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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Stop

This is going to be a disaster

Reeks of ill-advised vanity project.

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You know what would make a cool setting for a game like this?

The Foundation series. A bit like Frontier's real Milky Way, but further into the future and with an awesome history to it. Probably wouldn't change the gameplay much, but would be awesome :)

I just mailed them with that idea even before I finished this. I want a Foundation game.

P.s. I got to Deadly before my savegame collapsed. Good, then sad, times.

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Re: You know what would make a cool setting for a game like this?

Mostly, I agree...apart from the battles are all done in slipspace, barely last more than a second or two, and done over vast (3 dimensional) distances and well beyond visible to the naked eye, and invariably end in a simple massive explosion.

A good dogfighting experience it would not be, I'm afraid.

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LPF

Love this, but I second getting rid of the newtonian physics, thats what spoiled Elite 2 for me, I wanted the old style flight model back!

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Alien

Whilst you're waiting - Oolite

Both for this and for the Antique Code Show to actually cover the original, definitely check out Oolite.

Single player, but free, open source and with a very active and friendly crowd behind it, both in terms of developers and mod'ers. It is set up to allow add-ons (OXPs) of which there are literally hundreds (and more being written all the time), so you can tailor the experience to the gameplay you want. New missions, new ships, new weaponry and all sorts of great eye candy are all available, many of them of professional quality.

Plus if you have problems, questions, suggestions or just want some interaction with other players (and the dev's and mod writers) there's a very active and friendly BB as well - indeed the friendliest one this side of Riedquat...

But for the Elite:Dangerous - right on commander, although as with the mythical Elite IV (which this may be redefined as), breath shall not be held...

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Will you be able to take on assassination contracts?

You never forget your first assassination :)

(Note: I only accepted contracts on politicians and Mafia bosses; I have principles.)

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Re: Will you be able to take on assassination contracts?

And that was the great thing about this - you could choose.

I'd like to see the a "consequences engine" in the new one...pick up too many mafia hit contracts, and *you* become the target in a contract. How cool would that be...being chased across the galaxy by the mafia and other player assassins, trying to stay "off the radar" as much as possible.

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Re: Will you be able to take on assassination contracts?

until your fuel scoop gets mashed :(

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Anonymous Coward

Kickstater should change its name to "beggingWithNoDignity".

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Happy

Elite

My first PC was an IBM Aptiva & my first PC (non Commodore) game & joystick was for Elite on that machine. I wasted my college years playing this game (instead of getting laid) and I loved it: Elite I mean, didn't care much for not getting laid :)

I tried Eve & a few other space based flight sims & nothing has been as much fun as Elite. I really don't think it is 'just' nostalgia, the game was a lot of fun even with wireframe graphics. I'm not sure of my gaming history but Elite may have been one of the first "open" gaming worlds where you could just shoot shit because you wanted to. It was great! I gave $75 to the project to try & have as much fun again.

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Re: Elite

I had an IBM Ambra in the early 90s - 386 running Windows 3.1. I just found my copy of Elite from it in a box, last night. The only bit of software I kept from it. Although it was better on the Amstrad CPC464 in the mid 80s.

However, although Elite was brilliant, I think I played the original Tie Fighter more - and I'd say that was my favourite game ever. Very similar in the way you had to fly, but with more systems to manage. Balancing shields/weapons/engines for different ship combinations was brilliant.

I also spent a lot of time on EVE. Which isn't really Elite, but is great fun. I loved EVE, but never really felt it was a game you could play alone, the thing that makes it great is the co-operation aspect, but that's also the thing that makes it much more time-consuming and more hassle. As you need a decent size of Corporation to do certain things.

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Go

Finally...

I loved the original I still rank it as the best game ever written. I know someone who works for Frontier and they have mentioned Braben has been "working" on a sequel in the background, a number of times.

I was even lucky enough to acquire a very limited edition anniversary t-shirt from 2009 which Braben had made for his staff at Frontier (there were a couple spare).

Mine is the one with the golden Elite logo printed on the front...

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I think I speak for everyone when I say

David Braben,

It's about damn time!

