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David Braben Kickstarts an Elite Reboot

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:27AM (#41893077)

    Look, I know the guy did the original and kudos to him for it (I was a huge fan myself of the C64 version, back in the day). But with modern games like X3 [wikipedia.org] and even EVE Online [wikipedia.org], the genre has come a LONG way since the early 80's. It's not going to be enough just to re-skin the original. A modern project like that is a HUGE undertaking. I just hope this guy understands that going in. I would hate to see a remake that couldn't even live up to the many successors it inspired.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      A modern project like that is a HUGE undertaking. I just hope this guy understands that going in.

      His goal is 1.25 million (pounds!), so maybe he does...

    • Yep. I'm praying this doesn't become another Duke Nuke'em Forever. Some things are better in a rose-tinted rearview mirror.

      However, I will be following this with everything crosssed for a good outcome.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Did you play Duke Nuke'em Forever?
        What part of it was not Duke Nuke'em?

        It was cheesy, it was simple and it felt like a Duke Nuke'em game. The only real problem it had was the long development cycle making everyone expect more. That and the limited weapons, but I believe they patched that.

        • No I didn't. I played Duke Nuke'em 3D to death. After the terrible reception that Forever got, I didn't want to spoil my good memories of the game. I've spoiled too many old favorites by revisiting them in emulators or playing half-hearted remakes.
          Elite on the Amiga consumed around 18 months of my life. I spent every waking hour outside of work playing the games. I want this game to be great but I doubt it can live up to that level of nostalgia.

          • Now, you gotta take the Nostalgia out of it. That's simply not fair for any game. You're applying some weird brand of "impress me now with more as much as you impressed me then with less because I knew that there simply wasn't anything better back in the day".

            We old timers knew that for some 30 years computing sukked, but we liked the feel of progress happening. Easy example - a hysterical 3rd rate dev for the C64 called Keypunch Software. Every minute you played any of your titles you secretly laughed at t

        • by Firethorn (177587)

          Let's see:
          1. Maps on rails. In DK3D, you often had to search around for where you needed to go. There were secrets all over the place. Forever? In comparison the maps are a straight line. You never really wonder where to go.
          2. Limited weapon selection - I think they increased it to 4, but I'd since moved on. Also lacks the shear variety of weapons present in the original.
          3. Regenerating Health, IE 'Ego'. This is stolen from Halo mechanics.

    • by EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:36AM (#41893181) Journal
      The problem with X3 and Eve are their learning curves. They're vertical cliffs.

      What I would hope is that the new Elite game has is a reasonable learning curve so it introduces players in a reasonable manner that doesn't scare them off.
      Ultimately Elite 2 was a massive improvement over Elite and Elite 3 was more a refinement of Elite 2. I'm holding back judgement because every Elite game thus far has been great.
      • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:38AM (#41893217) Journal

        The problem with X3 and Eve are their learning curves. They're vertical cliffs.

        As was Elite.

        • by dintech (998802)
          Having actually played both, I can assure you that there's a huge difference in the learning curve and complexity of Elite compared with that of X3.
          • by smash (1351)

            I haven't played X3, but ditto for Eve. Elite is SIMPLE to pick up and get started with (it's a bit like wing commander with trading). Eve really does have a vertical learning curve.

            You need an encyclopedia for the skills and how they complement each other. You need to sink massive amounts of time into it and join a player run corp to get anywhere.

          • by Cederic (9623)

            X3 : Start the game, wiggle your joystick, shoot stuff.
            Elite : Start the game, go "wtf?" at the 'rotate or pitch' control scheme, then wiggle your joystick, shoot stuff.

            X3 : Insane depth around the economy, the ship variety, the ability to fund, build and control an empire.
            Elite : Save up and buy a docking computer before you go insane.

            In other words, the extra complexity in X3 was around the stuff that just wasn't in Elite. If you play X3 as a simple "transport goods around while shooting pirates" game the

      • Ultimately Elite 2 was a massive improvement over Elite and Elite 3 was more a refinement of Elite 2.

        I take issue with that - they were dreadfully dull.

