test and tinker. When you're done, then go back to Open. Or if the tweaks you're making are combat-related, conduct mock battles with a friend in Private, i.e. drop to 25% hull in a fight and call it. Repair bills are much better than full claim costs. This would not only give you to peace and quiet to adjust your controls to just how you want them, but also keep you from looking like a fool when you get blasted. Be vigilant, be prepared.
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Ive started and stopped playing this game several times in frustration... I even bought a 200$ HOTAS kit ...and stopped again out of frustration... it would seem i need more buttons to do anything in this game. 300+ hours in this game and its been a ton of frustration.
Im not the only one to have said this, but given the latest set of updates, and the devs seeming desire to gain more players, i think it bares repeating it all.

Between the masses of buttons and micromanaging this game is not fun.
There is no fun, no pay off. Nothing.

It takes such a long time to even just bind keys, and sort out menus... It's maddening!
the game seems like its not so much a space simulator, but rather a Button Binding, micro managing simulator.
My car has less to learn to use it, and i had to get a licence for that thing. I have yet to receive my Elite Licence in the mail.
Luckily for us, nearly every update just adds more modes and buttons to bind and more fiddly things to micromanage!

The game has a really high learning curve. With very poor tutorials, this can only mean you don't want new players. And yet the last update seemed to be all about new player quality of life things. You must want people to buy the game and demand their money back and/or leave a hateful review somewhere on the internet.

Its not that its just hard to learn to play it... it's just difficult to do very basic things.
As a new player, you can't do a thing until you sort out what "joy 5 button 2" is and why you should care. A new player seems to need to spend an hour or five just binding buttons for things they have no idea what are for, yet. ...Just bind a button to a thing and hope to figure it out later.

Also, apparently the computerized ships of the future are dumber than the cell phone in my pocket, and seem capable of less.
So are the station interactive menus.
My ship can't even figure out how to filter missions based on what i've already accepted, something i have cell phone apps that can do for other things. You need a scratch pad to remember what is what, and a bevy of 3rd party apps to keep you organised with your missions. Most of which now are no longer functional because of some update to how they interact with the frontier servers on the backend.
Im guessing the devs have never used a modern day database or play their own game. must be too much work to play this game, and really, once you play it, i understand.

Much of the micro managing makes little sense. Math or computer tech seems to not be a strong suit in the distant future.
I mean, really... a limpet is 1 ton of cargo... for each limpet. Because counting limpets is someones idea of fun. More so if its hidden somewhere in the bowels of sub-menus. 1 ton. I can only guess what they must be made of. Given their depth of thought, its certainly not PCB boards or computer chips.

It also takes 1+ ton of ship space to house and control it's systems on the ship... so now the system is at least a couple of tons in weight, and im guessing that none of it can sort out the basic AI brains that the computer that is running this game can... that is much less than a ton in weight.
Less brains than a raspberry pit, in fact.
And for all the tonnages of parts, they last for seconds!
Oh the wonders of future science!
Id say it must be for rocket fuel, but that would only lead to more questions about other game mechanics.

Every thing you want to do requires a different special mode, that you can only get into in a special way, with more buttons to bind.
Nothing is just easy to do. nothing.
If my car was a Elite Ship, id have to change to a certain gear, reduce my speed, open the glove compartment and toggle my blinkers to turn on my headlights for "night mode" driving.

The last update made simple scanning honks into a nightmare for me. Not only do i have to figure how to do it again, but i also have to sort out what buttons to bind and how. There is a special mode that i can only get into if the stars line up a certain way with my local baristas horoscope and even then i need to bind a dozen more buttons to do it. im not even told which barista i need to line the stars up with.

The tutorials telling me "use joy 2 + button 4" doesn't help me sort out what the hell they are talking about. ...and that is assuming there is a tutorial to be found. I have a 200$+tax HOTAS... do you know how many joys and buttons i have? do you know how many of those are numbered? (pssst... its labeled none of them on the unit, but i bet i don't have enough of them)

The latest update gave me hope, but alas more of the same.

I can't even get a Hutton Orbital mug for the dash... you have to buy it by the tonnage and paw at the cargo inventory screen to remember the good ole days when you remembered what buttons allowed you to fly there in the first place... for almost an hour... for so much reward that your pilot might even afford a coffee after handing in the mission... but not in said mug... or in the tonnage of them, you'd have to buy the coffee by the tonnage after all...

please make the game more "game" like and less fiddly. I don't want to spend hours rebinding all of my buttons and sorting out all of the flight modes WOW wasn't successful because it was fiddly button-binding fun. If you want players, make it more accessible to those of us that do not want to spend our prescious weekends learning to do simple things in a "game", with or without the help of a poorly thought out tutorial.

Simulator-like games always have a lot of bindings. That is the nature of such games.
If you do not like that, then obviously this is not the game for you. There are more arcady like spacesims if you prefer that.
I personally love to be able to fly my ships with HOTAS en I like to fiddle with the settings to optimize it.

Even though it may seem daunting to customize, it is not that hard if you tackle it systematically, but yes... it definitely takes time.
Many if not most bindings do not need to be changed.
On the average HOTAS there are enough buttons for all functions, simply because you can reuse them for different situations.

I always print my lay out en there is a special website too.
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@XanderK31 perhaps it was a creative mistake on my part; sharing a scenario in confidence to humanize the struggle of binding ones buttons. but maybe the lesson wasn't self evident and needed further explanation? and congratulations on taking one line out of context! i guess you can stitch that badge to your vest, cause you earned it... ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!

a lot of steam reviews said they would've quit playing long time ago if it weren't for THIS community.
None of my joysticks are numbered. literally none of them. Not even in the windows config for sorting them out and testing the buttons.
Thrustmaster T16000M that i bought and had shipped to me, specifically for this game, because i needed more buttons.
I have the T.16000M FCS Flight Pack. Thrustmaster's documentation has complete button mappings.

For the most part, all of the default bindings are fine for me... they seem to take care of 90% of game activities. To be fair, though, the first time I went in to find something ("How the hell do I get my SRV into turret mode?!") the sheer volume of options was a little overwhelming. However, I found most options to be self-explanatory (but definitely not all of them) and the ones I needed were pretty clear to me and the ones that weren't I figured I didn't need until something specific came up.

The tutorials, though, leave a lot to be desired.

I recall getting Splinter Cell when it came out ages ago. One of the things that impressed me so much was the "tutorial" which was disguised as a training mission to make sure Sam was prepared for his new role. Through that mission, the game walked the player through every single control, weapon, ability, tool, etc.

This game has something similar, but it only scratches the surface. I'd love to see a tutorial on heat management... how different modules impact heat, using heat sinks, etc.
Or how about one on the SRV scanner? The FSS and DSS? How thrusters vs. mass impacts maneuverability? Power management... for a long time, I had no clue one could go into the Modules tab and prioritize power.

Of course, some of these may already exist - I haven't checked. :)

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