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Go

Saw title of article

and within 20 seconds had pledged £20. I don't see the downside personally - £20 in year and a bit for a full game with some nice personalised extras? What's not to like?

Additionally, if it all goes titstup.com the most I've lost is £20.

No brainer.

(Was anybody else stupefied when the realised there was an entire galaxy modeled on a single density floppy (AmigA)? I STILL am!)

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Re: Saw title of article

It's formula based and is, iirc, also customised and used in Eve-Online.

Stuff a 8/9 galaxies on Amiga, it was on Commodore 64 and BBC/Electrons!!

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Re: Saw title of article

The genius in Elite is the folding of all the universe data into such a compact space.

The story of Elite is written up in an informative and entertaining wya in one chapter of "Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin"

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Backroom-Boys-Secret-Return-British/dp/0571214975

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Anonymous Coward

Love Elite

Loved elite all the versions up to that horrible broken mess which was fronteir elite.

Played jumpgate online and then eve.

Wont be joining this kick starter. Will never forgive realistic physics in a space sim.

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Re: Love Elite

Will never forgive realistic physics in a space sim

So...it's still to be a sim, but without the realism part? Yes, that makes perfect sense...

Fair enough, the newtonian physics detracted from the dogfighting, but I think you're being a bit harsh. I was more annoyed that the autopilot would sometimes not work out the physics correctly either, and smash you into a planet.

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Anonymous Coward

Risky kickstarter

This looks like one of the more risky Kickstarters I've seen.

"I’ll be frank - we have had a couple of false starts on this over the years, where progress wasn’t as good as I wanted."

Says it all, really. He's had 20 years to make progress on this within his successful 235-strong game development company. Why doesn't he want to risk £1.25m of his own company's money?

I doubt the Dragons would invest in this. AdamAitch says it better than me, above.

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Re: Risky kickstarter

It's touch-and-go for me, too, particularly given that Braben's last major project (The Outsider, itself heralded by the BBC) seems to now be firmly filed under vapourware. They're welcome to fritter away their own time/money, but I'd rather they were more productive when working on my dollar (pound).

Still, I'm excited at the prospect - however my donation is likely to be a significant percentage smaller than if I thought it had a cat in hell's chance of being delivered.

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Newtonian physics

I actually massively respected the achievement made with this, and if you were simply in the mood, it made a really interesting gaming/simulator concept - even if aiming for an human-controlled orbital insertion from vast distances impossible. Especially in system like Apha Centauri where the jump point was "months" out when using a big cruiser.

If anything, it underlined the fact that humans simply don't have the mental capacity or concept of scale for realtime space flight.

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Mushroom

I predict failure

Just about every incarnation of "Elite" after the first few originals has been dreadful. "Frontier" was barely acceptable and "First Encounters" was an utter abhorrence.

It's a shame this is going to over-shadow the likes of the excellent Oolite and I wonder if the gameplay will be any better than Diaspora? Probably not given Braben's past form.

And Elite is nothing like EVE. FFS people...

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Happy

Re: I predict failure

Eve is more like submarines than spaceships. I liked the physics in Frontier.

Once it got patches, first encounters wasn't quite so bad. The thargoid story and ending up with the Thargoid battleship after saving them from INRA was great! As well as the Argent's Quest stuff - I hope the new one is more like this!

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Go

Not much to lose really

Chucked some cash their way. If it works wonderful if not it not a huge loss. We LOVE to see it though, I lost a great deal of my youth to that game.

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Suggestions

An updated Elite! would be very interesting. I have tried Oolite, but I found that (apart from visuals), too little was added. Yes, that made the feel very close to the original Elite!, but, frankly, that is a bit dated. I haven't played Frontier or any of the official sequels, so I can't really comment on these.

Things I would like to see are:

- More realistic economy. In the original Elite!, prices fluctuated with every jump, so by jumping back and forth between close systems, you could select your prices. Fluctuations should be slower and prices should depend more on distance. Also, you very quickly found out what to trade: Computers from high-tech to low-tech and food, liquor and furs the other way. I would prefer all goods to be viable and some systems to specialize in certain goods. And alien artefacts should be REALLY worthwhile to grab, unlike in the original where the price is just average.