        I spent many more hours playing the 8-bit, black and white (Electron version, less capable than the full BBC version), original Elite than I did both Frontier and First Encounters put together.

        == Combat ==

        Strict Newtonian mechanics does not make for an entertaining game. Even Braben acknowledges this on the Kickstarter page. Neither do laser weapons in a dogfight. In both games the combat boiled down to two ships desperately trying not to crash into each ot

        • by mcvos (645701)

          I disagree. I thought the Newtonian mechanics in Frontier were awesome. I spent ages simply orbiting planets at max speed. I'm sad to hear that that aspect isn't going to be in the new Elite.

          Newtonian physics also made fights a lot more challenging (at least in First Encounters, where speeds weren't homogenized at the start of the battle), but with how easy combat was in Elite, I consider that a good thing.

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          Strict Newtonian mechanics does not make for an entertaining game.

          Sorry I have to call bullshit on that.

          In Newtonian mechanics the absolute speed is IRRELEVANT, some users might get confused by the absolute speed-o-meter, but it has absolutely no impact on the dog-fight. You can subtract the common speed shared between the crafts and just pretend to be operating at low speeds, because this is how Newtonian mechanics work. Everything works the same no matter the absolute speed, and thus the absolute speed is

          • I think the point is that the banking and turning of atmospheric dogfighting is a heck of a lot easier to deal with for the average game player than having to deal with all the physics of accelerating and decelerating in multiple directions in order to change the direction of motion.

            It doesn't matter that I've never flown a real plane -- it applies the same physics in a full 3-dimensions as you experience on a road or bicycle on a road in constrained three dimensions.

          • The dog fight in the skies of Earth is less alien to us because it occurs in a viscous medium with a fixed frame of reference. As humans, we are used to air, and water, and gravity. Vacuum is strange and unintuitive to us. We are used to things having a limited delta-V compared to each other - as your speed increases relative to your viscous medium, drag increases dramatically, which prevents you from travelling at a velocity vastly different to other bodies in the same medium.

            Star Wars made it's fighters a

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Strict Newtonian mechanics does not make for an entertaining game. Even Braben acknowledges this on the Kickstarter page. Neither do laser weapons in a dogfight. In both games the combat boiled down to two ships desperately trying not to crash into each other while jousting like two marbles on the end of a rubber band.

          I beg to differ.

          When I played IWar2, I modded the hell out of it. One of the tweaks was to make it even easier to ignore the "maximum" throttle position, meaning you got exactly what you described above. Coupled with some tweaks to the armoring systems - a single lucky shot could cripple you (every hull strike did damage to internals, so if you got unlucky that shot might (temporarily) offline your thrusters) ... and I loved it.. Graphics and sound are very important for this though. Play it on mute with cr

      • by crazyjj (2598719) *

        Actually, if he really wants to stand out, maybe he should do a console version. In the PC realm, he would be competing against a number of established titles. But if he could make Elite into a console MMO (or even single player), he would basically have the playing field all to himself. AFAIK, there isn't a single space trading game on a console. The only challenge would be the interface. And with built-in voice chat and 16 buttons on a modern controller (with any number combos possible in addition to that

    • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:36AM (#41893187) Homepage Journal

      He's not an idiot [computeran...ogames.com]. Sounds like he was considering an MMO before WOW and EVE existed.

      "I was very wary that we would be trailblazing and one of the ways we were planning to do it was to put a piece of hardware in every single phone exchange, so it was a much wider plan to achieve the very short ping times that you need to play the game we wanted to do. So we put that essentially on indefinite hold at that point because I knew it wasn't going to work well. And I'd rather not do it, than do something that didn't work well."

      • Not surprising as there were MMO games already up and running in the UK in the 80s as long as massive includes "a few dozen" and you don't mind the fact they were text only. It was an obvious step to include graphics but the bandwidth simply didn't exist
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        I'm not sure it's praiseworthy to have had an idea first, but completely failed to deliver anything off that idea before someone else (and a game billing itself as a "spiritual successor" to your original hit, no less) gets there first and gets rich. That tells me he's a man with great ideas, and an inability to follow through.

