The most Fundamental Flaw of Elite - And How to Fix It

Greetings all. I am going to keep this polite and constructive, and as brief as is possible in order to make my point. So bear with me:

I came to Elite to fly spaceships. Fly spaceships. Not outfit them. Not customize them. Not paint them. Not use them to generate screen shots. To FLY them. (Which is not to say those other things should not exist, but I will get to that). And when I am allowed to actually FLY my ship, Elite is one of the finest, most refined experiences in modern gaming - I mean that.

Unfortunately, time spent actually FLYING a ship in Elite is...lacking. In fact, outside of combat, its almost non-existent. Pressing J and waiting is not flying. Staring at a bright orange blob and watching my fuel ticket back up is not flying. Pointing my ship in a single direction and staring at a second screen is not flying. However you try and dress these activities up, they are WAITING, not FLYING. And this game has far too much waiting and far too little flying - to the point where Elite has become a game about dressing up and customizing a ship, wherein you occasionally get to fly one, as opposed to a game about flying a ship you occasionally tinker with.

Lets examine that statement again, on its own: Elite has become a game about dressing up and customizing a ship, wherein you occasionally get to fly one, as opposed to a game about flying a ship you occasionally tinker with.

So how does FDEV fix this fundamental flaw? (Its actually easier than you think). Simple: Create far more opportunities for ACTUALLY FLYING your ships.

When I first came to Elite, I imagined delivery missions where you dropped from Cruise, and flew in real time deep into Asteroid fields and planetary rings, navigating hazards and scanning for pirates in order to make deliveries to bases in logical locations. Passenger missions where you ferry passengers from stations to planets and other special destinations - rendezvous with ships in flight and dock up for passenger exchange. Drop passengers at unique, procedural planetary spaceports in cities, navigating tall buildings and human structures as you launch or land. I imagined, in short...ACTUALLY FLYING SHIPS.

Instead, I got 'Press J and Wait' and 'Stare forward and wait.'

Its my opinion that FDEV simply need to offer more opportunities for us to FLY ships. This game shines in Normal Space, so lets spend more time there, doing things like:

-Flying deep into asteroid fields, to scientific bases, pirate outposts and other locations to scout, drop cargo and passengers and salvage destroyed bases.

-Salvaging large ships and destroyed outposts and stations. This means actually navigating ruins in space, which offers place for pirates to hide, as well as offers a sense of scale. Ships in Elite are impressively large...but then, so are stations. Having us fly among debris while we salvage large structures offers a sense of scale this game often lacks.

-Flying among fleets of ships: We could ferry ammo, fuel, passengers, etc between ships in major fleets. These fleets would logically be spread out over several thousand kilometers to maximize Capital Ship Scanner range.

-Contractual hauling (For players and NPC's): They mine, we haul. Which means flying in Normal, scooping their take and then getting out of Mass Lock and into Jump range. This also creates a reason to interact with players outside of combat. And contracts could be binding, so they cannot be broken or the goods stolen...possibly with the exception of contracts made in Anarchy, but probably not.

-Passenger missions to planets: Why is passengers never seem to want a drop off on planetary bases? Moreover, why are those bases never located among other tall structures that require navigation and avoidance? Again, a sense of scale.

-Patrol missions: System security and Naval Factions often drop into RES zones. So let us take patrol missions that require us to visit numerous RES sites and other points of interest within systems. We fly there, scout the areas. Scan ships present. Optionally, engage hostiles. Even have the option to call for backup while on these missions. Another reason to fly into places which require lots of normal space flight - especially if the missions require us to scan several points within a RES, so long as these points are a reasonable distance apart.

Once we have tons of reasons to spend time in Normal space that use existing systems, we can add new ones:

-Gas Giant scans. Get into high orbit, drop to normal. Scoop using your fuel scoop and gather gases for analysis.

-Planetary and asteroid mining: Land your ships on rocks and mine from your ship. Requires navigation to mining hot spots revealed by Surface Scans.

-Supply runs: Take supplies to capital ships, temporary military and scientific outposts, etc...navigate to several docking locations in these outposts, which are campus like installations of several buildings all requiring supplies.