- A 3D star map. The original galaxies are flat and rectangular. A 3D local map and spiral-galaxy global map would be nice. One galaxy should be enough, though, if it is large enough.

- Worm holes: A few connections that allow you to travel long distances to specific destinations.

- No "ultimate" weapons like energy bombs.

- More choice of player ships and upgrades.

- Possibility to buy or hire escort ships.

- Exploration: Earn income by surveying unexplored systems.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Suggestions

At least half of what you want there is in Oolite, although in some cases via the expansion OXP modules.

More realistic economics, choice of player ships and upgrades (including many OXP ones designed by players and mod'ers themselves, of which I am one) and hiring of escort ships are all there. And in the upcoming version (1.77) the energy bomb is gone. There are other powerful missile and mines there, but balanced as NPCs can have them too.

Maybe have a look again at it and its OXP range and see if things are currently more tailorable to your desired game?

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Thumb Up

I read the headline and thought...

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!

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K
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Re: I read the headline and thought...

HOLY SHIT YEAH!!

Also while your at it, time jump me to 2014 :D

I'm already drooling.

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I'd love this to happen.

Played Elite, Frontier and EVE and love the genre. I understand the criticism of Eve here, but I had a great time for about 4 years. Made some great friends from round the world and had some brilliant experiences. I think the best was the corps first PVP kill against a wartarget. There were 5 of us literally screaming like little girls on voice and when the ship went down it was pandemonium. After that I could barely speak for an hour as my jaw had locked through the stress of it. No other game has made me feel like that.

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That reminds me. I think EVE is the biggest (maybe only) adrenaline rush any computer game has ever given me. After not playing for a year, I re-subbed. The first time I got into combat I could barely control the mouse, my hands were shaking so much. When I survived, and was chatting to people over the headset and was as high as a kite, and my hands still shaking 10 minutes later. Never had a reaction like it, except to genuine danger - or the time I had a reaction to the adrenaline in a local anaesthetic (which was extremely odd).

The fact that losing ships in EVE matters (in terms of cost of time), and that you don't want to let your mates down gives it a different feeling to single player, or shooting mates in multi-player. I guess it's the long build-up of working towards a goal, all condensed into a battle (that might only last seconds/minutes), but seems to last for ages.

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Mushroom

Wholehearted agreement! As a self-confessed carebear, PVP is a big deal for me (very rare though). A corp mate said it's not whether people panic in Eve, it's how quickly they get back into control. Agree about time spent getting resources that can then be destroyed in seconds. Indeed it is a rush!

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I must be in the minority that actually preferred the Newtonian physics in Frontier/First Encounters.

If they just updated FE with modern graphics, fixed the numerous bugs, enhanced the mission types and added some online element I'd probably buy it.

Oh well, it's only £20...what have I got to lose?

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Thumb Down

Ugh

I hated the flight model in Frontier. I discovered the easiest way to do combat was to set the autopilot to the thing I was wanting to fight and to simply smash into it, provided you have enough shields it's always a win.

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Re: Ugh

Robinson,

That was the easy way to kill unshielded Tie Fighters in an X-Wing too. Although once you could afford a bigger ship in Frontier, you just flew straight past your enemies and shot them with your turrets and missiles. Much easier when you don't have to be pointing the direction you're firing.

I did like the physics, but it wasn't as easy, or fun, to play around at. There was satisfaction in flying past an enemy, turning your ship and shooting them as you passed, while still travelling in the original direction though. And doing gravity-assisted slingshots round planets.

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Anonymous Coward

Who needs a new Elite?

Cue a million downloads of BeebEm...

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Silver badge

Copy protection ?

Good lord ... Elite. Does anyone remember that weird viewer thing you had to put up to the TV to read the CAPTCHA-style graphic (ZX Spectrum version). All very well, until other games started using it, at which point they were easy to *coughs* remotely backup.

When the Atari version (IIRC) came out they changed tactic, and you had to enter a word from the manual. A couple of friends spent all weekend loading the game, and compiled an A4 sheet of paper with the most common words in it. You were unlucky if you needed more than 2 goes to load it ...

