Frontier Developments are celebrating 30 years of Elite Franchise, We will be taking a look at how each game revolutionized how we play space exploration games.
Elite franchise originally was programmed for the BBC Micro. Elite: Dangerous used 3D Graphics long before the times of GPUs. Frontier pioneered ray-tracing 3D graphics inside computer games. The BBC Micro was designed for learning and developing code long before MS DOS. In the UK the BBC Micro was the corner stone of computer science. Elite was the UK’s first “big game” for computers. The excellent 3D Graphics added depth into a space trader game. You start as a commander of a trading ship and 100 credits. The rest is up to you, No holding hands. No internet, Only guides and magazines providing tips on how to go about your daily life. Frontier’s Developers say they where inspired by the original Battle-star Galatia and 2001: A space time odyssey. There where also Easter Eggs in other ports of the game relating to the star trek universe. Elite created and pioneered space simulation games that provided the player with the feelings of being a true commander of space.
You can download the Original Elite Game over at https://store.zaonce.net/elite1984.html
Frontier: Elite II (1993)
Frontier: Elite II was the original successor to the 1984 Elite Dangerous title. This Frontier: Elite II had been given a colorful graphical pallet thanks to the newer and much more powerful architectures of the IBM PC, Amegia and Atari ST. Frontier: Elite II had no narrative to follow instead the end user was allowed to freely explore space and trade legally or illegally. This type of free will sandbox space game would inspire many SciFi space games of the future. Frontier: Elite II also had one of the first and most clever DRM systems in place. if pulled over by the space police you would have to insert certain co-ordinates found within the back of the handbook supplied with the game if the end user refused or gave the incorrect numbers the police would arrest the pilot and impound his ship. The game would then end. On the more advanced computing systems such as the IBM Power PC the engine also included detailed texture mapping to add additional detail to the universe and objects around it. Frontier: Elite II was written in Assembler by Chris Sawyer (The guy who made the RCT series), Frontier: Elite II was at the time, was the largest commercial projects to be undertaken using the Assembler programing language.
Frontier: First Encounter (1995)
Frontier: First Encounter’s main objective was to explore the universe for aliens. The game had full motion visual character faces. First Encounter’s approach was to make the worlds more believable with 1:1 scale models of planets. The game was built to run on a DOS Exclusive platform. The game had two types of alien races and kept the core trading elements of the original game with the focus shifting to the alien races.
Frontier’s Sandwich Years (1995-2013)
Frontier Developments went on to create Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, Two Kinect Games (Kinectimals for Kinect v.1 and Zoo Tycoon for Xbox One Kinect v.2) Thrill-ville and Thrill-ville off the rails and the Wallace and Grommet games.
Elite: Dangerous (2012-ongoing)
In late 2012 Frontier Studios decided to crowdsource there next game, Originally coined as Elite 4 the game was a rebuild of the faithful Elite Franchise with an emphasis of new graphics, an Multiplayer persistent universe and story mode. The game successfully overfunded and development began. In 2013 the first Alpha build went live to backers. Consumers could purchase a Alpha/Beta/Game pass for £150. In 2014 Elite: Dangerous launched the beta mode allowing deep scanning, exploration and ship customization. Frontier also made the first Elite game available to download from the store to mark 30 years of Elite Dangerous.
About Frontier Developments
Frontier Developments was founded in 1994 in Cambridge by David Braben MBE, David holds a degree in Natural Sciences at Jesus Collage, Cambridge. David’s friend Ian Bell co-founded Frontier and holds a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Jesus Collage. Before this time the two developers had been published by Acorn Software, Gametek and Konami.
Elite has certainly come along way since it’s early inception. From a 3D vector spaceship to a fully rendered triple A title crowd sourced by awesome fans. Elite certainly has an excellent history and so has Frontier Development’s team, the main creator of Elite (David Braben MBE) has since gone on to be awarded an MBE and has also founded the Raspberry Pi Foundation giving children access to coding.
We look forward to seeing what Frontier does next with the Elite Universe. We will be attending the EGX Developer talk for Elite Dangerous and hope to report back on some of the new features brought into the Elite universe.