My visit to Frontier Developments and the Future of the Game

I just posted a video about this, but not everyone watches those - so I thought I would post here as well. Earlier this week I got invited to the Frontier offices along with a few others - it was a bit of a surprise, but Frontier wanted us to come along and record a couple of lines of dialogue for them to use in-game. Kinda like little cameo things. :) All pretty exciting stuff! Whilst there though, we were lucky enough to get a tour of the offices, and got to saw a bunch of upcoming content - mostly 2.4 related. I'm not allowed to talk about what we saw, as it is covered by NDA, but I do want to talk about my impressions of Frontier and what is going on with the game.

So - the offices are really big, that was the first thing that hit me. The second thing was all the Elite Dangerous memorabilia everywhere, from ship models to cushions to wall hangings of posters (to big to fit in even the largest room of my house). There was also stuff from other Frontier games. Those guys certainly love the projects they work on, and are very proud of them!

It's often questioned how many people work on Elite, well there were two full open plan offices - and it appeared a huge amount of the staff were dedicated to working on Elite. Numbers for Elite were easily in the region of 100+. The content we got to see was very impressive, and I think people are going to like it a lot. Most of what we saw, people will probably get to see from Frontier at E3.

There's been some worry that 2.4 is going to be a small patch, I think that concern came from the announcement that 2.4 is going to be released in sections. From what I saw, it appeared that 2.4 is going to be at least as big as all the other patches, and it certainly isn't the end of the main development of the game.

Another thing that I know has been concerning people is Frontier's talk about working on the "core mechanics" of the game after 2.4. Some people feel this means the game is going into maintenance mode with Frontier simply working on bug fixes and minor changes. We got the chance to ask for clarification on this - and the "core mechanic" changes actually means that Frontier are going to flesh out existing game mechanics and give the developers the opportunity to bring these aspects of the game inline with the original concepts as well as to perhaps add further enhancements where they can. So it seems that this is going to be big deal stuff, rather than just small tweaks.

Another thing I've seen people wonder about, is whether or not there will be new features in the future updates. Good news is that there will still be new content added to the game along with new headline features. However Frontier are not willing to talk about what that stuff is just yet.

We still don't know what the new sales model for the game will be. Frontier aren't talking on that one - but it won't be a season pass.

Bottom line; there is a huge team working on the game. Frontier are committed to the game's future, and are not winding the project down in any way, shape or form. They are aware that the game isn't perfect, and there is a strong desire within the team to add new depth to the game, and improve upon existing mechanics. What this ultimately means for the gameplay I don't know, but whatever the case - things are not going to remain static, and improvements are coming.

So, yeah - it's not as bleak as people have been imagining that's for sure. A lot of good stuff on the way. :)

Here's the video for anyone that wants to watch it:


Just wanted to add, what a great bunch people people work at Frontier! Very passionate about the game, and extremely friendly! It was nice to meet everyone, Ed, Zac, Sandro, Jonny, David, Dav, Sally and so many others. :)
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That's it, now i'm hyped for E3...
Anyway, thanks for the vid Ant, Hope to hear these few lines of dialogue soon...
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Yes I remember when I visited Frontier earlier in the year my first impressions of course were the size of the offices but the lingering memory is just how friendly and nice everyone was. Also saw some content that isn't even out yet :)
Zac gave me a great tour of the Elite Dangerous and Planet Coaster offices and it was all very impressive.

Meeting Zac, Ed, Michael Brookes (good convo with him) and David Braben amongst others was brilliant.

You can certainly sense the passion for the game when you walk around.
Any word at all if the LEP be honoured even though the season model is being dropped? And were there an unhealthy number of biscuits scattered everywhere. ?

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I was also there and I fully support and share OA's sentiment and interpretation. Not much to add really, fun day and a massive surprise. It was great to see and feel the dedication from these guys - and yes, feel, because the passion is certainly in the air and one could easily tell that all the people we got to meet, see and talk to were genuinely hyped and passionate about the games they are making. That goes for both Elite and Planet Coaster. Awesome stuff.

I personally had recently some doubts about the game, mainly due to slow pace of the main storyline, but that recent visit to FDEV's reassured me there is really nothing to worry about and 2.4 will be awesome patch. The gradual release is due to the nature of it's contents rather than the lack of it.

I can't wait for the E3 streams to hear more about what's coming!
Was also there with him - including in the audio booth doing some sound recordings (second time now - first was whilst recording Echoes from the Hold with him and others). Phenomenal to see all of the team there and meet every single crew from the marketing team to community, QA, sound, gameplay, servers and missions. They really do give a monkeys about the game and are working very hard indeed on both content and the promised QoL items.

Thanks again to the team there for the invitation and the opportunity to pose a number of very serious questions and suggestions on behalf of the wider community (not just the Hutton Truckers).

Obviously, there was signing of the NDA kind regarding WHAT was seen, but there are a few things I can say that won't get me into trouble - this is a copy of the notes that I posted for the Hutton Orbital team upon my return:

Just returned from an impromptu visit to Frontier. The main purpose was to do a few little audio bits with the sound team and a special q and a with Ed but..... despite having signed at least 4 NDA and secrecy thingies there is still a little I am allowed to talk about. (Or so The Don confirmed).

Met each and every team there from QA to the service team who look after the tickets to data people and bgs experts to the guys and girls that are working on the missions, store, art, sound, music and core gameplay. The team is as full as it has ever been.

They also live, breathe and love the game as much as Hutton Truckers do. It isn't pr spin.... that office is loaded with crazy enthusiasm. Sandy was wearing his Hutton T-shirt and the poster of Alvin sits at Ed's left shoulder.

DB spent a good time chatting over his vision as well as talking a little about Specialeffect and the Raspberry pi.

Cecil came with me and may have appeared in the audio booth between takes on other audio. As did the Don.

Their sound team appears to be led by the reincarnation of Christopher Reeve. Uncanny.

As for 2.4 and beyond? The comments re quality of life improvements they have made so far are not just window dressing. Every aspect of the game is set to improve piece by piece.
So. My personal thanks to their team for giving up a little of their time. And Hutton thanks to them for listening. At THEIR request I had the opportunity to raise many of the points dear to our hearts from wish lists to frustrations and clever ideas.... most of which came from you all but some were digested from the forums, discord channels and other outlets. . They were listened to, They were noted, I am sure many were filed away.

They are looking forward to seeing many of you at Lavecon.

Video footage from trailers are ALL taken from within the game engine. Swooping ships and combat etc are all flown by hand by a crack team of devs. There is very little post production on the graphics.

The art and marketing teams say they also rely on the beauty of procedurally generated screenshots for the images they use. They watch posted screenies from players and often wish they had spotted them first.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of lines of station background chatter. Some of the staff there have voice talent to do multiple accents including the team member who sounds like Flossy. That isn't her real accent.... I think she MAY actually be Scottish.

They DO have a matrix like view of the galaxy that shows 'big' data and trends. It is very cool. It has its own caretaker. He isn't called Cypher.

Dav actually manually checks reports to do with the BGS. In game, in his ship. I think he was in a courier when I saw him.

There is an Obsidian Ant fan club there. It was like being at a Beatles concert. There was screaming. Underwear wasn't thrown though.

DB, whilst he has an office in the building with a big throne was working from a small desk alongside his team in the heart of things.

The devs DO log in and play the game for a laugh in their lunchtime.

There are elite dangerous branded cushions on the comfy chairs.

The space loach has friends. They live in a big mating ball on Sandro's desk
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