back to article 40 years since Elite became the most fun you could have with 22 kilobytes

In 1984 the launch of a computer game was reported on British national news. The purported reason? A news editor apparently walked in after lunch and found all the staff were playing it. BBC Micro Model B A BBC Micro Model B running Elite. Pic: Richard Speed That game was the legendary space combat and trading sim Elite. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    40 years ago

    "... and you try telling that to the young people of today ..."

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 40 years ago

      The 80s were only 20 years ago !

      1. munnoch Bronze badge

        Re: 40 years ago

        You mean its not the 80's anymore?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: 40 years ago

          No it's at least the 90s, there's no good music anymore

          1. IGotOut Silver badge

            Re: 40 years ago

            Excuse me? Late 80s and much of the 90s had the best dance music. Just ask my teenage kids to confirm that.

            Then along came Garage and ruined everything.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: 40 years ago

              >Excuse me? Late 80s and much of the 90s had the best dance music.

              The union of el'reg readers and rave goers = NULL

              1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

                Re: 40 years ago

                As a Reg reader and former rave-goer, I respectfully dispute your set theory hence a DV from me. Doubt I'm alone.

  2. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

    definitely maybe...

    someone I know1 might have spent a night supporting a couple of guys who removed the profit protection from a copy of PC Elite... still got the floppy disk somewhere, I guess, but no machine on which to read it!

    ISTR Elite was pretty well protected and adjusting the main program code2 so that the profit protection wasn't called was interesting to say the least - lots of sneaky tricks used to confound folk such as us but very elegant none the less. We got there in the end (many mugs of coffee later).

    1 Yeah right....

    2 machine code and a live (as opposed to static) debugger - fun times had by all.

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    A forerunner in it's time

    I played Elite at the time but it was just not my kind of kind.. Intergalactic trading is not for everyone. I remember thinking how amazing it was though, it gave a sense of 3 dimensions and space all rolled into one.

    Games like this still allowed for a fair bit of player imagination which I still consider to be a good thing.. Games now are so detailed and well scripted that it is almost too much...

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: A forerunner in it's time

      Play Dwarf Fortress. That gets your imagination flowing again.

  4. Korev Silver badge
    Pint

    The code used just 22 kilobytes of memory

    Which is equivalent to less than twice the text of the article or under half of the picture of the BBC Micro in the article

    A pint for the efficient coders

    1. Henry 8

      The Google-provided analytics.js that is downloaded with this story (along with pretty much every webpage we all visit...) is 52kB, so over twice as big as Elite. I know which of those two products I think has brought more value to the world.

      (yes I know my browser probably caches analytics.js and doesn't redownload it on every page I browse to, but that's not the point)

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        "yes I know my browser probably caches analytics.js "

        In RAM, yes.

      2. Pseu Donyme
        Unhappy

        re: value of Google analytics

        I'd argue that this is a very large negative number as a key part of the private surveillance-for-profit-infrastructure the internet is currently plagued with.

  5. GreggS

    Better than Dangerous

    I somehow find the bells & whistles added to Elite Dangerous a whole lot less fun and engaging than the original.

    1. Acme Tech Support

      Re: Better than Dangerous

      Some of them yes I agree. Shoot some bloke in a spacesuit with ship mounted heavy weapons and he's immune? Buy a spacesuit for 150K, more expensive than some of the basic ships!

      I found with the other sequels that they just weren't as much fun and I didn't get the same I'm flying my own spaceship feel. Even though you had realistic planets you could land on and much better graphics.

      On the other hand, refueling from stars watching the corona and waiting for the fuel tank to fill up.

      Asteroid mining - find it relaxing watching the drones collecting minerals, and where you find a rock with fissures and can blow it apart...

    2. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Better than Dangerous

      I backed out and took the refund when they dropped standalone single-player mode and insisted it all had to be massive multiplayer online or nothing. I know, very much not down with da yoof and all that, but I'm quite happy to play video games only sporadically and take my own sweet time to progress (one day I may even finish Riven, no hurry).

      I was quite annoyed about that change (as an original BBC Elite player I was looking forwards to the new sparkly bits and pretty pictures) but at least they did refund us.

