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Almost 40 years on, Elite on BBC Micro has an impressive new editor mod

The Elite Universe Editor is out now

A hugely impressive new mod launched on Saturday for Elite, as in the first Elite, from the eighties, for BBC Micro computers. As its name suggests, the Elite Universe Editor lets you create your own space in the seminal spaceship sim, placing planets and stars and stations and tweaking ships and such. For this to come after almost 40 years...! PC gaming is an endless delight.

"The Universe Editor lets you customise pretty much every aspect of the Elite universe, from the ships around you to the seeds used to generate the game's systems and galaxies," modman Mark Moxon explained.

You can create solar systems and pockets of space ("universes", in Elite terminology) by placing planets, suns, space stations, ships, asteroids, and the other usual objects. You can edit the attributes and AI personality of ships, cargo, and other objects. You can hop right into your universes direct from the editor. And you can pick the seed the game uses to generate the galaxy.

An iconic Elite screenshot from the box art recreated inside the new Elite Universe Editor mod.

Delightfully, Moxon has also included sample universes which recreate screenshots and artwork from the cover of ye olde Acornsoft Elite box. If you ever stared at those screens for ages while deciding whether or not it was worth your pocket money, your dreams and visions can now come true-ish.

You can download the mod from its website (where you'll also find instructions on using it) or play in your browser with an emulator. If you have the appropriate hardware, I guess you could even run it on a real computer: it's for the BBC Micro with 6502 Second Processor or the BBC Master.

In a forum post, Moxon added: "In case anyone is interested, I'm hoping to add the same editing tools to the Commodore 64 version, which should mean that Beeb and C64 owners could swap universe files. Not sure whether anyone will, but it's an interesting prospect!"

Data travellers, electro wizards, and techno anarchists might be interested in scoping the source code on GitHub. Moxon's explanation of how he managed to squeeze the editor into memory is interesting too.

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Alice O'Connor

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Alice is likely in the sea.

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