Frontier and its universe are alive with rumour. Strange happenings in deep space, funny-shaped pink ships, odd swirlings in the distance. But what does it all mean? Is there really a black hole? And what about that Class 4 military drive the scientists have been promising us for ages? Read on to find out.
David Braben claimed that at the centre of the Frontier galaxy there is a Black Hole. As the galaxy is so large and the exact location of the centre so hard to find, this has yet to be proven. Perhaps there really is a Black Hole or maybe it's just another attempt to keep us playing. I personally doubt its existence but the six million dollar prize and eternal Frontier fame goes to the person who can find and locate it!
If you use the galactic view and zoom out of the galaxy you can see lots of other galaxies that are arranged in a regular grid (UK version only). These galaxies are all copies of your home galaxy, so it is really not worth the effort to try and find wormholes to distant galaxies. There is only one galaxy and a lot of mirror images.
Class 4 Military Hyperdrives
Class 4 Military Hyperdrives are another device everyone seems to want to get their hands on. Yes, they do exist in Frontier, but you will never be able to buy one. They can be hacked into Frontier. The manual also claims that lighter engines are in the making: "Military Hyperdrives are not widely available and there are only three classes for sale. The reason is thought to be instability occuring in bigger drives, but rumours say that military engineers are working on this problem. They are also reputed to be making even lighter engines." These 'lighter' drives are also non-existent.
The Fighter Launch Device
This is another piece of equipment that eludes the common Frontier gamer. No, it doesn't exist. Well, it does, but you can't buy one. Its name is self-explanatory: it launches fighters from big ships in the heat of combat or to go and fuel scoop for the mother ship. It can be obtained by hacking but once acquired on your ship it doesn't actually do anything. The Thargoid ship save on the Saves page has one of these devices.
Imperial Reflective Armour
The Frontier manual suggests that the Empire are developing reflective armour: "There are also words that the Imperial Navy are developing reflective armour which reflects much of the laser's energy back along the incoming path, though this is strongly denied." Although our excellent scientific friends in Achenar and Facece are the best in the galaxy, this equipment is also just another myth of Frontier and does not exist, to buy or to hack.
The Cloaking Device
The 16-bit versions of Elite featured a cloaking device (In Elite Plus this was called a 'masking device') and what it did was render your ship invisible for a short period. A program address was alloted for this feature in Frontier: Elite 2, yet it was never included in the game. Below you can see it in action in Frontier, where a 'Borg Cube' first appears normal and then becomes cloaked using the cloaking device.
The Borg Cude appears normal until the Cloaking Device is activated...
...then it is invisible!
This device is not available in the game. However, because the feature was partially programmed in, the above situation was made possible in a save game by Steve Critchlow. The save game can be downloaded from the Saves page and is called 'Borg'.
Insurance, ship hulls & convoys
Frontier: Elite 2 also included code for the buying and selling of ship hulls and insurance, and escort duty for convoys. They were not completed, and never activated in the final release. The insurance feature I can live without as it sounds rather mundane anyway. The escort duty, however, is a great loss. If executed properly this could have been a prime occupation in Frontier, and one of the most exciting forms of interaction with the AI.
I received this e-mail from Simon Jones. I have never heard of this before, but it's interesting and certainly possible:
One of the rumours I heard many years back was that the Frontier "galaxy" included the planet LV 42 (and also possibly Fiorina 161) both being references to the "Alien" films. Can you (or anyone else) confirm or deny whether LV 426 is in the Frontier "galaxy" and if so its co-ordinates?
The reason it's possible is that David Braben always liked hiding things in the Frontier games, and generously giving people their own starports. Amiga guru Angus Manwaring had his own spaceport in the Eta Cassiopeia system, for example. The original Elite had many references to various things, usually sc-fi related. George Hooper's Trivia page has a run down of them, and is worth checking out. Daniel Sevo's Curious Facts page is also a very interesting read with some amusing finds.
Jon Stock sheds further light on the matter of the 'Alien' galaxy:
No, there's not a planet called LV 426 but there is an orbital station around the planet "Industry" (Zaonce, -2,-6) called "Ridley Scott."
South Pole exploration reference
Once again, Jon Stock has been prowling the galaxy for obscure references:
The planet "Scott" about 61 Cygni A,B has a starport called Amundsen after the two early 20th century South Pole explorers.
(This one isn't a rumour at all.) You may see advertising boards for "Chris Sawyer's Transport Game" which is coming soon, in many space stations. This is just an ad for the game Transport Tycoon which was released in 1993/1994 and again in 1995 as a deluxe version. No doubt David Braben allowed this advert, since Chris did the mammoth task of porting Frontier to the PC. Transport Tycoon is another of my favourite 'all time' games and had been improved beyond measure by the good folks at OpenTTD.
Armin Kaiser recalls this experience:
I can remember there was a so called "Eternity Ship" in Final Frontier (in german: Ewigkeitsschiff). It was so huge, that it took about 20 seconds to pass it. It discovered this one on one of my first attempts playing this game. After this "discovery" I phoned a friend and told him about this ship. He said that there was a rumour about this thing, but no one believed it. Unfortunately I didn't saved the game state, because I was thinking that it is easy to find.
Thanks to Tom Morton for some of the information on this page.