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Elite: Dangerous Is Winning The Space Race For My Heart

I wasn’t convinced by the initial Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter pitch. It was nebulous, and built on the notion that people played a game years and years ago and quite liked it. It felt like my memories and love were being sold back to me. But as the updates are slowly populating the site, I’ve become more and more intrigued in what Frontier are promising. The first look at the flight and fighting mechanics made me prick my ears like an interested Spock, but it’s the second update, concentrating on the evolution of the galaxy and the missions that could come out of that, that’s convincing me that this is more than just a loving gaze at my back pocket and the copy of Elite II on my desk.

In the video below David Braben describes the growth of the galaxy, with new stations being built as the wealth of a system expands. It includes opening ceremonies, dignitaries being delivered (or assassinated). He goes on to talk about bigger, more fundamental changes to the world. As an old hand at Elite, it sounds pretty exciting to me. Transmission incoming…

Why is this exciting? Things didn’t really change in Frontier. The game generated the galaxy and that was it. The stations were in one place, and nothing new sprung up. It was never full, either, meaning explorers to the furthest reaches would be left with barren worlds. Nothing but stars and planets. No life. With the game generating new stations, building them from scaffolding in front of your long range scanners (eyes) this could ultimately expand the world to accommodate your exploration.

Dangerous sounds like it’s being built with change in mind. Economy, hunger, war. If they really are modelling these and their effects then this a real step up from the Elite of old. Player choices in Elite only really affected the player and how the universe reacted to him. There was no knock-on effect to the world at large. You couldn’t, say, ambush a supply line. Killing someone in space didn’t mean that its cargo was taken out of the world. I still loved it, but the world didn’t love me back. I’m watching the Kickstarter promise to introduce concepts and themes that I’ve been waiting for in my favourite game series, and I can’t help but be a little bit excited. I’m dreaming about the choices that will come from warring systems attempting to protect food supply lines and how I can best exploit them. Hey, I’m a capitalist.

I’m still cagey, but there’s cautious optimism in my heart where there was once a black hole of cynicism. This is how I should have felt when it was first announced. There are 30 days to go, and I’ve set a reminder on my Google Calender to check in at the last minute. If I have the cash, and they’ve not announced it was secretly a JRPG all along, I’ll probably fund it.

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Craig Pearson

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