  6. Andy E
    Go

    The inspiration for Oolite

    I didn't play Elite at the time of its release as I didn't have a compatible computer. Many years later I discovered Oolite which is a modern take on Elite. Over the years it has been expanded and refined. It even includes the facility for people to define missions - tasks which have to be completed in usually very specific ways. I still play it occasionally. Have a look: https://oolite.space/

    1. Anonymous Custard
      Alien

      Re: The inspiration for Oolite

      I was going to post the exact same thing (given I've submitted many OXPs and OXZs to expand it over the years), so have an upvote instead...

    2. LukeM

      Re: The inspiration for Oolite

      Oolite is great

  7. Swordfish1

    I'm sure I played Elite on the Commordore 64, or was it the Atari ST - such a long time ago - can't remember which . It was definitely Elite, because I remember the wire frame 3D graphics, and it was on a 5.25 inch floppy. I have the revamped Elite Dangerous on my current PC.

    1. GreggS

      Either

      You could have played it on either, both had a version although the ST's was proper 3D polygons and not wire frame.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Either

        I remember seeing on the PC in "glorious" CGA graphics. It also used filled polygons and just didn't have the same "feel" as the original wireframe BBC version which I gave many hours to :-)

    2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      THe ST didnt have 5 1/4 floppies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It just told the other computers it had a 5 1/4" floppy when they were bragging about their 3.5" hard disks.

    3. Dr_N

      I got a severe case of the Tribbles on the C64. Sprites all over the screen.

    4. ovation1357

      One of Mark Moxon's recent contributions to the game was to port the music (Blue Danube) from C64 Version to BBC Micro: https://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?p=384503#p384503

  8. AMBxx Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Elite!

    I'm still annoyed that I sent off for the certificate when I was merely 'Deadly' rather than waiting to hit the high of 'Elite'.

    It's probably in a box at my parents' house!

  9. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Stop

    "Commander Jameson was the name of the first character the player could control"

    I'm pretty sure you could name/rename your Commander right from the start, IIRC.

    1. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

      Re: "Commander Jameson was the name of the first character the player could control"

      Yep, one of my mates was Cmdr. Pod****er ;)

      1. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

        Re: "Commander Jameson was the name of the first character the player could control"

        Aw, did someone not get Elite because they were too nice ;)

  10. graeme leggett Silver badge

    As covered in a book

    Elite is one chapter in "Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin" by Francis Spufford. The idea of a universe that can be unpacked from a much shorter string of data is quite compelling

    An entertaining, not overly technical read

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Yupp

    I admit it.... I played all those years ago

    And its such a simple and elegant solution to "How do I generate and store 8 galaxies in 22K?" *(lets face it unless you're into embedded systems, you dont have to worry about such constraints ever again)

    And it spawned a whole bunch of us who traded, flew and shot our way across those 8 galaxies and always had fond memories of open world games where we could do as we wished rather than follow the straight plot line of the game or try for the highest score(this week)... how many people go straight to the main quest of fallout/elder scrolls open world type games?

    And the memory lived on when the kickstarter for elite dangerous came around (mostly because no big publisher would put up the money to create it)

    And apart from certain stumbles along the way, its worked pretty well for the past 10 years.

    So heres a link for all you past elite players, and all the current ones

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99FMBNn1jZU

    *Solution: Random number generator that uses a seed value to start the sequence.... same seed, same sequence.... store the seed and the algorithm no need for 22K of data to be stored

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: And its such a simple and elegant solution to "How do I generate and store 8 galaxies in 22K?

      OUAT, and on the BBC B, I wrote myself a sort of text-only open-ended map-based adventure game where you could wander about in various sorts of terrain and have various sorts of encounter (i.e fighting monsters, and maybe finding food..?); I used a combination of fixed-seed RNG with weird-argument trig functions to make reproducible terrain with contiguous patches of swap/hills/etc/. It worked, and I suppose I would now have to call it "procedurally generated", but can't help feeling that that phrasing makes it sound much more well thought-out than it was...

    2. munnoch Bronze badge

      Re: Yupp

      | Random number generator that uses a seed value to start the sequence

      The interview didn't say as much but I presumed the RNG had to be seeded otherwise every game would be different.

