Off-Topic: Elite Dangerous

It’s not often that I write about my other, non-RPG hobbies. But there’s one computer game on my mind right now, that I just have to talk about: Elite Dangerous by Frontier Developments.

BBC_Micro_Elite_screenshotElite Dangerous is the latest game in a series that started with the 1984’s Elite for the BBC Micro written by David Braben and Ian Bell. Elite was the first computer game that had an open-world, real 3D graphics and could be played for months. Its successors Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters came out in the mid-90s and had much better graphics, a more realistic universe including a realistic flight model. Frontier: Elite II is one of the games I enjoyed very much, even though it had a lot of technical issues.

Hmm, perhaps I should write a few sentences about what Elite is about. In the original game you started with a Cobra Mk III space ship in the Lave system and some credits you could spend on trade commodities. You could then try your luck as a trader, pirate, or bounty hunter. The overall goal was to reach Elite status, but how you reached that goal was up to you. In Elite there were 6 galaxies with 256 stars each you could explore. In the upcoming Elite Dangerous you’ll have the whole Milky Way to explore. In a way it will be THE open-world game!

For some reason I missed the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter but during the last months I almost watched every piece of Alpha footage I could find on Youtube. The graphics definitely look great and the gameplay I’ve seen so far is pretty awesome even considering that the game was still in Alpha.  The sound design is just awesome and the UI really helps to immerse yourself in the universe. Elite Dangerous will also be a multiplayer game (single player is still an option though) which allows you to play with other people.

At the moment I am really tempted to buy the Premium Beta package. It’s quite expensive (120€) but it includes access to the beta plus the full game when it comes out including all future expansions. At least two expansions are already planned: one that will allow to fly around in planets’ atmospheres and land on planets, moons, etc. and a second one which allows you to leave your space ship to run around in cities or even go game hunting on alien planets. Wow!

What are your thoughts on Elite Dangerous? Have you backed the Kickstarter back in the day? Do you still remember the original game or one of its sequels? Please share your thoughts below!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

6 thoughts on “Off-Topic: Elite Dangerous”

  1. Elite D was pretty much what got me onto the Kickstarter bandwagon!

    My memories of the original are very vague – I played on my C64 back in the day but it was Frontier later on Amiga that truly got me hooked (and the new Elite is really the spiritual successor to that).

    The first thing that really blew me away was that Frontier came on a single floppy but generated the whole galaxy (and more) with missions, factions, planets, stations, economy and simple but sleek visuals. It mapped the Solar sytem in an accurate way as well as the stars nearby (although it took some liberties with their details 😉 ) Still it had an element of scientific accuracy which Wing Commanders, Privateer or Freespace despite their panache lacked.

    It evoked a sense of scale and wonder and complete freedom – it was the only game I needed for months.

    The new title judging by the newsletters and dev videos is progressing in the right direction holding to similar principles and design as its predecessors – including maintaining some of the science inspired realism of the game setting (Kepler mega-earths anyone?? 😉 )

    Not sure about the online element – but that’s just my prefernece.

    My pledge grants me standard beta access so looking forward to that.

    Hope to meet you near the rings of Saturn guys 😉

  2. Sorry for taking so long to comment; I’ve been at a big conference, then straight on to a piggybacked summer school.

    Elite is a game I’m groomed to like; I recall watching my Dad play it for hours on our C64 as I was growing up. I loved the idea of flying around, trading goods, etc. Now, I’ve never gotten into its style of gameplay, so I’ve experimented a lot with games inspired by it on my phone, desktop, etc.

    I was rather exited about a new Elite, but I’m a bit wary since it only has David Braben involved, and not Ian Bell. I’m also curious about the fight between the two; I guess Mr. Bradben must have bought Mr. Bell out so as to make this game.

    To quote from Ian Bell’s (rather dead) site:
    ” 13. Why don’t you and David Braben settle your differences and write a proper sequel?
    David Braben developed (with some assistance from me) “Frontier: Elite 2”,and then (with no assistance from me) the notorious “Frontier: First Encounters”. I stated my opinions on his conduct regarding these titles in an interview for gamesdomain [Aug 1995].
    I subsequently received a letter from Braben’s solicitors objecting to three points in the interview including a statement the intended meaning of which was that I understood Chris Sawyer receieved no royalties on “Frontier:First Encounters” but which could be potentially misconstrued to imply that Braben had ceased paying Sawyer his royalties on sales of the PC version of “Frontier:Elite 2”.
    The letter demanded a “full apology” and “your proposal for compensation and/or exemplary damages”.
    I immediately requested Games Domain to add a clarification of the intended meaning of the Chris Sawyer remark to the interview. They promptly did so and it remained online till 2002.
    Despite the clarification, Braben still attempted to sue me for libel (High Court of Justice Queens Bench, Writ 1995 -B No 2536, 24 Nov 1995). This is indicative of his post-Elite attitude.”

    So yeah, in that David Braben sounds like kinda a dick, but then, we only have Ian Bell’s side of the story, so the situation could be reversed, or they could both be dicks. Just thought it should be something anyone thinking about buying the game should know.

    1. Pioneer plays a lot like Frontier: Elite 2. And from what I’ve seen so far it’s fully playable even if still in development. I haven’t tried out the other games you mentioned.

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