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Classic Games (Games) Games

Elite Turns 25 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the three-one-three-three-seven dept.
satellite17 writes "The BBC notes that the classic space combat / trading sim Elite is 25 years old today. Elite was one of the first 3D games produced for a home computer and also one of the first open-ended games. Odd as it sounds now, this meant that even though it was popular with friends of the creators, David Braben and Ian Bell, they initially struggled to find a publisher. 'They just didn't get it; they wanted a high score and they wanted players to have three lives,' Braben said. It is also credited with influencing quite a few modern classics."
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Elite Turns 25

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  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:28AM (#29500723)
    ...by another unsung hero: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4127/the_history_of_star_raiders_.php?page=2 [gamasutra.com]

    Doug Neubauer's Star Raiders, a 1979 game for the Atari 8-bit line of personal computers, is a shining example of what happens when a developer is told that something can't be done, does it anyway, and then is promptly forgotten for having done it. Star Raiders is one of those rare games that can truly be said to have been ahead of its time.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @01:14AM (#29500949)
    That was actually emulated in the game. If you accelerated to Pluto from Earth at 1g, it would take (approximately) a realistic amount of time to reach it.

    What made it bearable were two concessions: You could alter the flow of time in the game, when nothing interesting was happening, so hours would tick by like seconds... and ships could accelerate at (ahem) hundreds of g's. So it had some outlandish elements, but the mechanics were thoroughly Newtonian.

    It was beautiful. You could thrust toward Saturn, then cut your engines, point any direction, and just slingshot around... start accelerating again when you're headed at the sun, to approach the Earth. I would buy a modern equivalent, even if it wasn't a game at all, just a space flight sim. With the same infinite number of procedurally generated solar systems.
  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @02:36AM (#29501263) Journal

    ...you may like Oolite, an Elite tribute. It has the goodness that ArcElite has too - it is not player centric, you can encounter epic battles (I've seen three or four distinct groups of ships battling it out, with the Police mixed in there too). The game is open source (GPL) and expandable with expansion packs (so now you can have Generation Ships and Space Dredgers, as well as scenes from the Dark Wheel like the Tionisla Orbital Graveyard). It's available for OSX, Linux and Windows (it was originally developed for OSX).

    http://oolite.aegidian.org/ [aegidian.org]

    Latest version is 1.73, and there is a wiki for the game at http://wiki.alioth.net/ [alioth.net]

  • by mike2R (721965) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @06:31AM (#29502187)
    Yeah X3 isn't ideal if you want a believable space simulator - no Newtonian physics, no planets you can visit, tiny crowded playing area (compared to reality - it's a very big game area in an absolute sense). I've heard it described as a submarine sim with space graphics, which is fair enough all things considered.

    That said I absolutely love the game, and do think of it as the spiritual successor to Elite (and even Frontier). The amount of stuff you can do in the game, from trading, to fighting, to salvaging, to exploring, to building you own space stations and automated trading fleets is huge. And the game looks absolutely gorgeous (although it is a system hog, particularly for CPU).

    My current game is fairly early on - I don't have any of the huge capital ships yet - but when looking for trouble I tool around in an M6 (corvette) class, which is the smallest 'big ship' where you rely on your turrets rather than your main battery for a lot of your fighting.. I have two TM (military transport) class ships following me around, each carrying four M4 (interceptor/medium fighter) class which I order launched before going into combat. The particular TMs I'm using have very heavy shields, so they can survive a fight as well, so I have a proper little battle fleet.

    My M4s are configured to use (spam might be more accurate) missiles. I produce these in my own factory complex and ferry them across to my TMs, the fighters are set to replenish there each time they dock.

    I have 3 high-level automated traders which jump around the universe on their own, making me cash, and a couple more low-level ones I'm training up. A couple of stations scattered around, with automated ships buying and selling for them (there are also NPC traders which will deal with your factories), and my missile complex (several factories joined together so they share inputs and outputs, and produce some of their own intermediate goods). There are lots of randomly generated missions, which are the source of much of my income, and also multiple plot arcs which I'm going through as and when I feel like it.

    I haven't played for a while, and typing this I really don't know why... :)

    The game is certainly not without flaws, there are bugs (although Egosoft are amazingly good at supporting their products after release, and tend to release as free patches stuff they could easily sell as an expansion pack), and the game is hard to get into - it is intimidatingly complex and the in-game tutorial leaves a lot to be desired. But it is a game that will reward those initial hours with an amazing experience. It also has about the best gaming forum I've ever come across; player demographics are definitely skewed towards older people, and they tend to be hugely enthusiastic about the game and more than willing to help newbies come to grips with it.

    Well, that's my evangelism done for today :) (If I've managed to inspire anyone, two bits of advice - buy the current game (X3: Terran Conflict) if your system can handle it, it is significantly easier to get started in than the earlier X3: Reunion. And choose the Terran Defender start, it is by far the best for newbies - very nice M4 fighting ship from the off, and you start right at the beginning of one of the major plot arcs, which has a lot of nice goodies available as rewards.)
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @06:47AM (#29502243) Journal
    There are a few games I'd call the spiritual successor to Elite:

    Oolite [oolite.org] is the most obvious one. It faithfully recreates the Elite gameplay, but updates the graphics (slightly) and provides a simple way for others to expand the game. It is basically what you would end up with if you tried to write Elite (rather than 'some space trading/combat game') today.

    Vega Strike [sourceforge.net] has broadly the same gameplay mechanics as Elite, but is much richer; lots of different things to trade, different things available at different stations, different factions to join or fight, and so on. It also has massively improved graphics (detailed textures, gratuitous use of shaders) without that detracting from the game actually being fun.

    Transcendence [neurohack.com] is a bit different. It's a 2D top-down game, but it has a lot of the things that made Elite fun. It's somewhere between XPilot, Elite, and Nethack. (It's Windows-only, but runs very well in WINE.)

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @09:52AM (#29504067)
    Star Raiders came out in 1979.

The sooner all the animals are extinct, the sooner we'll find their money. - Ed Bluestone

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