      Do this a lot in my current day job. Need apparently random behaviour so that other participants can't predict what we are doing, but at same time need it to be deterministic so that we can write repeatable test cases. In production seed off the hardware. In test mode it seeds off of a part of the test script.

      Loving this series of articles BTW.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Yupp

      The aforementioned "Backroom Boys" suggests that there is a Fibonacci sequence involved.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yupp

      I've seen somewhere, may even have a copy of a spreadsheet with the galaxy algorithm. Type a value in the box, and it will generate all the data.

      I wonder how large that spreadsheet is, have feeling its a bit more than 22KB!

      Also read that they had to scrap a whole galaxy because it had a planet called "Arse" in it

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Yupp

      "*Solution: Random number generator that uses a seed value to start the sequence.... same seed, same sequence"

      Yes, a common "trick" back in the 8-bit days when you could call the BASIC ROM routine to get a repeatable string of "random" numbers. I used it many times myself. But Elite took that trick to whole new level, orders of magnitude higher than I dreamed possible!

  12. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    This is worth watching. It looks long, but time flies and respect grows with each minute. It has good detail on memory use and procedural genration and lots of other good stuff.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC4YLMLar5I

    My favourite factoid: for the 3D effects they used the dot product of a shape's surface normal and the ship's trajectory to work out if that surface was in view or had to be "hidden".

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      > they used the dot product of a shape's surface normal and the ship's trajectory to work out if that surface was in view or had to be "hidden".

      Still how it's done today. Well, maybe not in hardware but if you're doing 3D stuff in software (which, coincidentally, has been what I've been doing all morning). And yes, I still love that what appears to be an almost infinitely complex problem disappears in few multiplications. Maths FTW.

      1. ThomH

        The original 3dfx — also very much retro tech, even if substantially less so — used the signed area of the 2d projection of the geometry as its hardware test. But since it didn't do transform, offering purely rasterisation, it could offer to make a decision only very late in the pipeline.

    2. ldo

      dot product

      Works fine for hidden-surface removal, provided all your polyhedra are convex.

      Never played Elite, but what kind of ship shapes did it have? Were they all convex polyhedra, by any chance?

      1. MarkMoxon

        Re: dot product

        Yes, all the ships are indeed convex polyhedra.

  13. TonyMurphy

    The good old days

    I loved playing this on my Acorn Electron, yes I was one of the few with strange computer! I did manage to persuade my parents to but me a ZX Spectrum though as the Electron always felt education biased and I wanted games games games - LOL

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: The good old days

      I so loved my Electron (bought cheaply as sales had dropped off) with its assortment of add-ons I accumulated..

      Teaching myself to code in the 6502 assembler. I have no idea how I did what I did, almost half a century almost ago. 'Cept that it involved a lot of not going to sleep when I should have.

    2. druck Silver badge

      Re: The good old days

      I played the Electron version until I was Elite with 1,000,006.4CR and got the certificate. I was always miffed it was in B/W with no Thargoids, so the first thing I bought my University grant cheque was a BBC Master 128 so I could play in not 4+2 colours but 8+4 colours, and became Elite on that too. I also got the version for the Archimedes A310 when that came out a few years later, but never had the time to become Elite for the 3rd time.

  14. f4ff5e1881
    Terminator

    Elite & Black Angel

    I had an Acorn Electron back in the day, and bought Elite, but never really progressed very far with it. My problem was that I was rubbish at docking with the space station, and when you crash into the space station, that’s it – game over. If the docking procedure had a been a bit more, shall we say, ‘forgiving’, I might have got more into the game.

    Fast forward a few years, and I had an Acorn Archimedes, on which I spent a lot of time playing Black Angel. This game was very much inspired by Elite, but used the Arc’s extra power to render stunning, colourful 3D graphics. The game-play was a bit different from Elite in that it focused more on puzzle-solving rather than trading, and in my case at least, that allowed me to progress quite far into the game. So I have to admit I enjoyed that game more than Elite.

    On a side note, I find it ironic, and rather nice, that I’m spending more time (and having more fun) with my Acorn-related stuff now (in my fifties), than I did ‘first time round’ in my youth. That’s due, in no small part, to some frankly brilliant emulator software - written by people who are several orders of magnitude cleverer than myself!

