Elite Returns With Massive Kickstarter Goal

By Nathan Grayson on November 6th, 2012 at 8:40 am.

Old-school RPGs? Please. That Kickstarter trend is so a few seconds ago. Now it’s all about mind-bogglingly ambitious revivals of legendary space series that need your help in the form of several trillion dollars. OK, maybe not that much, but Star Citizen came in space, no one can hear you screaming into existence asking for $2 million, and now David Braben is trying to resurrect Elite (again) for the low, low collective price of £1,250,000 – which is basically $2 million.

That’s right – Elite is back at long, long last, in the form of Elite: Dangerous. Are you ready to remember how much rage and sorrow could be extracted from the mere process of docking? I know I am.

The Kickstarter page itself is, unfortunately, almost completely lacking in concrete details. Braben talks somewhat vaguely about his plans, but there aren’t any videos or screenshots – it seems to be banking on backers’ sheer excitement over a sequel they’ve waited for forever. Admittedly, it seems like this one’s largely in the idea phase at this point, as Braben describes the Kickstarter as “a means of test-marketing the concept to verify there is still interest in such a game that extends beyond the individuals who regularly contact me about the game, and raising the funds to do so.” Here, though, is how he envisions the game at this point:

“Elite: Dangerous is the game I have wanted Frontier to make for a very long time. The next game in the Elite series – an amazing space epic with stunning visuals, incredible gameplay and breath-taking scope, but this time you can play with your friends too. I want a game that feels more like the original Elite to fly, and with more rapid travel (to allow for the multi-player nature of the game) – so you travel quickly using local ‘hyperspace’ travel rather than by fast-forwarding time – but with the rich galaxy of Frontier – and more, so much more.”

“Up to now “Elite” has been worked upon by a small team as a ‘skunk-works’ activity in the background as availability permits. Nevertheless, we have been preparing; laying the technology and design foundations for when the time is right. And that time is now.”

Also of note: Braben’s company, Frontier Developments, currently employees 235 people across multiple countries. Unless I’m forgetting someone, that means it’s easily the largest company yet to catapult onto the already quite weighed down Kickstarter bandwagon. Unfortunately, however, its recent track record is, um, less than encouraging – with the likes of Kinectimals, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, and Dog’s Life leading the charge. Meanwhile, its most recent project of a more ambitious scale, The Outsider, has been on hold for a while now. That said, Frontier was also responsible for the hugely underrated Lost Winds on Wii, though there’s not generally much crossover between sprawling space sims and charmingly cartoony platformers.

So then, thoughts? I mean, this is pretty exciting given that Elite’s another one of those games modern designers still haven’t quite grasped the brilliance of, but the long wait suggests that could be just as true of its creators as of other studios. Also, even Old-School RPG’s Kickstarter page was stronger than this one, and it fell flat enough that Brenda Romero and Tom Hall yanked it. Hopefully there’ll be a substantial update soon – if Frontier really have been quietly working on something for years, surely that means they’ve got something to show as they sing for their £1.25m supper?

Right now, Frontier’s shooting for March 2014. Do you plan on giving Elite: Dangerous a push to help it get off the ground?

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219 Comments »

  1. Uglycat says:

    I propose a ban on all under 35′s from posting on this thread, as they clearly have no soul.

  2. Bluerps says:

    I never played any of the Elite games for various reasons (mostly because I didn’t have access to them when I was a kid), but they sound great and I would love to see a modern one. However, that alone is not enough for me to contribute to this Kickstarter. I want to know more than a title and a vague vision, before I contribute to a game.

  3. Nihilist says:

    The pitch sounds very much UN-Elite.

    Multiplayer? I don’t need that.
    No simulated space flight? But that is what Elite is all about. The vastness of the universe, you and your tiny little ship and all the possibilities.

    I get the impression Braben doesn’t understand his own game. Nevertheless: If it’s like in the pitch I have no further interest. And at first I threw up a little in excitement when I’ve read the headline. Bah.

    • iucounu says:

      Simulated spaceflight was Frontier; Elite had hyperdrive, then a jump drive for skipping dead space and basically non-Newtonian shop physics. I much prefer the latter, ‘cos Frontier for me was a lot of zooming past where I was intending to go because I couldn’t work out the deceleration.

  4. Tarsyk says:

    All you under 30s clearly have no idea what you are talking about. :P

  5. Tarsyk says:

    “Multiplayer? I don’t need that.
    No simulated space flight? But that is what Elite is all about. The vastness of the universe, you and your tiny little ship and all the possibilities.”

    I do agree with that though

  6. somnolentsurfer says:

    Is this an MMO?

