Chatty Q&A: Elite: Dangerous with producer Adam Woods

Elite: Dangerous has hit Beta 2 and Frontier Developments is answering questions from both the Shacknews staff and from members of the Chatty community.


There are billions of star systems in the galaxy to explore, each with endless possibilities and their own story to tell. Frontier Developments is giving players the chance to explore all of them with their multiplayer space adventure, Elite: Dangerous. The latest game in the heralded Elite series began as a Kickstarter project and wound up raising roughly $1.5 million.

Frontier has since issued the game's alpha and beta, offering a mere taste of what the final product will entail. Fans are already enthusiastic and many of Shacknews' Chatty posters are among them. Elite: Dangerous has frequently popped up as the subject of a number of Chatty threads, many expressing excitement for the game's second beta, which deployed on September 30.

Shacknews spoke to producer Adam Woods about the current state of Elite: Dangerous, what's coming up in the future, Oculus Rift integration, all the while pitching questions directly from Shacknews' Chatty community.

Shacknews: What's the current state of Elite: Dangerous? In what ways has it changed over the course of the past few months of development?

Adam Woods, producer: We have just released Beta 2; it has been a couple of months since Beta 1 was launched and as well as adding many 'forward facing' features that are visible in-game, we have done a huge amount under the hood which is really vital to getting the game released.

Shacknews: What does Beta 2 look add to the game?

Woods: Lots! We have player ratings, so people can now work their way up to the famous 'Elite' rating, and they have per faction and per star system reputations that influence attitudes and prices offered to them.

There are now 570 star systems in 381,033 cubic light years to explore, and you can scan and sell data on new systems you discover, which in turn feeds into the new detailed system maps that are now available.

There are new 'Outposts,' which are smaller exposed stations in remote locations, and a whole new class of starports called 'Ocellus' – they're smaller and designed to be the first major base in a star system. And as well as the new Lakon Asp Explorer ship, there many new ways to upgrade all ships with a wide range of Life Support modules, Engines, Hyperdrives, Power Distributors, Sensors, Shield Generators and Cargo Racks, plus new weapons including mines and a Cargo Hatch Limpet built for non-lethal piracy.

You can see other ships in supercruise, and the ability to track pilots through supercruise and hyperspace, and there are now in-game newsfeeds, reporting story events from around the galaxy and each system. We've also added all backers names from the appropriate crowd-funding reward tiers to the NPC naming database, so people can come across themselves in game!

There are tons of incredible visual improvements (try flying around an Earth like planet in supercruise. Seeing the sun set and rise on each side is life changing!) and even more great music. There are some tutorial missions to help new players begin flying in space, there have been many tweaks and optimizations, and we’ve added SLI and Crossfire support which has opened up play at 4k resolution (if you have the right spec machine). It all makes for a very rich release!

Shacknews: How much does the overall experience change when going from standard controls to VR?

Woods: The overall experience doesn't change; it's still you, a fistful of credits, a Sidewinder, and the Milky Way. Regardless of how the game is displayed you still experience the vulnerability of being in deep space; limping desperately back to a Starport to repair your ship with your life support timer ticking down, and a breached canopy is a stressful and exhilarating experience with or without VR! The biggest difference though is with VR you are "inside" the cockpit; it's all around you wherever you look, and that is amazing.

Shacknews: How has player feedback helped change Elite: Dangerous for the better?

Woods: It's been a tremendous help. We have basically been as open as possible with our backers and their feedback has been invaluable.

Apart from the obvious benefit of us being able to look at balancing things with large numbers of people playing, some design aspects such as the supercruise method of travel within a system were made better with player feedback. They lobbied strongly for Oculus Rift support – which we were delighted to implement! Even just recently their testing helped us to come up with some really quick fixes to problems people were having following the launch of Beta 2. It really does feel like we are all in it together, making the game we have all wanted for a very long time.

Woods then addressed some questions from the Chatty community. He wasn't able to answer all of them, since they address some features that are still in development. However, he did answer a handful.

boarder2 asks: Any plans to let us leave our ships and walk around the space stations?

Woods: Yes, but not in the initial release. We have big expansions planned for the future, including this, and getting onto the surface of planets. Watch this space!

boarder2 also asks: Will we get anything like a tractor beam to make scavenging easier than picking things up with the cargo scoop?

Woods: If things are too hard then of course we’ll look to address that. We try to keep the development as far as possible based on 'hard science' – what would be scientifically possible/plausible in the year 3300.

senor135 asks: Are there plans to expand the lineup of ships and ship classes to be flyable by the player?

Woods: Yes! In the initial release of the game we will have fighters, traders, passenger liners, and multi-role ships. Lots to get your teeth in to and we're still in development!

shavenwok asks: Are there any plans to make the Lifetime Expansion Pass available again in the future?

Woods: Not at the moment.

Elite: Dangerous is currently in its 'Beta 2' phase. Those looking to join the beta can find it on the Elite: Dangerous website.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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