back to article Classic game 'Elite' returns … on Kickstarter

Elite, the classic BBC Micro game immortalised as winner of Reg Hardware's Antique Code Show All-time Classic Award, has returned as a Kickstarter project. David Braben, one of the developers of the original game and founder of Frontier Developments, writes on the game's Kickstarter page that the next instalment of the game, “ …

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Multiplayer game based on Elite?

I believe it's called Eve Online...

Not saying there isn't room for both, just that it's somewhat of a niche market and there needs to be a clearer differentiation.

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im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

Eve online, like Warcraft, are essentially definitive MMORPGs. The backdrop-space, piracy and/or trading may have been influenced and coded by those who once played Elite but it is NOT Elite. The fact you said this says, to me, you were not around for it first time and, therefore, most likely haven't played it.

I became rather excited when I read that headline. Multi player Elite, I have been banging on about this for ages. Indeed , I have mentioned this in a previous post!

I really hope this works out....Cobra mk III, military laser, fuel scoop and a sleepless nights.

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Re: im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

"“In the game, you will of course begin with a spacecraft* and a small sum of Credits*. You will be able to trade*, pirate*, bounty-hunt*, explore*, and salvage* your way to wealth and fame, building on those key elements of the previous games, and with sumptuous graphics* only now possible with the performance of today’s machines. Only this time some of the ships out there will be other players like yourself"

* Also found in EVE.

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Re: im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

The problem with Eve is the point & click flight interface and the rock - paper - scissors combat system.

I started playing Eve in 2003 purely because I thought it might give me that Elite hit I was after - it didn't, even after playing for years. CCP are now more corporate & less focused than they used to be and Eve is suffering. I am no longer subbed

The other problem with Eve is once you have a large player base with long established assets you can't make any radical changes without upsetting pretty much everyone, no matter how necessary it is.

I would love to play a modern version of Elite, but I wouldn't be interested in an MMO aspect. Although I wouldn't mind being able to invite a few friends to my universe for a bit of co-op or head to head play.

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Re: im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

Only one military laser? After playing Elite for a couple of days we just hacked a saved game and gave ourselves a zillion credits. Still never discovered the ninth universe, but had a lot of fun. (it's mentioned in the source code)

Somewhere I still have a saved game in which I'm trapped in witchspace with the entire Thargoid fleet.. I never managed to escape from that

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@Suricou Raven

Dammit! You are so right...

Braben is Dooomed, Doomed I tell you. Why, I have wasted my life dreaming of an Elite Multiplayer Mecca, and here it was, under my very nose! It is the new Star Wars horror all over again...*sob*

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Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

"I believe it's called Eve Online"

Don't be silly. One of the compelling things about Elite was that you piloted the ship yourself in real time. When I first encountered Eve I got very excited, assuming it would be the same. But as soon as I discovered that it was all just point-and-click autopilot stuff I immediately lost interest. Without requiring the skill of flying the ship yourself it all seems very dull.

I very much hope this new version of Elite comes into existence.

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@dz-015 - Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

I quite agree about piloting yourself in real-time.

The (sometimes) long flight to the space station, waiting to be jumped by pirates, was fundamental to the experience.

And the "Omigod omigod I'm gonna die!' aspect of the combat takes a lot of beating.

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Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

@SoaG - Do you even have the most vague clue what you are talking about?

Didn't think so.

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Re: @dz-015 - Multiplayer game based on Elite?

And the "Omigod omigod I'm gonna die!' aspect of the combat takes a lot of beating.

Or docking, come to think of it. Then there was the "c'mon...c'mon...c'mon" nailbiting as you raced for the safety of the "S" zone in an anarchy system, with all your shields and missiles gone. Only to crash into a *stupid* python emerging from the gate while you are on finals. Lets hope the new version has some sort of flight controller employed at the space stations...

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Re: @dz-015 - Multiplayer game based on Elite?

Isn't that the reason you just hacked it and, with the previously mentioned credits and military lasers, gave yourself a docking computer.

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Re: im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

yeah, what WERE you supposed to do with a misjump into witchspace?

I can see this being a good idea in principle but horrible in practice. In Elite if you screwed up docking (I started humming blue danube when sat in my mates "self parking" focus and he got the reference :) ) then you reloaded the save. Not so here.

I also doubt the supposed safe havens of zaonce (the white dwarf high tech star - cant quite remember) will be full of military laser toting loonies shooting into the docking station as you launch.

