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Elite-Universe-Logo-Big

Elite Universe logo

The Elite Universe is a term to describe the whole fictional universe of the Elite series. Every Elite game and media takes place in the same science fiction universe. There are some minor disparities such as timeline events.

Dystopian Hard Sci-fi Edit

The Elite Universe is a plausible extrapolation of what human life would be like in the distant future. Many aspects make it dystopian and hard science fiction, because it has a grounding in science-based fact or theory. It's not an unrealistic depiction of a utopia or near-perfect societies without conflict. The galactic superpowers Federation, Empire and Alliance are portrayed as imperfect. They're all flawed with good and bad aspects. There's not a clear group of "good guys" and "bad guys." It's kept rather ambiguous.

David Braben's core vision for what Elite really is from way back in the day is it's always been about you're a person in a real futuristic setting, not just a ship.[1]

Freedom and the ability to blaze your own trail are fundamental aspect of the Elite Universe. Players can carve their own path in an open galaxy.[2] Space is generally lawless with little to no regulations. Since the original Elite they left what to do and where to go entirely up to the player.[3] Players can take control of their ship and do all kinds of roles. Free trade and economic activities are another fundamental aspect, because people need it to improve their socioeconomic status in the galaxy. This is done by players and the economy is simulated by the Background simulation.

The timeline of the Elite Universe is a continuation of real life modern history. The Elite Dangerous Timeline takes place 1286 years in the future and moves at the same speed as real-life.

There's an emphasis on scientific accuracy which is sometimes subordinate to the gameplay experience. The setting is a full scale depiction of the Milky Way. It has a lot of hard science, with for the first time in gaming history, compose a very consistent model of the Milky Way galaxy and it's rich enough to plot the night sky.[4]

Technologically what sets the Elite Universe apart is the lack of ‘magical’ anti-gravity or gravity generators. Ships have no anti-gravity, nor do outposts or stations. To move around requires pushing/pulling yourself, use thrusters or electromagnetic boots. Artificial gravity is created by centripetal force from rotation of (for example) a large space station.[5] There are no wizards (Jedi) with unscientific, supernatural abilities.

The aliens are truly alien in the Elite Universe. David Braben said "I'm dead-against the stance where the alien is just a human with a slightly wrinkly head, or pointy ears." "Thargoids, they are truly alien. They are based on differently chemistry, and a lot of effort went into making that chemistry right and plausible."[6]

All these things make the Elite Universe more believable and realistic than other science-fiction universes.

Post-Apocalyptic Edit

The Elite Universe is post-apocalyptic. World War 3 (2044-2055 AD) was the most destructive war waged on Earth. It brought much destruction and loss of life. The war was abandoned after over one decade. In the after-math, the dominant power was the United States of the Americas. Governments could not cope with the damage of war. Corporations stepped in and gradually rebuilt human civilization.[7]

In the 34th century, countries are historical entities that don't exist anymore. All remaining countries on Earth joined and dissolved into the Federation which was formed circa 2240 AD. People find it hard to imagine a time when people existed only on Earth with many disparate countries.[8][9]

Corporations Edit

Corporations gained a huge increase in influence and dominance over Earth's political landscape after World War 3. These ideologies influenced the Federation.

There are several super-rich and super-powerful corporations that sustain the colossal interstellar economies. Other smaller corporations are specialized in specific products and services. The companies and corporations built the galactic community.[10]

While corporations are not above the law, they have much authority over their employees, planets and star systems. The mega corporations rule unchecked over vast sections of the galaxy. They control countless subsidiary companies which gauge entire planets and star systems for resources and food. They produce goods which are essential for the survival of trillions of people in the galaxy. Corporate governments exist in the Federation, Empire, Alliance and Independent systems.[11][12][13]

Lore Edit

The official lore of the Elite Dangerous Role Playing Game gives an interesting insight into the Elite Universe. "Little has changed for those in the bottom of society since the old-Earth's dark ages. The planet-spanning mega corporations employ entire nations and rule unchecked over vast sections of the galaxy. Weapons are readily available and people are inclined to shoot first. The general lawlessness of space, inequality, greed of the galactic elite, navigational hazards and fierce creatures on planets make it a dangerous galaxy."[14][15]

Heritage Edit

The heritage of the Elite Universe spans over 30 years. The Elite series began with the classic Elite in 1984. It was a genre defining, open world sandbox, space adventure, trading and combat simulator. Elite inspired the creation of many space games and new game genres such as the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series. It spawned the sequels Frontier: Elite II in 1993 and Frontier: First Encounters (Elite III) in 1995. These space sims attempted to simulate a realistic Milky Way galaxy and pioneered technical possibilities. Such as realistic star systems, seamless freeform interplanetary and atmospheric flight, landing on moving planets with realistic orbits and day/night cycles. For Elite Dangerous, the developers have gone to great lengths to map and electronically recreate the Milky Way to scale to make the galaxy as realistic as possible.[16][17]

Evolution-of-the-Cobra-Ship-Elite-Universe

Evolution of the Cobra in the Elite Universe

Many ships are named after snakes. This came about due to the wireframe models looking like snakeheads in the original Elite. The ship names have remained similar throughout the Elite series. In Elite Dangerous the classic ship models have been updated with lots of details.

The legendary Elite series has critically acclaimed, groundbreaking, space simulation video games which take place in the Elite Universe.

