Interviews// Elite Dangerous: Horizons

Posted 9 Oct 2015 15:33 by
Elite Dangerous: Horizons
Elite Dangerous: Horizons
SPOnG: One of the criticisms that is levelled at Elite Dangerous in that it is actually aimless. So you're saying that you've made the skeleton and the muscles and now you're starting to put the skin on?

BD: Yeah we've definitely taken a very conscious, modulus approach to the way we're building Elite Dangerous. We wanted to get people to have hands-on experience with the engine. If you go back 31 years ago, there was such passion to play a game that allowed the player to be free and we wanted to be able to give that to people as soon as possible.

We believe that building things in a kind of modular fashion means that we can actually give quality and take care of everything. If we tried to do everything in the first go, we'd have a horrible huge mess. People would be waiting 6-7 years to get access to their games.

So we believe in approaching it in bite-sized bits in ways that feel natural. People haven't been able to get onto these airless worlds yet, but you know we're going to try and carry that into the fiction and explain that and make sure that any stuff that we add onto the planet also makes sense in the grander sense of Elite Dangerous.

Elite Dangerous: Horizons
Elite Dangerous: Horizons
You touched on content in your question there and we're adding in a looting and crafting system. It's just going to add a slight sort of slant on the things you get access to and the way you feel about those.

You said about people don't see the direction in Elite Dangerous, but people will play games with a good loot and crafting system. Some very big first-person shooters that are multiplatform and people are constantly complaining about it yet they keep on playing.

There's something really powerful about giving people meaningful rewards for their actions and giving them enough choice and depth for all the things they gain access to. You're going to see a lot more of that in the next season.

SPOnG: Looking at the Horizons expansion, it feels much more like Frontier: Elite II, if I may say so. Some of the stuff you're drawing from reminds me of when I was playing it on the Amiga A1200 eons ago, hopping between planets.

BD: Everyone at Frontier Developments knows what we want to do with Elite Dangerous. It's the same thing that everyone wants from a space simulation game. We want to give you every single part of the experience. We want to be able to go from the outer corners of space right down to detailed cities planets and all of that.

We've been transparent from day one about our ambition with what we want to do with the Elite Dangerous franchise. It's now just about going through the process and adding the modular content a bit at a time, choosing the right way to do it, choosing which thing is the best to bring out first and part of that is the community.

Elite Dangerous: Horizons
Elite Dangerous: Horizons
So we know we want to hit on the key features of Elite Dangerous. We listened to the community to try and help prioritise the things we bring in. Now some things we can only do when we have invested heavily in tech. We can't go straight to a fully populated planet with cities and all this until we've taken some of the stepping stones towards that.

You can't build GTA V without having built GTA I,II,III and IV. To try and do that would be crazy. We'd kill ourselves and everyone would be frustrated. It'll be like 'Where's the game? Where's the game?' When we set out we had a very clear ambition for what we were going to do. We said from day one that we're going to bring out the game, have paid expansions, have free updates and the whole thing is about giving people a tangible whole season of content in little iterative updates that means we can give people new gameplay as early as we possibly can and just keep building on that.

Speaking personally I love the aspect of having a game, I stop playing it for a few weeks and suddenly there's an update that adds a whole new experience to the game. Now it might not be something that I even considered, like a lot of people see CQC (the PvP dogfight mode recently added to Elite Dangerous) and people will be like 'oooh no that's not really for me'.

But when you realise that you don't really want to specialise in say a combat kind of player style, having something like the PvP mode means you can just dabble. There's no consequence, there's no loss. We've consciously kept it separate so that people can go there if they want to they can let off some steam if you will.

Whereas some people are all about combat and they can go in there and have a slightly different combat experience. We have tweaked the mechanics and things to provide a different flight control we've added breaking line of sight to mix things up a little bit.

You'll probably start to see little aspects of CQC creeping into the world of Elite Dangerous. We'll try and add little pockets of this form of gameplay because it is completely different I mean it feels very different. We all look back at
Elite Dangerous: Horizons
Elite Dangerous: Horizons
Star Wars and the trench run as they are going along that constrained space, it's something we all want to feel in a space game, so we want to bring some of that back into Elite Dangerous.

Check back on SPOnG for Part 2 of our Elite Dangerous interview next week.
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