Elite Dangerous, Nostalgia, Joysticks & Returning To Space

By Alec Meer on April 11th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

I come and go on old franchises and old ideas being resurrected by rich old men for rather less rich and old men and women. Sometimes it seems like a roadblock to fresh invention, other times it seems like returning to roads that games were forcibly and unfairly turned away from as forces of marketing and demographic-chasing decided they weren’t suitably commercially viable. For example: space sims didn’t all but die out because the possibilities were exhausted. Though there have always been survivors, they all but died out because they required huge budgets to pull off well, but could not command the sort of easily advertised-at mainstream audience required to earn their keep. What remained turned inwards, servicing the very particular demands of a passionate few, and making themselves all the more inaccessible to those who were interested but not quite so fervent about it.

The comeback, thanks to the removal of almost all middlemen and the ability to engage directly with an audience large enough but spread far and wide, is something I find incredibly exciting. After having barely touched space games for years, I now find myself owning a £120 joystick and obsessed with Elite 4.

I peer back into the mist of early teenage years stranded in the countryside with a 486 as almost my only companion, and space games were so important to me. Elite: Frontier, TIE Fighter and X-Wing, Privateer… Then, around 1997, it stopped, or at least seemed to. Part of that was me, as the earliest stages of an alcohol-orientated social life flickered into being, and part of that was the genre becoming less exciting and more elaborate – though it meant I missed out on some of greats, such as Freespace, I-War and the last worthwhile Lucasarts efforts.

Look to the turn of the century and the writing’s on the wall. Plenty of space games, yes, but what a mess: a split between poorly-received licensed drek and deep-dive sims with narrow appeal. Where’s the seat of the pants stuff? Where’s the fantasy of it all? Where’s the game that makes me want to stick a cardboard overlay on my keyboard, or buy a new joystick? Where’s the space game that matches the thrill and escapism of the first-person shooters of the time? Years later still, I dallied with Freelancer, but much as I liked it, somehow it wasn’t quite there.

April 2014. My desk is overwhelmed by an enormous flight stick, made of two shoebox-sized components bearing over 30 buttons and clad in surprisingly sleek, industrial black and chrome colours. This Saitek X52 Pro ‘HOTAS’ was designed for resolutely Earthly flight sims, but it absolutely looks like the controls for a spaceship. Springs and switches, resistances and triggers – just holding it, moving it, is incredibly satisfying even before it’s connected to anything. It cost me too much money. How I agonised over it. It was immediately worth it. I’ve never before been so enamoured of a game controller.

On my screen flickers alpha 3 of Elite: Dangerous, unofficially aka Elite 4, and David Braben and Frontier’s first return to the series which made him in almost twenty years. It has an extremely troubling alpha/beta access business model, and it is mere rudiments of the game it is promised to one day become, but it is beautiful. And it is thrilling. I reach for the throttle on the immense flight stick, ease it forward. The screen shudders in immediate response, and my cockpit glides towards and through an asteroid field. It’s one of the best feelings on Earth.

I hit the afterburner button, and unconsciously push myself backwards into my chair in response to imagined g-force. I flip open a small hatch and hit the seductively red button beneath, which causes the ship’s weapons to deploy with a wonderfully mechanical sound. I flick a D-pad on the neck of the main stick, setting an enemy Sidewinder as my target.

Then…. Then it all becomes too instinctive to describe. This is 3D space. It needs 3D controls. ‘Left’, ‘right’, ‘up’ and ‘down’ mean so little here. A mouse would mean 2D space. A gamepad is better, but no, thumbs alone could not sell this fantasy. A clenched hand held aloft, a wrist rotating in all directions, another hand pushing and pulling a throttle to create speed, that’s what’s needed.


A short dogfight against AI, from one of my earliest experiences with Elite Dangerous. Video goes up to 1440p, if you like.

