Open Letter to E:D Odyssey Dev Team regarding planet surfaces, canyons, "hooning" and the risk of accidentally exterminating the very active niche

Reporting from a Reddit thread about a serious concern that a good few of us in the FA-off community around the new planet tech and the effects it will have on our core gameplay preferences.

Original Reddit Link

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INTRODUCTION

Hi there. I'm CMDR Sebby. I'm a rather new member of the community all things considered but many of my fellows pilots and mentors have been playing the way we call "Hooning" for years now, and at least for as long as I been Newton Gambit, on a daily basis*.* Many of them have very thoroughly customized (and often expensive) HOSAS VR gaming rigs they use basically exclusively for this activity unique to the flight model of Elite: Dangerous. Needless to say, there's personal investment in the game.

We also know that Frontier owe us absolutely nothing, and we're ready to basically accept that our favorite game will stop existing in 2 weeks. But some public olive branches were attempted from the community management, so we're hoping this is all just a misunderstanding.

I am here as an ambassador of sort, to explain our position, our concerns, and hopefully steer the E: D O devs into actually achieving the goal they seemingly set for themselves (making sure there is content for quote/unquote "canyon runners"). I'll try1 to be as short as possible but since this depends on somewhat in-depth use of the game's unique flight mechanics I'll try to vulgarize it best I can so we can all have a shared understanding of the situation.

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WHAT IS "HOONING"? (and why it's not the public perception of "Canyon Running")?

"Hooning" TL;DR IRL is a Australian term for driving recklessly, usually to show off. In Elite: Dangerous, hooning is flying way too fast, way too low, in terrain way too hostile... until you die2. Often time, as a group, chasing a leader. This is something you can do in any ship. At high speed, this is only really possible in FA-OFF and with Speedbowling... hence why it is the favored test of skills for Newton Gambit!

"Canyon Running", popularized by Vindicator Jones, in contrast... is basically just going in a straight line in a "canyon" so wide we fly our anacondas sideways in. (Which can be fun too but it's not exactly the same thing. This is the Autobahn "racing" to our "dirt rallies". Or uh... the tutorial mission I guess) The skill floor and skill ceiling are basically the same in this.

We also do this around stations, which won't disappear in Odyssey, but since they're fixed designs it has a limited shelf life. It's fun, but predictable. Great for racing though, which is a different, overlapping community.

HOW DOES IT DEPEND ON ASPECTS UNIQUE TO E: D?

The short answer is... the speed limit, the ships, the universe at large and the way the planets were generated in Horizons.

But the big thing is unique way Elite: Dangerous FA-OFF has near-newtonian flight physics, with a speed cap that causes a gradient in thruster performance, how the cargo scoop/landing gear reduces your max speed to control your boost speed. All these interacts with the strange way Elite "speedlocks" you at certain speed in certain gravity that lets you accelerate beyond the limits with additional constraints... and how it's partially about flying ships designed for other purposes put into these extreme conditions. Not to forget that it's simply part of the same "game" as all the other fun things to do and how you can overlap or switch at will. But also it's part of the Exploration loop for us. Exploring is part of finding fun places to fly (and drink... and drink & fly). No other game has this very unique combination of mechanics that leads to this beautiful emergent gameplay opportunity. (For exemple, I "hoon" in Kerbal Space Program but it's not at all the same thing!)

In fact, it's so dependent on Elite: Dangerous that someone is functionally making their own game, specifically to capture the feel of hooning in E: D Horizon... and for some the fear is that it'll have to be a replacement to E: D and not another fun thing to do.

WHY IS ODYSSEY (and by extension "Canyon Running") A THREAT TO THIS COMMUNITY

There were literally no "Canyons" in Odyssey's Alpha that were considered "Hoonable". None. Some were close to hoonable but since most of us are accustomed to the hellscape of Achelous 8A and beyond... They couldn't kill a Sanderling even if they were particularly drunker than usual. And a canyon that can't kill you is no canyon at all!

Even Nervi's galactic tallest mountain was gone.

We know the Alpha's planet gen was "incomplete" but since we have no way to know how it will be, we can only discuss what we do know.

The community management said they were specifically trying to have canyons for canyon running, and that they even had "handcrafted" some, whatever that means. But all indications is that they are "VJ Style" canyons, not actual... well... uh... fun-yons? If you want fun Canyons, FDev, you need them to be be tight, twisty and rubble-y!

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS?

We know it's extremely unlikely that any changes to the galaxy generation to be implemented after the release, so this is kind of our last ditch effort...

A) If the current system makes it literally impossible to hoon... maybe we could keep one of the fun planets from Horizon? We don't need a lot... a planet is big, and there's literally billions. Doesn't even need to be in the Bubble, we'll make the pilgrimage don't worry. Just ask us which one we want.

B) If the system makes it possible, then we just ask that the parameters allows some of the gravitationally sheared and stretched worlds stays a bit "extreme" at times. Doesn't need to be planet-wide either, we know there's regions and geomes in Odyssey, it could just be some parts like that. If we know they're out there somewhere, we'll happily explore to find them!