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Re: @dz-015 - Multiplayer game based on Elite?

@Mark 65

Even though when I started playing Elite I would BUY (no cheating here, except to make a copy of the disk - not a trivial task until sector-by-sector disk copiers for the BEEB came along) a docking computer, once I found the Bitstick worked as a controller (or indeed any other high precision joystick, I could do the same with one of the BBC analogue joysticks with an extension on the shaft made of a ball-point pen body), I completely ignored the DC.

At computer club events, I would quite often wow everyone who was watching by accurately lining up with the dock at a significant distance, matching rotation, and accelerating all the way in. There did not seem to be a maximum speed for docking. I could dock much, much faster than the DC, which often looked worse than a learner driver doing a reverse turn around a corner for the first time in a car with a faulty clutch. The only thing I found the it useful for was as a break to go and make a cup of tea.

I suspect that anybody who had any pretensions of becoming Elite would probably do the same.

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Re: im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

In witchspace you had to kill the Thargoid motherships, then scoop up the tharglets and sell them as alien artefacts for significant profit. If you survived long enough. And if you had a fuel scoop. And if you didn't have a cargo hold full of luxuries, which were worth more.

Once the big ships were dead (sometimes more than one wave of them) you could jump out again (if you had enough fuel!!)

In fact, witchspace became a welcome diversion for me. But only if it didn't happen on that "just one last jump" before you went to bed... ;)

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Re: @dz-015 - Multiplayer game based on Elite?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/0x10c

From the creator if Minecraft, it is claimed that this as yet unreleased game 0x10c was inspired by Elite. 0x10c is the game in which the player's ship is controlled by a fully-functioning virtualised 16 bit CPU that they can program- this I find especially interesting after reading some of the comments below about Elite's Docking Computer being a bit slow. The game is set to feature combat, trading, engineering and mining, amongst other things.

I'm not saying that it is Elite, but only that it seems based on the same spirit, and may have the potential to compete for some of the same players.

Disclosure: I haven't played Elite, I tried to play Frontier but couldn't get it working on my 286. Can't remember why.

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Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

Having played Eve, on and off over the years, I gave up on it for good last year.

The fundamental problem with Eve, it's boring.

Yes there is a lot of strategy to it, but the bulk of this is on the corporate level, as an individual user, you are a mere pawn.

Once you have achieved a certain level, effectively you need to be a part of whoever the latest corp to be dominant in 0.0 to do anything interesting. The rest are left doing menial tasks in high security space.

Secondly, unless you're an unemployed dole dosser, with 18hours a day to play the game, it's nearly impossible to get anywhere.

Eve becomes a job you pay the company to do.

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Re: @Suricou Raven

Suricou Raven caught my meaning I think. The founders of CCP (the company behind Eve) have made no secret that elite was their inspiration, right down to the logo being designed to have a resemblance.

Yes, ship control is different, but there's lots of single player flight sims, including in space. There's even another Kickstarter for one from another guy who did one of the old ones. The bandwidth and server load for such control in a real-time MMO environment would be more than a little impractical, especially on the single game universe/massive fleet battle model of Eve. I'm sure the Eve devs would have liked to include that aspect as well.

I haven't played Eve in a few years, but I know it's still growing. They're both niche games though as I said and I don't think there's market room for a 2nd Elite based MMO even if they could solve the lag. Single player definitely, so hopefully they meant that with a co-op, or small-server/LAN multiplayer, mode added on. That would likely do well.

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Re: im guessing you are far younger than my 39 years...

you could only get out of witchspace if you had enough hyperspace fuel left to jump to a nearby system, or have a galactic hyperjump - which meant all your missions were screwed

Elite.The hard way.

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Vendetta Online

If you want a more Elite-like game that is Mutliplayer, it might be worth checking out Vendetta Online.

It's far more interesting than the barely-interactive screen-saver that is Eve Online.

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Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

Actually, it's called Vendetta Online. VO is a twitch based first person shooter just like Elite was, whereas Eve is more point and click.

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Witchspace was easy once you had the cloaking device

Jump into witchspace (usually deliberately, ALT+W before a jump broke the hyperdrive on the PC version).

Engage cloak and fly past thargoids.

All much easier once their formation breaks up and they're not all firing at some.

The cloaking device also made picking up the small Thargoid ships much easier.

Made it to Elite with all missions completed twice. Once for the first CGA PC version, then again for the Elite+ remake with VGA graphics and more missions.