I twist and turn and strafe and drift, fighting to keep the Sidewinder in my sights, gradually scouring away its energy shield then burning destruction into the hull beneath. The noises are right. The colours are right. The sense of trying to haul several tonnes of metal through a vacuum is right. The movement is right.

Afterwards, I return to a space station and commence the singular pleasure of docking. Gentle, careful movements, easing my ship into an enormous space station that yawns around me like the maw of a metal god. It is mere pixels I know, but I am completely sold on the fantasy of this being the pinnacle of future-human engineering. I lower the ship to the landing pad, a little less messily than last time, but no less tense. This is extreme piloting. I don’t care it’s accurate, if it’s Newtonian or arcade pyhsics, I just care about how it feels. I care about getting back to what was left behind, or what I imagined was left behind.

So yes, the movement is what I imagined two decades ago, when there was so much more abstraction between eye and screen, hand and controls, when a controller like this was unthinkable. It is a strange and slightly sad thing, to have come full circle but to need hundreds of pounds worth’ of technology at my disposal, and hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of person-hours creating these scenes, in order to do what my imagination could do back in 1994. But the adult mind criticises in a way a childish one did not, and the tireless march of technology means expectations have inevitably raised. Meeting them, having a space game experience which feels like the space game experiences I had in my youth, is costly and elaborate. There is guilt to that, but there’s also excitement. We’re back where we left off. Maybe this is where we’d have ended up anyway. Who can know?

This much I know: here I sit, a 35 year old man sat at a desk, with a £120 joystick stuck to it with suction pads, flying a pretend spaceship, and I couldn’t be happier. A big part of me wishes it weren’t Elite, it didn’t come from the Rich Old Men Of Kickstarter, it hadn’t been funded based only on vague promises, that it wasn’t employing the extremely high cost alpha/beta funding model it’s currently using to print money, that it was something brand new – but it isn’t, and it is still so very good. Already so good, with so much more to come.

I think of the year ahead, the other space games to come, and the guilt is tempered, the excitement grows. No Man’s Sky, Infinity, Rodina, the even more mercenary but perhaps also even more promising Star Citizen – reasons for this joystick, reasons to escape from a gaming world of soldiermen and lanes and free to play cashgrabs that I feel increasingly disconnected from, reasons to be cheerful. Reasons, after all these years of finding flight games so unappealing, to fly.

I push the throttle forwards. An impossible engine shudders into life. The cockpit shakes. The stars melt around me. The separation between body and screen disappears. If anyone saw me now, they’d laugh at me. I wouldn’t care a jot. I needed this. I don’t know how I ever lost it.

The Elite Dangerous alpha is out now for an eywatering £200, or the forthcoming ‘Premium beta’ is £100. Standard beta is £50. Much as the top-end prices make me uncomfortable, they do reflect the various backer tiers/rewards for the original Kickstarter. Honestly though, just wait a while. Yeah, the stuff that’s in there so far is great, but it’ll still be great, and there’ll be loads more of it, a few months from now, when you won’t have to pay so much.

I’ll be writing more about the X52 Pro and some other joy/flight sticks very soon.

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69 Comments »

  1. Wolfoz says:

    off topic

    The older X52 was silver and black with blue leds, my kids love the look of it. Much more spaceship like, even Riddick agrees http://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=117105

  2. neolith says:

    “I’ll be writing more about the X52 Pro and some other joy/flight sticks very soon.”

    Yes, please do that!
    The X52 Pro is the stick I’ve set my mind on for Elite and I’d like to read some more about it.

    • derbefrier says:

      I bought the x52 pro in anticipation for star citizen and it seems to be pretty solid. After seeing Star Citizens dogfighting premire last night(long story short it looked awesome. But was very buggy and kept crashing on them) it looks like I will be playing elite while waiting on star citizen which will happen as soon as I don’t have to take out a snall loan to join in on the fun.

