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Distant Worlds – All Those Interesting Toys

One of the aspects of Distant Worlds I’ve not got into much is my role in the fleet. Primarily, I’m just going, though I did list photos and a blog. There are many other roles, like defence (for those bringing armed ships), streamers (for those with Twitch streams), the fuel rats to rescue ships who pushed the fuel envelope too far, cartography, etc, and so on.

In a strange leap of logic, this all got me thinking about things I may want to configure before I leave. This isn’t in game stuff, but tools outside the game that might make the experience more interesting. In short, it’s the surround of the journey itself.

I’ve been looking at that sort of thing over the last couple of days as well as getting distracted by some planetary wing flying.

Get Ready To Start Your Run!

I’ll admit I got a bit distracted while experimenting with some external toys (more on that below). Since I’d returned to Obsidian Orbital in the Pleiadies Nebula I was able to meet up with my brother in the Witch Head Nebula for some image and video opportunities with the two Asps.

We decided to take some images and do some planetary formation flying, which is featured below.

Then we decided to take some risks and fly through a canyon. We got a bit reckless and forgot about something simple like momentum. Even though flight assist is on the thrusters don’t fully compensate if you’re flying past the safe zone so it doesn’t fully fly like a fighter jet. The Asp isn’t the smallest ship either, thought it’s easy to be deceived into thinking it’s smaller than it is. It’s deceptively heavy.

Ultimately we both slammed off the same mountain side, I escaped with 3% hull but my brother’s Asp exploded due to an earlier shield scrape with the ground.

Not to be defeated, I jumped back to the bubble and we both purchased Diamondback Scouts, one of the most agile ships in the game. They’re also a lot smaller and still offer a great jump range to allow you to get around. In short, they’re the perfect fly around and see things ship: light, fast, agile and they have the jump range to get you most places. They can even hold an SRV, which is pretty cool.

Orange, The Magnolia of the Cockpit

Since I got the game I’ve left all the colours for the cockpit holograms and lights as their default. This was because I didn’t know you could change them for a good, long while. I then fiddled with them a bit but ended up turning the orange back on. I don’t really like the orange, it’s just complete apathy over experimenting with the colours until I find one a I like. It lacks a tool you see, you have to fiddle with the colour numbers in an XML file to change it.


Then I noticed the 80’s disco colour scheme someone had as if his cockpit was like something off a demented Miami Vice. I did it as a joke at first, but as I’ve been flying around and collecting rocks on the surface today I’ve grown to really like it.

You’d think it would be a garish nightmare you’d get sick of looking at, but it’s surprisingly subtle once it’s been on for a while, while the reddish pink in place of what was a glowing blue adds a bit of funky colour. It makes the screen interesting. It’s oddly relaxing!

Welcome Aboard, A.S.T.R.A

When it comes to controlling the ship there is more I could do. I have a number of things mapped to the HOTAS, but it’s quite a simple profile. I don’t have a range of conditional mappings, for instance, allowing me to have the various buttons do multiple things by using one or more of the buttons as a condition.

This means I still use the keyboard for some things. These tend to be a mixture of simple, single press things that aren’t mapped to the HOTAS, such as dropping the landing gear, turning on the lights or, if I’m in combat, some of the targeting options. Then there are the UI sequences to access comms, request docking, lower the SRV, send the ship to orbit from the planet, etc. These involve multiple key presses to activate a screen, move down a menu and so on (though the menu movements can be done the HAT on my joystick).

I learned today you can control your ship with your voice, and then combine it with a voice pack so it responds like you’re talking to an AI. The voice pack also comes with a range of other funky stuff like being able to respond to encyclopedia type questions like what is a black hole, etc. I understand there are also hidden things in there that might just get an ‘interesting’ response.

I did some experimentation today and now I’ve welcomed aboard my A.I known as A.S.T.R.A.

Basically, Elite Dangerous has a keyboard profile that maps keys to the various functions in the game. This can get quite extensive. You then use Voice Attack, a ridiculously cheap piece of software that allows you to attach keyboard sequences to the voice commands and send them to the game. Then A.S.T.R.A’s responses are combined in with them (they come pretty much set-up, as does a good, well designed profile to work with). This allows you to say ‘Landing Gear Down’ and have A.S.T.R.A respond and lower the landing gear, and the ‘it is just cool’ thing of being able to say ‘Punch It’ and have the FSD kick in for a jump. You can get very clever and automate keyboard sequences, holding keys pressed down for periods and all sorts of combinations.

It’s a bit of a gimmick really, and I had it pinned as being the most useful during combat (which I probably have totally wrong). It’s proving good though, specifically for removing the keyboard as an element of play. It’s really good at removing the UI interaction sequences. As an example, I can lower the landing gear verbally, deploy the SRV, dismiss the ship, recall the ship, board the SRV and so on all with voice commands. It makes things feel more seamless and gives an odd sense of immersion.

I’m liking it. I’ll slowly hook up other keyboard reliant activities were possible.

Onward, To The Pelican Nebula!

Having been suitably diverted for two days I’m now back on the nebula tour. I travelled to the Pelican Nebula earlier in the evening and I’m now positioned to check some planets out, take some photos, etc. This will be my longest time out in the black since my 4K trip in the Diamondback Explorer. Obviously, the aim is not to return until I’ve seen all the nebula on the list and, ideally, come back with zero impact on any of the risk factors that would cause me to consider a return during Distant Worlds.

About Ian O'Rourke

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