Elite Dangerous Lore : Hyperspace

Posted by on Jan 8, 2017 in Lore

This is one of a series of guides to the Elite Dangerous Universe. You can read the others here. Hyperspace. Precisely how it works is something of a mystery, certainly by the time of Elite: Dangerous it appears to be part of the dual function ‘Frame Shift Drive’, operating in a mode which allows you to travel the, literally, astronomical distances between stars in just a few seconds. But it wasn’t always thus in the Elite Dangerous universe. Hyperspace was discovered in the 2200s. But it wasn’t until the 2800s that consumer ships began to take advantage of the technology in large numbers. Over the centuries hyperspace technology has been refined. Circa 2800 AD – Faraway Jump (Hyperspace Type 0) The original hyperspace systems that were made commercially available were known as the ‘Faraway’ Jump systems. It took centuries for the complex series of monitoring satellites, branch lines, stop points, and rescue stations to be built using sublight technology along the major routes. Ultimately these hosted hundreds of channels, ‘lines’ for ships to travel through. The ‘Faraway’ jump system was noted for its complexity in operation, requiring extensive pre-jump configuration by station based “Faraway Orientation Systems Controllers” (FOSC or SysCon). Hyperspacing ships required external help to initiate the jump. They were known for a certain sensitivity in operation, with the dangers of a misconfigured jump being listed as ‘atomic re-organisation’ and ‘time displacement’. Unsupervised jumps were extremely dangerous. It was around this time that the phrase ‘witch-space’ entered the Commander’s lexicon. Its precise origin is uncertain, but it seems to stem from the risk inherent in the early hyperspace technology. Witch-space referred to the ‘corridor’ or ‘transit tube’ through which the hyperspacing ship travelled during the jump. Many traders of the time believed that witch-space was ‘haunted’ – by “the ghosts of the early ships that went in to Faraway, and didn’t come out again.” Certainly a large number of ships never arrived at their destinations, their fate unknown even today. It is worth noting that Thargoid vessels were known to be able to ‘hover’ in witch-space, and ambush vessels in transit. Mis-jumps, due to poor calculations, were a constant worry for travelers in those times. The system did have the advantage of a rapid transit time, the entire process taking mere seconds once the jump was successfully initiated. It was finally retired in 3122 and the complex support infrastructure was entirely decommissioned by 3125. 3125 AD – Quirium (Hyperspace Type 1) By the time of the original game hyperspace travel was ubiquitous, though the equipment was bulky and smaller ships were unable to host it, having to be carried through the jump by more capable ships. The ‘Faraway’ system had been retired in favour of autonomous mechanisms that could be triggered aboard ship with no external assistance. At the time, hyperspace jumps were limited to 7 lightyears in...

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Elite Dangerous Lore: The Thargoids