    1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      Re: Elite & Black Angel

      I played Elite on the Commodore 64, and the docking computer was definitely the first upgrade to buy. Even with that, it would occasionally go wrong and crash into the space station or into a ship that launched just as you were about to dock.

    2. Pseu Donyme

      re: docking

      I still dread the thought. :/ Buying the docking computer ship upgrade automated it and was thus a priority for me early in the game. :)

      1. Jonathan Richards 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: docking

        > I still dread the thought

        I learned (by trial and error) to execute something that I internalized as a Galactic Standard Approach: Orient your ship with the planet on the port bow, and the space station on the starboard, and proceed to the nav buoy. Using that fantastic 3-D radar plotter, get stopped exactly between the buoy and the station, then pitch+roll to be facing the station. This puts you on the docking vector - all you have to do then is manage your speed and roll rate to dock successfully (while dodging random ships undocking, of course). Good times.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: docking

          Once you earnt enough money for a docking computer, you were good enough to not need one!

          On the PC version at least - once you lined the ship up, I could time it so that I could hit the slot at full speed as it was horizontal

  15. fandom

    Morals?

    I found out my morals got out of the window pretty quickly, when I realized how many kills I needed to be 'elite'. I began to shoot at space stations when I left them, after I had destroyed 10 police ships I jumped out of the system.

    But then, I got named an "Archangel" after completing a mission, so it's all good.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Morals?

      Same here, I got seriously rich trading slaves and narcotics.

      1. Quando

        Re: Morals?

        You must be British.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Morals?

          Elite, and that chosen path in the game were/are very British. Did the exact same myself. Armed to the teeth, trading in contraband and the aforementioned slaves.

          1. Edward Ashford

            Re: Morals?

            Sold the missiles for working capital, remounted the laser facing aft, traded between feudal systems and anarchies for a better margin.

            Dive at full speed for the station while collecting bounty shooting pirates off your tail.

  16. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Assembly

    You can write quite a bit of code in 22KB of assembly language.

    I've been pondering this quite a bit since I saw KolibriOS, an operating system fully written in assembly language which includes TCP/IP networking, USB support and a graphical desktop, which is just 1.44 MEGABYTES in size.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Assembly

      Wirth's OBERON was 131,800 bytes (0.13 MEGABYTES) in size. Written in the Oberon version of Pascal / Modula.

      On a 1.44 MB floppy, you could get the GUI OS, TCP/IP, a web browser and other assorted utilities, and the Oberon compiler..

    2. Bill 21

      Re: Assembly

      Yes , but the point is that these days you mostly don't have to be concerned about whether your app will fit into the available memory/storage. Back in the day, the estimates you had to get signed off before starting included memory and processor budgets for every process, plus you had to show the tasks would complete within their time constraints (num_instructions * tick < time-limit). This gets very expensive but you do it because it's painful if you finish the s/w and discover at that point that - it won't fit into the required system, or barely runs.

      (The actual need to do all this expensive guessing went away when computers grew faster than software, but it took a long time after this for the requirement to do it to be removed from the QA processes)

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Assembly

        But "back in the day" there really weren't any operating systems like today. You didn't have TCP/IP networking let alone a graphical desktop with multitasking. KolibriOS has all that and more.

    3. ldo

      Re: Assembly

      The QuickDraw graphics engine took up about 22K of the 64K ROM in the original Macintosh.

      How did Bill Atkinson get it that small?

      * Hand-optimized assembler

      * Integer-only coordinates

      * Bitmap-only fonts for text

      * No matrix operations. Not even any rotation functions.

      * No anti-aliasing, indeed no colour; strictly bilevel pixels.

      * No Bézier curves. Though it did have circles and arcs and rounded-corner rectangles.

  17. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    A bit better management of the RAM than today's software...

    macOS's new animated wallpaper went up to 17GB RAM usage before I killed it. Doing something imperceptible while I'm using the computer (except for its resource usage, that is).

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      I remember getting an updated version of metapad, and the file had doubled in size - all down to the resources including a higher resolution icon file.

  18. Zebo-the-Fat

    ahhh... happy days (and lots of late nights!)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dangerous

    I chipped in to fund Elite Dangerous on the promise it would, like the original, be a stand alone/single player game. Then towards the end they decided to ditch that "feature" and only support online playing.