    It’s interesting that the level of expectation for these things seems to be going up. DoubleFine went live with basically nothing, it’s just that Tim Schafer’s nothing was funny.

  7. Lemming says:

    Not impressed at all with Braben on this. He claimed he was working on/off Elite 4 for the past 10 years and now suddenly a whopping great kickstarter with nothing to show? I loved, LOVED Frontier, but they can fuck right off with this.

  8. pupsikaso says:

    Not a chance. I haven’t even ever played Elite. How does he expect me to give him my money if all he’s saying is basically “hey, I’m re-creating this super-awesome over-hyped ancient game and you should back me up just from hearing it’s name”.

    Show me the goods first, buddy, then I’ll show you the money.

  9. Spoon Of Doom says:

    The pitch is indeed rather poor, but this has been discussed enough already.

    Instead, can someone tell me what Elite is and what makes it so special? I don’t know if I’m too young (27) or if I just missed it somehow, but I haven’t ever played it. What did it do that other games don’t do today? Someone sell me on Elite.

    • Lemming says:

      You arrive at your destination, a space station flashing its docking lights orbiting it’s planet. You decide you don’t want to land in the station, you’d rather land at one of the planet’s surface ports. Just for kicks, you turn off the autopilot and slowly guide your ship through the atmosphere, watching you pitch and speed, you request docking clearance – it’s granted, not always a guarantee, they must be quiet today – and you angle your ship above the dock slowly descending through the hatchway.

      Once arrived, you check the local market for goods, paying careful attention to the system’s exports. Then check your star map for nearby systems that have the same goods as imports. Nothing jumps out, so you check the bulletin board.

      There’s a request for passage to a nearby system, you’ll have to sell your missiles to make room for a cargo life support, but it’s doable. A shady advert catches your eye, the call connects and you are faced with someone asking you to ‘retire’ an individual. The money is good, and you’re heading that way regardless. You still have your main ship gun, so losing the missiles won’t be a problem, you can always restock while you wait for the ‘client’ to show up.

      Everything checked and ready, and all fueled up, you power up and burn full thrust into the sky, watching the altitude, you reach the required distance for a safe jump, BOOM! You’re hurtled through hyperspace and ejected into the black void on the outskirts of a system, your destination.

      Eventually, you arrive, having taken care of a few pirates that decided to take their chances with you on your journey. The passengers pay their fee, you sell the cargo life support and buy a hyperspace cloud analyser, something tells you, you’ll need it.

      Your target is expected to be here in 8 hours, so you take off early and position yourself in low orbit, scanning the local traffic with your Radar Mapper. Almost 10 minutes late, your systems pick him up – the registration matches. You keep your distance, you don’t want to bring down the local law enforcement on you for firing on another ship. Suddenly, your target jumps into hyperspace, leaving the red hyperspace cloud pulsating behind. Quickly, before it fades you use your HCA to track his destination, and jump to follow. BOOM!

      You arrive, your quarry nowhere to be seem. You check your systems, his cloud has formed a little way away from yours, and he hasn’t arrived yet. He’s in a slower ship. Confidently, you position yourself for an easy kill. He’s going to get a big surprise….

    • Lemming says:

      Btw I’m not advocating Kickstarting this, I’m merely suggesting you play Frontier: Elite 2 (the best one):

      http://www.frontierastro.co.uk/Hires/hiresfe2.html

      • Spoon Of Doom says:

        I will certainly do so, when I find the time. Sounds very intriguing, although it makes me wonder even more if a guy who posts such a half-assed pitch is able to deliver a modern equivalent to this, rather than just a generic game in space trying to jump on the Star Citizen bandwagon.

    • Werthead says:

      (the above answer is actually a description of FRONTIER, ELITE’s sequel, rather than ELITE itself, which was rather more basic)

      It was the first ‘proper’ 3D game and one of the very first games which gave you total freedom to do whatever you wanted. It was one of the first games that a lot of adults played as well, rather than just kids. Compared to what was around at the same time, it was a massive generational jump forwards in what games could do. The release of ELITE in 1984 is probably comparable to the release of THE JAZZ SINGER in 1927 (the first film with sound). It made a lot of people who’d been dismissive of the form up to that point sit up and go, “Hang on, this is actually interesting.”

      The argument against that is that gaming was always going to do that at some point, it was just Braben and Bell who lucked out to be the ones to do it with ELITE. As others have pointed out, the sequels were rather more mixed successes (especially FIRST ENCOUNTERS, the third game, which was released unfinished and Braben sued the publisher over it) and the big question has to be what will ELITE: DANGEROUS bring to the table that X, EVE and STAR CITIZEN haven’t?

