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Elite Turns 25

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the three-one-three-three-seven dept.

Classic Games (Games) 159

satellite17 writes "The BBC notes that the classic space combat / trading sim Elite is 25 years old today. Elite was one of the first 3D games produced for a home computer and also one of the first open-ended games. Odd as it sounds now, this meant that even though it was popular with friends of the creators, David Braben and Ian Bell, they initially struggled to find a publisher. 'They just didn't get it; they wanted a high score and they wanted players to have three lives,' Braben said. It is also credited with influencing quite a few modern classics."

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I learned about some history today. (0, Redundant)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500563)

I like love to read stuff like this, although I have heard of Elite before I did not read up on it much. Truly a ground breaker by any measure of the word. Any day I can learn something new is a good day :)

Re:I learned about some history today. (3, Interesting)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500781)

Well according to David Braben hardly anything said online about Elite 4 is true... argh... damn cock tease

"Braben did, however, allay fears that Elite 4 may never see the light of day by confirming it is in development.

âoeThere is absolutely tons of stuff about Elite online,â he said. âoeHardly any of it's true! Some of it is, but I'm not going to say which. We are working on it and it's very exciting.â"

http://www.videogamer.com/news/hardly_any_elite_4_online_info_is_true_says_braben.html [videogamer.com]

Re:I learned about some history today. (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502305)

Yeah, I've been hearing this for at least 10 years... How about the "preview" stuff on F.D.'s website a few years ago, that was then hastily taken down and never spoken of again?

I guess now that D.N.F. is out of the picture, Elite 4 is the next best candidate for the vaporware award.

Re:I learned about some history today. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502793)

"Hastily taken down"? It was up there for about seven years. [archive.org] It listed the Dolphin as a possible platform when it was first written up and the only change was swapping out "GameCube" then killing the platforms list completely. You can hardly accuse them of an elaborate campaign of deception.

Elite IV has a much better chance of being made than DNF ever did, because Frontier hasn't been working on it. That sounds stupid, but a developer that's shelved a project for ten years and works on other things isn't going to go bankrupt.

Re:I learned about some history today. (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 5 years ago | (#29503237)

I like love to read stuff like this, although I have heard of Elite before I did not read up on it much.

Yeah, it inspired me to do a little research into my own favorite space trading game from way back when. It turns out Trade Wars [wikipedia.org] turns 25 this year too! It was a BBS door game so it didn't really have much in the way of graphics (and definitely not 3D like Elite!) but i sure wasted a lot of time on that game in my youth :)

And i guess that both games were at least partly inspired by Star Trader [wikipedia.org] , a game i hadn't actually heard about before now.

I've been waiting since 1998... (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500591)

I wish they'd get working on Elite 4. :(

Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (5, Interesting)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500599)

Until Elite 4 comes out (ahem, cough) Infinity: Quest for Earth looks to be its spiritual successor (yes there's seamless space travel to planetside, as showcased in the trailer)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp8WOCuR_pQ [youtube.com]

Site: http://www.infinity-universe.com/Infinity/ [infinity-universe.com]

Can't wait for this to come out... Frontier First Encouters with a DirectX engine just isn't cutting it anymore....

Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

popo (107611) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500621)

... if you could actually figure out how to play it that is...

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (4, Insightful)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500685)

X3 doesn't have seamless planetside travel, does it? I think the last review I read said it didn't... although technically that means I'm looking for a "Frontier: Elite II" or "Frontier First Encounters" successor... the original Elite had no planetside stuff

Until the day I can warp into a system, take my ship that's in space 10,000 AU from the nearest planet, point it at that blue looking planet over yonder (all the while dealing with Newtonian physics), and fly down to the surface (without cutscenes or whatever), then fly around some mountains, notice a weird looking tribe staring at me, then fly back out to space I won't consider a game Elite's successor.

Yea I'm a little bit religious about a damn good realistic game set in space

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500789)

"warp into a system, take my ship that's in space 10,000 AU from the nearest planet, point it at that blue looking planet over yonder (all the while dealing with Newtonian physics)"

That might take some time [tads.org] ... perhaps you want to handwave in some non-Newtonian (and non-Einsteinian) physics instead?

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (2, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500941)

Ehhhh... I think with the statement "warp into a system" he has already decided he wants to add in some non-Newtonian physics... (though it would have been nice if he noticed that ;)

In practice, he wants what everyone wants with the holy grail of space sims - seamless transitions between extraplanatary, solar system, and terrestrial environments. Ideally with seamless transitions between "inside the ship" and "outside the ship", whether it's on a space station, planet, or just ejected into the void. Honestly, if they want to simulate "travelling really fast", all the better (especially if they make it look like "the jump to light speed"!) As long as you have total control over your 1st (or evern 3rd) person character throughout the various transitions it's going to be a pretty amazing experience...

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (4, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500949)

That was actually emulated in the game. If you accelerated to Pluto from Earth at 1g, it would take (approximately) a realistic amount of time to reach it.

What made it bearable were two concessions: You could alter the flow of time in the game, when nothing interesting was happening, so hours would tick by like seconds... and ships could accelerate at (ahem) hundreds of g's. So it had some outlandish elements, but the mechanics were thoroughly Newtonian.

It was beautiful. You could thrust toward Saturn, then cut your engines, point any direction, and just slingshot around... start accelerating again when you're headed at the sun, to approach the Earth. I would buy a modern equivalent, even if it wasn't a game at all, just a space flight sim. With the same infinite number of procedurally generated solar systems.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500991)

Bad form to reply to myself, I know, but I wanted to point out: If you allow high acceleration, the solar system becomes remarkable small. At 100g, Pluto is only about 6-10 days away.

That's why planetary exploration should be done by AIs loaded into high thrust nuclear rockets... as soon as we get AIs and high thrust nuclear rockets.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501093)

> That's why planetary exploration should be done by AIs loaded into high thrust nuclear rockets

In the time it takes for us to get AIs and high thrust nuclear rockets, we could send a fair number of robots to Pluto a few times :).

