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Elite Creator David Braben: Games Like Elite 'Too Risky' For Publishers 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the games-are-business dept.
Pecisk writes "While PC game development veterans are using Kickstarter more and more for their projects (see the already successful Star Citizen Kickstarter project, which already went home with $2 million, or Elite: Dangerous, a sequel of classic space sim series, which has yet to reach its set target), questions arise: why are devs trying this rather risky way of financing, anyway? For a long time there's also been discussion on Slashdot and elsewhere of game publishers like EA have a preference for unlimited sequels (e.g. the EA Sports series). David Braben, one of creators of first classic 3D space sim, Elite, and its sequels, and also the popular Raspberry PI board/computer, has commentary on that: 'Publishers had and still have now, established processes and a key part of that is the forecast ROI or return on investment. For that to work there has to have been a sufficiently similar game in the near past to base the forecast upon Anything else will be "too risky."'"
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Elite Creator David Braben: Games Like Elite 'Too Risky' For Publishers

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  • Re:No Risk (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bfandreas (603438) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @12:51AM (#42152491)
    Ummm. You know we stopped believing those numbers years ago? They do not include digital distribution and only very few games get shelf space.

    Also there is a lot of money to be made in the long tail when you cut out the middle man. Which in this case would be publishers and retailers. So you don't need to be #1. Or even in the top 20 to make back your money. Unless of course you had a production cost rivaling the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Which Braben doesn't need.

    Sales figures alone are meaningless.
  • Exciting! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jregel (39009) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:38AM (#42153467) Homepage

    Elite was a huge consumer of my time during my teenage years. I'd originally tried it on the 8bit Acorn Electron (the BBC Micro's baby brother), but was a bit too young to really get it and was hopeless at playing the game. But when I got my first PC, I was able to really get into it, spending hours playing when I should have probably been studying for my GCSEs, eventually getting the missions and the coveted Elite status.

    All this was done on the CGA version, low resolution in four colours. On loading, a menu would allow me to select wireframe graphics only, or if the PC was really fast (6Mhz 286 or greater I seem to recall...), then you could select solid filled polygons. I had a 20Mhz 286 so could enjoy the enhanced version. Didn't matter though, because the imagination filled in the gaps.

    When Frontier:Elite 2 came out, I was amazed at all the things we wanted to do in the original could now be done (landing on planets with a seamless transition between space and atmosphere, different ships that could be bought and equipped, more missions). But the flight model was a bit too complicated and lacked the immediacy of the original. I was never really taken with the "Star Dreamer" time acceleration feature either as it was too easy to skip through things (like docking).

    Never played Frontier: First Encounters as I think I had moved onto girls by then, but having read that it was released by the publisher in an unfinished state, it sounds like I've not missed that much.

    But Elite:Dangerous sounds like the sort of game I really want to play! A huge universe as a playground? Flying through the clouds of a gas giant? Mining asteroids? Teaming up with friends to complete missions? Yes please!

    So far I've pledged a little, with the expectation I'll pledge more before the Kickstarter finishes. As a [very] occasional gamer these days, this is something I want to spend my evenings playing.

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