Interview with Chris Gregory - Recreating the Krait MK II
The Krait Mk II is a reimagining of the Krait Lightspeeder, which was originally manufactured by Faulcon DeLacy in the 3100s. Although the new ship is larger than the original, it possesses many of the same characteristics, emphasizing speed, manoeuvrability and firepower over defensive capability. The ship also boasts a fighter bay and space for up to two crew members, making it a good option for those seeking a medium-weight, multipurpose vessel.
How do you even begin with reimagining a classic ship like the Krait?
When it comes to designing a new ship, there is always a decision on whether or not the ship will be a completely new invention or a reimagining of one of the classics. We’re always keen to bring in fresh ships that have never been seen before, but we also want to bring back iconic ships from the past. We want to bring them back as a nod to those who played the original games, but also because they’re fantastic pieces of hardware, and it wouldn’t feel like Elite without the classics.
In terms of process, we take a look at what ships were popular back in the day, and look out for current player feedback on which of the old ships they would like to see brought to Elite Dangerous. Once we’ve decided, we bring up the original vector models of those ships, study how they looked and felt in the past. The ships of Elite, while represented with a limited graphics, had a lot of character. Were they bulky? Were they fast and sleek? The original models were simple but expressed a lot.
One of the most important things is that we try to ensure that the reimagined models capture what David [Braben] was trying to get across with the originals.
What is the most challenging part of this process?
I think the biggest challenge with this is trying to understand and deal with the sheer complexity of the ships. We’re not just designing something that looks cool… although, that is part of it. Elite Dangerous’ ships have a wide range of in-game capabilities and gameplay requirements. There’s a lot of coordination that goes on between our game designers, and our special effects and concept artists before creating a new ship. Once that’s complete, we put together all the thoughts and turn it into a cohesive and believable ship.
Is this the same process used for bringing other older ships to Elite Dangerous?
Very much so. We’ve brought back the Viper, Cobra, the Asp and many more! The process always begins the same: look back at those old model meshes, distil the character from the original ship and incorporate it into the new one. We want each ship in Elite Dangerous to feel unique, both in look and feel. But we’re not always just referencing the past in the reimagined ships, we also look on how we can put a spin on the new model. In the case of the Krait Mk II, we reversed the cockpit; rather than it being on top, we put it underneath the ship itself.
Aside from the wire framework of the original, where did your influences come for the Krait we can fly in Elite Dangerous?
Elite was a game in the 80s that was rooted in a certain sci-fi language that was prevalent at that time. It’s a language I remember as a kid, so it’s an area I’m comfortable with and understand. But it’s also important to ensure that our ships don’t look too retro, or too pastiche, so we build elements that make it look like a ship of the modern era. There is that occasional nod to sci-fi things that we found cool in the 80s sci-fi era, and this gives our ships a feeling of prestige and legacy.
What is your favourite aspect of theK MK II?
I mentioned the underside cockpit earlier, and I love that this gives you the ability to get a clear view of your hardpoints while playing. We’ve got some very cool mining tools we’re adding in Beyond – Chapter Four and to be able to see them at work from the Krait is awesome! (if you haven’t already, read our focused feedback article about mining here).
It’s actually something we considered in the early stages of the Krait redesign, as we didn’t want the underside hardpoints to negatively impact on pilot’s visibility.
Is there anything you can tell us about Beyond – Chapter Four?
Obviously, I can’t really say too much but we will be ready to show you more details very soon. The changes we’re bringing in with Chapter Four are about getting you and your ships back out there in to space, giving them even more to engage with no matter what type of Commander you are.