Today is a special day. 30 years after the original game was released, a new version of Elite has just been launched. (and it’s so popular that at the time of writing, the website was down – keep trying)

EliteElite is without doubt my all time favourite game. Originally launching on the BBC Micro in 1984, I played it first on the ZX Spectrum followed by the Atari ST. It was absolutely groundbreaking in many ways. The wireframe 3D graphics were ahead of its time, the sandbox nature of the game was almost unheard of, and the procedurally generated galaxies which allowed it to cram an incredible amount of data into less than 48k was just staggering. David Braben and Ian Bell were both only about 19 years old when they made it too. A true classic example of the UK bedroom programming culture at work. David Braben gave a fascinating presentation recently about how he managed to cram the game into such a small file.

I will be writing a full review of the original Elite on this blog soon but the basic premise is that it is a space trading game where you can choose to buy cargo such as Computers, Machinery, Firearms or even Slaves, travel to other solar systems and sell them for a profit. You can use these credits to buy better equipment for your ship. Or you can choose the life of a pirate and seek out and destroy other trading ships and scoop up their cargo for profit. All the way you are working towards improving your status from ‘Mostly Harmless’ all the way up to ‘Elite’. It was one of the first games that didn’t have a score or multiple lives. This game consumed me as a child. I would probably say at least 30% of all the gaming in my life has been on this game.

Fast forward 30 years and the original creator, David Braben, is releasing a version of the game that we had all dreamed of. Beautiful graphics, interactive space stations, flying other ships, 1:1 recreation of the Milky Way, and the big one… multiplayer gaming. At last we can play Elite with other people online.

Elite Dangerous

This game is a great case study for the Kickstarter model. I believe it became the biggest fundraising ever on Kickstarter at the time, raising well over £1.5million. Today is the day it comes to fruition.

I tend not to be able to do much modern game playing these days. I’ve got a wife, 2 kids and a busy life. I just don’t have enough spare time to sit through constant upgrade downloads or long story arcs. I instead opt for the pick up and play option of retrogaming. It’s not just the nostalgia, it’s the practicality of it too. But Elite: Dangerous is the one game that will now make me try to find some spare time to play a modern game properly. I look forward to seeing that legendary opening line…”Press Space Commander”.

See you in the void.