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Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

The only game I've played which I can compare to Elite really is the X series. In that series you can be whatever you want, a super trader, owner of huge fleets of ships which go and buy/sell stuff for you, a pirate who forces people to eject (who you then capture to sell as slaves) and steal their ships, a pirate hunter, salvager, can't remember if you can be a miner, but the combat is Elite style and isn't a bad game.

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Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

"One of the compelling things about Elite was that you piloted the ship yourself in real time."

It's not obvious, but you can set a manual heading via doubleclicking on space. Very important for tactical combat manouvers. You don't get to aim the guns yourself, but that would be silly.

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Re: Multiplayer game based on Elite?

@ annodomini2

I play Eve for most on average 1 hour a day (some days none, some days lots), I get a lot out of it, I've had an account for 4 years and I can't say I have "got anywhere", for me it's escapism. There are so many facets to Eve to get boring, it's just a matter of exploring them. But then Eve is not meant to be a shoot-em-up, it's meant to be a role play. It's like anything you get used to though, there are lots of versions of first-person shoot-em-ups, civilisation builders, platform games. Anyway we're way off topic. :)

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Re: @dz-015 - Multiplayer game based on Elite?

> accurately lining up with the dock at a significant distance, matching rotation

I used to do that as a matter of course.

I once had a DC try to take me in through the back wall of the station. Vast amounts of damage...

Vic.

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Big disappointment

Why does it have to be multiplayer, I loved the original because it was SP, not despite.

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Re: Big disappointment

If you want a Single Player version, check out Oolite.

As for me - this might just provide the impetus I need for me to make the jump to multi-player games.

(Still waiting for the Antique Code Show on Elite ...)

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Re: Big disappointment

Elite is in the Android marketplace:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=elite.app (this link works with me logged in, but fails if I paste it into IE!)

Although Google now report it as incompatible with my device (Galaxy Nexus) despite it being installed. The controls are a pig, though...

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Re: Big disappointment

Oolite is also interesting because of the vast array of community made add-ons that are available for it.

Extra ships, extra stations, extra everything. It even has an add-on which plays Blue Danube when you are using the docking computer....

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Re: Big disappointment

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20187897

Straight from the horses mouth, that it is single player, with multiplayer, if you so wish.

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Re: Big disappointment

They could save a few quid and some time if they teamed up with the Oolite guys. Just need to patch in the multiplayer part.

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Re: Big disappointment

I get the feeling that teaming up would be a massive compromise.

From reading the Kickstarter page it appears David Braben has been working on this for many years, even if some of the time it was just thinking about how his new multiverse game would pan out. Teaming up with someone else who has already running software would mean compromises and re-working the game, that would possibly mean altering it in ways you didn't want to do.

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Re: Big disappointment

There's also the issue of Oolite being open source. I'm assuming that David wants to make a few quid out of this..

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"sumptuous graphics"

I hope they don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and just have fancy graphics and no gameplay. Even with wireframe graphics, Elite is awsome.

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Re: "sumptuous graphics"

3D hidden line graphics on a 2MHz 8 bit micro was eye-poping back in the early '80s. I remember someone bringing in the first copy seen at the BBC micro users club I used to frequent, and it drew a huge crowd.

I had been playing around with wire-frame graphics myself at the time and I quickly realised that they were using a very quick-and-dirty algorithm to draw the lines, but I never did figure out how they managed to work out whether a line was visible or not at the speed that it ran at.

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Re: "sumptuous graphics"

The algorithm isn't line based, it's a fairly simple winding polygon algorithm check. It's for this reason that there were no concave polygon structures - i.e. no sticky out bits or engine nodules on separate spars of the model.

The smart in the code then decides which polygons (given shared vertices) are visible due to the winding, normalises the vertice list (to ensure a single line between polygons isn't drawn multiple times) and then draws the lines between the visible vertices. The polygon filling and this algorithm was beyond the processing capabilities of many of the 8bit systems...

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It is our duty to donate :-)

Loved the original, died so many times trying to dock with that wire frame icosahedron I had nightmares! But perseeverd, & got the nack. Got the later games, Frontier Elite etc and enjoyed them all, docking computers made it boring hehe. If I had £1.25 million spare, Braben would get my backing, but as a poor engineer, I have £1.25 goiong his way.

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Re: It is our duty to donate :-)

Spacestation docking is easy with non-self-centring analog joystick, but remember to hum the Blue Danube.