        Not a great selling point for someone on Kickstarter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You should also mention Vendetta Online [vendetta-online.com], which I think is a lot closer to the original Elite series than EVE. It features twitch-based combat and is strongly (player) skill based. Its main problem seems to be its user base, which is very low for an MMORPG, and its economy, which is geared towards PvP and cheap death and does not really reward trading and mining so much.

      I've not played X3, but it sounds interesting.

      Is anything known about linux support? I think this kind of games has a relatively large user

      • by Shinobi (19308)

        Why do so many idiots equate twitch games with being the only ones about player skills?

        It's just a different skill set, and more about reflexes.

        EVE requires piloting skills, but more along tactical lines, and thus more about cerebral skills. Where the fighter jock thinks about the next 10-20 seconds, the EVE ship captain has that in mind while ALSO keeping the next 10-20 MINUTES in mind.... And fleet commanders and corp/alliance leaders have the next 10-20 hours and 10-20 days in mind too.....

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @11:03AM (#41893541)
      The biggest misconception that people have about Eve Online is that it is a game. It is not a game; It is a second job.

      Once you've made it above Frigate-class ships (Rifter FTW!), you need to spend an exponential amount of time learning skills and making money, and a lot of the skills for serious money-making (industrial skills like mining, research, and production) are not combat-based. Sure, you can make money as a pirate, or hire out your pilot skills as a mercenary or fleet escort, but it's dangerous work. The stress is, IMHO, equivalent to any full time job.

      Personally, I like games to be fun. Eve is rewarding, but that's not the same.
      • by jythie (914043)
        Well, fun is relative ^_^

        Personally my complaint against EvE was it was too combat focused and industrial players were always kinda treated as second class players by the devs.
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        The joy of EVE is the PvP, which derives its appeal essentially from the same place as gambling. You need to put in lots of work in order to get the best ships (or indeed real life money). Combat in EVE is "risk everything"- if you get blown up in combat, you lose all that hard work (or cash).

        As someone who played for a good couple of years on and off, I can tell you that that's an addictive thrill. I still remember fondly the time I was transporting my best ship through hostile space, on a journey that wou

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        It's only as stressful as you want to make it - many people "play" it like a screensaver.
      • by tnk1 (899206)

        This.

        EVE is very rewarding, but an incredible amount of work. If you know what you are doing, and have enough friends and skills, you can literally build an empire out there where you essentially own part of the game, but you have to hold on to it. Holding on to it means attracting players and corporations to join your alliance. You have to set up supply lines, a battle fleet, patrols, build stations, etc. You actually need players who have the right skills to fly your capital ships, which is difficult

    • by ifrag (984323) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @11:03AM (#41893543)
      I'm thinking it's generous to even label EVE Online as being a game. Needs reclassified as something like sci-fi online job simulator.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      X3 and EVE have nothing on frontier when it comes to vastness, yet frontier fitted on a floppy.
      freelancer is in the same boat with x3 and eve - and eve itself is in different boat, being more like trade wars than elite really.

      flying into planets. full planets. in real size. that's what frontier was - that's what procedural generation gets you.

      if you want a bag of full blown crazy mod check this out http://www.frontierastro.co.uk/Hires/hiresffe.html [frontierastro.co.uk]
      frontier first encounters in d3d with updated models.

      how he'

      • by Carewolf (581105)

        X3 and freespace are both space-themed aquarium simulators, you jump between small transparant limited boxes that are obviously filled with water since you for some reason have a top-speed...

        There hasn't been an Elite like game since.. well Elite and possible the first of the Privateer games.

        • by jythie (914043)
          *smirk* that was something that always drives me crazy about EvE.. it feels like a submarine simulation rather then a space one.
    • by the_arrow (171557)

      The goal of £1250000 is for the minimum game, the trend (yeah, only first day and all that) is for it to end over £5600000 at the moment, which definitely puts it if not in AAA territory so at least close. And they say in the blurb that they already have some of the critical parts "already in place".

    • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cig/star-citizen [kickstarter.com]

      The guy who gave us Wing Commander and Privateer is working on a new game that provides off-line single-player space combat, as well as online campaigns, a persistent universe and Eve Online-like trading/economy.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      True, but an updated Elite on smartphones and tablets would be pretty cool. The existing mobile games in the genre are a bit too limited, and something like X3 with a very complex economy is probably too resource intensive.

      On the other hand, X3 on a tablet would be awesome, if someone could pull it off.

    • by mcvos (645701) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @11:56AM (#41894207)

      A modern project like that is a HUGE undertaking.

      But this is David Braben. He's the undisputed master of making huge things small. Original Elite put thousands of unique planets in 32K. Frontier put the entire galaxy on a floppy disk. The Raspberry Pi gave us a USB-stick sized general purpose computer for $35. If anyone can make something huge manageable, it's him.

    • by gsslay (807818) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @12:04PM (#41894301)

      Dear gaming world;

      You cannot recapture your youth and the fun you had on ancient games simply by re-making an old classic for new technology.

      It's never the same and it's always ends as a big disappointment. Why? Because gaming isn't the same as it was and neither are you.

      Leave it as a happy memory, for pity sake, and move on.

      • by Rxke (644923)
        Beg to differ on that. http://www.oolite.org/ [oolite.org] is an open, modernized version of Elite, and has lots of 'old geezers' practically creaming their pants when they discover and play it for the fist time.
        Just look at their bulletin boards for all the kudos being strewn around to the developers.
    • by jythie (914043)
      EvE is exactly why I think we need products like this. CCP has kinda rested on having no real competition within its particular niche and I think it is really showing. Such a project would obviously start from a significant disadvantage since so much of such a game's appeal is the player base.. but it would still be nice to see some companies at least trying.
    • I can't comment about Eve, but I played all of the X games all the way up to Terran Conflict and I have to say, Egosoft have one HUGE weakness: Writing a halfway decent story. I dare any of you to look up the X3 Reunion original intro cutscene on youtube. Who in their right mind would have an alien race named the Kh'aak and then have an announcer with a pseudo American accent pronounce it? The Kh'aak invasion is unstoppable! Yeah.

      The trouble with space simulations is that there just aren't many of them,
    • Eve Online is a blatent ripoff of Elite. It startled me how similar they were in initial gameplay, and most of the same ideas of stargates between star systems, mining, trading, pirates and space stations orbiting planets had all been pioneered by Elite. That being said, the market for MMORPGs is nearly saturated and 1.25 million pound sterling is not going to go very far.
      • by smash (1351)

        Uh... no.

        Elite is arcade game first, trading game second. There's no arcade element to Eve at all.

    • Sandbox. Land.On.Planets. Enough said.
  • Eli-- (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:29AM (#41893109) Homepage Journal

    Without Ian Bell either on the team nor getting credit, count me as disinterested.

    • by Hozza (1073224)

      Not exactly a full credit, but he does at least get a mention in the very first paragraph of the Kickstarter page.

    • by mcvos (645701)

      Why? As far as I know, Ian Bell hasn't been involved in software development in decades. Last thing I heard was that he was doing something with glow-in-the-dark body paint. And Braben still mentions him regularly. It's not like he's trying to claim that glory all for himself.

      • by pnot (96038)

        The strained relations between Braben and Bell seem to be connected with some things Braben did on F:FE, after which Bell made some uncomplimentary comments in this interview [clara.net], after which Braben sued Bell for libel [google.com]. The original issue does seem to be in part some kind of glory-claiming, but I neither know nor care who's in the right... who knows, perhaps they've kissed and made up by now.

  • Sigh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:33AM (#41893139) Journal

    > Braben has launched a Kickstarter for a remake of Elite

    More of the masses funding elites, god damn it!

  • I don't have high hopes that Braben can repeat the success of Elite. He's been talking about it for years, with small hints here and there but nothing has come from it.

    So I'm mildly anxious that this time it will be for real.

    But OTOH I don't expect it to be a big succes. In the best case it will be something along the lines of the recent XCOM remake and I would be quite content with such a game.