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Happy

Re: Copy protection ?

...and people moan about DRM these days! Red plastic with a lens that was supposed to allow you to see the code on the screen. Get it wrong and reload the whole damn game from tape!

Top tips for the ZX Spectrum version here:

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/showmag.cgi?mag=YourSinclair/Issue10/Pages/YourSinclair1000040.jpg

Hmm.., that face looks familiar...

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Vapourware

Every now and then when Braben wants a bit of publicity for Frontier, he comes out with an interview on how they're working on the next version of Elite. I guarantee you 10 years down the line it still won't have shipped!

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I'm guessing the success of Chris Roberts' Star Citizen crowdsourcing has encouraged Braben to get off his arse and do something.

www.robertsspaceindustries.com

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Unhappy

Loved the original Elite, played it like mad on my Ataris ST.

A return of the old soloplayer would have gotten my investment but I'm not interested in multiplayer so I'll skip this.

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The spectrum autopilot cheat...

Anyone else remember the cheat on the Spectrum? Undock, set course to hugely risky anarchy system with cargo hold full of expensive stuff, initiate hyperspace, wait til the count down comes up, and then press the docking computer?

Queue docking graphic, and you're in the station of that lovely anarchy system without having to actually fly there. Make a packet, then get your homicidal on... ;)

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Silver badge

Re: The spectrum autopilot cheat...

I always prefered dropping out of hyperspace halfway through a jump and entering witch space.

Thargoids a plenty to destroy and a full cargo hold of alien artifacts to sell afterwards.

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Anonymous Coward

With this, and the on-going work on Lords Of Midnight (started by the sad death of Mike Singleton - but continued in his memory) - two great classics will be around for new players.

Btw - no proper memorial here for Mike Singleton? Why?

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There was indeed

http://www.reghardware.com/2012/10/16/mike_singleton_dies/

Gollop's remaking Chaos as well, to add another classic.

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Played original Elite on 5.25" floppy on the BBC Model B, worked my way up to Deadly after chasing a Fer De Lance for ages (and across universes IIRC).

Never again found the same experience in terms of richness and approachability despite trying all the various sequels as well as Privateer, X3 etc.

would love to see this done really well and don't really understand why no-one wants to back it !

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I really want to like this

I loved, the original on my speccy.

I loved Elite+ on the Archimedes

I even loved the bugtastic Frontier Elite (does this make me odd?)

I also definitely prefer newtonian physics - I think with a bit of computer support it could make an incredibly playable flight and combat engine - it just required a different way of thinking- not too much of a jump for anyone that know a bit about physics.

Like a few others, I don' t think i'd get that hung up on multiplayer- yes it can add a random and interactive element, but the flip side to that is the quantity of idiots on the interwebs these days.

But in all reality, I'm not sure if that particular boat has sailed - computer games are a different world than they were 20+ years ago, I think David will have to come up with something particularly special to make a success here, not just marrying a once original and innovative idea with modern technology.

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Meh

Egosoft

I always thought that the appropriate spiritual successor to the Elite games was Egosoft's 'X' Universe series of games. Fully immersive sandbox epics- Trade, Fight, Build, Think was the tagline - or something similar anyway.

Ahh, happy days, when I had time to spend playing games...

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Ok, great, but...

... please make sure there's plenty of things to do after you've done all the trading and taxi runs to get your "Iron Ass", photographed enemy bases (or blown them up) and done the assassination missions etc.

What Elite always lacked was long-term goals apart from getting to Elite, there should be more extended missions like the original Constrictor and Thargoid ones, otherwise boredom will set in again...

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Mushroom

The POWER of The Reg

Ok, it may not be just reg readers, but since this article was published they're already above £125,000 aka a tenth of the required budget. Not too shabby

Did anyone here genuinely make it all the way to Elite? I got as far as Deadly on my Amstrad CPC464 but never quite saw out the final grind.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The POWER of The Reg

Yup, I made it to Elite, and was disappointed there were no generation ships after all.

Played on a BBC micro B - that I still own.

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