      • LegendaryTeeth says:

        I got an X52 Pro years ago to play through a co-op MechWarrior 4 mod, and it’s been awesome. It was a little overkill for that, but it’s been absolutely brilliant in X3 and it’s expansions. Very customizable, and you can rename all the commands you input so it shows things like “Open cargo bay” or “Fire missiles” on the throttle LCD, incase you forget what all of the dozens of buttons with two shift states and three separate modes do.

        It was worth it then when there were barely any games that could take advantage of it in any way. Now? Yes please. And it still works as well as it did they day I got it 7 or 8 years ago.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Yep, that’s my issue with Elite right now, but i might cave in for the beta package.

      • Dr Wookie says:

        I’ve been playing Elite on and off for nearly 30 years, and am in the alpha. It’s been great, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who sees it as a purchase rather than support for Frontier Developments.

        You can preorder the game for 35 quid, which will give you access to the so-called “gamma” phase; this will be a test of the complete game to make sure there are no final niggles before release.

    • Shadow says:

      I wonder how much the “Pro” variant improved over the base X52 (the one with all the blue lights), which is what I bought a few years ago and had a fairly lukewarm experience with. The joystick’s resistance to my hand is pretty lax, and annoys me to no end when I’m trying to make precise movements (i.e. aiming guns in IL-2). There were home-made semi-solutions to that, involving power tools, but they just made me groan. And most disappointingly of all, the cheap rubber used on the non-plastic portions of the stick has rotten, becoming an uncomfortable, sticky surface that can’t really be cleaned.

      It’s so hard to find a quality joystick these days, and considering the pricetags, the inability to test them before purchase and the ineludible fact that you’re just gonna use it with a couple of games makes it all a sizeable expense, and a gamble to boot.

      The more modest AV8R, also from Saitek, caught my eye at some point. The X52 Pro seems like a rip-off, considering I paid almost the same amount for a deficient cousin which looks identical. Rage.

      • corinoco says:

        You can change the tension of the springs on both throttle and stick of the X52 Pro, and it is seriously tough. I’ve had mine since 2006, and it has had a lot of use (mostly FSX) and it is still going strong.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Yes please, some stick of joy writing would be greatly appreciated.

      I own two joysticks. One has a gameport interface for use with Creative Labs Awe32 cards. The other has a kempston interface for use with a ZX spectrum. Whilst the latter served me well for Elite’s initial incarnation I fear neither will be fit for the latest.

    • grundus says:

      Word is the X55 will be replacing the X52 Pro. It’s a little more expensive at £170, but my god it’s sexy. Also it has a split throttle.

  3. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Such controllers only continue the oppression of the sinister by the dextrous majority.

    • Zunt says:

      Yes! The recto-Reich will never prevail with their evil laevophobia!

    • LionsPhil says:

      They should still be making the Saitek Cyborg 3D Force, which is both awesome and ambidextrous.

      Sadly, “should” here is in the sense of “this is a course of action I advocate they take”, not “this is a course of action I believe they are actually taking”.

    • neolith says:

      There used to be aftermarket modding kits for the Warthog stick to create a lefty version, but I don’t know if they still exist any more…

    • Zenicetus says:

      CH Products still makes the ambidextrous “Flightstick Pro.” Not as many buttons and switches as the full-on military replicas, but it’s enough for the basic controls.

      Throttle quadrants are usually left-hand only, but you could use a civilian sim type like the CH Throttle Quadrant which is ambidextrous. It has more levers than you need, but maybe they could be mapped to something useful in the game.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I admit I never got on with joysticks in space/flight sims. Not that I’m blaming the sticks or the sims, of course.

    • iainl says:

      So very true. The dextrally-challenged of us are reduced to silly little things without proper throttle levers. In a design that sees the throttle and stick as independent units unconnected by any hard plastic, it’s a kick in the teeth they can’t be bothered to make them work either way round.