      • Spoon Of Doom says:

        That’s exactly what I meant – it seems that Elite was really something special for its time, but this Kickstarter doesn’t do a thing to convince me that the final product will have anything that isn’t being done elsewhere. Other than namedropping a game that I’m apparently too young to have played, even though I’m slowly approaching the 30. It saddens me that this guy takes a name and logo that apparently means very much to a lot of people and uses it for what seems like a cash grab / jump on the bandwagon at best, or like a scam at worst.
        Note that I’m not saying that it is a scam, only that it looks like one because of no video, no details and the massive amount of buzzwords.

        I will certainly check out the original though – sounds very interesting.

        • Nihilist says:

          ” it seems that Elite was really something special for its time,”

          The first description was indeed a description of Elite: Frontier. And still… make a slightly updated Frontier with modern graphics and the same deep gameplay and it will still stand out from the rest of the pack.

          For years it was my pet peeve that you could land on every planet you liked to if you wanted. This freedom and the controls really created the perfect spacefarer-illusion.

          The original Elite was also very famous for its Level-System, because it could take ages to actually get to the Elite-Level. You had to measure it in weeks or months and not in hours as of today.

        • iucounu says:

          The incredible thing about it was the huge open world packed into a tiny (by today’s standards) piece of software. The disk image for BBC Elite is 52kb and it contained galaxies. That’s about three times the size of the header image, above.

          It wasn’t like anything else. The procedural generation was ground-breaking; the lack of a regimented way to play it was intoxicating; and there were secrets to discover, and some which you couldn’t, because they were actually mythical, like the Generation Ships.

          It was incredibly immersive, especially for a little boy like me; the Acorn Electron tape cassette was the Game Wot Made Me. I still have it in the drawer by my knee.

  10. TimMc says:

    I never played Elite, but just off reading about in the past I would back it – IF… If they had screenshots, concept art, developer videos etc.

    Right now, it doesn’t look like they care so why should I?

  11. Blackcompany says:

    I backed sui generis & am considering Starforge. These two are at least trying to break some new ground. Also backed Eternity, but sort of regret it now. It ended up sounding utterly generic. Hope it isn’t.

    But I am officially done backing nostalgia. It’s time now to move things ahead, break new ground, change things. This model gets us away from publishers so please stop using it to make thaw same sorts of games you made when you had one.

  12. derbefrier says:

    While I appreciate his role in pioneering the genre the whole pitch seems pretty weak. The reason I got so excited for star citizen was that awesome video that fame with it. I am happy for now sticking with star citizen if this guysl.decides to offer more than a wall of text I might consider it but for someone ky age nostalgia is not going to ne enough

  13. LessThanAwesome says:

    Was a huge fan of Elite on my Spectrum, it really was first of it’s kind. I’d love to see a new and updated version, but one word worryingly springs to mind… EVE. How is it going to differ from EVE, which I always thought was pretty much mulitplayer Elite?

  14. Ateius says:

    Why do all the super awesome giant epic space sim projects insist on being multiplayer? Is there no place where an antisocial misanthrope may adventure in a vast, amazing simulated galaxy untainted by the presence of (shudder) other people?

    • LessThanAwesome says:

      I’m older – now 43, and would never play a non multiplayer game again. There’s nothing to match being surrounded by real players – No NPC AI can match what real people do, nor can you chat and interact with them. So between us there’s definitely a call for it being both single- and multi-player :)

      • yanko44 says:

        I have to agree on the AI part. It’s more exciting playing against other humans. BUT this also lead to no developments in AI in the last couple of years.

        There’s also the risk of playing with other ppl online, breaking the immersion because of some stupid banter about football.

        Having a solo game is especially nice when you don’t have a lot of free time to play games. (organizing a group event is VERY stressful)

      • Nihilist says:

        True, but I’m 38 and my work requires it that my games are ready, when I am ready so it is seldom that I can play online with friends. And what is online play without friends? Yo get into a bunch of players that use gamey tactics and are overly competitive because they can play 24 hours straight. It’s ot that you can’t make friends there, too but its more work and after work I want to have fun.

        This is the reason I like Paradox, Matrix or AGEOD Games. They give me the singleplayer experience I know and want. I would place Elite/Frontier (for myself) in the same league with such games.

      • LintMan says:

        @LessThanAwesome – yes, there is demand for both single and multiplayer games, but the problem (as I see it) is that making a game support both all too frequently dilutes them both down, and generally the single player experience takes the worst brunt of that:

        It’s all too easy for devs to take the basic multiplayer combat, add some AI’s, and call that “single player”. But as yoyu have said, fighting AI’s is less satisying than fighting humans, which means that single player games have to provide further interesting content – campaigns, cool storylines, misions and scenarios, alternate game mechanics, etc – to supplement the AI combat. And that stuff gets short shrift unless it can also be applied to multiplayer.