-Anomaly Investigation: Drop into normal space and orbit comets, scan debris, examine possible wormholes and strange signals...the list goes on.


Next, we expand actual flight in Supercruise by adding optimal routes, slingshotting, solar flares and winds, etc. The HUD would map an optimal route, which you could stick to in order to GREATLY increase SC Acceleration and reduce drag and deceleration issues. Avoidance of solar flares might be required, or as they taper off later into a system they might even offer some fuel scooping in open space, or even a slight speed boost temporarily. Sling shot paths could also exist; hit the sweet spots for very rapid, skill based flight through star systems, but at risk of FSD damage or getting caught in gravity wells.

Simply put, Elite needs more time spent actually FLYING the ships. I would wager that, if you give this to players, you want need to "hook" them with gimmicks like RNG grind and upgrade progression. The sheer number of varied opportunities to fly unique spaceships in simulated situations would offer its own, much healthier hook.

Just my final humble final suggestion for some things I would like to see in this game.
 
After a very slow start with the first half (and I almost quit reading) you recovered nicely with the 2nd half of your post.
Some fine ideas there.
 
Completely agree. Did some "wing" assassination mission last night. Each one included 1-2 minutes of flying, a fair amount of cruising in a straight line, and an entirely unacceptable amount of time supercruising in a circle around the target body, just waiting for my ship to randomly locate my mission objective for me. Two of the ten or so I did never randomly spawned- I just supercruised around the planet for ages until the mission timed out and I failed.
 
All sounds great.

Enable log in at any location where you own a ship and you've got my vote.
Taxi builds and Ship Transfer are my least favorite things to do.
 
Yes, all very good suggestions.

I do actually fly my ships a lot though.
The one I've probably used the most is my Cobra III.
I've flown it round countless worlds and their valleys and features just for the sheer joy of looking at the scenery.
 
Can I add one? Combat Search and Rescue Missions. Get in, pull someones butt out of fire.....
That would be a great addition to the game. It really would.

Yes, all very good suggestions.

I do actually fly my ships a lot though.
The one I've probably used the most is my Cobra III.
I've flown it round countless worlds and their valleys and features just for the sheer joy of looking at the scenery.
I have done a bit of this as well, in a Courier. Additionally, I was going to add TONS more stuff to find on planets, and the ability to find it with scanners before landing, so we have more reasons to fly down and land without eyeball scanning entire planets. But right now, I am giving FDEV the benefit of the doubt and assuming this sort of QoL stuff is en route with Beyond this year.
 
I've disagreed with you before BC, but all this is sterling stuff.
Thanks Mate. Been away awhile, and its erased some of the saltiness. I actually have reached a point where I miss flying the ships. But I always find myself wishing I had some reason to fly them other than combat and staring straight ahead in SC. Because when I have hands on throttle and stick in this game, it really is one the finest experiences in gaming...I just need more opportunities to do it.
 
Some good ideas. Planetary NPC dogfights and strafe/bombing runs would be fun - barreling through canyons taking out targets with some iEagles on your tailpipe, maybe give the SLF something more to do too.
 
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Great imagination with excellent ideas!
Thanks for this.

I wanted to post some honest to goodness suggestions while people were stirring around, eyeing up the Beyond update and the upcoming bonus weekend (which, alas, I cannot attend, between babysitting the data center and BBQ get togethers in the States). And I wanted to start with stuff FDEV could do with existing resources and mechanics (those CQC assets, with just a few tweaks, could be Asteroid and pirate bases and outposts, as well as salvage ruins and wreckage).

Some good ideas. Planetary NPC dogfights and strafe/bombing runs would be fun - barreling through canyons taking out targets with some iEagles on your tailpipe, maybe give the SLF something more to do too.
That would be cool as well. Would like to see more happening, and lots more to find and discover, on planets in general. That is needed, at this point.
 
Oh, actually, just a personal one - I would love to see some survival game type missions. We've got all of these mods for long range exploration and things like silent running - imagine missions where you have to carefully manage systems, heat levels, repairs etc, maybe to get some hunk of junk full of sensitive data across 10,000LY for some superpower black ops outfit without getting seen, blown away or breaking down.
 
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