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Elite: Dangerous (2014, PC) - upcoming sequel for classic space sim trilogy now on kickstarter

Thursday, 15 November 2012

One more big name sequel in This time not an rpg though -- David Braben and his team "Frontier Developments" aim to get their upcoming sequel for Elite trilogy funded with goal of £1,250,000, and they might just make it with £475,620 achieved this far and 49 days to go.

Original Elite was revolutionary game at it's time in the 80's featuring very early 3D graphics, phenomenal (though random) game world scope, and free exploration -- written by Braben and Ian Bell -- both studying in Cambridge University at the time. It's sequel "Frontier" made in 1993 featured whole milky way galaxy with approximately 100,000,000,000 star systems (still with mostly randomized content).

Braben & co. wants to make new "Elite: Dangerous" for PC systems in honor to the old Elite games (actually project has already been started previously with small team "Skunk-Works" now being expanded in scope if kickstarter runs successful), with same spectacular scope, and with modern day graphics updating the game's looks with two decades. In addition with possible multi-player mode. You could allow and restrict who appears to your "network" and can play within your game world in your game. It's an interesting idea to allow multiplayer mode in the game with such a huge scope of the world and free exploration. It's function is described as "seamless, lobby-less way, with rendezvous with your friends as you choose". How large amount of players multiplayer mode can hold is not yet announced though.

Other than that the game's "story" will be the same as in the classic games with starting out with small amount of money, space ship,and freedom to do as you will. Will you be a bounty-hunter, salvager, rogue, trader, or explorer? The game's probably more about the scope of it than story -- but it's fascinating idea to build your wealth way as you like in almost endless space, now with also possibility to encounter your friends and fight with or against them.

Randomization allows large scope indeed, and it has it's good and bad sides. But if you liked games like original Elite, or Privateer perhaps -- or Freelancer. You'll most likely will love random generated content with large scope and (hopefully) still a lot to do and discover -- as well as the possibility to face unexpected. The random generation process used in Elite: Dangerous is called "Procedural Content":

"Procedural generation of content is a technique where content is generated from rules. It abstracts repetitive or arbitrary elements of content creation in a very efficient way. Imagine a medieval landscape. Laying out towns, roads, castles, farm land, forests and so on can be done by a system of rules – putting castles widely spaced out on vantage points, towns near rivers but under the protection of such a castle, roads between them, then with farm land to support them all. An artist can still design the castle, the houses in the towns, but this approach greatly magnifies the content that can be created. “Frontier” did this for the star systems, and planets, and with Elite: Dangerous, we will go further."

These rules are there to give random generation more sense of executing the process -- and better end result of it. "Frontier" did use this way of processing to the star systems and planets, but "Dangerous" is promised to take it further.

And of course for those ship customization freaks there will be plenty of ships and plenty of customization: engines, weapons, equipment, paint-jobs, body kits.. etc. Just get the money first the way you like.

We've seen that hugely random generated games with great scope have had their fascination and admiring fan base so far, although none of them has been perfect -- along old Elite games, you may remember also cRPGs Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and it's predecessor Arena -- both respected by some and mocked by some at least in game content aspect. Random generation has always had it's problems with repetitiveness, more lackluster events, and less interesting surroundings -- although it brings it's attraction different way: Endless exploration gives game very long life-span, in case game has ways to keep exploration interesting after fifty - even hundred hours of gameplay. Now let's see how well Elite: Dangerous succeeds in generating it's hugely vast space and countless planets without being bland and uninteresting.

See their kickstarter campaign at here!

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