Anyway, I think we should figure out how to make space stations with artificial "gravity" and decent radiation shielding. Once we work that and other little details out, it doesn't matter how long it takes to travel. You could then build a space colony where humans can live in indefinitely - reproduce, bring up children, etc.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501111)

That's why planetary exploration should be done by AIs loaded into high thrust nuclear rockets... as soon as we get AIs and high thrust nuclear rockets.

Even then, accelerating at 100g for 6 days is implausible, due to the fuel mass requirements. Even with just a 1kg payload, your fuel to accelerate it is going to weigh millions of tonnes.

This is why I prefer Elite's original solution to the problem, the jump drive: point in the right direction and engage a non-newtonian drive that stops working when you're too close to something else.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (5, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501217)

Indeed... and Newtonian manoeuvring just doesn't work too well in the human brain.

Movies depicting space travel with Newtonian manoeuvring are regarded as artsy. Movies with "etheric rudder" (to borrow the Star Wars term) have exciting space battles.

Battlestar Galactica (the original) used etheric rudder. The re-imaging was Newtonian, but got away with it by making things about strategy rather than tactics (and people rather than ships), and obscuring combat in a haze of gunsmoke and camera shake.

Games are the same way. Playing I-War is hard. Playing the X-Wing series isn't easy, but the curve is less steep, because it's like air combat, but the vector of gravity has been removed, simplifying the flight model.

I was certainly impressed by the Newtonian mechanics in the Frontier series, but I enjoyed the combat in Elite a lot more.

Space combat with laser weapons in a world of Newtonian mechanics just isn't interesting, because it consists of

  • Close to optimal range (this being close enough to be in weapons range but far away enough that your opponent can't accelerate laterally out of your weapon reticle)
  • Fire

Victory is entirely determined by who has the most power behind their shields and lasers. You spend the majority of your time in the early stages of Frontier avoiding combat because you'll be whiffed out of existence like a water balloon hitting the sun. Then when you have enough cash to beef up your ship, you are effectively untouchable.

Short-range particle bolt weapons and etheric rudder may not be realistic, but they are a lot more fun.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501695)

This is why the "realistic" space sim zealots will never be happy. If a company ever actually gave them the game they wanted, one that was truly realistic as per our current understanding of physics and such, it'd be way too boring to actually play. They do not actually want what they believe they want. Goes double since realistically, a pilot would have almost nothing to do with combat. A computer would be doing all the controlling, the pilot would simply press a button to let it know that it was weapons free.

We already see this with air craft today. When a pilot goes on a bombing run, they don't fly the plane, it flys itself. Its route has been programmed in to the on board navigation computer. The plane lets them know when they are near the target, and when to signal for bomb release. When they do signal, it doesn't actually drop the bombs, just lets the computer know that it is allowed to drop the bombs when it calculates the time to be right. The bombs then guide themselves according to their navigation computers, as the plane moves on.

This sort of thing would apply to space combat to an even larger degree. A computer would be handling all the complex aspects of moving the ship and aiming the weapons, a human would only specify targets and destinations and such.

So thanks but no thanks, I'll take highly unrealistic, fun games.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502433)

it'd be way too boring to actually play.

Then the game design was crap. Games do not get boring when you use realistic physics, they get boring when you cram realistic physics into gameplay that was designed for StarWars-type physics. The reason why space flight with lasers can't work with real physics in a game is simply that it can't work in reality either. Physics in space just aren't any good to emulate normal airplane behavior. The solution of course is to simply go away from completly unrealistic gameplay situations and back to something more realistic. Make a space game about exploration and non-violent missions in orbit instead of fighting and you could have something quite a bit more interesting. Don't place it into the far future and you won't have trouble with to much automation either, the shuttle after all is still landed manually.

A setting similar to the Planetes [wikipedia.org] for example could make a great hard sci-fi game, instead of just being yet another Wing Commander clone.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (2, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502889)

My combat algorithm was somewhat less refined than yours. I couldn't keep track of the enemy in flight, so I developed:

1) Lock autopilot onto enemy
2) a) If enemy is flying away, shoot at him.
2) b) If enemy is shooting at me, break lock and fly in another direction until he stops
2) c) If enemy launches missile, lock on autopilot, shoot, and hope missile bites it
3) If enemy is still alive, return to 1

As you can probably guess, about half of my encounters resulted in mutual destruction by collision.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29503267)

"Newtonian manoeuvring just doesn't work too well in the human brain."

Then how does one explain Elite's success?

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501329)

Even then, accelerating at 100g for 6 days is implausible, due to the fuel mass requirements

Isn't that a matter of the type of energy conversion?

If we use an 2H_2 + O_2 => 2 H_2O reaction we get about 1.56×10^7 J/kg of energy.
If we use nuclear fission, we get about 1.5×10^13 J/kg
If we use nuclear fusion, we get about 6.3×10^14 J/kkg
If we use matter-antimatter, we get 9×10^16 J/kg

The gains in energy density results in a massive reduction of weight (or increase of payload).

Now, I tried doing the maths for the energy needed to accelerate just 1 kg at 100 g for 6 days, but I ended up with a result with some very odd units: 5,090,688 m×kg/s [google.com] .

Best thing I can think of is kinetic energy [wikipedia.org] : E = ½ × m × v^2. We already know that we end up with units of kg and m/s (mass and velocity), so just substitute.

But, I noticed something when checking Pluto [wikipedia.org] : At its closest it is 29.65834067 AU from the Sun. Align everything and we get a minimum distance of 28.66 AU from Earth to Pluto. 28.66 AU in 6 days is 8,270,12 km/s. 10 days it's 4,962.36 km/s [google.com]

Now, my physics isn't exactly the best in the world, especially when dealing with something that is moving at 1.66 to 2.75% the speed of light.

Anyway, 1 kg moving at 4,962.36 km/s has 1.23 × 10^13 joules of energy [google.com] in it. This is 1/1000th of the total energy output from a matter-anti-matter reaction of 1 kg. It is even less than what we can get from 1 kg of nuclear fuel. But we would need about 100,000 tonnes of hydrogen and oxygen.

But it's very unlikely that my maths for that bit is correct. The numbers are probably correct, but the energy needed to accelerate to those speeds etc. are very suspect, simply due to the mechanics of it all and so on.

