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Elite-1984-Product-Image

Elite 1984 product image

Elite is a space trading video game, originally published by Acornsoft in 1984 for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron computers. It is the first instalment of the Elite series.

The game's title derives from one of the player's goals of raising their combat rating to the exalted heights of "Elite". It was written and developed by David Braben and Ian Bell, who had met while they were both undergraduates at Jesus College, Cambridge. Versions of the game for other platforms were published by Firebird, Imagineer and Hybrid Technology.

Elite was one of the first home computer games to use wire-frame 3D graphics with hidden line removal. Another novelty was the inclusion of The Dark Wheel, a novella by Robert Holdstock which influenced new players with insight into the moral and legal codes to which they might aspire.

Elite's open-ended game model, advanced game engine and revolutionary 3D graphics ensured that it was ported to virtually every contemporary home computer system, and earned it a place as a classic and a genre maker in gaming history. Elite was a hugely influential game, serving as a model for more recent games such as Space Rogue, Eve Online, Freelancer, Jumpgate, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Wing Commander: Privateer, Pardus, the Escape Velocity series, the X series of space trading games and the Grand Theft Auto series.

Elite is one of the most significant computer games ever, Elite changed the face of computer gaming dramatically with its combination of believability, considered design, compelling gameplay and longevity.

Gameplay Edit

The Original Elite, 1984

The original Elite by David Braben and Ian Bell

The player starts at Lave Station and pilots a Cobra MkIII. The default pilot name is Commander Jameson, whom the station Jameson Memorial is named after in Elite Dangerous.

Trading is considered the primary way to earn credits, but bounty hunting, piracy, asteroid mining, illegally salvaging cargo found in space, and illegal trading are available as more dangerous alternatives. Credits can be spent on upgrades to improve the ship's capabilities.

Thargoids can interrupt Hyperspace jumps, forcing the player to fight them in witchspace before attempting to finish the jump.

Hugely Influential Game Edit

Elite

Elite

Elite's open-ended game model, advanced game engine and revolutionary 3D graphics ensured that it was ported to virtually every contemporary home computer system, and earned it a place as a classic and a genre maker in gaming history. Elite was a hugely influential game, serving as a model for more recent games such as Space Rogue, Eve Online, Freelancer, Jumpgate, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Wing Commander: Privateer, Pardus, the Escape Velocity series, the X series of space trading games and the Grand Theft Auto series.

The former creative director of DMA Design Gary Penn cited Elite as a major influence for the original Grand Theft Auto (1997), "But I'd been working on Frontier, which is very different and there were definitely other people on the team who had things like Syndicate, Mercenary and Elite very much in their minds as well. That combination definitely led to the more open plan structure there is now. The game as it stands now is basically Elite in a city, but without quite the same sense of taking on the jobs. You take on the jobs in a slightly different way, but incredibly similar structurally. It's just a much more acceptable real world setting. The game was cops and robbers and then that evolved fairly quickly -- nobody wants to be the cop, it's more fun to be bad. And then that evolved into Grand Theft Auto".[1]

History Edit

David-Braben-Ian-Bell-Elite

David Braben and Ian Bell are the creators of Elite in 1984

The Original Elite, 1984 – 1992 Edit

It’s hard, at this stage, to return to the pre-Elite days of computer gaming in the early 80s. Back then games were largely simplistic, clones of arcade games or following very closely in their designs. Games were specifically designed to play through in a few minutes, featuring ‘lives’, ‘scores’ and ‘levels’. There were games that broke this mould, but they were few and far between, and often easily forgotten.[2]

Elite was born out of the dissatisfaction with the confines of traditional gaming. With no score, what was the purpose? The Thatcherite years of the 1980s provided the answer – money. But money isn’t a score, you can spend money. On what? On upgrades… so your ship had to be inferior to start with. What would be the purpose of upgrading your ship? To defeat other vessels. Why would those other vessels attack you? Because you carried a cargo… so trading was required alongside piracy. There was always a reason for the game mechanics, and the concept developed from there.

The true genius, however, lay in providing the player with choices. Yes, there were pirates out there, but you could become one yourself if you so desired. You had moral choices in the game, with no predetermined path.

Read the full article at Elite Dangerous History: The original ‘Elite’.

BBC Micro Package Edit

Elite-BBC-Micro-Package-1984

Elite BBC Micro Package 1984

The arrival of Elite heralded a new concept in game presentation. Instead of just the game media and an instruction sheet, Elite came packaged with a hefty manual, a novella based on the game, a ship poster and various other items.[3]

As with all other games on tape, loading the game was a laborious process, taking around 7 minutes to complete. Due to the nature of the cassette medium, no further loading took place at any stage, meaning docking and hyperspacing took place without delay. This was the reason why a number of features were missing compared to the disc version, as the latter loaded in fresh data during the game.

Elite Badge Edit

Elite Badges

Elite Badges for people who reached Elite status

The Elite badge that Acornsoft sent to people who sent in their 'order of the Elite' postcard with the code they got at Elite level.

The Elite badge was a very exclusive badge only given to people who reached Elite status, and a few others who worked or did work for Firebird. People had to send in their Order of the Elite postcard with a code they received when reaching the Elite status. Then they would receive the exclusive Elite badge. Acornsoft produced two badge versions. The third golden version of the badge is visible on Elite boxes produced by Firebird.

Edit

Original-Elite-Logo-1984

A scan of the Pilots Federation logo from the original Space Trader's Flight Training Manual, which was issued with the 1984 version of Elite as issued for the BBC Microcomputer 32K

The Elite logo is a combination of Pilots wings, the Elite text and a stylized Griffin which was added by artist Philip Castle. He also worked on the Cobra and Coriolis cover for the original Elite.

David Braben said "The Elite logo took a while to get right. The inspiration was a mix of pilot's wings and logo. The Griffin thing was Philip Castle's idea."[4]

In the Elite universe it's the emblem of the Elite Federation of Pilots. The body awards and administers the Elite ratings. The gold badge is for Elite pilots and silver for all other ranks.

Elite 30th Anniversary Edit

Elite-30-Years-on-the-Frontier

Elite - 30 Years on the Frontier

20th September 2014 was the 30th anniversary of the day the world first experienced Elite. This is the classic 3D space trading and combat game written by Ian Bell and David Braben in 1984. The technology used fits 8 galaxies each with 256 planets to explore on 32k of memory. It began on the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron and appeared on most gaming platforms of the era. Elite Dangerous continues the Elite series into the future.[5]

Trivia Edit

  • Most of the ships were named after snakes, and this came about because of the wireframe models looking a bit like snake heads.
  • Frontier Developments offers this game for free on their store page for PC, Mac and the original platforms.

Further InformationEdit

References Edit

  1. Gamasutra - Gary Penn interview"
  2. Elite Dangerous History: The original ‘Elite’
  3. http://www.frontierastro.co.uk/Elite/bbc_tape.html
  4. I am David Braben, co-creator of Elite, creator of Frontier, Frontier II and the upcoming Elite: Dangerous
  5. http://www.iancgbell.clara.net/elite/thirty/index.htm

Gallery Edit

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