    An unhappy supporter. (With fond memories of the original game)

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Dangerous

      The compromises made to make it Multiplayer detract considerably from the remake. I was also very much against the ship handling that they settled on. Pitch-and-Roll in space (while yes, is classic Elite) is daft; practically mandating the use of auto-aim or turrets. Freespace 2 set the bar for low relative velocity space dogfighting, and the bar it remains to this day.

      Iwar/Iwar 2 gets an honourable mention for proving that newtonian space combat can be a lot of fun, but that isn't a title with mass market appeal as it's a lot more challenging to operate well.

      I ran a sizeable campaign group on social media in support of the kickstarter campaign though were very disappointed with the published game.

      I maybe put 20 hours into Dangerous, most of that on long-range exploration. Miniscule hours compared to long I spent in the original, Elite II or First Encounters.

  20. AndrueC Silver badge
    Happy

    The original Elite story was written by Robert Holdstock. Who went on to become one of the best British SF/Fantasy writers of his time. The Mythago Wood series has to be essential reading as an example of how to merge the two genres.

    I played Elite on the BBC, Spectrum and Amstrad CPC 618. Got to Elite on all three platforms.

    I refused to play the Commodore 64 version because of the stupid Tribbles and because, well, as a Spectrum owner I was obligated to hate the Commode :)

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      Go

      Tribbles

      You only bought tribbles one time. Spoiler for new players follows:

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      Tribbles have a lower temperature tolerance than you do. Fly dangerously close to a star, keeping ship temperature below lethal for you, but high enough to kill the tribbles, which decline slowly but inexorably. When disinfected, never buy any again!

  21. david 12 Silver badge

    "there were many different career paths people could take. What inspired that?"

    Well, obviously, the existing tradition of main-frame text games and text graphics, which in turn were inspired by both sci-fi stories and by the early use of computers for targeting and for linear programming -- the activity that gave us the word "programming". Pretend and Make-believe have always been at the heart of "games" and "play". When "real" computers were used for simulating economies and for wargaming, "simulating economies and wargaming" were what grown-up kids wanted too.

    The new generation did the same thing much better and at much lower cost, introducing the ideas to a new audience.

  22. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    “So we decided we wanted to have aliens, and they were supposed to be intrinsically evil. The idea was that they were people that the player could kill with no sort of guilt accruing.”

    “It’s just like hunting in the countryside” ;)

  23. goodjudge

    BBC B player, tape version, here. 4 or 5 mins to load IIRC. Never made it to Elite, only Deadly, despite hundreds of hours of playing time. I tried Oolite when it came out but my muscle memory put my fingers into the Elite configuration so I struggled to play it. I also have a (slightly) more recent Elite on floppy disk (which I copied to the hard drive aeons ago) but it must have been created for another computer as it's in 8-bit colour, seems to be missing some ships (e.g. I don't recall seeing a Fer De Lance) and it's just not as good in other ways as the BBC wire-frame.

  24. joeytwobastards

    Boarded by Pirates

    Well, actually you *could* be boarded by pirates, if you were on the Spectrum version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYYxuRBwSkI

    1. MarkMoxon

      Re: Boarded by Pirates

      Interesting! Didn't know that, TIL.

      Then again, I remember reading someone describing in detail how the police pulled up alongside them, brought them to a halt, boarded their ship, searched the hold and let them go, all apparently in the original Elite. And only the other day on Stardot someone was talking about the generation ships that definitely appeared in their version of the BBC Micro game. I love reading Elite folklore, it's such a good example of how we all used our imagination to fill in the blanks back in the day. :-)

      1. SteveK

        Re: Boarded by Pirates

        it's such a good example of how we all used our imagination to fill in the blanks back in the day.

        A few years back a couple of us were talking about how with Elite Dangerous, the graphics had finally caught up with how it looked inside our imaginations when we were playing the original.

  25. Mog_X

    Damm you Elite!

    I still think this was the reason I got a 2:1 rather than a first.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Damm you Elite!

      That was why I got a 2:2. That and nethack!

