My Experience With The Elite Franchise

Hey all. I'd like to take a moment here and regale you all with the tale about my life long flirtations with the Frontier Elite franchise.

First of all, I'm an American (yes I know, booo). I was also born in '84, the year Elite was released. So I didn't experience it until years after it's release. Here in America, the BBC Micro never took off. At all. The Amiga and the Commodore were relatively known, but almost no one actually owned one, and Acorn wasn't even known in the States at all.

The two big dominant PCs of the 80's here in the States were the Apple II and the IBM Compatibles like the i386 and the i486. after that Intel took over with the Pentium and throughout the 1990's, at least until Apple's big come back with the iPod, the Powerbook G4, and the iMac, the only real PCs on the market here were Intel Pentiums with Microsoft Windows throughout the 1990's.

We never really had anything from Acorn, BBC, or Commodore. Though as an anecdote, after their big return to form, Apple and their Macintosh line of PCs has become more popular here on the Pacific West Coast than even Windows PCs now. I know that's not the case in the UK. But here, we love Apple's developer tools and APIs. We're a very tech savvy bunch here on the west coast of the U.S.

Anyway, back to my story. The first time I was exposed to Elite was as a port on the Apple II in the late 80's. As a small child I loved space, so when my dad brought home a video game about it, I was ecstatic to say the least. It really wasn't long before I was docking like a champ. I had entire pages filling the study we kept the computer in. Pages of lists of systems and station names, all places that had good inventory stock of various commodities to trade.

Even as a small child, I was utterly engrossed in the sheer magnitude of the game.

But then the Apple II died of old age and was replaced by an Intel Pentium 2 PC, and my days with Elite faded away. I always had fond memories of the game, but I moved onto other games like Mechwarrior, Descent, FreeSpace, X-Wing, Wing Commander, and Homeworld. I was the outsider in my circle of friends. While they were all busy playing games like Doom, Quake, and Unreal Tournament (which were absolutely huge games here in the States), I was playing Mech sims and space games.

Then in the late '90's and early 2000's, right about the time I was in my last years of highschool, Blackberries and Palm Pilots became very popular, and I got myself a Handspring Visor Edge running PalmOS. In my search for games to play on the device, there was one game for PalmOS that spread through my circle of friends like wildfire. It went by the name of Space Trader.

Now, Space Trader was just a simple 2D space trading game. There was no flight sim gameplay involved. But from the moment I booted it up I was struck with this nagging feeling. I started out in a system called Lave... Surely that had to just be a coincidence? But no. The next system over was Leesti!

I knew these systems! But from where? This question haunted me for days. The longer I played this silly 2D trading game where all I did was tap, the more familiar it seemed. The ships themselves were new, and had different names, but the cargo space capacity... The weapon mounts... These were identical load outs to a space game I'd played before. I just knew it. But despite all the tapping involved in the game I couldn't quite place my finger on it. Nevertheless, I continued to play Space Trader, and it developed it's own special place in my heart as one of my favorite mobile games of the early 2000's.

A couple years later I'd bought my first laptop on my own from money saved from my job. One of the first space games I found for it was an open source game called Oolite, a fan-made remake of Elite. It was at that very moment, when I read the word "Elite" that all the dots connected in my own mind. All these years, all the space games I'd played and held in such high regard, Freespace, Wing Commander, Space Trader, most all of them had some ties to Elite. The game that started it all. It was at this point that I learned once and for all that Space Trader was a fan-made spiritual successor to Elite! That's why all the systems had the same names!

Fast forward ten years later to around 2013, and I'd added all of the original Elite games to my game library thanks to modern ports or DOSBox. I'd relived the childhood of wonder with Elite and brought it back with me into my early 30's.

Then I learned about a brand new kickstarter project called "Elite: Dangerous". And yes. It was the same Elite I'd fallen in love with twice in my life, and had been flirtatiously dancing around without even realizing it for most of that time. I have played almost every day for the last 3 years, and I don't intend to stop anytime soon.

Today, I'm buying an Oculus Rift just for Elite Dangerous while it's still on sale. I don't expect I'll be disappointed.
 
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I hope you really enjoy your new toy! I've certainly considered getting a VR headset (leaning towards Vive), but I will first need to upgrade my video card.
 
+1 rep.

I don't usually read long-ish posts, but you caught me when you mentioned the Amiga. Read every word.

I haven't had such a long relationship with the Elite franchise. I wasn't aware of it until ED 1.2 and bought it on the sale when 1.3 was about to be released. Seems like a lifetime ago. I might not play every single day, but I'm in there most of the time. It's become my favorite game of all time. It might not be perfect, but it's really an amazing game. Warts and all.
 
It may not quite move you to shed tears of joy when you first find yourself on a landing pad in a coriollis with the Rift on, buy boy! That smile will last for a long, long time. Welcome to the game.
 
I'm the total opposite. Never touched Elite anything, but read some articles, a few reviews, watched some getting started videos, and decided it looked up my alley.
 
Great post - I bought a rift just for Elite myself!

But uh, I hate to disagree with part of your post but...