I am sure there are some moderate simple formulas for working out the mechanics of this idea. I'm not expecting anything like (a+b+c*d+e)/(f*g), but I wouldn't be surprised if it's down to something workable like a 4th degree polynomials with mass, distance and travel time in some way.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501919)

Even then, accelerating at 100g for 6 days is implausible, due to the fuel mass requirements

Isn't that a matter of the type of energy conversion?

IANARS (I am not a rocket scientist), but I do know a little about the field, so take this with a small pinch of salt:

Energy balancing is the wrong approach here, as you can quite easily violate fundamental limits without noticing it when performing the calculation in this fashion. It comes more down to the requirement that the acceleration of the ship be produced by ejecting mass from the ship in the opposite direction. Newtonian mechanics suggests there is no viable alternative method of moving the ship[1], so this is what we have. When M kg of mass leaves the ship travelling at v m/s, the ship gains Mv momentum (conservation of momentum). The theoretical limit of v is c, approximately 3e+8 m/s.

Our acceleration of 100g for 6 days results in a change of velocity (delta v) of around 5.1 e+8 m/s (yes, I know this results in a velocity that exceeds the speed of light, but of course the acceleration will be in one direction for half the trip and the other for the remainder, so no actual fundamental physical limits are violated...).

Now, if we are accelerating uniformly (as the original post suggested, and is how things work in the Frontier series of games), this means that the average momentum imparted to our reaction mass is going to be equal to half of its total mass times our delta v (because, on average, we are carrying half of it with us at any given time).

So, with reaction mass Mr and ship mass Ms and total impulse I we have:

I = (0.5*Mr + Ms) * deltav [units will be kg m/s]

We also know from the first paragraph of this reply that:

Isp = 3e8 (kg m/s) / kg (which are strange units but it works out best below...)

so:

I = Isp*Mr = 3e8*Mr kg m/s

3e8*Mr = (0.5*Mr + Ms)5.1e8
Mr = 1.7(0.5*Mr + Ms)
Mr = 0.85Mr + Ms .15Mr = Ms

So, even with this fundamentally implausible drive method, we still need to carry nearly 7 times as much fuel as mass of the rest of the ship. Note that, in general, for any exhaust velocity Isp:

Isp*Mr = (0.5*Mr + Ms)5.1e8
Mr = (5.1e8/Isp) (0.5*Mr + Ms)
(1 - 2.55e8/Isp) Mr = Ms

For Isp here. The only one that meets the requirement is the photon drive, i.e. direct translation of reaction mass into photons at the speed of light, which we have no idea how to do. The highest that we have any inkling of being possible is the antimatter beam thruster, which is estimated at about 1e8.

[1]: Obviously, there are potential methods of doing so that aren't Newtonian, but as per the discussion above that is explicity _not_ what we're discussing here; the only alternative Newtonian method would rely on harvesting momentum from the environment somehow, which obviously cannot reach such accelerations as 100g in the kind of environments we're discussing.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501983)

I wrote: For Isp here

Ahem. What I meant to write was:

For Isp < 2.55e8 (ie 85% of the speed of light) this is actually unattainable (the mass of the non-fuel portions of the ship would need to be negative).

There's a handy table of Isp for some thruster technologies, both real and proposed, here [projectrho.com] .

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502499)

So, even with this fundamentally implausible drive method, we still need to carry nearly 7 times as much fuel as mass of the rest of the ship.

Is that necessarily a big issue?

If we go back to matter+anti-matter reactions, you'd need some matter to annihilate. Any human expedition will have to carry food and water in large quantities, and if we can annihilate the human waste directly, we can save weight on toilet facilities. If we use large amounts of water as a shield against radiation, we get "free" radiation shielding and drinking water in one, and our fuel store just ended up having two extra functions = more weight reduction. Well, water used as radiation shielding is probably a lot heavier than something like lead.

At decent temperatures (the ones we'd need for human habitation in the ship) water is very easy to transport as well, so there are no need for highly complicated fuel pipelines. Can be done with very lightweight plastics built directly into the plumbing systems.

I'm sure there are lots of other ways you could cut down on the weight requirements as well.

One thing that confuses me a little bit, is that if you reduce the acceleration to 50g and up the travel time to 12 days you still end up with a delta_v of 5.1 e8. That way we can keep halving and doubling and ending up with constantly having that much energy.

Using the Motion Example from Hyper Physics [gsu.edu] , I get some rather different numbers:
Halfway distance (where you need to turn around) is 2,143,589,742,000 [google.com] meters.
Initial velocity: 0 m/s
Acceleration: 982 m/s^2
That solves for time = 66,073.92 seconds (18 hours, 21 minutes, 13.92 seconds)
Final velocity: 64,884,591.80 m/s (21.64% of the speed of light)

If we change it to 30 m/s^2 (just over 3 g) we solve for v_max = 11,340,872.3 m/s (3.78% of c) and time 4 days, 9 hours, 1 minute.

At 9.82 m/s^2 we get 7 days, 15 hours, 32 minutes and v_max = 660,739.2 m/s (0.22% of c).

At those speeds even 1 g would be sufficient. We can easily pack enough food etc. to last for a 3 month expedition into space. How Stuff Works [howstuffworks.com] says ~400 kg food and 1,500 litres of water per person for a 2 year expedition. If we're doing 3 months total (2 months on Pluto, 14 days out, 14 days back) you'd only need about 250 kg of food per person. That's a tiny amount.

If we use your formulas again:
I = Isp*Mr = 3e8*Mr kg m/s

3e8*Mr = (0.5*Mr + Ms)*660,739.2*2 (*2 as we have to slow down again)
Mr = (0.5*Mr + Ms)*660,739.2 m/s*2/c [google.com]
Mr = (0.5*Mr + Ms)*0.0044
907.44 Mr = 0.5 Mr + Ms
907 Mr = Ms

Now we're down to carrying 1.2 kg of fuel for every ton of spaceship for the improbable type of drive. Up that to a 1:1 ratio and I think something like fusion becomes readily attainable? 2 tonne of fuel to 1 ton of spaceship would probably considered an insane leap forward.

