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The Classic Space Trading Game Elite is Back! [Kickstarter]

By on November 6th, 2012 9:00 am

Elite: Dangerous

Elite is a classic space trading and combat simulation video game designed by David Braben and Ian Bell, and originally published by Acornsoft in 1984.

Elite was, no doubt, a hugely influential game, serving as a model for more recent space trading and combat games such as Eve OnlineFreelancerWing Commander: Privateer or the X series, just to name a few.

Frontier Developments and David Braben have announced a sequel to their classic space trading game. It’s called Elite: Dangerous, it’s on Kickstarter and it’s targeted for release in March 2014 for the PC.

Mr. Braben has this to say about his new Elite game project:

“Elite: Dangerous is the game I have wanted 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 (Frontier Developments)

Elite | BBC Micro

Elite | BBC Micro

Elite | ZX Spectrum

Elite | ZX Spectrum

Elite | Amiga

Elite | Amiga

Braben was sincere and explained that he had “a couple of false starts” already for an Elite sequel. But, he says that after establishing the right technology and necessary tools, and the right design foundation, he’s in a position to develop the game, and adds that the “time is right”.

He also admits that Kickstarter will be used as an “experiment”. A way to do “test-marketing” for his concept. To check if there’s enough interest in the community to make such a game. And for that he asks for £1.25M/$2 million.

What do we get?

“We’ll be able to trade, pirate, bounty-hunt, explore, and salvage your wealth and fame (…) with sumptuous graphics”. ~David Braben

Game features also include ship upgrading (new weapons, engines, etc), a reputation system and multiplayer. On the latter, Braben adds that he already has the necessary technology for laying out the multiplayer part, for which he intends to use a combination of peer-to-peer technology to reduce lag. All in a “lobby-less way, with the ability to rendezvous with friends as you choose”.

The primary target platform is the PC but on a recent interview for BBC News, Braben didn’t close the door to future platforms support. However, that further support would only happen right now if the Kickstarter funding surpasses the initial goal, added Braben.

Nostalgia and reputation seem to be the perfect combination for success on Kickstarter these days :) With that you don’t even seem to need videos or other art assets to transmit your vision. I wonder what’s next?

To get more information or to pledge, head to the Elite: Dangerous kickstarter page or the game project’s official website.

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  1. Angel says:

    I have to say I’m rather skeptical on this one. Braben has been promising us a new Elite for many years now without a single screenshot to prove its development despite saying the work is underway. Whilst I would love a new Elite, I’m concerned it will once again never come to fruition should they get the funding. I’ll be placing my money more on Strike Suit Zero, Star Citizen and X-Rebirth.

    • Adam Solo says:

      At least you can’t say the man is not persistent. But I agree with you, it almost seems like they are starting from zero here. Well, not from zero, Braben says to have been preparing the design foundations and sorting out multiplayer. However, there’s zero gameplay images and videos in the kickstarter page. The success he’s having in just a few hours is astonishing, if you take into account the lack of evidence on their progress. Nostalgia and reputation really prove themselves as key factors here.

      But he’s sincere about the all thing. He did said that he wanted to test the pulse of the community about this. “We’re using Kickstarter both as a means of test-marketing the concept to verify there is still interest in such a game” ~David Braben

      So, if it comes, great, 2 million dollars should be enough, he may think. If not, at least he tried. IF he went “only” for 200 or 400K for what he promises to offer, then perhaps we should be more worried about the all thing.

  2. LeoCeballos says:

    This sounds great on paper, but I can’t help but thinking that the timing is way off. By starting it out as a 2M goal right when Star Citizen is in the middle of its drive, he is inviting comparisons, probably cannibalizing pledges from both projects, and making himself look bad. I mean I’m sorry, but pitting that logo image vs the amazing, playable, real-time demo put together by the Star Citizen team and asking for the same support is a little crazy.

    In my opinion he should have sucked it up, waited a bit (maybe for the new year) and THEN started this. At least he has two months on it; I suppose by the close of the campaign I may have scraped together enough money to support this effort as well, considering how much I love the genre. We’ll see!

    I do wish it the best of luck.

  3. Smoking Robot says:

    Unfortunate, but this is a non-event. Move along, nothing to see here.

    • Adam Solo says:

      It’s an experiment alright, but he may win. If he does I wouldn’t call 2 million dollars a “non-event” :) Not that I feel very comfortable by the “experiment” nature of the pitch (it shows they’re not 100% confident and committed).

  4. Angel says:

    I have written up my own thoughts in more detail on the matter

    • Adam Solo says:

      Nice read. I agree with your concerns. I admit that I’m rather unfamiliar with Braben’s latest work, but everything sounds a bit too superficial about Elite: Dangerous. No demo, no videos or images… The guy surely has a record but one can’t help not to be a bit skeptical.