C) Depending what you mean by "Handcrafting"... it sounds a bit lukewarm. But if you really want to go that way, come hoon with us and see for yourself what makes it magical so you can do it the way you wanted to in the first place.

Annotations

1 I'm not that great at being short, and I don't have the free time to thoroughly edit this to make it shorter. But I tried!

2 CMDR Sanderling celebrated their 4800th rebuy this week

Did you know the Asp Scout is one of the most agile ships in the game and a well beloved hooning vessel? It actually does have a niche use! If not for us, at least keep hooning possible for this poor ship! It needs it even more than we do!

Additional Links & Resources

There's people streaming hoons almost 24/7 on the Newton Gambit's discord. Feel free to join us on Achelous 8A, TZ or any of the other famous extreme planets.

CMDR Hobbs' FA-off tutorial series and Barnardo's coaching for those interested in giving it a try

Legendary CMDR Sanderling's Youtube and Twitch

NG's Leader Madax573's YT and Twitch

CMDR BeerZ's Twitch

CMDR Yaha-Shura's YT

CMDR Ser Xav's YT
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Hilarious. IIRC Kay specifically called out things like Canyon running as something she was looking forward to seeing people do in Odyssey.
but, you know, canyon running is not hooning. canyon running is boring, bad for your character, it has the same low-no skill ceiling, and it is actually not really elite dangerous, while hooning is the only thing cool kids do, builds character, and dr. kay has not mentioned it! demands an open letter!
 
Yes was an excellent post. It would be interesting to know exaclty what Dr.Kay meant by "canyon running" and who in the community, if anyone, had been consulted.
 
Yes was an excellent post. It would be interesting to know exaclty what Dr.Kay meant by "canyon running" and who in the community, if anyone, had been consulted.
please do not derail this excellent thread by mentioning the c-word. anybody who enjoys c*-running should feel bad for it, and clearly dr. kay mentioning c*-r***ing does not adress the true elite hooners concerns.
 

Deleted member 121570

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please do not derail this excellent thread by mentioning the c-word. anybody who enjoys c*-running should feel bad for it, and clearly dr. kay mentioning c*-r***ing does not adress the true elite hooners concerns.
Perhaps a picture will work better than descent into semantics and sarcasm.

Terrain for hooning is central, with a canyon on the right.
It is this distinction that fundamentally alters what's involved in flying through these at speed and low altitude, and the implications of this for those who enjoy doing so.

Nobody is suggesting canyons are removed, or anything else. It's an awareness raising post to explain the importance of that stuff in the middle there that hasn't been touched on in Alpha or comments, and is possibly going to be lost. That'd be a real shame.

Better to raise the issue pre-launch than wait until that ship has sailed...
 

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Tricky. Is it too soon to have an open letter about something that we don't yet know will be a problem (i.e. they have repeatedly said that the planet tech in Odyssey wasn't fully enabled so I really don't think the fact that there are no hoonable canyons in Alpha necessarily means very much), or will it be too late to mention it after release if the worst fears (and they are just fears) expressed here turn out to be true? I guess it does no harm to make your concerns felt now. Worst (also best) case is that Odyssey launches, has stunning, varied and hoonable terrain as hinted at by Dr Kay and this all looks rather foolish in hindsight.

It might be a good idea to include a nice screenshot or two from Horizons showing the sort of terrain you mean as Frontier aren't always good at understanding words. I know there were questions about the ridges of Pomeche 2C and Arf reported back on a livestream that he'd checked it out and we could reset assured that it was covered in nice big craters. Errrr, craters are NOT even remotely the same as ridges and if you don't instantly know what Pomeche is like then you really aren't quite as in touch as you should be.

Oh, and re: the OP's suggestion of maybe preserving one or two planets from Horizons if hoonyans aren't going to be a thing in the future ... I'm afraid that's not how procedural generation works, at all. Basically in Odyssey the "procedure" has changed so what it generates (i.e. the surface of every single planet in the galaxy) has also changed.

Fingers crossed for the fully enabled planet tech giving us what we want!
 
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i still remember the rush after horizons to find extreme locations - deep craters, amazing canyons, high momtains and such. and pre- and after geo-pois to find wonderful colour-combies of volcanism, ground colour, star-light and background. i personally look forward for new extremes being found in odysse, and from what i saw in alpha and read on what was not included, i'm pretty sure stunning locations will be found.

what i rather dislike about the opening post is to belittle, patronize and devaluate the enjoyment some, many commanders have doing canyon-running. that does not meet my personal expectation of excellent.
 
i still remember the rush after horizons to find extreme locations - deep craters, amazing canyons, high momtains and such. and pre- and after geo-pois to find wonderful colour-combies of volcanism, ground colour, star-light and background. i personally look forward for new extremes being found in odysse, and from what i saw in alpha and read on what was not included, i'm pretty sure stunning locations will be found.

And we're going to have that rush again in bigger dosage, because the new planetary generation is much more capable of creating extreme, dramatic and varied landscapes than the previous one. :)
 
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