      • Zenicetus says:

        It’s not that they can’t be bothered making ambidextrous throttle quadrants, it’s a combination of two things that drive the design:

        First, with your hand palm-down on a throttle control, your thumb can only be on one side, and the index finger is the most dexterous for controlling something like a hat switch or other multi-axis switch on the front. The only way to make an ambidextrous throttle quadrant with enough switches under either thumb would be to plaster switches on both ends of the handle, which would drive up the cost.

        The other reason is that while some companies like Saitek and CH make their own futuristic throttle quadrant designs, others like Thrustmaster model real military hardware. The throttle quadrant in the Warthog set is a replica of what’s under your left hand in an A-10, and you don’t get to choose a lefty cockpit in a single seat military aircraft. Thrustmaster isn’t going to make a mirror image version because it just wouldn’t sell in enough quantity for a niche (very niche) item like this.

        I can certainly sympathize, because my wife is a lefty and I hear about these issues all the time. But this is just a case where ergonomic design and economics limit your choices. You do still have choices, because the throttles for civilian sims from Saitek and CH will at least provide throttle function for your other hand, and you can add more switches with additional civilian sim hardware.

    • grimdanfango says:

      Interesting. Am I the only one here who was never aware that sinister is the opposite of dexter?
      Thank you sir, you have widened my vocabulary.

    • Mr_Blastman says:

      The Saitek stuff is only entry-level. Quite a few of us have spent almost a grand on a stick/throttle/pedals setup.

  4. El_MUERkO says:

    I sat on the floor of the sitting room as a child playing Frontier, mesmerized by the scale of it, constantly amazed and surprised by the new and different things I’d find and experience, once I amassed enough money I built the most efficient ship possible and went ‘out’, farther than I’d ever gone before and with no thought of return, I lost myself of the edge of the galaxy.

    At night I lay in bed and imagined the games I’d be playing in the future, thoughts stoked by the advent of VR, the power and complexity of insane arcade cabinets, cyberpunk books such as Neuromancer, the pen and paper RPG’s Shadowrun, Warhammer 40k, and movies like Lawnmower Man; I dreamed big.

    And now, with the combination of my old X52 {dusted off after a long period of post il2 disuse} and the Oculus Rift DK2 that’ll arrive in July; the first strands of those dreams are finally here and that thought, of childhood imagination realized, is honestly exciting; I await the arrival of my Oculus like a giddy child, the space on my desk for the controller is already reserved. I’m ready to go ‘out’ again, you’ll not see me in the game if I have my way, I’ll be a point of light that won’t reach Sol for millennia.

  5. Zenicetus says:

    Alec, if you’ll be covering more HOTAS options in the future, then I hope you can get your hands on a Thrustmaster Warthog set. It’s in a completely different league from the rest (and priced to match, unfortunately).

    The Warthog stick has completely free motion around the center detent, so you don’t feel the double axis. It’s great for smooth flying, although I’m not sure that’s ideal for the new space sims coming out like Elite. It depends on whether the game rewards smooth, deliberate flying and targeting, or if it needs a shorter “faster” stick for twitch shooting. Some space games are a little too fast for a tall stick like the Warthog, so I’m hoping it will work well as well in Elite as it does in games like Rise of Flight.

    Also, get some pedals if you don’t already have them, and assuming Elite supports them for roll control axis. The Saitek Pro Flight Combat pedals are the best current “consumer” models. It’s fun to roll your ship with pedals during combat. Pedals are essential for some other types of sims too, like WW1 air combat and helicopter flying. Back in the day, I mapped pedals to the torso twist in the MechWarrior games and that was a blast.

    • derbefrier says:

      Yes pedals! I have been looking at getting some and always wondered if it was worth it. Sounds like that’s my next big purchase.

      • Antsy says:

        Then again, my mate just sold his Warthog and pedals and bought an x52 pro which he is much happier with.

        • gmcseph says:

          Yeah, it really depends what you’re using it for. If you play DCS: A10, the warthog and pedals is amazing at increasing the immersion, but I can see that joystick not suiting everything.

