Famed UK developer David Braben has taken to Kickstarter to try and fund a brand new sequel to 1980s cult classic Elite.
Called Elite: Dangerous, the game is seeking an ambitious 1.25m, of which it has currently raised 75,439 from 1,436 backers.
The original Elite fitted into around 22K of memory, out of a total of 32K on the BBC Micro Model B computer on which it was launched (8K was needed for the screen, 2K for the system),” Braben wrote in the pitch.
This is less than a single typical email today. In it were eight galaxies each with 256 star systems. Each planet in those systems had its own legal system, economy and so on. Clearly some magic had to happen to fit it into 22K, and that magic was procedural generation.
Imagine what is now possible, squeezing the last drop of performance from modern computers in the way Elite and Frontier did in their days? It is not just a question of raw performance (though of course these elements will make it look gorgeous), but we can push the way the networking works too – something very few people had access to in the days of Frontier.
Elite: Dangerous is the game I have wanted Frontier to make for a very long time. The next game in the Elite series – an amazing space epic with stunning visuals, incredible gameplay and breath-taking scope, but this time you can play with your friends too.
We're using Kickstarter both as a means of test-marketing the concept to verify there is still interest in such a game that extends beyond the individuals who regularly contact me about the game, and raising the funds to do so.”
This isn't the first time Braben has attempted to make a new Elite, of course, and he admits as much.
I'll be frank – we have had a couple of false starts on this over the years, where progress wasn't as good as I wanted,” he added.
Also, understandably, other projects have been prioritised – projects with announced dates or other commitments. Nevertheless, we have been preparing; laying the technology and design foundations for when the time is right. And that time is now.”
And Braben has won early support from Minecraft creator Markus 'Notch' Persson.
However, voices of dissent have already appeared online. Braben's pitch is incredibly lightweight compared to most other Kickstarter projects, with no obvious signs of prototypes or early design work.
Indeed, the game described in the pitch does sound pretty much like the original game with nice graphics and multiplayer. Braben's speculative words aren't helped, either, by the fact that work on the title has been on-going on and off for years.