(1) Me and my fellow US Citizen VIC-20 / C64 owners from the very early 80's (before 84) would disagree that nobody had one :p In fact, I still own my original C64 in the original box from the early eighties.

And while I'm an Apple fan (I rock an iPad and iPhone today) my second point is...

(2) Apple OS PCs sell more than Windows OS pcs in exactly ZERO states in the US.

Sorry, they're not bad PCs, just not the standard, and while they own a huge part of the phone and tablet market, they are the minor player in the PC world.

If you can disprove my second point please do ;-)

http://fortune.com/2017/01/11/lenovo-hp-dell-pc-market/
 
Great post - I bought a rift just for Elite myself!

But uh, I hate to disagree with part of your post but...

(1) Me and my fellow US Citizen VIC-20 / C64 owners from the very early 80's (before 84) would disagree that nobody had one :p In fact, I still own my original C64 in the original box from the early eighties.
Well, I wasn't exactly born yet, so I'll take your word for it ;)

And while I'm an Apple fan (I rock an iPad and iPhone today) my second point is...

(2) Apple OS PCs sell more than Windows OS pcs in exactly ZERO states in the US.

Sorry, they're not bad PCs, just not the standard, and while they own a huge part of the phone and tablet market, they are the minor player in the PC world.

If you can disprove my second point please do ;-)

http://fortune.com/2017/01/11/lenovo-hp-dell-pc-market/
I really can't other than the fact that Apple Mac sales have continuously gone up as PC sales have stagnated over the past couple years:

https://www.macrumors.com/2017/04/11/q1-2017-worldwide-mac-sales-up-amid-pc-decline/

Plus the anecdotal evidence that I live not even 5 miles from one of Intel's largest fabrication plants, and I don't know a single person in my hometown that uses a PC over a Mac. You literally can't walk down the street without seeing someone carrying an iPad, iPhone, or a backpack with a Macbook in it. iPads and Macs utterly dominate the area. Even the "gamers" here just buy PC parts and put OS X onto it, AKA, a Hackintosh. They might dual-boot Windows, but most of the time they run OS X. We just prefer the OS more.

The code monkeys might use Linux, but Windows as an OS is pretty despised in general around here.
 
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games like Mechwarrior, Descent, FreeSpace, X-Wing, Wing Commander, and Homeworld.
All of these going on a retro gaming computer I just built with top-tier (for 1999) parts for about $200USD (emulators and virtual machines all have their problems).

I have, and play, every Mechwarrior game made; I ran a MW server & played it in the first 4-man "battle pods." It's that close-up, blow-the-leg-off-it thrill of metal rending & plasma crackling that gets me every time. I even made my own gaming chair/rig to go with it (force feedback, internal subwoofer, swing-arm monitor stands, custom controller).

Descent... that game introduced me to thinking in 6 directions at once. It also weirded out my eyes after playing a 4-hour session.

Freespace, and the awesome FS2/Open mod, are where I still go when I want that feeling of flying next to an energy beam that is spitting and whining and for a real feel of small ship/fighter vs behemoth action.

Homeworld... I bathed in that game. I played it heavily for a long time. It was the game I'd show off to "wow" people about state-of-the-art space gaming. So beautiful. Sad that they bollixed the remake. Please don't mention Cataclysm.

Star Lancer/Freelancer, I still play them. You're nobody unless you can do the entire campaign in a Rhino :D
 
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I sold my Sega Mega Drive to buy a Amiga 500+ with half a meg expansion slot, this was 90 or 91 which would have made me in my early 20's, the local computer shop on Brixton Hill where I did the exchange was also selling a game called Elite, I read the back and thought yeah this sounds good....I cant tell you how many hours I spent but as soon as I was home from work and if it wasn't a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday evening as they were clubbing nights I was playing Elite.

Fast forward a few years and by now the Amiga was getting on and I was playing Frontiers and its sequel, the disk drive gave up on the Amiga, but thankfully my brother owned a SX25 286 and as we were sharing a flat we got the PC version of Elite Frontiers 2, he was Helm I was nav, systems, trade, etc. Then it was the long road of Privater, Freelancer, The X games, Jumpgate and some others I cant place as a few of them came and went.

Then I hear Elite is making a come back, forget this for near on two years until it pops up on steam a few months before Horizons was due out, needless to say I parted with my 50 quid and not looked back since, I do take breaks from ED from time to time but its still one off the best games I've played and Elite as a whole will always have a place in my gaming top 10.
 
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I never really played any space games growing up (born in 85). Had consoles, so the nearest thing was starfox/starwing and I thought that was amazing. Until I got older the whole sandbox thing became more appealing. Skyrim is a game I dreamt about as a kid playing Zelda on the Snes. I had elite on my wish list for quite a while, then my brother bought it and as we usually buy games to play together I purchased it and never looked back. I've pretty much played it every day for 2 years. I recently got an xbox one and obviously purchased it again. It is the best space game I've ever played, though I haven't played many. It becomes part of your life, it's not just a game. Yea there's bugs and stuff but when you see past them, damn what a game. It's in my top 5

Great OP. Repped
 
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Played the original Elite on an Apple IIe, then upgraded it to a IIgs. Played with the keyboard at first, then got one of the early CH Products joysticks (the ones that had a pair of buttons on the base, and one at the top of the stick) at which point I really started kicking, er, posterior. :rolleyes:

Loved that game. Especially the rear facing laser. I'd just push the throttle to the stops and flip to the rear gun to melt anything that was chasing me. :D
 
I never played the original Elite that much. I was aware of it, and our school actually had a copy for their BBC Model B's which I mucked around on for a while, but I didn't catch the bug until a mate of mine showed me a massive feature in The One Amiga about a forthcoming game then called Elite II: High Frontier. This game had graphics like nothing I'd ever seen before. In 1992 most 3D games had rudimentary vector graphics with planes that looked more like paper planes and pyramid hills. This showed complex planetary systems, ringed gas giants and the sweeping curve of the Eagle Mk1's wings. We eagerly awaited this game, and when it eventually came out (now called Frontier: Elite II) we were not disappointed. I must have sunk hundreds, if not thousands of hours into Frontier. It was the first game I can remember that had a real sense of adventure: the scale of galaxy was incredible and probably first conveyed to me the sheer vastness of space in a way that reading about it can never do. Yes it had bugs, and yes it was punishingly difficult at times, but there was nothing else like it. Elite III came out, but on PC only (and I didn't own a PC at the time) and then... nothing.

There were rumours of an Elite IV. I finally got a PC, and in my desire for the space game of my dreams I turned to other titles: Freespace, Freelancer, I-War, but they still didn't quite scratch that itch, and I'd still fire up the old Amiga from time to time and later, once I'd figured out WinUAE and copied my saves across, I used this instead. But Elite IV remained vapourware aside from a single piece of concept art on Frontier's website.

Then one day in late 2012 I sat down at my desk at work and fired up my PC, and did my usual thing of scanning the days headlines whilst my brain settled into work mode. There on the BBC site was a story about how there was Kickstarter for a new Elite game. I did a double take. Elite IV? Elite IV!? ELITE IV!!!!!!! Wooooo!!!!

The first comment under the article was someone who had posted 'SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!' which pretty much summed up how I felt. Backing the Kickstarter was a no-brainer. This was the game I'd wanted for almost twenty years.

So yes, I love it. It captures the old magic for me. Some bits still feel a bit work in progress and there are a few rough bits, but it's the best spaceship game out there by a large margin. Ninety quid for the lifetime pass was money well spent, and I've certainly already had my money's worth. Roll on the next update!
 
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Good to hear the history, CMDR. I have many fond memories of sneaking out of bed to play Elite on my CPC464 (UK), before getting up tired for school next day.

The code monkeys might use Linux, but Windows as an OS is pretty despised in general around here.
I've never used a Mac, and I'm never likely to, to be honest. I grew up taking computers apart, putting 'em back together, and have never ever fancied the idea of buying an off-the-shelf machine I can't take apart or upgrade myself when I need to. That said, I'm not a fan of Windows either, and refuse to run Windows 10 on my main machine. I detest the creeping invasion of privacy that we have in our modern online world. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned :D

Anyway... I think there are many of us that are old-time Elite players, mixed in with the young-uns.

o7 to you and the rest of us!
 
Another Oldie here, first played Elite on my Spectrum 48K (which is now on a shelf in the study!). We had a little 5 inch (I think!) black and white TV as we were in the wilds of the Sudan at the time (and yes, it was uphill both ways etc etc).

Currently sat refreshing the page on my amazon tracker to see if they have managed to deliver my rift yet... :cool:
 
Good to hear the history, CMDR. I have many fond memories of sneaking out of bed to play Elite on my CPC464 (UK), before getting up tired for school next day.



I've never used a Mac, and I'm never likely to, to be honest.
Yeah, that's pretty much the same story I hear from anyone that doesn't live near the U.S. west coast. I moved to just outside of Philadelphia, which is on the opposite coast, for a few years several years ago, and one of the biggest culture shocks for me, even though it was the same country, was that no one seemed to like computers much at all. People were much more old fashioned in general, and if there was no real need to change habits, they just didn't. I grew up in an environment where people embraced change and were constantly innovating. So to go from an open-minded mindset to one more heavily based on tradition was a big change for me. But it gave me a much greater appreciation for history and the value of said traditions.

I grew up taking computers apart, putting 'em back together, and have never ever fancied the idea of buying an off-the-shelf machine I can't take apart or upgrade myself when I need to. That said, I'm not a fan of Windows either, and refuse to run Windows 10 on my main machine. I detest the creeping invasion of privacy that we have in our modern online world. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned :D

Anyway... I think there are many of us that are old-time Elite players, mixed in with the young-uns.

o7 to you and the rest of us!
Yeah. As I said in my original post the biggest surprise for me, once I finally realized it anyway, was just how intertwined Elite has been with everything I grew up playing. I played a lot of video games growing up, so I played Sonic The Hedgehog, Super Metroid, and Zelda just like everyone else. But I was the only one in my group of friends that liked and hung on to those old space games and sims. The fact that all the space games that I latched onto had roots in Elite was utterly lost on me until I was practically an adult. Once I finally realized it I felt very stupid. All of the signs were there.
 
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