  6. gorkomatic says:

    Look sexy.

    Incidentally I’ve decided to put my old Cyborg Evo into Retirement Home for Old Peripherals (known also as ‘the bin’) and bought today Thrustmaster T-flight Hotas X. Not nearly as fancy as X52, but it’s a decend, heavy slab of plastic with detachable throttle and adjustable stick sensitivity (both of which Evo sorely lacked).

  7. Drakedude says:

    If you’re going to bring up money, really bring up money.

  8. Chaz says:

    For a cheaper HOTAS stick I can really recommend the Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X. It’s a good size and got a bit of weight to it and the stick and throttle can be separated apart by about 30cm. Feels like a joystick worth more than twice the price. Currently can be had for between £35-£40 inc delivery on Amazon. It’s a real bargain if you’re not a serious flight sim type and just want something decent for the odd game.

    http://www.thrustmaster.com/products/tflight-hotas-x

    • frightlever says:

      I bought one of those Saitek X52 PROs but it arrived DOA. Joystick was completely non-functional so I sent it back and after a couple of weeks deliberating I got the same Thrustmaster as you. Lacks the bells and whistles but at least it worked out of the box.

      When I retire I’m going to learn to play Il Sturmovik.

    • Keyrock says:

      I also have the Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X and can attest to it being a good flightstick and a great value. It has served me well in the X3 games, was going to serve me well in X: Rebirth (except that turned out to be garbage) and will serve me well in Elite: Dangerous, once that game is fully released and reasonably priced.

    • killias2 says:

      I got this stick last year. I wanted to be prepared for these upcoming releases, but I also wanted to play the fan-made Wing Commander game and all those crazy Freespace 2 mods. I also wanted to dive back into Tie Fighter a bit, and I had some GoG games (Independence War?) I wanted to try.

      I ended up only playing a dozen hours or so with it, but it worked great. I really have no complaints about the stick.

    • rndmplyr says:

      Hm. I got one for HAWX (shame on me), but was put off by the huge deadzone of both spring and sensor sensivity.

    • Cockie says:

      I looked at that one, but I was wondering if it had enough buttons and hats for elite’s 6-axis movement and cockpit watching?

    • syllopsium says:

      That doesn’t include hall effect sensors, though, so it’s less accurate. At that price point you should be better going with the Thrustmaster 16000M.

  9. Matchstick says:

    I’m kind of curious why the author find the E:D business model “extremely troubling”.
    If you want early access the price is the same as it was in the kickstarter campaign, if you don’t feel like paying that wait for the later releases.

    Frankly it’s a lot less problematic than the Star Citizen model IMHO.

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah, all they’re asking you to do is pay the same money as the associated Kick Starter reward levels. Nothing wrong with that.

    • aurious says:

      I can’t speak for Mr. Meer, but personally it’s paying to be their beta tester that’s the sticking point, especially at the high prices.

      As an alpha/beta player you are getting a much reduced experience, lots of bugs, placeholder content and limitations and you are being charged a hefty price for it.

      I’m not criticising Frontier for the decision… I appreciate that they are trying to respect those backers who donated large amounts of money and that the £200quid gets more than just the alpha access… I’m just disagreeing with them.

      Maybe adding alpha/beta access as a £15/£5 add-on would have been an alternative, I can’t remember if they described the access as ‘exclusive’ to the higher tiers or not.

      At least they’re not on steam and are avoiding the level of aggro that Planetary Annihilation faced in the same position.

      • Shadow says:

        It’s really open backing, more than anything else. You’re not paying inordinate sums to be a beta tester: a surprising amount of people rush to that conclusion and don’t bother thinking further. The intention is meant to be backing their project and gaining alpha/beta access as a bonus. Star Citizen works in pretty much the same way. The game’s largely not open to the public now unless you’re willing to help fund the development in a more meaningful way than with the average purchase.

