AFE FAQ2

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2) Common Information

2.1) Ship groupings

2.2) Unusual denizens and the versions they inhabit

  • 2.2.1) Cloak and Dagger Ship
  • 2.2.2) Dredgers
  • 2.2.3) Generation Ships
  • 2.2.4) Rock Hermits

2.3) Hidden Features

  • 2.3.1) Initiative Save
  • 2.3.2) Forced Witchspace

2.4) Missions

This section contains information which either fails to fall into a category elsewhere or applies to more than one game and so is located here to refer back to.

Note: In the descriptions of versions, they may be described as deriving Elite ratings from kills, points or score, where the method is known. See 99.1) How do the rankings go? for details.


2.1) Ship Groupings

Different versions of Elite have had different sets of ships in the game, both as opponents and, more rarely, available to fly. They can be split into several groups. Datacards showing the ArcElite ships can be seen here: http://www.jades.org/arc/elite/dcdex.htm Note that there are some significant differences to earlier versions, including that the Asp shown is completely new. For screenshots of both the ArcElite Special Asp and the classic Asp MkII (also in ArcElite), see the ArcElite picture gallery at http://www.randomword.demon.co.uk/rob/elite/arcelite.htm Also, the ArcElite Boa II bears little resemblance to the Boa of earlier games.

Minimal list: Primarily for low-end machines where memory is a major restriction. Consists of: Asp Mk II, Asteroid, Boulder, Cobra MkI, Cobra MkIII, Escape Capsule, Gecko, Krait, Python, Sidewinder, Thargoid, Thargon, Viper, Coriolis Station. Note no boulders - no mining lasers.

Standard list: Original BBC Elite and direct clones had all the ships of the restricted list above, and also the following:

Adder, Anaconda, Boa, Constrictor (mission target), Fer-de-Lance, Mamba, Moray, Shuttle, Transporter, Worm, Dodecahedral Station.

Elite A list: Elite A is a highly expanded version of BBC Elite and contains all ships off the standard BBC list plus the following new and unique ships created specially by the author:

Bushmaster, Chameleon, Ghaival, Iguana, Monitor, Ophidian.

Note the Bushmaster is not the same as the one in ArcElite. Documentation also hints at the existence of a fast, heavily defended destroyer under tests by the galactic navy (the Constrictor?) and a battle-carrier being developed at a secret location to combat the thargoids. It also notes that encounters with unknown ship types need not necessarily be uncommon and that the encyclopedia may be incomplete.

ArcElite list: ArcElite is a bottom-up rewrite of Elite for the Acorn platform and features the following additional ships:

Asp II custom edition - note the original Asp MkII is still in play, Boa II - the original Boa has been removed, Bushmaster, Caiman, Copperhead, Hognose, Moccasin (2 clearly distinct variants exist), Racer, Urutu.

Note that because the missions are different, there is no Constrictor.

Also look closely at the Copperhead. You've seen it before, haven't you? To quote the datacard, "Due to it being equipped with a rejected precursor of the Cobra MkIII Mous, this ship is often observed flying rather erratically." Think of a game beginning with Z.... (PC users can now think of one by David Braben beginning with a V...)

There are two additional ships; the Cougar is found in Master and Tube (and possibly Master Compact) versions of Elite as a very rare encounter, and as a reinforcement for the cloaked Asp in the 16 bit mission set. In most versions with the full shipset, the Wolf MkII can be occasionally encountered. It is a lone trader with a very powerful weapon and shields at least as strong as a thargoid's. Peaceful unless attacked, it is a fearsome foe.

2.2) Unusual denizens and the versions they inhabit

2.2.1) The Cloak and Dagger Ship

A ship of unusual design which does not appear on radar and is the target of one of the later missions in some versions of Elite. When destroyed it releases a cargo cannister containing the device, which can be triggered (method depends on game version). It drains half a bank of energy but makes enemy ships less successful at locating and shooting at you - very useful against thargoids, I hear. See section 2.4 for more information on this mission.

2.2.2) Dredgers

No confirmed sightings of dredgers have ever been made and it is unlikely, from examination of the code, that they were ever in any Acorn classical Elites, and utterly certain that they are not in Frontier or First Encounters. There is some doubt about ArcElite - there is a mystery ship, but it is commonly held to be the Urutu. See section 3.20.3.2.

2.2.3) Generation Ships

Space Trader's Flight Training Manual page 30 says "There are more than seventy thousand of these immense vessels ploughing their way through the galaxy" which might have given many players in the past a wrong impression that these would actually exist in great numbers and if taken literally only in one of the eight galaxies. Countless hours of playing and searching in all galaxies proved they do not exist in C64 and Amiga Elites and these have never been implemented with nearly 100% certainity for classical Acorn Elites and direct ports, Frontier, First Encounters and ArcElite, all of which have been dissected in great depth by fans with sufficient programming skill to extract the ship models, and absolutely certain for PC Elite and Elite Plus, Amiga, Atari ST, MSX and C64 Elites by the fact that all ship names are listed in their executables. It is also rumoured that Ian Bell once stated in an interview that none of them have ever been implemented in any version of Elite to date.