      But truth is, the campaign is going very well, at least on its first day. So, there surely seems to be A LOT of people who want to make this happen in any case.

      We are witnessing a space simulation games rebound, a hype period, generated by some very successful kickstarter projects. It seems like we came from complete void to several millionaire projects happening all at the same time. I guess that can be a good thing, although things are still a bit too unpredictable to what Kickstarter is concerned.

      • Angel says:

        I agree that this could be a great time for these kinds of games. Strike Suit Zero at least is already pretty much complete and we can see for ourselves what we’re getting with the additional funding. Star Citizen is certainly ambitious and in another article I wrote on that (same site, shameless plug =P), I was concerned about where funding would come from if its going down an MMO route for multiplayer considering it won’t be subscription based or free to play.

        Considering the rate at which Elite is getting funds, he could well end up with several million dollars of funding, enough to get Elite to where Braben wants it. He should’ve added more high-end options, since all the top tier $5000 tickets have sold out =P

  5. Thrangar says:

    Well I am you guys ,very skeptical,but he is gettin money thrown at him
    Strike Suit Zero hmmmm sounds interesting,will check into it

  6. eleazar says:

    Elite may have been a hugely influential game, but as you mention at the top Adam Solo, there have been a lot of game since in this subgenera.

    To sell the idea to me, i would have like to see some information on how the new Elite is going to be different/better from modern offerings. I don’t play this type much, but IMHO the information on the game seems pretty vague, and doesn’t distinguish his game much from what is already out there.

  7. Jeff P says:

    I guess I’m horribly out of touch with the current age. MORE, an homage to the classic MOO series, ekes out a mere $70k from Kickstarter despite a clever presentation that included beautiful video clips and music. ELITE Dangerous scores over $200k in just a couple days without any visual lures other than the name “Braben.”

    I dunno. I really enjoyed both MOO and the various ELITEs, if Braben hasn’t been able to resurrect ELITE in 20 years, I don’t see it happening now. My money (literally) is on MORE.

  8. SQW says:

    Any backers will be crazy to think the money raised would be used to develop Elite right away. C’mon people, the guy has a company with ongoing overhead and an existing in-development project; no company would expand its work force on a new project with no deadline and NOT use the extra cash flow on its existing expenses.

    Every other Kickstarter are either single project start-up companies or from those with at least a tech demo to show a degree of work put into it. David Braben may not be pulling a scam but he definitely wouldn’t be starting Elite’s development the minute he gets you money either. To see so many putting up money like this makes me question the gullibility of the gaming population.

  9. Steven G says:

    I totally agree with what everyone says here and I am also skeptical regarding the successful completion of his goals for the game. I (like others) have also redirected my attention to other games (X-rebirth for one and Star Citizen looks very promising indeed).

    Elite was groundbreaking because it was the first in its series. It was indeed the mother of the genre, and we should thank Braben for that. But I think that he should wake up as well, and realize that there are games out there that deliver what Elite did and better yet are moddable by the gaming community with a bit of patience and hardship.

    Elite was dear to me, I had it on the C-64 (cassette version) and I played Frontier Elite and FFE on the PC. It is still a great game and I fire it up once in a while, but I think Braben’s got a damn nerve to put out a fundraiser for a “skunk works project”, that is kept warm somewhere on the back burner, while he has other more important deadlines to meet. Not to mention for a an amount that high ? 1,250,000 Pounds ? Come on people. NO screenshots, NO concept art, NO ingame footage, NOT even a trailer ?

    With a move like that you are likely to upset a lot of people that have been waiting for something like Elite to happen for a decade or longer.

    He should know that he has lost a lot of credibility and should have done with Elite Dangerous what he did when he released the first Elite. In short:

    – Kept quiet about it. (no promises or release dates)
    – Develop it and debug it (thoroughly)
    – Throw it at the fans when it was completely ready with most of the bugs squashed, and then reap the benefits of the hard work he and his crew did in their spare time or not.

    Now it looks as if he’s finished doing all other important things, and has finally time to work on his “baby”, Elite Dangerous, riding the original Elite’s wave of fame, promising the fans they will have to wait another 2 years at least if he gets 1,250,000 pounds to work on his favorite project. That is like adding insult to injury.

    If you look around on the net you will see that there are a lot of people who have improved his original concept using existing moddable games and have released it without monetary gain. Oolite being one of them with the necessary add ons, and there is a mod for Starlancer as well featuring the beautiful remakes of the original elite ships.

    In short what I mean is, if he will be able to deliver a game that is as compelling and groundbreaking as Elite and the Frontier series were, given the fact that there is a competition now, unlike 25 years ago.

    He is not getting a penny from me unless I see a playable demo. At least he has kicked the hornets nest again and after the dust settles down we can assume to wait for another 5 years, and then some.

  10. farcodev says:

    Elite is already in reconstruction by an open source team.