        If you want to pre-purchase the game conventionally ($50), you can. But you’ll have to wait till it’s officially released to play it.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      The problem lies in the fact that their model is rather unflexible and shows an ancient mentality, in my opinion.

      It’s only good if there’s an active need to limit participation for server reasons, so you can still rack decent money with fewer people, but it’s still something that’s driving people off and ultimately making them less money than a cheaper entry with the possiblity of buying more stuff on top of it.

      No one is complaining that they’re sticking to their KS prices, we’re complaining that they always used this model in the first place.

  10. Kenny says:

    “TIE Commander” = TIE Fighter, Wing Commander, yeah? :)

  11. Boosh says:

    Try adding voice control also. I use voice attack, there is a cracking guide on ED the forums, and several youtube videos. Complete game changer and puts you right there.

    I’ve been playing this a while, using trackIR, voice control, keyboard and mouse. I don’t get along with massive hunks of joystick, I prefer the delicate finesse of the mouse which is superbly implemented and lends itself nicely to the outstanding flight model FD have created. I use WASD for the up/down/left/right thrusters. Everything else is voice controlled.

    It’s a stunning thing, you can see they’ve poured their hearts into nailing the basic seat of your pants experience. Just sitting there in a roid field you can feel the ship alive around you, remarkable stuff.

  12. Stardreamer says:

    Fuck.

    I hadn’t even considered I’d want a Joystick-and-throttle for this.

    £120 you say? Hmm, will need to find a way of explaining that kind of expenditure to my beloved….wish me luck!

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Honestly the throttle isn’t that important. Sick and Keyboard is basically just as good – the throttle controls for keyboard are very good and you get much easier access to the strafe controls (up down, left right) on keyboard. And the side UI panels feel a lot more responsive with keys compared to a Hat switch.

      If you really want to spend significantly on peripherals for Elite:Dangerous you’re better off with a head-tracking thing + a Joystick than a HOTAS setup.

      The only problem there is that TrackIR is basically your cheapest and best bet, but they’re essentially an evil corporation and you should hate to give them money.

  13. Max.I.Candy says:

    Think how much better things would be if dev houses had spent the last 10 years perfecting space sims rather then CoDs! As another 35 year old man, I’m also giddy with excitement, and not in the least bit guilty about the amount of cash Ive spent on new joystick & the alpha.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      They’d make CoDdish space sims ( ??? ) and we’d be jaded.

      Better this way, really, with both ED and SC championing the needs of the actual master race and showing the rest of the publishers how miserable they are.

      Oh but it’s not a matter of principle alone, what’s good about these games is how much of a welcome ( shall i say needed? ) surprise they are for us, they bring new hope. You’ll agree that a royal dinner feels even better if you’ve been almost starving, eating dogs and rats for years.

  14. Werthead says:

    I still have my old Microsoft Sidewinder. Great stick, which saw me through several X-WING games, both FREESPACEs, STARLANCER, TACHYON, the first X and more than a few other space sims before the genre crashed and burned. A good stick at a great price. A shame there isn’t a modern version.

    The Thrusmaster Hotas looks pretty good though.

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah I used to have a Sidewinder Force Feedback, and that coupled with Mechwarrior 3 was just probably the best force feedback experience ever. It really was amazing. The feedback of the thumping walk of your mech and the knock backs and power downs etc were just so well implemented that it really did add an extra dimension to it. Crimson Skies was one of my other force feedback favorites. When you let rip with the heavy caliber guns it really shook the desk.

    • SuicideKing says:

      My first was a Logitech Wingman, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter was free with it.

      Second was a MS Sidewinder. Stopped getting detected properly after many years of service.

      Currently using a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro.

    • DanMan says:

      I still have that, too!