  26. 45RPM Silver badge

    I loved Elite. What an awesome game. I still play its modern cousin, Oolite - which is a fantastic piece of work. I even enjoyed playing just the trading element of it on Vax terminals at work when I should, ahem, have been working. I have a real (working) Beeb too, complete with Elite disk (genuine, licensed) - but the bits on it are too precious to waste on anything but the most special of special occasions.

    But Elite Dangerous? Screw that shit. I bought it, I was just getting into it, then they removed support for non Windows versions. Seriously guys? WTF? And the only advice they had was “Why don’t you just boot Windows to play it”. Er, because I don’t want to do anything enough to be bothered to install and run Windows.

    So no. Elite is great. But on the basis of Elite Dangerous you’re better off just playing a modern ripoff of the game than Elite itself.

  27. heyrick Silver badge

    All that article, all these comments, and nobody has mentioned teletext Elite?

    https://www.bbcelite.com/hacks/teletext_elite.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      teletext Elite?

      ... and next, someone will be along to tell us about aciielite ...:-)

  28. Emmo

    Does your mother know you're doing this?

    I remember spending quite a bit of time as a ~14-year-old, peeling off the copy protection just for the fun of it. If I recall correctly, the code was self-modifying, sort of decrypting itself iteratively. At some point, the code in RAM showed a text like 'Does your mother know you're doing this?', which was entirely appropriate :-)

    1. MarkMoxon

      Re: Does your mother know you're doing this?

      That sounds like the BBC Micro disc version. Here’s the message, at the end of the LOAD routine in the third loader program:

      https://www.bbcelite.com/disc/loader_3/subroutine/load.html

      Might bring back some memories!

      1. Wyldhomme

        Re: Does your mother know you're doing this?

        Ah yes, I remember that message. We sent them a postcard as I recall saying "yes she does!".

        I think I had more fun hacking the copy protection than playing the game to be honest - certainly more useful in later life (no opportunities to be a starship captain ever came my way!)

  29. Scott 26
    Pint

    > procedurally generated universe

    millions of kids today playing Minecraft owe Elite devs a pint or three*

    * I'm one of them. /raise glass

  30. Wyldhomme

    Ah yes, I remember that message and the great copy protection! We sent them a postcard as I recall saying "yes she does!".

    I think I had more fun hacking the copy protection than playing the game to be honest - certainly more useful in later life (no opportunities to be a starship captain ever came my way!)

  31. GraXXoR

    Elite: Dangerous - VR Masterpiece

    I backed Elite Dangerous Kickstarter and joined the Alpha.

    It was mind blowing. The expansive galaxy of literally billions of stars and the old dream of actually docking at a Coriolis station, fuel scooping massive stars and hearing your hull creak and strain from gravity... Epic hyperspace jumping, sometimes ending up far too close to a binary star system and bricking yourself to get out of there before your ship melts... Oh and actual generation ships!

    As someone mentioned above... It finally caught up with our imaginations...

    All this with copious nods to the original game:

    Systems such as: Lave, Diso, Leesti, Tionisla, Orerve, Zaonce, Reorte...

    And Iconic Ships still retained much of their original geometry: Cobra Mk III, Anaconda, Python and the classic Fer De Lance...

    But then my Oculus Rift arrived... any my mind was blown again. To this day, Elite Dangerous is my favourite VR experience bar none. Visual and Sound design still holds up a decade later.

    Honestly not sure why people are shitting on Elite Dangerous. It's possibly one of the most loving remakes of an 80s classic ever made. Also it really does need a HOTAS and pedals to do its flight model justice.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Elite: Dangerous - VR Masterpiece

      Chiefly, because the compromises to make multiplayer work are a bag of spanners. If you want some details:

      The BS that is the FSD interdiction minigame, and the very blatant and artificial line & lagfest that is swapping between the two play modes of FSD & conventional power.

      The fact that supposedly safe and secure systems are the ones that attract the most player character pirates. Anarchic systems are usually the safest.

      The RNG associated with the engineering model; quests to "go to location X to collect 10 items" inspired blatantly by the very worst World of Warcraft mechanics.

      The ill thought out buggy driving mini game, and, worse, the toilet that is Odyssey that didn't learn from the mistakes Eve Online made in trying to put character models into a spaceship game.