  • by MSBob (307239) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:35AM (#41893169)
    Here's a very interesting read (long but worth your time) about how the original was conceived: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/oct/18/features.weekend [guardian.co.uk]
  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @10:37AM (#41893191)

    No comments on oolite yet?

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

    Its a popular genre... we could post different links to remakes for hours, probably.

    • by yotto (590067)

      Oolite was a very nice distraction for a couple days. Maybe a week. It took me back to a time when I got my money throwing newspapers on porches, and a $50 video game had to last me a year. But it suffered from being a moderately reskinned exact copy of a game with a smaller memory footprint than the pictures my phone takes. On the front camera.

      The original Elite was a fantastic piece of computer history, but that's where it belongs. If Braben can hit the same amazingness but with current tech? *THAT* will

    • by Smivs (1197859)
      Sorry, I was too busy playing Oolite to read /. for a while :P
      The thing about Oolite is the customisation options...you can make the 'Ooniverse' into pretty much any kind of experience you want to.
      And as for the lack of instructions, well you get a reference sheet with the (free, open source) download, and the Wiki [alioth.net] is excellent as is the Forum [aegidian.org].
    • by Control-Z (321144)

      Agreed, as well as Evochron Legends, it is complicated but even allows seamless planetary landings.

  • Would win, else just go Play EVE Online as that has the immersion only one universe populated with players can bring.

    • EVE has a cool universe, but the point and click flight mechanics are boring as hell in my opinion. I purchased a joystick a few months ago and tried out some space and flight sims. EVE was a huge disappointment.

      • by vlm (69642)

        I purchased a joystick a few months ago and tried out some space and flight sims. EVE was a huge disappointment.

        Did you try lunar flight? Its a relatively cheap steam game with real newtonian physics (not the psuedo submarine like freespace or descent or eve). Learning curve is a bit steep, but the first time I successfully landed on a distant base I was pretty pleased with my piloting skills. You really need two sticks, one for rotation and one for translation.

        • Haven't heard of that one - I'll add it to the list of Steam games that I've bought, but haven't had a chance to play yet! Thanks :)

  • And I bet most of those who contributed are among those that whine, gripe, and complain when yet Hollywood defaults to yet another remake, sequel, or formulaic movie or TV show... while demonstrating in abundance why the entertainment industry repeatedly does so.

  • There's previous Kickstarter projects like this one [kickstarter.com] that have failed to produce feasible support merely because of how it was presented. Even though it was evident they involved reputable people working at it, and to many people it'd appear that would be enough to garner it enough trust and reputation from the masses, but in reality it dropped because people were not given assurance just what they were putting money towards. With the DFA [kickstarter.com] they kicked it off (no pun intended) with videos and other material pr

    • Couldn't agree more. The reason Star Citizen has the traction it has, is that Chris Roberts started with demonstrable code and graphics. His presentation of the ideas is also fantastic.

      Sorry, I am a bit jaded. Braben had his day but has promised Elite 4 for over a decade now and has never actually had anything solid to show for it. Even this Kickstarter project is just some hyperbole on a web page. So far his track record for promising the sky is secure, but actually delivering... yeah. And this is from o
      • Yeah, there's nothing wrong with him being a visionary, which of course Braben is successful in that in droves. But that doesn't mean he needs to feel that he's the only one capable of accomplishing the vision - and from the looks of it so far, it doesn't appear that he is!

  • I'm donating, and I want linux support.

    • by Loki_666 (824073)

      Pioneer is only alpha, but has linux, Mac, and Windows binaries. And its already awesome, just wait for the final release... schedule unknown, but hell, even alpha is playable.

      http://pioneerspacesim.net/ [pioneerspacesim.net]

  • For me it would be enough to be just "I'm David Braben, please give me your money"

    • by mcvos (645701)

      And I would. I got way more value out of Elite than it cost. My copy of Frontier was an illegal copy, and I think I borrowed First Encounters. So I still owe him money.