Some claim to have found wandering space stations available on comms in Frontier Elite II when mis-jumping. General opinion is that this is a bug. No-one has ever tracked one down to dock at.

2.2.4) Rock Hermits

These have been confirmed to exist on Spectrum Elite, PC Elite and PC Elite +, 6502 Tube and Master Elites. They are superficially similar to asteroids but (in some versions) do not spin. When shot they disgorge a krait (verified for PC Elite+) or sidewinders (apparently; some versions) which then attack the player. The failsafe ID technique in the PC Elites is to missile-lock them and read whether it says "Asteroid [debris]" or "Asteroid [hermit]".

They also exist in ArcElite and are readily recognised because their asteroids are painted bright yellow, blue and pink and a message flashes up reading "Hermit beacon detected". Their proximity prevents jumping. No ships emerge but a criminal record is gained for shooting one. No minerals are released on mining.

2.3) Hidden Features

2.3.1) Initiative Save

This works on all Acorn platform implementations of Elite except ArcElite, apparently. I've only tested it on BBC Disk Elite and Elite A. Press @ to bring up the disk menu, select save commander, then press return for name and drive. If you die you will return to this position. No need to actually do all that slow disk accessing and _really_ saving until you turn off. Remember to save every now and again though, in case you accidentally hit break or something!

2.3.2) Forced Witch-Space

Again, one for the Acorn Elites (not ArcElite). When engaging hyperspace, hold down X for maximum climb. You will get mobbed by thargoids every time. Note this is impossible in Elite A because the ship becomes inoperable while the computers dedicate themselves to the hyperspace calculations so your climb gradually recenters before you jump. It also doesn't function with the new emergency Hyperspace Unit.

2.4) Missions

The following list includes all missions in all versions of Elite, of which I am aware. In sections on individual Elites, they shall be referred to by name.

1) Tribble

  At 6553.6cr, you are offered a Tribble / Trumble for sale. If you buy it
  it sits in your hold eating cargo and multiplying. If you get enough,
  you may see one crawling across the screen! They are useless and can
  be destroyed by flying close to the sun. If you escapsule, one comes
  with you to start the whole cycle again.

2) Nova

  You enter a system and all your fuel drains away in a leak.
  When you dock, you are told the sun is going nova and are asked if you
  will take refugees. Accept, and all your cargo is dumped to make
  space and you have to launch immediately. Refuse, and you are kicked
  out anyhow. You now have to use a galactic hyperspace or scoop the
  star for fuel. Your reward: Some gem stones, or 1000CR (varied with
  version).

3) Stolen Police Ship

  You are asked to help the military track down and destroy a stolen
  police ship - it's quite obvious; it's been given a new paint job.
  Reward: 4000CR

4) Thargoid Documents

  You are asked to pick up the captured designs of a thargoid
  battleship from site A and take them to site B (usually a very long
  journey) and are hassled by thargoids all along the way. In some
  versions you may even find out that you were only a decoy, after all!
  Reward: Naval Energy Unit (better than standard model) or 5000CR
  depending on version.

5) Asteroid Bombardment

  A planet is under threat of collision with an asteroid shower. All
  the system's ships have been destroyed trying to fragment them. You
  must save the day! Reward: 6000CR

6) Cloaking / Masking Device

  Reports of a ship in a nearby sector which is fitted with some sort
  of a masking device. Destroy it. It is intermittently invisible to
  both radar and sight and cannot be missile targetted. It is one of
  the 3 Asps you encounter on first entering the system, and when you
  engage, Constrictors (fawn, blunt) and Cougars (red, blue and black,
  with rectangular wings) come to its aid. Novel, eh?
  Believed variant: Master & Tube Elites: Cloaked ship is a Cougar.
  No Constrictors present.
  Reward: A masking device (so long as you manage to retrieve it!)

7) Thargoid Invasion

  A nearby space station has been taken over by thargoids. They
  apparently also possess a hyperdrive jammer. If you destroy the
  station (which is guarded by a swarm of thargs) you receive a
  hyperspace jammer as a reward. You also receive the rank "Archangel".
  It is impossible to dock at this station.

8) Constrictor

  A top secret naval ship prototype has been stolen - the Constrictor.
  You must track it down and destroy it. If in galaxy 1, you are told
  where it was last sighted, and follow the trail (in the Data on
  System screens) to where it galactic-hyperspaces. If in galaxy 2,
  you are just told that it has entered this galaxy and must try and
  remember the site of galactic hyperspace entry. Note down all systems
  in 7ly of your entry to galaxy 2: These are where it may have jumped
  to. Explore each in turn (include the one you arrive at - this is the
  correct next stop in some versions) until you pick up the trail
  again. When you find it, it is tougher than any other ship, including
  Constrictors in the Masking Device mission, and is energy bomb proof.
  A sly way to beat it is to missile at close range so it cannot ECM in
  time.
  Reward: Money (varies with version, may be up to 10,000CR)

ArcElite missions are covered in the section on ArcElite as they are unique to it.

Note: In Elite Plus, there is also a message in the code welcoming you to the 9th Galaxy. No-one has yet found out how to get there. I have some pet ideas: 1) Galhyp from witchspace 2) Something to do with your galhyp and the hyperspace jammer...

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