  15. jerf says:

    People, let’s ask Elite’s developers to offer a Linux version!

    With Steam being released on Linux in a couple of weeks, having a Linux version of the Elite successor (albeit in 2014) will be another good advance in breaking free from Micro$oft’s clutches.

  16. MOKKA says:

    I’m really concerned on how fast people are ready to throw money on a bunch of, what honestly looks like, a bunch of hollow promises combined with a good portion of nostalgia. There is no video, no concept art, no screenshots, no demo and people are still willing to give money to it.

    It’s also a shame that this sorry excuse for a campaign is drawing away attention from projects who put a lot more effort in their kickstarters (such as Maia for example).

    Of course, one could say that all the other Kickstarter campaigns tried similar stuff, but at least Double Fine and Obisidian have some kind of proof that they are able to make interesting games. Considering that Mr Braben did nothing interesting besides Elite should make people at least a little bit more sceptical.

  17. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Well, at least they’re open about the fact that this is basically a gauging of interest/fund gathering thing. On the other hand, it’s a rather lazy way of going about a kickstarter. It’s like they’re not fully behind it. Put some effort into these things, please!

  18. melnificent says:

    Copied from my EG post……

    I love elite, but I want to raise some concerns about this kickstarter and the company behind it.

    It’s been in development for over 10 years (14 years at present), like duke nukem forever.
    It is being made by a proper commercial entity, like duke nukem forever.
    The company has produced a couple of good hits (lost winds) amongst a sea of mediocrity (generic kinect stuff), like duke nukem forevers parent company.

    There are no screenshots, concept art or any assets at all. Unlike Duke nukem Forever, which did have concept art and a trailer video.

    As it stands at the moment it’s on course to be even more vapour like than DNF. It’s already past the same timescale.
    Ask yourself, why would a company that has been around for years suddenly need money upfront without proof of anything. Especially, after promising the game from as far back as 1998.

    http://uk.gamespot.com/news/qanda-david-braben-from-elite-to-today-6162140

    This is a cash grab to keep the studio going for a few more months. Traded on the back of a promise, looking at nostalgia.

    The company accounts show that from 2009 they have blown through almost £5m in 2 years (down to £1m) and at that rate will be bankrupt by next year.
    The shares have dropped £4m in a year. And the liabilities have more than doubled.

    This £1.2m kickstarter is to make sure they can get through to the next financial year. Nothing more. The expected delivery date is AFTER they have run out of cash even with kickstarter backing.

    http://companycheck.co.uk/company/02892559

    Most damning of all their last game (announced 2008) has yet to materialise. Beyond a trailer from a few years back.

    I really do want to be proven wrong as I’d love another elite, but I’m afraid the writing is on the wall. This will most likely be a high profile kickstarter failure. And the collapse of a company to boot.

    • ukpanik says:

      You have a point. I’ve cancelled my pledge.

    • jerf says:

      This is indeed an important point.

      Let’s try then to spread this information, since Elite:Dangerous currently steals money from ongoing interesting projects, and the failure will generate massive bad publicity for Kickstarter.

      It would be better if game journalists and news sites posted this information.

    • Nihilist says:

      After reading this I think Elite is indeed dangerous.

  19. EugenS says:

    Pledged 50 pounds. Pledged to Shaker as well, I hope at least this one takes off.

  20. buzzmong says:

    I’ve pledged £20, while being fully aware of melnificent’s post and the fact it’s poor opening for a KS page, on the offchance it actually gets funded, more details get released and it looks as if it might actually reach completetion.

    If it looks to have gone sour by mid/late December, I’ll cancel my pledge.

    Tbh, I think Star Citizen will end up being the better game anyway.

  21. kizza42 says:

    I’ve been waiting for this, Kickstarted straight away.

    Now all we need is for Geoff Crammond to kick off a new racing sim!

  22. CroGoose says:

    Interesting enough, I am planning a similar game (as an Elite enthusiast) and in 20 days have not gained a single buck for my campaign. I’m not from US or UK so Kickstarter is off limits for now. Although I did ask for a substantial sum, my plan is to make a great game. And that requires money. However, my plans include much more that Braben does. And I plan to make the game regardless of the funding.
    Here: check it out –
    I posted screenshots and videos – but not a lot since I’m focusing on the game.

    • Azhrarn says:

      It says here that the page is currently in Draft Mode, and as such can’t be accessed. :)
      You might want to fix that so people can see if they want to fund or not.

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