  15. Flank Sinatra says:

    I feel you brother! My old silver and blue X-52 has been gathering dust since the last good X Universe game and God do I miss it! Those glory days of popping Tie fighters (Shields double front! Power to guns!) and corkscrewing through space evading missiles in the X-wing were my golden days of gaming. I cringe when I see a space combat sim without flight stick support or even a decent cockpit view. Such a waste of game. I want to fly the ship myself, not remote control it from 100 meters behind with a sloppy mouse! Immersion, bitches!

    I’m living under a brutal budget so that one day I can afford a battle station beefy enough to handle Star Citizen and the Oculus Rift. Then I can kiss this earthbound reality goodbye. Sorry ladies, I’ve got a galaxy to conquer!

  16. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I miss my Original Thrustmaster FCS Mk II that got me all the way through Tie Fighter, Wing Commanders III & IV, US Navy Fighters, etc. Elite II, meanwhile, I played with the mouse because it definitely was not a game for joysticks.

  17. Hodge says:

    Now play Canabalt!

  18. Radiant says:

    We’re a long way from a Quickshot 2 and a Competition Pro Toto.

  19. SuicideKing says:

    I hit the afterburner button, and unconsciously push myself backwards into my chair in response to imagined g-force.

    Such feels in this sentence.

    Though Alec, you really should play FreeSpace 2, especially the Source Code Project version. The 242nd could do with veterans like you. ;)

  20. Richard Burton says:

    I met Terry Pratchett many moons ago at a book signing (the book he signed was ‘Only You Can Save Mankind’) and his eyes lit up when I mentioned I was currently playing ‘Elite’, ‘Privateer’ and ‘Wing Commander’. I mentioned how the book reminded me of those games and we chatted about them for a few minutes and how he was inspired by them. I wonder, if Mr Pratchett is as excited about the new Elite as we all are… are you there, Terry? If you are, do you think the new Elite might inspire you to write something else space related? Cheers!

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I’ve always hoped I’d get to meet the man someday, and one of the (many, many) things I’ve wondered was whether he had, infact, been inspired by those exact games. Thanks, you really made my night.

  21. syllopsium says:

    Thrustmaster T16000M. 35 quid delivered. Includes hall effect sensors so it’s more accurate and doesn’t lose precision. Not perfect, but the alternatives that are any good cost about four times the price..

  22. grundus says:

    I have an X52 Pro, bought for DCS World, but it got much more use in X3: AP. It was a little annoying having to continually switch from HOTAS to HOKBAM (hands on keyboard and mouse, obvy) but it was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to buying Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen for £sensible as I’m sure they’ll be amazing. I hope they deal with triple wide resolutions appropriately also. I may never leave the house if that’s the case.

    Edit: Do want an X55 though. Mmm.

  23. felisc says:

    Damn it Meer. Stop buying cool things and telling us that it’s ok to be a grown up nerd. I’m weak and I want to buy All The Things now.

  24. DanMan says:

    What’s with all this HOTASS business?

  25. bill says:

    Man. My joystick is around the other side of the world in a cupboard, and I haven’t ever seen one in a store over here.

    I’d never play a flight sim without one… so even though I got Freespace 1&2 and Mig Alley off GOG or somewhere a few years back, I just couldn’t play them.

    I also worry about the look my wife would give me if I, as a 38 year old man, brought home a huge expensive looking joystick and sat down at the desk with it.

    Personally, I think space games died out because they HAD pretty much done anything. I can’t imagine the budget requirements being that huge (it’s empty space – no people or animations!) but each one became more and more similar to the last.
    Maybe the big gap in years has given enough time for hardware and game ideas to advance so that the new ones will be a big step forward from the old ones… but I imagine they’ll feel similar. (which is fine with me.. or would be if I had a joystick)

  26. Joshua says:

    Good article, one nitpick: It’s not called a D-Pad, it’s called a POV-hat. Check with Tim Stone for proper terminology :P.

  27. PlanetTimmy says:

    It’s time I wired up my old Steel Battalion controller to my PC. It will require my whole desk.

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