QR Code contains TinyURL of this article.Gaming Just Got Interesting Again

I’m not one for computer games, not since my teens at least. Back then I would while away my evenings and weekends pumping coins into the beautifully decorated cabinets at my local video arcade. I played every machine that came in, but there were a handful that I would spend most of my time on: Centipede; Mr. Do!; Galaxian; Out Run and After Burner.

Later, as I went through a range of home computers,1 a new series of favourites emerged: Star Raiders; Mercenary; Worms; Lemmings and Cannon Fodder.

Then there was the game I played the most, the one I became totally engrossed in… David Braben and Ian Bell’s epic, Elite.

Space-ships approach a space-station in orbit around a planet.

I couldn’t tell you how much time I put into Elite, but I can say that it was probably amounted to a couple of years or longer. I worked my way up through the ranks and eventually attained that of Elite (I was proud of that achievement).

There were three stand-out things that made Elite so appealing to myself, as a young teenager with a hyper-active imagination:

  1. The open-ended game play. I could be a pirate one day, then a trader the next, a space traveller or a defender of the federation (and of course, any combination of these), depending on my mood.
  2. The scale of the play-field. Elite’s universe was procedurally driven. Thus it could be and was immense (eight galaxies with 256 planets in each).
  3. The novella, written by the science-fiction author Robert Holdstock. This provided background information that supported the game and made for an even more compelling experience.

It’s fair to say that Elite was the last game that really captured and held my interest. There were sequels, Frontier: Elite II and the infamously bug-ridden Frontier: First Encounters — both of which where technically and graphically superior to their predecessors — but neither captured the atmosphere (no pun intended) or playability of the original.

Space-ships prepare for battle in the orbit of a planet.

However, the fourth installment of this saga, Elite: Dangerous, looks like it’s going to be a worthy successor to the original. Elite: Dangerous is a Kickstarter-funded project that promises to re-ignite the Elite flame.

The scope of the Elite: Dangerous universe is massive, 100 billion star systems, more than you could ever explore in a lifetime of playing. The graphics are scintillating too, just like the original. Check out some of the videos of its game-play on YouTube.

I can hardly wait for the public release. I’ll be one of the first to fly in the exciting Elite: Dangerous universe. See you there!

  1. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX81, then on to an Acorn Electron, Atari 800XL, two or three Atari ST models, then the Commodore Amiga A1200↩︎