But, again, this is something I only have very little knowledge about, and I know that most of that is probably incorrect. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if I screwed up the calculations. I'm just a very curious kind of guy :D

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

Amiralul (1164423) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501867)

That's totally unrealistic. You cannot point at Pluto, accelerate and wait a few years to get there. Pluto, like Earth, revolves around the Sun, you have to consider that to, in a realistic environment. Check the Orbiter space simulator, for instance, you'll get the idea.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502339)

space flight sim

Have you tried Celestia [shatters.net] ? It does have some rudimentary flight controls. Probably not exactly what you're after but might be a bit of fun. And it's FOSS, so there's chance for a fully-blown space flight sim.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29501103)

You could do those things in Battlecruiser 3000 and Universal Combat. It's a shame that they were both complete crap.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (2, Informative)

mike2R (721965) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502187)

Yeah X3 isn't ideal if you want a believable space simulator - no Newtonian physics, no planets you can visit, tiny crowded playing area (compared to reality - it's a very big game area in an absolute sense). I've heard it described as a submarine sim with space graphics, which is fair enough all things considered.

That said I absolutely love the game, and do think of it as the spiritual successor to Elite (and even Frontier). The amount of stuff you can do in the game, from trading, to fighting, to salvaging, to exploring, to building you own space stations and automated trading fleets is huge. And the game looks absolutely gorgeous (although it is a system hog, particularly for CPU).

My current game is fairly early on - I don't have any of the huge capital ships yet - but when looking for trouble I tool around in an M6 (corvette) class, which is the smallest 'big ship' where you rely on your turrets rather than your main battery for a lot of your fighting.. I have two TM (military transport) class ships following me around, each carrying four M4 (interceptor/medium fighter) class which I order launched before going into combat. The particular TMs I'm using have very heavy shields, so they can survive a fight as well, so I have a proper little battle fleet.

My M4s are configured to use (spam might be more accurate) missiles. I produce these in my own factory complex and ferry them across to my TMs, the fighters are set to replenish there each time they dock.

I have 3 high-level automated traders which jump around the universe on their own, making me cash, and a couple more low-level ones I'm training up. A couple of stations scattered around, with automated ships buying and selling for them (there are also NPC traders which will deal with your factories), and my missile complex (several factories joined together so they share inputs and outputs, and produce some of their own intermediate goods). There are lots of randomly generated missions, which are the source of much of my income, and also multiple plot arcs which I'm going through as and when I feel like it.

I haven't played for a while, and typing this I really don't know why... :)

The game is certainly not without flaws, there are bugs (although Egosoft are amazingly good at supporting their products after release, and tend to release as free patches stuff they could easily sell as an expansion pack), and the game is hard to get into - it is intimidatingly complex and the in-game tutorial leaves a lot to be desired. But it is a game that will reward those initial hours with an amazing experience. It also has about the best gaming forum I've ever come across; player demographics are definitely skewed towards older people, and they tend to be hugely enthusiastic about the game and more than willing to help newbies come to grips with it.

Well, that's my evangelism done for today :) (If I've managed to inspire anyone, two bits of advice - buy the current game (X3: Terran Conflict) if your system can handle it, it is significantly easier to get started in than the earlier X3: Reunion. And choose the Terran Defender start, it is by far the best for newbies - very nice M4 fighting ship from the off, and you start right at the beginning of one of the major plot arcs, which has a lot of nice goodies available as rewards.)

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29503361)

Hmm reading over your description maybe I'll get a box together capable of running X3... it does sound pretty good

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

kisak (524062) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501599)

And X3 can be run natively on your linux box: X3: Reunion [tuxgames.com]

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502125)

One game that really should have been patched to support multiple cores fully.
The rest of the galaxy (out of sector) could have been done really well on extra cores.
Or even better, an add-on to support offloading OOS processing to networked machines too.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29502139)

On your GNU/Linux/x86 box but not, say GNU/Linux/PPC or GNU/Linux/amd64, and will only work with outdated shared libraries or as a static binary, which will probably cause it to stop working in a couple of years after things like OpenAL move on.

Re:Some would call X3 the successor... (1)

kisak (524062) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502673)

I believe it runs on GNU/linux/amd64 as you call it, even though I have only tried on an Ubuntu x86. And as long as LGP [linuxgamepublishing.com] stays a float I assume they will produce patches if OpenAL etc need it, they have at least done so far.

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29500851)

Looking for this game too. As far as space games go, there are the Star Trek and Star Wars MMOs, each patiently waited for by their respective fanboys, and the rest of the media heavily favors Jumpgate Evolution as the "next big" space game. But almost nobody talks about Infinity, it seems like a real underdog to me.

Too bad that, based on their development schedule, they seem to be the spiritual successor not only to Elite but also to Duke Nukem Forever.

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29500867)

Looks like it hasn't been updated in awhile.

I'm smelling vaporware.

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500947)

Too bad it is a MOO, so it will never be a fun game to play. Just a space grind.

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (1)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500977)

Yes I actually remember seeing a lot of people on Infinity's forum gnashing their teeth because it will be MMO... hopefully that doesn't sap all the fun out of it...

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501519)

I found this video showing off combat [youtube.com] .

Made me think "damn, I would love to see what a Serenity (Firefly) type battlescene would be like in that engine.

Hundreds of ships, big and small on either side just duking it out and you in the middle trying to get to the space port on the planed.

Lol ... just got to the end where the pilot docks the plane. Now that's a neat trick - don't think it'd work so well with a carrier group though.

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (1)

Brazilian Geek (25299) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502065)

It looks great but for space sims I'd prefer a single player experience - nothing against MMORPGs but I'm not all that into fighting to stay alive and get better ships nor participating in a corporation. I want to freely explore space and pick fights only when I want to fight all at my own time.

The ability to freely fly through space is something that really attracted me in Final Frontier (my first game of the series) and I really liked swooping down on planets and explore them without worrying to much about making a buck.

Anyway, thanks for the heads up, nice game but I'm not too sure that's for me.