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Lore, Progress Report

This is one of a series of guides to the Elite Dangerous Universe. You can read the others here. The Thargoids need little introduction to those well versed in Elite lore, but not all players of Elite: Dangerous may be au fait with their complete background. What I have attempted to do below is summarise information on the Thargoids and set it in context within the known game Lore (Elite, FE2, FFE and ED). There is a lot of fan produced content on the Thargoids, and I have deliberately not referred to it here. What is below is, as far as I’m aware, established canon. I reserve the right to edit this if I’ve missed something, or new information emerges. Summary 2850 – Unconfirmed suggestions that some kind of covert war was started with Thargoids, ostensibly by a trigger-happy Fleet Commander. 3125 – Thargoids alleged to be ‘ripping’ ships out of witchspace and destroying them. Thargoid ‘warzones’ widespread 3200 – Thargoids reportedly retreat from human occupied space for reasons unknown 3255 – Reason for Thargoid retreat was reported to be down to human-engineered ‘Mycoid’ virus which impacted their hyperdrive capability 3302 – Reports of curious wrecks of unknown vessels. 3303 – 8 sided alien ships rip CMDRs out of witchspace (hyperspace high wake) First Appearance, the year is 3125. In the original game of 1984 the Thargoids appeared to be the classic villains of the piece, the indefatigable evil of the spaceways, plucking ships out of witchspace and despatching them far from the safe zones of human habitation. The year is 3125. The Thargoids make their first appearance in the original game manual, and are referenced as “Thargoid Invaders”. Later on we are informed that their “Captains have had their fear glands removed.” and are thus fearsome combateers. An encounter in the original game was fast and brutal. You were lucky if you survived the experience. Thargoids ships were fast, heavily armed and deployed remote controlled ‘Thargons’ to supplement their fire power. There were, reportedly, 50 war zones between humanity and this “insectoid” race. They were also believed to be able to “hover” in witch-space, ambushing human spacecraft whilst using their hyperdrives to travel between systems. It was speculated that they existed as a “group mind”. Thargoid spacecraft were large, swift and powerful with multi-axis symmetry. They had no obvious drive outlets as still required on human vessels, leading to speculation that Thargoids had mastered inertialess drive technology, otherwise known as the ‘spacedrive’. It appears that Thargoid technology was significantly more advanced than ours. In-game, Thargoids tended to ambush human players during hyperspace transits, pulling them out of witch-space and attempting to destroy you with no preamble. They attacked on sight. Throughout the original game it was claimed we were “at war” with the Thargoids. Incidentally, it is alleged that ECM technology was reverse engineered from captured Thargoid ships and many other...

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Signing off for 2016

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in Progress Report

It’s been such a busy year! When I entered 2016 I was putting the finishing touches to the second book in the Shadeward Saga, Exoneration and planning to start work on the third. Since then my plans for the rest of the year were majorly disrupted (again!), by not just one but two new official books drawing the inspiration from halcyon days of the 1980s. First up was Lords of Midnight, the epic game by Mike Singleton. I’ve been fortunate to be working with Chris Wild, who was responsible for the iOS and Android ports of the game and was a close friend of Mike Singleton. Lords of Midnight was my second favourite game from those early days of computing. A game that showed real genius, flair and innovation in its design. An entire world, with characters, adventure and drama which allowed you to explore its every nook and cranny. And the opportunity to work once more with Frontier Developments: David Braben, Michael Brookes and the rest of the hardworking team there to tell the story of Elite Dangerous and what its players have done since the game was launched back in 2014. Premonition is on its way. I consider it a huge privilege to be working on both of these projects, though it’s often difficult and painstaking work. I was there when both of these games were first launched. 1984. I played them both, unaware as a wide-eyed 14 year old that I was taking part in a bit of history, a very special formative time in computing history in the UK. The ZX Spectrum that my parents bought me in 1983 now has pride of place on my study wall, reminding me of how much I collectively owe the writers of those games and the designers of that 8-bit computer, with its 48k RAM, cassette interface and ‘high resolution’ colour graphics. Not only books, but a career in computing too. But with both books in flight, I owe more nowadays to the fans of what I’ve written. I’ve been delighted with the response to my original Elite book, Reclamation. The fact that there is another book on its way is very much down to readers of that first book making a groundswell of noise and demanding that the story continue. You can very much thank yourselves that another book is on its way. So many of you have said “It couldn’t be in safer hands.” Thanks for that. The fans made it happen and I’m very honoured to be asked to do it on your behalf. Rest assured I’m doing my very best to make sure it’s worthy of that trust. Lords of Midnight? We’ll, if I didn’t have a reputation for making a good story out of a computer game, that likely wouldn’t have happened either. Thanks again. Those reviews you’ve left me? Gold dust. Whilst I...

