When I was a boy, my first introduction to computers was, like many people of my generation in the UK, on the BBC Micro. It was an excellent microcomputer that was perfect for use in schools because it was incredibly robust, very fast to boot and therefore to restart if you needed to, and simple to start programming in BBC BASIC. It was also home to Elite, which was not only one of the first game with 3D graphics, but also one of the first games with a massive open universe that you could explore and experience in a number of different ways.
I loved it and spent many hours trading goods between planetary systems and fighting off space pirates; trying to maximise profits while not doing anything too likely to draw attention from the galactic police.
Initially I could only play on computers at school, and later on a friend’s BBC Master (thanks Peter!), until my family bought its first computer, an Acorn Archimedes A3000. I’d persuaded my parents to buy it after being blown away by Lander, another David Braben product, bundled as a tech-demo on the “Archie”. Lander, was a cut down version of Zarch, with I also loved, but most of my time on that computer was spent with the fantastic faithful conversion of the original Elite game, with the graphics enhanced by solid 3D models and colour. I was more than happy to race to fit Beam Lasers to all sides of my Cobra Mk III all over again.
Many years later I spent time researching more modern ports of Elite and I even played a bit on emulators and enjoyed Elite: The New Kind for a while, although at the time I was quite into mobile gaming and really wanted to play on my commute on my phone.
Now David Braben and his company Frontier Developments are working on a new sequel, Elite: Dangerous. E:D has its roots firmly in the original game, but adds exciting new elements and online multiplayer. It also looks gorgeous on the renders and prototype videos they’ve released.
The development of Elite: Dangerous is being funded on Kickstarter and is the first project that I’ve ever wanted to, even been thrilled to, support. This is a great way to get involved with the development of the game, receiving regular updates about the progress, take part in testing or even influencing the direction depending on how much you’d like to invest. On a very basic economic level, you can fund the development via Kickstarter and very likely get a copy of the finished game at less than the eventual RRP.
As I write this, there are 15 days left to reach the funding target on Kickstarter and about 2/3 of the amount has been pledged. I would like to encourage everyone to check out Elite: Dangerous on Kickstarter and support this fantastic game, especially if you ever enjoyed moonlighting as Commander Jameson.