    It’s Pioneer:

    Braben is late in race.

  11. PeteG says:

    Wow, just wow. Why are comments sections such a gravity well of negativity? Fair enough, reading the comments under any Daily Mail article is enough to convince yourself the human race is heading for a zombie apocalypse – but here?! Let me get my facts straight – developer is creating a space / strategy game and space / strategy website readers are unimpressed. Essentially.

    So how much is this huge leap of faith going to cost you? Oh a massive £5. Five measly quid. What – you can’t bung a fiver in the pot because you want a detailed run down of exactly what is going to come out the other end and if you disagree with the vision then, whoa you’re gonna withold your huge investment? I lost £30 on a bet this weekend – you may even have spent £20 on a Dominos pizza. It’s not a huge amount of money.

    As for wanting a DEMO! Are you kidding me? The point of the funding is to get backers to finance the actual coding, so a demo can be created. If you want you can up your backer amount and be in on the Alpha & Beta tests – really get your voice heard. Why would a project need Kickstarter backing if they were already at the demo stage? Ridiculous premise. Planetary Annihilation looks incredible & I chucked in £50 straight away but that was because of the teams track record. All the graphics were pre-renders, concept stuff. They have NOTHING to show except their own CV’s & some rough ideas – which was good enough for me. This is Kickstarter – there is a risk – we are not preordering a game.

    As for criticising Braben himself:
    Whats he been doing? RASPBERRY PI – trying to get kids back into coding. DELIVERED.
    Using funds to keep Frontier Dev going? They’ve got a back catalog of games out there, nothing suggests to me they are in financial difficulty.
    But he’s promised it for years!!1!1! Has he? He’s had Elite4 marked as ‘in development’ on the Frontier website – I don’t think he’s ever come out and said ‘we’re working on it as a primary project’. It was always, it’s happening next after [insert game name here]….

    Star Citizen – well fine but to be honest – Chris Roberts games, I don’t like them. Obv a lot of people love his stuff but then again, Braben didn’t need Luke Skywalker to flog copies of his games. I found Wing Commander simplistic & the FMV stuff just laughable. (I still have the 3DO version of it somewhere). I hear Privateer was pretty good but guess which game that was a ‘homage’ of? But you know what – if it floats your boat, great.

    Pioneer – um…what a hell was all that about? Is there an actual game in there – or is it just Lunar Flight on a grander scale? You want an open source Elite – you should try Oolite.

    I loved this – “…riding the original Elite’s wave of fame…” – thats some wave, a game released in 1984. Yeh, really keeping up with the zeitgeist there Dave.

    “Any backers will be crazy to think the money raised would be used to develop Elite right away.” << Anyone spot the logical fallicy in this? No evidence was posted to back this claim up – but on the contrary, he's got Lost Winds on iOS just released and Xbox 360 Kinnect stuff out. I work in the Cambridge IT scene and know people connected with Frontier – I've not heard squat about the company being in any trouble. I've heard plenty of other troubling things (about what its like to work there) but not about the companys position.

    Braben has been interviewed by the BBC – this is A.Big.Deal.
    If he does not deliver on this then his reputation will be in taters – you my dear friends will be £20 up over me & able to waggle your finger at me in an I-told-you-so style. BUT SO WHAT!? I loved Elite, it helped inspire me to go into programming, if it does come to fruition I want to be one to say, I was a backer, I believed. You guys can buy it at retail if you like.

    With the industry hell bent on creating 'FIFA' or 'Modern ADHD Combat Shooter #47' – I think we should be a little more positive that people like Braben still exist.

    I shall embrace the flames. :-)

    • Adam Solo says:

      I approved your post (your first here), and rephrased your swearing because I acknowledge the effort you have put on it. I understand your passion writing but please, next time, no profanity.

  12. Gee says:

    Agree with PeteG (in a less confrontational way though!)

    Guys… This is AN EVENT. I struggle to think of better news than Elite 4 if you’re into this kind of gaming.

    Come pay day E:Dangerous will be having a swift £30 from me.

  13. Towerbooks3192 says:

    After seeing the word “TRADE” I wanted to ask a question about the series. Is something like Port Royale or Sid’s Pirates where you could do missions, destroy the first ship you see and plunder and trade but in an FPS spaceship point of view? I got the X superbox and I tried it but it looks boring and its hard to control with M&KB. I really love Port Royale kind of game where I could do the killing or just trade and defend.

  14. gorbash says:

    oh dear not again!
    skeptical @ best
    Braben had been bleeting on about a new elite for what seems like a millenium, i certainly wont be stumping up any cash for this fairy tale!

    • Adam Solo says:

      Then I think you’ll be happy to know that Braben raised £1,578,316 / ~$2.5M to make his new game, and that you may now comfortably decide if you’re spending any cash on it when it releases :)

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