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?