Elite: Dangerous Coriolis Space Stations to Get More Spinny Things
Frontier Developments recently published their 11th Elite: Dangerous newsletter, providing more details of their progress toward effecting the rebirth of the classic Elite space-sim.
The main focus of this newsletter focuses on their "pre-visualisation" of stations, detailing approach to the space station designs to be found in the Elite universe. It seems the iconic Coriolis space stations of the original game will be retained, but they may be surrounded by a host of modular components.
Modular stations mean that “players will be able to see stations expand over time, or in response to player-driven events,” suggesting that player activity can have a meaningful long-term impact on the surrounding environment.
The dynamic player-influenced station construction process that Frontier Developments hope to implement may be led by an “Events System”, in which new stations will begin life as a temporary structure or a colony ship and player activity can accelerate or impede the construction of the station as it develops toward become a trade and/or mission hub.
The station module designs all appear to share the concept of a single rotating axis and concept art shows agricultural domes and cargo storage modules. Interesting commercial considerations are being factored into station locations: “...stations close enough to a star to sustainably grow crops... The assumption is that plants grown in ‘natural light’ would attract a premium price.”
This is intended to deliver plausibility and variety.
All this is supported by the philosophies laid out by Frontier, stating that they intend for in-game assets such as stations to adhere to solid scientific principles. The fact that the modular station components have all been designed around a rotational axis is an example of this.
“Living in gravity is comfortable, so in general, space stations spin. That way eating, sleeping, sneezing, and going to the toilet, are a lot more straightforward. Some things benefit from low gravity, like unloading cargo and manufacturing. Also, lower gravity levels (say 1/3 g) could be very pleasant because, for example, a normal human could strap on wings and fly! Because of this there is no special direction (no ‘up’), so there is no need for stations for example to be coplanar – something that a lot of science fiction designs neglect.”
All of this thought going into station layout and functionality for the inhabitants might make players eager to explore the interior, although the newsletter gives no direct indication of that.
The newsletter also included a screenshot generated by the in-game engine showing a two-kilometre long Federal Battle Cruiser under fire. A hi-res ship schematic was also included
Elite: Dangerous has an estimated March 2014 release.