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502243)

There are a few games I'd call the spiritual successor to Elite:

Oolite [oolite.org] is the most obvious one. It faithfully recreates the Elite gameplay, but updates the graphics (slightly) and provides a simple way for others to expand the game. It is basically what you would end up with if you tried to write Elite (rather than 'some space trading/combat game') today.

Vega Strike [sourceforge.net] has broadly the same gameplay mechanics as Elite, but is much richer; lots of different things to trade, different things available at different stations, different factions to join or fight, and so on. It also has massively improved graphics (detailed textures, gratuitous use of shaders) without that detracting from the game actually being fun.

Transcendence [neurohack.com] is a bit different. It's a 2D top-down game, but it has a lot of the things that made Elite fun. It's somewhere between XPilot, Elite, and Nethack. (It's Windows-only, but runs very well in WINE.)

Re:Elite spiritual successor- Infinity: QFE (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502325)

I concur on Vega Strike. Been following its development for years, it's actively developed and maintained, with an active base of players/beta-testers, and of course it's open source so if you want you can fork it and customize any way you want. And of course it has been very playable for years. Only wish it were more widely known.

Investing in new ideas feared back then (3, Insightful)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500663)

It was something that I thought was a bit more recent phenomenon. But it seems that once a market becomes "established" that it becomes tougher to get people to invest in an idea that isn't safe. And it just goes to show what a significant impact that this game had on the industry and what a shame it would have been if they had given up.

Re:Investing in new ideas feared back then (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501283)

it becomes tougher to get people to invest in an idea that isn't safe

Yeah, maybe cause ideas that are not safe are not safe. Innovative ideas are a crapshoot, no matter how brilliant it seems you can't tell if it's going to stick or not.

Re:Investing in new ideas feared back then (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501379)

True enough, but taking it to a more personal notch, some of my riskiest decisions have brought about the biggest rewards and some of them failed epically. I couldn't imagine me being happy, stuck in some dead end job back home, instead I'm on the other side of the country, well on the way to getting married, recently purchased a house etc. etc.

Sometimes the safe bet isn't the right bet

Re:Investing in new ideas feared back then (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502511)

Yep, I know what you mean, I myself have taken risky bets that have paid off. But it's usually hard to convince anyone to take a piece of your own risk pie.

Re:Investing in new ideas feared back then (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502259)

How much did Elite cost to make? Two guys, working for a few months? Lots of companies now are prepared to make that kind of gamble. It's the kind of gamble where you have teams of over a hundred artists, programmers, musicians, animators, and so on all working for a year or more that they are more hesitant.

Re:Investing in new ideas feared back then (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502387)

1984 was a very long time ago, and only a couple of years into the mainstream home computer market. Perhaps the investment now needed in hundred of programmers & graphics artists is the equivalent of a company committing to produce 10,000 cassettes and a marketing campaign. Hugely different scales of investment, but the same question - will people like this? Back then, it's easy to see why there was doubt, every other game seemed to be a simple shoot-em-up. Even if I think of luminaries such as Ocean Software, they spent the first few years of their life churning out identikit shooters & platformers. Only once their success had built up did they start to take risks with more original games (though they found a new mainstay in the film/coin-op licences)

The BBC Micro version was first and best (3, Interesting)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500675)

I remember getting Elite on my BBC Model B back in '84 on cassette. It took quite a while to load but was well worth it. When I upgraded my machine with Opus DDOS and an 800K double sided, double density 5 1/4" floppy drive I was able to get the floppy version which loaded my more quickly. You really needed the analogue controller too. I stuck an old Scalextric controller on top of mine to give me a full hand grip and I could fly rings around other ships.

I tried other versions like the C=64 and PC versions but they really didn't work as well as the version for the BBC despite the fact that there was little use of colour (only the dash) but the mode 4 high resolution monochrome graphics were much crisper and animation was faster on the BBC than other platforms. The BBC Micro was a real gem for quality games. The versions of arcade games like PacMan, Defender, Scramble and so on were in many ways better than their arcade equivalent. The BBC had some really nice hardware acceleration features such as hardware scrolling (both vertical and horizontal) and a very configurable video ULA which is how they were able to do the mode switching part way down the screen in Elite where it switched from mode 4 (320x256 1 bit colour) to mode 5 (160x256 2 bit colour).

It was a real slog to get to "Elite" but worth the journey. Very few games today are anything like as enjoyable despite the improvements in technology. I guess GTAIII was the first time since Elite I had anything like the same feeling of freedom and the thrill of just being bad.

Re:The BBC Micro version was first and best (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501047)

Atari ST version was lovely though - spent years on and off watching those shaded little Cobras and Kraits whizzing about.

Always waiting for the magic trip into Witchspace

Re:The BBC Micro version was first and best (1)

Haxamanish (1564673) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501325)

Nope, ArcElite [frontierastro.co.uk] was the best version, but then again the Archimedes [wikipedia.org] was also a "BBC Micro" (well at least the A300-series had the BBC logo) :P

Re:The BBC Micro version was first and best (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501461)

"Nope, ArcElite was the best version, but then again the Archimedes was also a "BBC Micro" (well at least the A300-series had the BBC logo) :P"

Although I never played the Arc version I have to say I'm not convinced by the solid polygon models. I still think the old wireframe style of the original looks best.

Re:The BBC Micro version was first and best (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501499)

There was a patch for the Archimedes version to give you fluffy dice in the cockpit and a 'My other ship is a Thargoid' bumper sticker. This alone makes it the ultimate version.

Talking about the mode switching.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29501579)

how did they do that ? ( It always bugged me)

Re:Talking about the mode switching.... (1)

flowsnake (1051494) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502263)

how did they do that ? ( It always bugged me)

As time progresses between vsyncs, the CRT electron beam scans left-to-right, then moves down a line, then left-to-right, until it hits the bottom-right - then it starts again at the next vsync. You set the video controller registers to mode A before the first line hits the CRT. A bit later, but before it reaches the bottom of the screen, you push new values into the video controller registers changing it to mode B; all the remaining lines are sent to the CRT in the new mode. You just have to make sure that the video controller register values get changed at the right point during each frame, and make sure that the mapped video memory contains data in the right format either side of the mode 'boundary' (although no boundary really exists). You can change mode more than once per frame if you want.

