Elite 4 to be DRM-free

After years of waiting and several false starts, the fourth game in the legendary Elite series of space-exploration games is underway. Elite: Dangerous, currently being kickstartered by David Braben, sounds a lot like the original: shoot, trade and upgrade in a vast, procedurally-generated universe packed with stuff to do.

In the game, you will of course begin 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, building on those key elements of the previous games, and with sumptuous graphics only now possible with the performance of today’s machines. Only this time some of the ships out there will be other players like yourself – other members of a secret ‘Elite’ group of space-farers

Generous Kickstarter participants will get star systems named for them. The physics model will, of course, include inertia.


  1. Luv the idea, been dreaming about it since… forever?
    But what about *cough* EVE?
    Considering that there already exists a true spiritual successor to Elite, what will this new “official” version offer?

      1. Dunno, I always thought (even before the internet) that Elite is a world simulator and that it would be the natural evolution of the concept to be able to share that world with other people. While I understand Braben’s emphasis on procedural generation, imo what made Elite revolutionary is that it was really the first true computer generated world, one which at least gave an illusion that it does not revolve around the player and that goes on even when he’s not around… i feel that mmos are the natural evolution of this core concept.

        1. I agree with you very much. And have often enjoyed online gaming since the 90s. But the loner in me likes single player games, too. Let’s just hope the autopilot works when it is time to dock your ship. Hated not having (or knowing how to use?) an auto-docking feature on the few clones I have tried to play in recent years.

          1. I had the same problem waaay back with  the original Elite; when I was lucky I’d get one docking in five (and usually scraped the sides.)  I’m amazed at just how much persistence I had back then.

    1. Eve is not really a successor to Elite. It’s a more detailed exploration of one aspect of Elite–the trading game. Everything else stems from that; the combat is decided almost entirely by relative strength, which is basically “how many weapons can I make/buy”. Elite was as much a flight-sim-in-space as it was about trading: the combat was more like dogfighting, the infamous docking with space stations, scooping fuel from the sun, and a ton of exploration.

      There’s a great opportunity to make a space exploration game that’s the exact opposite of Eve: accessible and immediate, broad rather than deep. Less spreadsheets, more zooming around and going pew pew pew. I want to feel like Captain Kirk, not a Ferengi.

  2. When I purchased the original, in Ireland, back in the mists of time. The 48K Spectrum version I brought home with me as a child had the ‘Lenslok’ ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenslok ) hardware DRM. A small plastic arch with a lens and two slits had to be placed on the screen to ‘decode’ an alpha numeric code, that needed to be entered rather quickly!

    1.  Oooh yeah, what a pain that was, I think if you got it wrong you had to reload the game (which was ~10 mins from cassette I think…)

      Happy days. ;)

    1. My impression of Eve was that everything I wanted to do had been done before by people willing to devote a lot more time and brainspace than I was.  And unless you wanted to get into PvP (with aforementioned people), your choices were severely curtailed.

      Combat was (as Yahtzee described) basically ‘run up to enemy, kick him in the shins, he kicks you back, and if he’s kicking harder than you are, run.’  In other words, a lot of fire and very little maneuver to make things interesting.  This made PvE missions pretty dull.

      I tried trading, searching the galaxy for places I could buy low and sell high, but the market seemed pretty efficient, at least in the safe zones.

      I also tried exploring (which involves a minigame some might find  tedious), but that was pretty much a crap shoot.  …A grindy crap shoot.

      One thing Eve Online has done for MMO gaming, though, is a significant achievement: its laissez-faire style managed to draw trolls, scammers and griefers away from other MMOs.  SO there’s that.

  3. Interesting talk about procedural generation there. this technique works great for generating graphics and sound in a small amount of memory, used a lot in demoscene for example. I was surprised to hear him refer to Frontier, as I recall the game was a massive failure on release. despite selling well, it was ridden with bugs and known to have ruined PCs to the point of disk format level recovery (not uncommon in mid 90s PC software, but still).

    Anyone own this game? did they eventually iron out the bugs?

    1. It was pretty much perfect on the Amiga. I played it for years and don’t think I ever saw a single non-docking computer bug.

      (when you fast-forwarded within a certain range of an orbital station it would sometimes either play chase-the-tail with the station circling it forever, or it would just slam you straight into the side instantly destroying your ship)

  4. Never had the chance/luck to play Elite, but I did enjoy Wing Commander: Privateer. 
    I somehow craved for the loneliness of space exploration that I felt in the game. 
    And of course wished for a similar game ever since. After learning about Google 100000 Stars project a couple of days ago, the old feelings came back. And now Elite!

  5. I played Frontier until I got sick of it, which took me quite a long time in those days. To this day I am not sure if there were any aliens in it, If so, I could never find them. I think that with proceduraly generated worlds, you have to take care to generate a story with enough depth to make good use of the world. If you have thousands (or millions) of worlds, but only simple “carry A to B” and “shoot X at Y” missions to connect them, eventually boredom will set in. You need to connect a more complex plot with the depth of your world, and maybe make several aspects of that plot procedurally generated too.

    Anyone remember the name of that one indie game, where you controlled a spaceship shaped like a box with a hemispherical dome on top, and computer interfaces in the walls to control it? It had cool worlds, some even with vector-graphics wildlife, but unfortunately no plot at all. Sounded something like “tardis” I think…

      1. Yeah, that’s it! What a cute little exploration game. Suffered from a serious lack of action, though. Program your drive, descend to the planet, climb a mountain, watch a sunset, chase the occasional vector bunny or -avian; repeat.

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