David Braben and Ian Bell are names which strike a chord with a lot of space sim gamers. Elite was the first really awesome sci-fi space sim which I owned on my ZX-Spectrum way back, complete with Lenslok and the Dark Wheel novella. Elite came from the minds of Bell and Braben and originally appeared on the BBC Micro via Publisher: Acornsoft. I never had a BBC Micro so I had to wait for the Spectrum version, which was well worth the wait.
Elite is the seminal space trading, exploration and combat game which inspired a whole slew of other games down the line. From the mind-boggling X-Series to Privateer: The Darkening, Tachyon, I-War (1 and 2) and Darkstar One - one could probably argue that Derek Smart of Battlecruiser/Universal Combat fame was also inspired by Bell and Braben.
Bell and Braben were inspired for their game by the classic tabletop roleplaying game known as Traveller, even taking the default commander name: Jameson from that very RPG.
Whilst Elite Plus (Chris Sawyer) came out in 1991 for DOS, and Elite A (Archangel) (Angus Duggan) in the late 1980's the true Elite sequels, Frontier and Frontier: First Encounters did not appear till 1993 and 1995 respectively, they were plagued with bugs and frequent crashes - yet they are still a beloved addition to the series and had far more complex systems than the original Elite. They were frustrating for many gamers since they required an understanding and grasp of Newtonian Flight Physics. Where ships do not behave as though they're flying in atmosphere, they continue in the same direction they fly in and unless thrusters are used effectively they will fly forwards even when the pilot attempts to perform other X and Y based movement.
To this day many space games prefer the simpler Arcade (Wing Commander) style of flight physics and its only the hardcore dedicated space sim pilot that prefers to slide their ship through space. A true sequel to Elite never really materialised, until now in 2012. David Braben and Frontier Developments fired up a pretty nifty Kickstarter.
Yeah, read those two words fans old and new of the Elite game series. ELITE DANGEROUS!
Modern technology, Elite gameplay, old and new school development wrapped up in a slinky package - promising all sorts of awesome things and cooperative play. I have wanted a cooperative Elite game since ever and now it looks like I'm going to get that wish and then some.
To quote from David's page for the game: Our galaxy. It's an awe inspiring, beautiful, vast place; with billions of star systems, planets, moons and asteroid fields just waiting to be explored, and exploited. The triumvirate superpowers of the Empire, Federation and Independents dominate their core system volumes and constantly skirmish to outmanoeuvre one another on their frontiers. Outside their influence, in the vast majority of the galaxy, anarchy reigns supreme and spectacular discoveries await the bold.
It's dog-eat-dog out there – you need to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Whether you want to trade for profit between systems, take part in multiplayer co-op mission alliances, free-for-all group battles and team raids to bring down planetary economies, even tip the balance of power in the galaxy (for your own advantage, of course..), or simply explore the wonders of the galaxy (and who knows what you'll find out there..) is up to you.
Your second-to-second actions could have you taking the roles of trader, pirate, bounty hunter, leader, team player, opportunistic assassin, grand schemer, and more. You are at the centre of the action any time, any place and any way you choose – each action has a consequence, and influences the galaxy around you.
Starting with a few credits and a basic starship, carve your own path through the richest, largest gaming sandbox ever created, set against a backdrop of raw anarchy, galactic power-plays and intrigue. Do whatever it takes to upgrade your ship's hull, engines, weapons, defences, cargo hold; constantly improve your capabilities and influence on your journey towards the most coveted rank in the history of gaming - 'Elite'.
Just check out this teaser trailer of the game so far, I got a real feeling of nostalgia from this and I can't wait to fly the Cobra Mk III again!