You could always read the Elite source code [clara.net] to see how Bell+Braben did it.

Re:The BBC Micro version was first and best (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501915)

i seem to remember the electron version loaded off the tape in an astonishingly quick time. Faster than all the other acornsoft games... maybe my memory is faulty...

Re:The BBC Micro version was first and best (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501991)

The C64 version was better, I'm afraid - the extra memory meant there were special missions and more ships :-)

Is this a Star Raiders clone/enhancement? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502033)

It looks like a super-deluxe version of Star Raiders from the Atari 8-bit. Or is that a bad analogy?

Re:Is this a Star Raiders clone/enhancement? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502191)

Star Raiders was sprite based. Elite uses 3D vector graphics. Plus the space combat is not the core of the game -- it's merely an obstacle to trading.

hardware requirements (4, Insightful)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500711)

FTA:

"We crafted every single byte and would work for hours just to free up three or four bytes so we could put in a new feature or ability.

"That level of concentration on things have been lost today when you have things that are many megabytes or even gigabytes in size," he added.

I wish more developers would do this with today's games. Then perhaps i wouldn't have to upgrade my computer so often when i wanted to play a new game. I know the article only mentioned memory usage, but i'm sure this goes for cpu / video power as well.

Re:hardware requirements (1)

Spit (23158) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500895)

Personal computers back then were more akin to consoles with keyboards, with a standard configuration and hardware features making it possible to optimize.

Re:hardware requirements (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501421)

That simply isn't true -- at least, not of the BBC Micro, which came in a number of different configurations and was easily upgraded.

And just how many models of Apple II were there, again?

And let's not even get into the MSX, which was produced in dozens of variations by different manufacturers.

Re:hardware requirements (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501909)

In the days of Elite it was true. Games and other programs were simply designated for BBC Model A or BBC Model B. With the majority being Model B.

Of course if you had a Model A, as I did, you could upgrade bits piecemeal to Model B spec. I upgraded the memory to 32KB pretty soon, which was enough for most games to run. But when Planetoids (Defender) came out, I had to add the 6522 VIA chip too. That game used the timer in the chip.

But that upgradability is besides the point. Games were aimed at, and marketed for either A or B. Planetoid for example just said it was for Model B. There were no minimum requirements listed on the pack as a PC game would have.

Later there were other models, but again, they offered specific named models to be aimed at. Not the infinate variability of PCs.

Re:hardware requirements (4, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501683)

Yes, and then you also wouldn't see games released for about 10 years too.

The kind of memory and CPU cycles you can free up by these kinds of optimizations, compared to the amount of memory and cycles available just makes it not even worth it. The amount of time required to do this level of optimisation on games of the size and complexity we have today would add many years to development time.

This coupled with the fact that compilers nowadays do a better job on the fly than most developers can anyway means it's really a pipe dream to have all your games completely and thoroughly hand optimised from start to finish, and amusingly you'd likely only see a couple of fps benefit, and maybe a few mb of memory savings. It's just not justifiable.

From a commercial standpoint it would be suicidal too, everyone else would be developing as normal, and by the time you'd finally released your perfectly hand optimised game, the optimisations would be irrelevant as your game would be 5 - 10 years old and everyone would've bought far more powerful PCs anyway.

If upgrading your PC is a problem, and you're not bothered about the above side effect of having games behind the times that hand optimisation of a complete game would cause, why not just buy last gen games rather than trying to play all the latest and greatest?

The fact is, those skills have been lost for a reason- they're just not important in modern game development where the pressure is on to produce ever more code and content than before and where that level of optimisation offers so little benefit when taken with the fact most game/renedering libraries (DirectX, OpenGL), and most compilers ensure this optimisation is done for you already where it matters. I certainly think we're at risk of losing low level programmers, and that's not a good thing, but this is certainly not an area where their loss matters- I'm more concerned about the loss of people who can do low level stuff to support reverse engineering of DRM, proprietary protocols and that sort of thing.

This is not to say games don't need optimisation at all, of course they do, there is still plenty of scope for that, but to hand craft each byte of content and machine code? Not worth it.

Re:hardware requirements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29502277)

This coupled with the fact that compilers nowadays do a better job on the fly than most developers can anyway means it's really a pipe dream to have all your games completely and thoroughly hand optimised from start to finish, and amusingly you'd likely only see a couple of fps benefit, and maybe a few mb of memory savings. It's just not justifiable.

This is simply false. Compilers are dumb. They won't take a O(n^N) algorithm and turn it into O(log(n)). It is still the programmers responsibility to make sure the code is efficient.

Re:hardware requirements (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502611)

The quote I always think of when people demand this kind of optimisation is from the STANTEC Zebra's programmers' manual, explaining that the 150 instruction limit for Simple Code programs is not a significant problem, 'because no program longer than 150 could possibly be debugged'. The BBC Model B had 32KB of RAM; that's 32KB for the game code, the frame buffer, and all of the data. When a program is that small, it's entirely feasible to spend some time working on every single byte.

Let's not forget the road to these stars was paved (4, Informative)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500723)

...by another unsung hero: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4127/the_history_of_star_raiders_.php?page=2 [gamasutra.com]

Doug Neubauer's Star Raiders, a 1979 game for the Atari 8-bit line of personal computers, is a shining example of what happens when a developer is told that something can't be done, does it anyway, and then is promptly forgotten for having done it. Star Raiders is one of those rare games that can truly be said to have been ahead of its time.

There was a bug in the Spectrum version (3, Interesting)

thewils (463314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500757)

If you launched, then spun round and re-entered the dock hitting hyperspace at the same time, you appeared, docked, at your destination.

Saved all that tedious trading until you could buy lots of weapons etc.

Re:There was a bug in the Spectrum version (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501157)

If you launched, then spun round and re-entered the dock hitting hyperspace at the same time, you appeared, docked, at your destination.

Saved all that tedious trading until you could buy lots of weapons etc.

That wasn't the only bug in the Spectrum version. It also let you save your game from the screen that appeared after you had died; if you did this, then reloaded it, you would appear inside the station in the system you died in, with full cargo etc.

