Elite, one of the most popular video games of the 1980s is looking to be reborn via a Kickstarter project started by one of the original game’s programmers; David Braben. The “seminal space trading video game” was originally published in 1984 for the BBC Micro and featured both groundbreaking 3D wireframe graphics and an innovative open-ended game universe.
Cash in the attic
The new game will be entitled Elite: Dangerous and the Kickstarter project has a very ambitious goal – raising the sum of £1,250,000. However it is already hitting warp speed, having received pledges of over £180,000 in day one of the 60 day funding offer period. There are many funding pledge levels available to backers from £5 to £5,000. A £5 pledge will get you a digital code for a unique decal for your space ship in the game. £5,000 will get you dinner with Mr Braben in Cambridge, having a central star named after you and all the lower priced backing incentives. Actually the £5,000 pledge amount has now sold-out; it was limited to just 5 people... A popular level of funding is probably going to be the £20 level which will reserve you a digital copy of the game and all lower level rewards. The game is estimated to be made available in March 2014 should the Kickstarter project be successful.
BBC Micro version of Elite
The new Elite: Dangerous
Mr Braben points out that the original Elite on the BBC Micro used less than 22k of memory “less than a single typical email today”. In 1993 a sequel “Frontier: Elite II” was produced for the 16 bit generation yet still contained a model of the whole Milky Way galaxy including “100,000,000,000 or so star systems, and many more planets and moons, each of which you could visit”. Now imagine what kind of game can be made if you consider the relative power and capacity of modern PCs!
DOS version of Frontier: Elite II
Just like the old game you will start “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”. Now though you will experience “sumptuous graphics” to make the game even more immersive. Today everyone is hooked up to the internet so multiplayer possibilities using peer-to-peer or server connections will be integral to the game.
David Braben, incidentally also one of the driving forces behind the Raspberry Pi computer, closes his Kickstarter project page with an appeal of sorts. He says “Fundamentally this is the game I want to make and have wanted to make for a long time. I want to make this game for myself – it is the sort of game I want to play. There are many more like me at Frontier that want this for themselves too, and, I hope, out there in Kickstarter-land”. He asks nostalgic retro gamers to “help make the fantastic freedom of the “Elite” series return to our screens, in current state-of-the-art glory!”
Can a new Elite game live up to people’s expectations?