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It is nine score and four days since the writing began…

Posted by on Dec 21, 2016 in Progress Report

A year from now we will be launching the novelization of Mike Singleton’s epic game, the Lords of Midnight. Here at the Winter Solstice itself, it only appropriate to have a little bit of a status update. How are things going? Are we still utterly invigorated and confident that victory will go to the free? In short. Yes! Progress has been very good. We’re on track with the novel. I have been writing as fast as I can. Chris gets a version of this whenever I save it out, via the magic of Dropbox, and I thus get feedback on the new sections within days – very handy. At the moment we’re sitting at just over 56,000 words. I’m aiming for a finished first draft in the order of about 140,000 words, so with a bit of deft calculator action that means we’re about 40% of the way through that. The first draft is only half of the work though. There will be a second, third and probably a fourth draft. Editing isn’t nearly as much fun as the initial creative work, but an essential part of the process of turning writing into a finished novel. There are no shortcuts here. Characters have to be checked for consistency, plot-holes eliminated, pacing, tension, dialogue and all manner of other essential components reviewed, adjusted and tweaked. It’s never really ‘finished’, but my personal litmus test is to keep working until I really find it a chore and I can’t stand the sight of it anymore – about then is when the book is ready! As I mentioned before we’ve had to take a long hard look at all the elements of the story. Lords of Midnight was created in the 80s, but we’re now putting this together for an audience of fans from that time and new readers here in the 21st century. In the same way as a stylistic choices, enhancements and tweaks have been made to the original games in order for them to be ‘acceptable’ to modern gaming tastes on Android and iOS, we have had to consider how readers will respond to this story with modern eyes. Diversity is a bit of a problem. The Lords of Midnight is unremittingly male dominated in its original incarnation, with a series of Lords who are superficially identical. In the same way that the Hobbit faced the challenge of differentiating between a collection of Dwarves, we have a similar problem with Midnight. We have solutions however! For original players we have the challenge of writing a story which will entertain and delight, despite the fact that the players know the ending. We don’t want to change the established facts (in fact we can’t if we want to go on to write sequels) so we have to accommodate the known ending. There’s a danger that the book is a little too obvious....

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Roleplaying in the Elite Dangerous Universe

Posted by on Dec 14, 2016 in Progress Report

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed on Lave Radio after a gap of about three years. If you haven’t listened to it you can catch it here thanks to the wonderful Chris ‘Fozza’ Forrester. We only had an hour or so, not much time to delve into the detail of the topic at the end. I’ve been giving it a little thought since. Back in 2013 when I original wrote Elite: Reclamation I was aiming to produce a very traditional outcome. A book. A novel. A story. My original plan was simply to produce an ebook and I was mostly concerned with the quality of the story, paying homage to the previous Elite games, giving something back to the fan community (as it was then) and doing my best to look forward to what Elite: Dangerous would become. I hoped to write a book that Elite fans would look at and go “Yes, Drew nailed it.” During the writing of that first book, I only had reference material, not the actual game itself, until very late in the process. I got the ‘Alpha’ drop of the game in the closing stages of editing and made a few changes as a result. Many things happened in the following year. Fantastic Books Publishing raised the profile of my book and many others, turning them into paperbacks, hardbacks, special editions and audiobooks. This far exceeded my original plans. But the story hasn’t stopped. Whilst there are many fans of the original Elite games still represented in Elite Dangerous, I’m pretty sure that the overwhelming number of players today have joined the adventure since the advent of Elite Dangerous itself. They have embraced the background and features of the game and shaped how it has evolved since. Back in 2013 there were no minor factions, no game communities, no reddit fora. Since then we’ve seen the rise of prominent youtubers, twitchers and facebook groups. Many player factions have their own websites and forums – there are literally hundreds. Today the expanse of subsequent activities that orbit around Elite Dangerous is enormous, certainly beyond my ability to catalogue. Some are funny and mischievous, others are deadly serious. I was quite overwhelmed with the response to my book at the time of launch, but the reaction to it and the characters within has only increased since. Reclamation was a point in time, but the story I told and the idea that it was connected to a game in which players could begin to tell their own stories… the sheer possibilities that transpired from that were beyond my imagination. Which brings me to my topic. I’m not talking about RPGs (RolePlaying Games). If you want that you need to check out Dave Hughes’ Elite Encounters. There’s another ED one in the works too, if it achieves Kickstarter funding in January. No, I’m talking about...

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