Re:There was a bug in the Spectrum version (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502701)

That's not a bug, that's a feature!

I used this "feature" countless times to get a new pilot started, you know, get enough credits to buy decent equipment instead of getting blown out of the sky on the first trip. Good ole times.

Re:There was a bug in the Spectrum version (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 5 years ago | (#29503225)

To go one step further on the Spectrum when you loaded the game for the first time, rather then starting the game hit save instead. Then load that back in and you had max amount of cash and elite status.

the Modern version oolite rocks! (3, Interesting)

chrispatch (578882) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500763)

I found oolite a year or two ago and was amazed at how much fun this game still is!

My C=64 (3, Interesting)

Nethead (1563) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500837)

If there is one thing I miss about my old C64, it's Elite. I lost many, many hours on that game. How they built such a large universe on such a small platform I'll never figure out. Thanks guys!

Re:My C=64 (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501151)

Seeding! The huge universe was generated, procedurally, from a one-byte-or-so seed. The procedure is deterministic so the universe always turns out the same provided the seed is the same, but it's essentially arbitrary.

Re:My C=64 (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501191)

If there is one thing I miss about my old C64, it's Elite. I lost many, many hours on that game. How they built such a large universe on such a small platform I'll never figure out.

It was all produced from a random number generator. Ian Bell has released C source code [clara.net] that's equivalent to the original 6502 assembly version, if you really want to know.

Re:My C=64 (1)

nightranger (149267) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501895)

Memory lane or what?
My all time favourite game on the C64 and the main reason I bought 2 of the 1541(?) disk drives.
The first time listening to the Blue Danube during the docking sequences and getting the ship to rotate in time with the airlock.
Buying the docking computer to not have to listen.
Trawling for lost cargo.
Took me about 9 months to reach Elite. I dont remember any special screen or anything.
Good times.

Re:My C=64 (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502331)

Took me about 9 months to reach Elite. I dont remember any special screen or anything.

IIRC, it pops up a message that says "Congratulations, Commander" across the bottom of the screen.

da bomb (1)

peas_n_carrots (1025360) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500875)

Wow I feel old... this was seriously the bomb when it came out. So far ahead of its time, had me hooked for years!

Thargoids. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29500911)

...they were real?

Well, yeah, they were. You just had to have played long enough.

It took me a long time (Apple ][ version) before I encountered them by chance. Still wasn't sure it was real the next morning. Then a couple of weeks later, the Galactic Navy found me. Had some papers they wanted delivered.

And then "Thargoids. Why'd it have to be Thargoids?"

It wasn't a story arc by modern standards -- but after countless hours of play that stood on their own as just plain fun -- to have something like that pop out of nowhere, and to have the rarest "random encounter" spawn chase me more than halfway across the galaxy... was something I remember to this day.

It wasn't until DOOM came out that I had dreams about a video game.

Happy 25th, Elite. I still have that Apple ][, and I'm digging out that disk this weekend.

Re:Thargoids. (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501027)

It was easy to run into thargoids on the NES version - just hold down on the d-pad when warping...

I used to play Elite on the NES when babysitting - damn I'm getting old... :( (I had it on the speccy too, but that damn lens-lok *!^$%"^&!).

Re:Thargoids. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502653)

Thargoids attacked me the first time I used the galactic hyperdrive. As soon as I appeared in real space again, they fired at me and destroyed my ship in about three seconds. I didn't use a galactic hyperdrive for a long time afterward as a result of that; I assumed all ships in the second galaxy would be like that...

Elite 2 and 3 (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 5 years ago | (#29500939)

I have to say that I was so disappointed by the sequels compared to the simplicity and variety of the original that I'm afraid for any further sequel. I felt that Braden and Bell tried to expand the game too much for what the capabilities of systems were at the time. It'd be nice to see what they can do with the flexibility of modern systems.

Re:Elite 2 and 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29501081)

The sequels were Braben's babies. Bell got cut in on royalties for 2, but only because of some reused code or somesuch. He had no involvement in (or royalties for, I think) 3.

And I tend to agree: Frontier tried to be too much, wasn't as gripping. Many would dispute that though, I've met people that think it was the (energy?) bomb.

Anyway, go aptitude install oolite and have fun again :)

Re:Elite 2 and 3 (2, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501455)

The problem with the sequels was that they went all out for realism, whereas the original went all out for fun.

So in the original, to fly to another system you undock, hyperspace, and apply your jump drive a few times. If you meet opposition, you engage in an exciting dogfight with usually several enemies.

In Frontier, to fly to another system you undock, fly outside hyperspace range, hyperspace, and then spend the next twenty minutes slowly accelerating and decelerating across an entire solar system. If you meet opposition, it takes the form of a single enemy. You remain relatively stationary while it flies slowly round you in circles, only coming into range for a few seconds every three or four minutes.

Realistic? Sure. Immersive? Yes, actually, for a few days. But the original was gripping for months, while the sequels got boring very quickly, and that was entirely down to the fact that realistic is not fun.

Re:Elite 2 and 3 (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 5 years ago | (#29503255)

Although Final Frontier was extremely impressive coding for its time (despite the bugs).

They had a 3D game you can fly in space, land on planets with millions of star systems and missions/ships/etc. All on one 3.5" floppy disk.

Prior to that you were looking at a swapping CDs mid game to get anything halfway decent.

The Free Will paradigm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29500951)

I think what made the game so successful (at least it did for me) was the ability to do what you wanted to do and when you wanted. The most fun I've had with video games have been those that had this element to some degree. And, it wasn't just pointless free will like wandering around the unpopulated, unused portions of a game map. I'll never forget the excitement I felt when wandering into a system with a Python transported by a flotilla of escort fighters. I had a choice to attack them or move on to the space station (and you know I made the wrong decision!).

Riedequat is a tedious world (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29501199)

but plagued by mutant tree frogs.