      • I paid for FFE... and given the buggy piece of shit it turned out to be I think he owes me money.
  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @11:28AM (#41893885)
    The original Elite was such a great space game for it's day, I played it on the C64 when I was in my twenties. The game used a unique copy protection, a clear plastic prism-like lens that you had to hold up to the screen at just the right distance, which made the obscured code understandable to be typed in to start the game loading. What a huge pita it was to use! I lost the lens and drove to the company's New Jersey office, walked right into the second floor offices (there was no need yet for security in the 80's), where about 20 smiling, happy people were using actual modern IBM computers in a very pleasant office enviornment. I explained to the manager why I was there, was given a little tour of the place, and he reaches into an open cardboard box that had hundreds of those precious decoder lenses, and gave me two of them, in case I lost another. I hope they can live up to the original when they do this remake, but please, lose the "lens based" copy protection!
    • Ahhh... the Lenslok [wikipedia.org] It seemed to work better with some software than others. I had one for Art Studio on the Spectrum and it worked okay, but I recall loads of people complaining about them. I think the cleverest thing about it was that they made it to fit inside a regular compact cassette box.
      • Ahhh... the Lenslok [wikipedia.org] It seemed to work better with some software than others. I had one for Art Studio on the Spectrum and it worked okay, but I recall loads of people complaining about them. I think the cleverest thing about it was that they made it to fit inside a regular compact cassette box.

        The "Lenslock"!!! Thank you! I was mentally kicking myself for not being able to think of the damned name. Made for a great torture device, that thing.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      The original Elite was such a great space game for it's day, I played it on the C64 when I was in my twenties. The game used a unique copy protection, a clear plastic prism-like lens that you had to hold up to the screen at just the right distance, which made the obscured code understandable to be typed in to start the game loading. What a huge pita it was to use! I lost the lens and drove to the company's New Jersey office, walked right into the second floor offices (there was no need yet for security in the 80's), where about 20 smiling, happy people were using actual modern IBM computers in a very pleasant office enviornment. I explained to the manager why I was there, was given a little tour of the place, and he reaches into an open cardboard box that had hundreds of those precious decoder lenses, and gave me two of them, in case I lost another. I hope they can live up to the original when they do this remake, but please, lose the "lens based" copy protection!

      Lenslock(sp?) seemed to work okay on the Amstrad CPC 8 bit computers but they must have been crap on any computer that could use a TV as a display (Amstrad came with its own monitor so the dots were a known size)

  • Unless he gives me a reason to believe he has a particularly interesting spin or the ability to create the most polished space sim experience yet, why should l I care?

    • by mcvos (645701)

      The main way in which it's going to distinguish itself from other space sims is the usual: scale. It's going to have much more explorable stuff than any other game.

      My biggest hope is that it's going to have procedurally generated unique, interesting alien civilizations filling the entire Milky Way.

  • Elite II and Elite Frontier were buggy as hell. I loved Elite on my BBC Micro (and lost almost a year playing it) but I never got on with the sequels and when I did they would bomb out. I hope what ever he produces now will be of better quality.

    Personally I think a PC is the wrong target. As others have said there is already games like Eve on line and its ilk. Why not a hand held multi-user?

  • Back in the late 90s I played an online Elite-like game that was completely web-driven. I think the client was an applet or some kind of browser application. As I recall, it was also MMO. Does anyone remember this game?

  • I'm sure David Braben wouldn't want any pesky used copies floating around:

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-19-braben-used-sales-are-killing-single-player-games [eurogamer.net]

    Given those remarks I don't think he's the kind of person who would think to kill off the used market with zero DRM and low prices...

  • One question: Does Kickstarter accept ISK?
  • Tell you what I always wanted in a remake of Élite... nerd tools. An extension API, allowing scripts, GUIs/HUDs and possibly external connectivity. And the same facility to trade code and attachments that you see in something like Second Life.

    Imagine....
    - The universe really IS newtonian, but you can develop and trade control systems that make it appear otherwise and apply directed power to compensate for unwelcome inertia
    - Bots, autopilots, combat aids
    - Buy extra ships, develop swarm/formation flyin

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

Working...