Continuing in a very unfortunate trend of talking a lot and showing suspiciously little, David Braben and co have finally seen fit to take the wraps off a teensy tiny meteorite bite of Elite: Dangerous footage. Yes, that’s right: RPS can now well and truly and probably Universe And All Alternate Dimensions And Timelines Exclusively confirm that the new Elite game has graphics. There are rocks and stars and even some clouds! Also, Braben says some interesting things about procedural generation. But I know you. You’re here for seven-and-a-half minutes of excruciatingly slow background panning.
So the space part looks… early. Oh, but the clouds are quite lovely. I hope there’s a procedurally generated cotton candy planet. I think the technology would lend itself well to that.
Beyond that, Braben’s plans for procedural creation seem more ambitious than ever, but if nothing else, he’s got a plan in place. I was especially happy to hear him address the issue of samey-ness, given that computers can’t quite synthesize up their own works of tear-jerkingly majestic beauty… yet. That said, while his analogy – artists provide suitably varied ingredients, algorithms cook them up in every way imaginable – seems sound, I’m still skeptical. I mean, a lot of games have made procedural generation promises so large that they themselves were probably procedurally generated, but I can’t really think of one that hasn’t come down with the boredom bug at some point or another.
At this point, we can confirm that Elite: Dangerous has three whole things to randomly generate, so hopefully Braben will reveal something a bit more substantial soon. I mean, aren’t there supposed to be, you know, ships? We want to believe you, David. We really do. But please, at least give us something to go on here.