If you liked Elite... (5, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501263)

...you may like Oolite, an Elite tribute. It has the goodness that ArcElite has too - it is not player centric, you can encounter epic battles (I've seen three or four distinct groups of ships battling it out, with the Police mixed in there too). The game is open source (GPL) and expandable with expansion packs (so now you can have Generation Ships and Space Dredgers, as well as scenes from the Dark Wheel like the Tionisla Orbital Graveyard). It's available for OSX, Linux and Windows (it was originally developed for OSX).

http://oolite.aegidian.org/ [aegidian.org]

Latest version is 1.73, and there is a wiki for the game at http://wiki.alioth.net/ [alioth.net]

Re:If you liked Elite... (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501799)

Absolutely.. Oolite is brilliant! And the expansion packs are great too :) I'd mod you up if I could!

Mod parent: +1 ELITE (1)

kale77in (703316) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502487)

I've been wanting an Elite clone for some years now... never worked out whether Vega Strike was that; it always ran too slow.

sudo apt-get install oolite

Oolite, moreover, is in the Ubuntu repositories! Clearly someone out there is thinking...

In the meantime we have EVE Online (1)

Grail (18233) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501339)

Sure, it's fishtank physics, but you have the same ability to take off from a station, choosing to either pirate your way to riches or trade valuable goods across the galaxy. Even better (or worse, perhaps?) is that you get to compete in these activities against real people (not Thargoids, as exciting as they were).

Great Elite article (4, Interesting)

ZosoZ (1603973) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501341)

Francis Spufford's book The Backroom Boys has a chapter about the creation of Elite, and a fair chunk of it is on The Guardian's website [guardian.co.uk] . One of my favourite bits is, after they came up with the procedural method for creating the universe, how they picked the seed:

"Braben and Bell called the starting number for a galaxy "a seed" and, in truth, creating the game this way was more like gardening than deliberately constructing something. You had to plant the seed and see what grew. It was another sense in which they were ceding direct control over the game in favour of working indirectly on the player's experience. But they did want to start the player off in a reasonably friendly bit of space, where the pickings were good and they wouldn't get instantly clobbered. Since there was no way to edit a galaxy, you just had to try galaxy after galaxy, seed after seed, until something suitable grew. "I remember thinking it was very wasteful," Braben says. "You'd type in a number, a birthday or something, and see what galaxy that came out with. 'No, I don't like that. No, I don't like that. That cluster looks horrible'." They also decided they had better check the 256 system names in the galaxy where the player would be plunked down, in case any of the four-letter words were actually four-letter words. "One of the first galaxies we tried had a system called Arse. We couldn't use the whole galaxy. We just threw it away!""

Elite forerunners (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501435)

Elite has certainly been very influential on later games but it didn't appear out of nowhere. The authors were inspired by Star Raiders [wikipedia.org] on the Atari 400. I also wonder if the earlier BBC Micro game Starship Command [wikipedia.org] might have been an influence.

Hyperspace Malfunction (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501733)

Now your have kill Thargoid invasion craft, until your hyperdrive get fixed. That game eat months of my childhood.

---

3D Shooter Games [feeddistiller.com] @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

If you liked the game... (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#29501823)

...then watch the musical [clara.net] !

No, really, go and look --- it was written by Aiden Bell (Ian Bell's brother) and Brian Phillips. Okay, you are going to have to stage it yourself, but the full book's there.

There's lots of other good stuff on Ian Bell's Elite website [clara.net] , including versions for most microcomputers, actual source code for the original BBC Micro version (which is damn scary, by the way), concept art, lots of reviews and interviews, a version of the trading engine written in C that's compatible with the original, unreleased versions (Game Boy Elite!), the novella The Dark Wheel that came with the game... and, sadly, lots of info about the ongoing feud between Bell and Braben after they fell out.

Games have come such a long way since Elite... (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502005)

...after all, it's been 25 years. That's 25 years in which to come up with new ideas.

So where are we now?

I recently paid Steam £30 to play X3: Terran Conflict - a 3D space sim where you start with a basic ship, and have to trade/ fight/ pirate your way up the food chain..... .....oh.....

Open Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29502017)

some ppl are working on an OS game kinda like frontier 2

http://pioneer.sourceforge.net/

history changes, human nature doesn't (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502043)

'They just didn't get it; they wanted a high score and they wanted players to have three lives,'

Funny how that drives games development until this day. It's not 3 lives, but in the MMO market, for example, few dare to deviate from the "Level 60 cap, classes, crafting and grinding" concept. And those that do are almost always the minor players.

And all in less than 32K! (1)

AlvySinger (900304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502115)

If not reading TFA (or Wikipedia): The BBC B has 32K RAM of which 10K was mapped to video and another 3K was used by the beeb itself (include a few 256bytes pages for the disk drive).

The disk version did page to disk on docking but only to load alternate sets of ships, etc. All that game in basically 10K. (Props to Star Raiders too for similar on the Atari as referenced elsewhere) Those were the days, etc.

Off topic but I recall a similar code-cram pubished in a magazine: a small routine to display text in any colour at any angle at any size anywhere on screen. This did use the OS character maps (each display character stored in 8 bytes) but managed the functionality in 256 bytes of 6502 assembly.

Beeb was good for first introduction to beating protection mechanisms - it was possible to set an execution only flag on binary programs (so run only - you could load then save). However, this could be defeated by a few bytes of code to reset the relevant protection bit in a routine called several times a second by using the screen refresh interrupt. Very useful for getting games available on tape only onto disk. Load the image from disk, then move it down in memory over the memory allocated to the disk drive and run it. &E00 - those were the days, etc. As a professional programmer that same buzz is hard to come by...

Missions (2, Funny)

MtlDty (711230) | more than 5 years ago | (#29502165)

I cant even begin to imagine how many hours my younger brother and I put into this game on the C64. I was hooked from the start, with the fabulous novella that came in the instruction manual. I pity those that only ever had a pirate version, the box set/manual/novella were a huge help in fuelling the imagination.

I still remember the day though when I came back home and my brother said 'oh I was playing Elite and it said something about 'Do you want to accept this mission' so I said no'
He still has imprints of my hands around his neck. I never ever saw a mission appear when I was playing.

Anyone else get through the missions? They still remain one of the greatest mysteries around that game to me.

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