Newsletter #75

Hello, Commander,

Welcome to Elite Dangerous Newsletter #75.

This week we launched Elite Dangerous for Mac. PC and Mac players can now play side-by-side in the shared galaxy, and you can load up your Commander on either platform and play. If you already own Elite Dangerous for PC, then you now own Elite Dangerous for Mac as part of your original purchase, too. 

This week we also made the difficult decision to move the Powerplay beta we had planned for May 19 back by up to a week, which will also push back the full release. It's an important update for us and for all of you, and we want it to be great. That's going to take a little extra time, and we really appreciate your understanding while we put the finishing touches on our biggest Elite Dangerous update yet. There's not much longer to wait, we promise!

In this week's newsletter you'll find Producer Richard Benton interviewed about the unique challenges of bringing Elite Dangerous to Mac. We also have an exclusive peek at the Imperial Courier, our film competition shortlist, all-new Pirate T-shirts on the store and our regular Developer Update from Michael Brookes.

As always, you can hear the latest news and updates directly from the development team on our Forums, Twitter, Facebook and right here in the newsletter every week, and we're always eager to hear your feedback. Enjoy the newsletter.

Frontier Q&A: Richard Benton

Elite Dangerous for Mac launched this week, so we sat down with Mac Producer Richard Benton to discuss the challenges his team faced bringing Elite Dangerous to the new platform, and how their work will make the game even better wherever you play.

//When the team first began work on Mac, what were the immediate challenges?//

Well, Mac OS X has a whole different way of talking to the hardware. OpenGL is a very different environment to Windows' DirectX and all the systems in a game like Elite Dangerous are treated differently. All the things you take for granted in Windows need to be reengineered for Mac OS X; even something as simple as using a microphone for chat.

//And what about Mac hardware?//

Mac hardware is almost everything you'd want as a developer, because it tends to have huge amounts of RAM, fast processors and high-resolution screens. The one challenge is the graphics processor. Some Mac hardware uses lower power small form-factor GPUs which can’t match the level of performance you’d get in a larger full sized graphics card. They're still great GPUs, but it's something you have to consider as a developer.

//So how did you make Elite Dangerous for Mac match the PC version?//

Well when you port to OpenGL, there are some things you can predict. The lighting and shadows don’t generally behave, so we targeted those immediately. Then we looked at anywhere performance took a hit on PC. You don't really notice if it takes half a second to load a texture, but on Mac it was two or three seconds before optimisation and it was really obvious. We went to work on optimisation across the board.

Best of all, much of what we did to optimise Elite Dangerous for Mac is going back into the PC version with the Powerplay update, along with all the new features and content. We are continuing to optimise the game all the time, and some of the re-factoring we are doing alongside the Xbox One will also benefit other platforms too.

//What's next for the team?//

We’ll continue to support the game on every platform. Elite Dangerous is a living game and the optimisations we go on to make for Xbox One will come over to Mac and PC, too. And of course we're aiming to update Mac day and date with the PC version, because we have them running on the same server.

//And do you have a message to the players who offered feedback during the Mac beta process?//

Their help has been invaluable. They've helped us identify challenges and get almost instant feedback on changes we made. Today people tell us Elite Dangerous runs better natively on their Mac hardware in Mac OS than it did on the same machine running bootcamp. That’s testament to the team’s hard work and the great feedback we received. It meant a lot to us to get Mac right, and I’m excited to meet all the new Mac Commanders out in our galaxy!

Click here to read the full newsletter.