David Braben, co-creator of the original 1984 ELITE computer game, has just announced that the next game in the series will be released in March 2014.
Elite 4 has been in development for the last couple of decades but has suffered from several false starts…until now. Braben isn’t willing to go directly to a publisher for fear of their insistence on changing the format to something which neither he nor the fans would like.
“Elite: Dangerous is the game I have wanted Frontier to make for a very long time. The next game in the Elite series - an amazing space epic with stunning visuals, incredible gameplay and breath-taking scope, but this time you can play with your friends too.” – David Braben
So, a couple of days ago a new Kickstarter project was set up and Frontier Developments are hoping there’ll be enough up-front interest for them to create the perfect Elite sequel; a game that feels more like the original “Elite” to fly, and with more rapid travel (to allow for the multi-player nature of the game) – so you travel quickly using local ‘hyperspace’ travel rather than by fast-forwarding time – but with the rich galaxy of Frontier – and more, so much more.
Frontier want you to pledge £1,250,000 before they will will allocate full resources to the project. As it stands, they are over 25% of the way in achieving this. There’s some pretty interesting bonuses the more you pledge, which include having Space Stations and Planets named after you (£500 and £750) and even having diner with Braben himself; though that’ll set you back £5000! For those of you with smaller pockets, you can reserve your commander name for just £15, and of course, you get the game too.
Elite 4 is being planned to utilise similar techniques found in the original ELITE and Frontier games, and so will make great use of procedural generated content; “a technique where content is generated from rules”, for populating the Elite Universe star systems, and planets. Of course, Elite: Dangerous will take these techniques much further than the original games ever did.
It’s been a long time coming and we here at the Dream-Ware headquarters truly hope Frontier Developments can get the needed – 2014 can’t come faster enough.
Now, where the hell did I put that Stardreamer!
The Kickstarter project page has much more details, but here’s the basic outline of the game.
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 – other members of a secret ‘Elite’ group of space-farers…
- Multiplayer: you will be able to control who else you might encounter in your game – perhaps limit it to just your friends? Cooperate on adventures or chase your friends down to get that booty. The game will work in a seamless, lobby-less way, with the ability to rendezvous with friends as you choose. This technology is already working, using a combination of peer-to-peer (to reduce lag) and server connections.
- Play it your way: Your reputation is affected by your personal choices. Play the game your way: dangerous pirate, famous explorer or notorious assassin - the choice is yours to make. Take on missions and affect the world around you, alone or with your friends.
- Trade: Buy low, sell high and discover the most profitable trade-routes. Keep an eye on the markets, supply and demand may create opportunities for quick profit. Unscrupulous players may even try distorting those markets.
- Fight: take on the pirates, or become one yourself. Engage in combat missions within a rich and dynamic simulation to earn a reputation, or perhaps you want to become a famous bounty-hunter – feared by those that you chase, but staying the right side of the law.
- Travel: Travel across star systems and between them. Risk leaving the relative safety of the Corporate-run space station to explore distant planets or stars. Space is big and you never know what you might find; perhaps a salvageable freighter wreck or some valuable asteroids? There are secrets and startling beauty waiting to be discovered by the intrepid explorer.
- Ships: save your credits and upgrade your ship. Get new weapons, engines and equipment and customize your ship the way you want it. Check out the body-kits and paint jobs on offer, give your ship that personal touch.
The game is planned to be released on the PC in March 2014. Make no mistake – this is a massive game, but by using procedural techniques that we have been cultivating over the years, a new approach to multiplayer, and bringing the raw power of today’s machines to bear, it is astonishing what is possible. This is your chance to help make it happen. Become one of “The Elite” once more.