Elite could be dangerous

I’m unsure whether to write a long, rambling rant about my observations of ED, trying to explain and expound, or whether just to cut to the brutal chase. Today is my birthday so I’m going to treat myself to a short brutal vent.

Frontier have released a decent number of games and they’ve done OK in the console/pc box game market.

Elite Dangerous is the first Elite to leave the hallowed ground of single player, and it’s skipping simple campaign / self-hosted co-op and going straight to sharded MMO. And I see all the warning signs of a box-game dev team making the mistake of thinking they have a clue about how to develop an MMO.

1. They’re referring to the current state as “beta” when it is clearly “alpha”. Unfortunately, the terms have their meanings kind of fixed, and people draw conclusions based on them. Including the engineers etc working on the product (“What comes after beta? Pay!”)

2. They seem to have selected Web Forums as the primary means of communicating with players. Perhaps they have secretly discovered that the 12 years or so of evidence that this does not work only applies to games developed in the US? But click that link and compare the number of posts in “Elite: Dangerous General” – just the one forum – with the older frontier game forums which represent games that have been out for years.

3. Any MMO dev who plays the game and loiters in the forums briefly for a week or so will know in their bones that nobody is “watching” the beta, certainly not any of the important metrics, stats etc, and since they are clearly competent at single player games, you can only conclude that it’s because they just haven’t got a clue that they should be.

4. There is no evidence of QA.

I’m just going to skip straight to the conclusion I’ve drawn from years of experience applied to filtering/processing what I see in their forums, in their patches, etc.

Frontier are working this exactly like a single player game would be shipped, with the addition of forums to handle the online community.

Playing the E:D Premium Beta

I’ve been an Elite fan for a long time, so naturally I backed the kick starter.

Since I’m in the middle of seeking new employment, I’m not getting a great deal of time to play, but you may see me flying around as ‘kfsone’ if you too are trying to beta.


Elite: Dangerous (at last!)

It’s on, finally! The fourth chapter in the Elite franchise!

If you never played “Elite“, “Frontier” or “First Encounters“, I imagine you would be highly skeptical about the claims of “Elite: Dangerous“.

In 1984, Elite provided gamers with 256 galaxies of 256 stars, each of which had assorted planets and space stations. You loaded up with trading goods, bought fuel and launched out of Llave station to begin the process of trading, pirating and what not your way to the rank of “Elite”.

Those computers had 16Kb of memory. You are probably using a computer with 4-8Gb of RAM. That’s 260,000 times more memory than the computers of 1984. 1Gb is roughly 1 million Kb.

Then, 19 years ago, Dave Braben followed up with “Frontier: Elite II” and bent our minds: the game featured hundreds of thousands of stars, the entire of our galaxy, while at the same time allowing you to also go into the atmospheres and even land on the many planets and moons with cities and spaceports decorating many of the planets. All this is probably only 32x more memory than the previous version.

Today’s PC has 32,000x more memory than the computers “Frontier” was designed for.

Elite: Dangerous will be introducing multi-player to the Elite franchise, as well as bringing new depth and immersiveness to the game. Given how much Mr Braben has done with so little in the past, I’m really looking forward to seeing this chapter.

Right now they are pitching for funding on KickStarter – as of writing they’re at 1.1 million pounds of 1.25, 5 days to go!

X3: Terran Conflict (and a QA rant)

x301I’ve always loved space games. Some years ago I discovered a little beauty, “X: Beyond the Frontier“. For an Elite fan, it was pure gold. Gameplay was open enough that you could choose between, what Granik terms, “Space Trucking” and a more pro-active combat game like Eve. It has been through several iterations now, each improving significantly upon the last. A few weeks ago I spotted a new release on Steam: X3: Terran Conflict.

(High quality versions of all the YouTube videos are available if you click thru to YouTube)