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Re: It is our duty to donate :-)

Ah, I always wondered what the 'limp and floppy' mode of my joystick was for! No sniggering at the back, it's a Gravis Analogue.

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Re: It is our duty to donate :-)

Analogue stick docking? Pah! Unless you could dock at full speed using a digital joystick then you were nothing more than Mostly Harmless.

Hard experience showed that it was often safer to dock manually than wait for the docking computer to scrape every face of the space station or attempt to dock with the rear opposite face of the station... where there was no docking bay. The grinding noise (well, naff shield damage noise) as it tried to shove the ship in at 90 degrees to the orientation of the docking bay slot was also a far too familiar noise.

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Re: It is our duty to donate :-)

By the time you could afford the docking computer, you had to have learned the manual way anyway.

After weeks of struggling with the tap-tap-tap method on the C64 (no analogue stick), I reread the manual and spotted a little mention or "inertial dampers" or somesuch, eh voila! Nice, easy, controlled rotation.

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Paris Hilton

Re: It is our duty to donate :-)

There's a word for someone who insists on using the wrong tool for the job. It only begins with E when said with a fake Mexican accent.

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Very happy to see flight dynamics cited

Of "Frontier" (first sequel to Elite) Braben says: with the benefit of hindsight I think the way the ships flew detracted from the joyous immediacy of those in “Elite”.

Damn right - although purer Newtonian mechanics make for a solider sci-fi world I found them ludicrously hard to use, trying to judge closure rate in three dimensions and apply sensible braking thrusts so as not whizz right past. It was somewhat like trying to dock with a manoeuvering ISS, by eye, under fire. The AI had a rather easier task of just solving the related vector equations.

Something closer to "aerial dogfight" model of the original Elite will make it a game to be returned to, not a space sim to be admired as a thing of distant beauty except by a few (who were actually born on the wrong planet...)

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Re: Very happy to see flight dynamics cited

Noooo. I'm old enough to have put many happy hours into the original Elite on both the Beeb and Speccy but Elite II blew my mind. A whole galaxy of realistic solar systems and proper(ish) physics. A stunning achievement and also bloody good fun. Going back to Elite after Frontier just felt like picking up a toy.

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Re: Very happy to see flight dynamics cited

I for one had zero difficulty with the flight dynamics. Learn to pilot a Cobra is my advice!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Very happy to see flight dynamics cited

I loved the real newtonian flight dynamics.....

maybe have a 'flight computer' to help with it, make it feel more like an aerial dogfight.. but allow those of use who like more manual control to have it...

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Right on, Commander!

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There might be an issue with their target audience...

I loved Elite - I played and saw it all without even cheating which is rare for me. The sequels weren't enough of a dogfighter - something that found it's spiritual home in the wonderful Freespace and Freespace 2 games, dogfighting past capital ships. Or the amazing setting of Tie Fighter (now *that* I would fund a remake of! Join the Empire in their fight against Terrorists!) that now looks dated but was so fun!

However my age and responsibilities now mean that I can't enjoy multiplayer games anymore - I've tried WoW and Eve - but with an actual female living with me (distractions I didn't have when I was 12!) and a kid to look after then I can only really enjoy games with pause buttons that can save anywhere. While I still get an awful lot of gaming in, considering, I just need the ability to pause without being ganked while I pick up my clumsy child or not let my girlfriend feel like I'm ignoring her (this pays off many more times than my 12 year old self would have expected too).

I also just don't have the time or inclination to be regularly beaten by 12 year old American's calling me "fag" over voicecoms because I haven't obsessively levelled into a PVP killer.

I have joined groups of older players - I can recommend "The Older Gamers" who have groups in most multiplayer games and who will understand if you can't raid due to your kids birthday or having to go into work on a weekend. However in the end I want my games to be fun and on my terms. Where is the old codger icon?

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Re: There might be an issue with their target audience...

well my kids are into there 20's ..lol so i'm back to being a 12 yr old myself .. when i need to ..still do my 50 hr week at the slave farm ..

as for elite and releasing it through kickstarter .. well that in itself tells a bad story if a big software company wont pick it up ..hmmm

the game in its day was awsome sleepless nights taking turns with your m8's ..great fun ..

and yes eve has a lot of elite in it but like has been said they have sold out even more so there combining the uni with dust and the console market ..

i really do hope he pulls it off .. but where still looking at 2-4ys of coding and tears ...

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