      Enforced multiplayer and ditching of the single player modes (which were part of the original kickstarter pitch).

      And, last but not least, the dreadful handling of anything bigger than a Viper. The only viable weapons on anything big are gimbals or turrets. I don't care how good you are, no player character in a Viper or an Eagle can defeat a mid-sized freighter operated by a Player assuming half-competently selected loadout. This means it is not a dogfighting game, unlike the original Elite which most assuredly was. (And a Cobra could beat an Anaconda by maneuver in the original).

      The best version of Elite ever made is the one for the Archimedes.

      I had a lot more fun playing X2 and X3 than Elite Dangerous - both of which appeared considerably earlier.

    2. Screepy

      Re: Elite: Dangerous - VR Masterpiece

      I'm with you on this GraXXor, I loved Elite Dangerous.

      The scale was mind boggling.

      I went on both Distance Worlds expeditions and travelling with all the other commanders across the galaxy to beagle point has been one of the gaming highlights in my life.

      In 2017 I went to FX17 in London to listen to some talks by the devs on how they designed and coded the game.

      The astrophysicist who worked with the devs on creating the stellar forge have a brilliant talk on how the universe was generated in game.

      There were certainly some disappointing decisions in the game, and some clunky multiplayer issues - trying to get hundreds of commanders in the same instance for a mass launch was always a lottery.

      I eventually finished with about 1500 hours on ED.

      Has been one of my favourite games.

  32. redpola

    Dear Register;

    When you are using computers to transcribe audio, you must read the generated text just once to check the results. Then you don’t ship glaring errors like “duplicated mass routines” or bizarre repeated stuttering sentences that humans often utter.

    Just read it once. Just once. It’s the cheapest QA you can effect.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      There's a "Send Corrections" link at the top of the comments page.

  33. Fading

    Originally played the cut down Electron version....

    Certainly not the best version but my first - monochrome graphics, only one galaxy, no military lasers and reduced number of ships. Docking was fiendishly difficult compared to all other versions I played (C64, Amstrad CPC 464 - non metro version so had the random crash bug - had to send it back to get the patched version (two weeks, imagine waiting two weeks for a patch) , PC - Dos version in 4 colour CGA filled graphics then played Elite Plus in glorious MCGA) - so after mastering on the electron I could dock easily on any other version. Spent a long time hunting thargoids in witch space on the Amstrad CPC version (mining lasers were the best weapons for this - needed to hit a key combination whilst hyperspacing to force your ship into witchspace)

    Put a fair amount of time in Frontiers - loved my Merlin and got all the way up into an Imperial Trader (though preferred flying the courier) and aslo played a bit of Encounters (pretty much a Frontiers enhancement).

    Haven't play ED in ages - lost a bit of interest when engineers were introduced - might drop back into it at some point if I have time.

  34. LukeM

    I went into programming partly because of this game, so a big inspiration for me. I even made my "own" version of Elite last year, a retro space game called Liberation (a mash up between Elite and Blake's 7). Space sim design pretty much peaked with the original Elite... every step towards realism took us further from perfection!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right on commander!

    Loved Elite, still have the original poster on my wall, still have my BBC B in the attic and it still works (although last time I turned it on I played Chuckie Egg).

    1. LukeM

      Re: Right on commander!

      The Elite logo is better than it has any right to be

  36. Flying-Fossil

    Luckily I'd already finished my PhD and was on to a lazy postdoc when I got this game. Elite + Colossal Cave defined my 3 years in Cardiff. I remember being totally freaked the first time I got an 'incoming message' in Elite, a request to do some quest or other. Tried Frontier and Elite Dangerous but just never got into them.

  37. Flying-Fossil

    I started out as a quite timid, lawful trader. Then one day I accidentally shot down a police ship, thinking it was a pirate coming after me. Next thing I was surrounded by cops and much to my surprise I found that with my military laser and good 3d manoeuvring skills I was able to shoot down the whole lot of them without taking a hit. After that I became a pirate, intercepting traders, selling their crews as slaves, selling their cargos and trading narcotics to anarchy planets. That didn't stop the navy recruiting me for some missions though :-| A few years ago I read the biography of William Dampier and felt an immediate affinity.

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