Major Influences Edit

Aulin-Enterprise-Station

Orbis station

A major influence on the Elite Universe is the 1968 epic science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey produced by Stanley Kubrick. This is evident in the ringed Orbis station design and the docking computer which plays the Blue Danube in the original Elite and Elite Dangerous.[18] It's representative work of hard science fiction films. 2001 was made to be as scientifically correct as possible. Hence no sound in space, walking in zero-gravity with velcro-equiped shoes etc. The Elite Universe follows that ethos to a degree.

The Thargoid ships and surface sites share similarities with the 1979 science-fiction horror film Alien directed by Ridley Scott. The style seems to be influenced by the Swiss painter Hans Ruedi "H.R." Giger.

The Federation is an evolution from current Earth, rolled forward into the distant future. Federal politics has a lot of influence from the United States Constitution.[19] The United States of the Americas is the fictional predecessor of the Federation. The Americas implies that it's the totality of continents of North and South America. The Americas comprises most of the land in the Western Hemisphere on Earth.[20]

The Empire is influenced by Ancient Rome. Slavery in the Empire is similar to slavery in Ancient Rome. Imperial slaves have rights like in Roman times. People would sign up for slavery to pay a debt. Imperial society is based on honor, like the Roman Dignitas, or the Japanese Bushido, even elements of the British Empire, pre-WWI. It was shaming to do something that put people in a bad state. The poorhouses still happened, but sensibly, people were supposed to look after each other.[21]

Galactic charts of space agencies like NASA and ESA were used to model the Milky Way galaxy.

Societies Edit

Elite-Dangerous-Official-Powerplay-Banner-Xavier-Henry

Elite Dangerous Powerplay Banner

Societies in the Elite Universe can be very diverse, because star systems can have many different government types and customs. This is mostly the case in Alliance and independent systems where each system is governed independently with their own culture, values and government.

The Federation is less diverse than the Alliance due to having common values, regulations and government types among all their systems. The Empire is the least diverse due to having an imperial monarchy with more strict regulations.

Federation Edit

In the Federation, society is economically and socially corporatist. Social class is only determined by the 'haves' and 'have-nots'. Corruption is not unusual and people defend it shamelessly when caught as 'getting one over the system'. The working-class of the population is kept entranced by mass-entertainment and commercialism.

The Federation has the most densely human settled territories which makes it the biggest power. Its interstellar democracy has trillions of voters and is sustained by ancient bureaus.[22]

The corporations are the life-blood and backbone of the Federation.[23][24] They hold a very wide remit as to what they're permitted to do in the name of profit concerns. They control many aspects of life, politics and business within Federal space.[25]

The Constitution enshrines human rights and freedoms. It's the basis of Federal Law.[26] The Federation respects human life more than the Empire, but it's not as free as the Alliance.[27]

Empire Edit

In the Empire, society is based on a cliens system like ancient Rome and strictly stratified. To move between strata requires money, patronage and influence. It has rampant nationalism and people like wealth projection. Wealthy and famous people find it an attractive place to live due to its high living standards, outlandishly wealthy companies, sophisticated technology and design.[28]

There's a dark underbelly of legalized slavery. Slaves perform work which machines would do in other parts of the universe. It's also a proponent of human-cloning. Few things are illegal, but much is frowned upon like narcotics.[29]

Imperials value both status and honour very highly. Whilst it is acceptable to flaunt wealth, treating people well is a question of honour - and this includes slaves. People would sell themselves into slavery to pay for a debt that cannot otherwise be cleared in order to restore their honour.[30]

Imperial Law is enforced by Senators who themselves are above the law. They can order executions or even kill people themselves. They're rarely held accountable by the Emperor.[31]

Alliance Edit

The Alliance consists of independent systems who are militarily allied. It's governed by the Alliance Assembly. Each Alliance member state has a number of Council Members within the Alliance Assembly, based on the size of their respective populations. It functions as an arbitration body to establish common policies and treaties among Alliance systems, but it lacks any law making powers.[32]

There's much cultural and societal diversity among its members. It's much more diverse than the Federation and Empire. This makes political agreement difficult. Personal freedoms are inscribed in the Bill of Humans Rights.

Alliance systems and planets have the freedom to govern themselves independently.[33] The flipside is there are also oppressive regimes on certain planets in Alliance space. Such as "on revolutionary Eranin the population are expected to perform in weekly parades celebrating their independence from the Federation, even while their leaders ‘redistribute’ the people’s wages into their own back pockets."[34]

Social Classes Edit

Trillions of people live in the Milky Way galaxy. They can be grouped into hierarchical social categories. This is what it's like in the 34th century:

Upper class Edit

The vast wealth of the major factions, which was built over centuries of commerce, attracts greed and powerful people who seek more of the same. Powers are powerful individuals or organizations who form the upper class of galactic society.[35]

The richest people of the 21st century such as Bill Gates pale in comparison to the wealth and influence of Powers in the 34th century. For example Zemina Torval is preposterously rich due to her controlling stake in Mastopolos Mining and slavery. She owns many star systems and has a personal fleet of Majestic Class Interdictors.[36] All the 21st century rich people combined would not come close to Zemina Torval's level of wealth.

Middle class Edit

People in the middle of the social hierarchy, known as the middle-class, have gained tremendous freedom due to the affordability of space ships with faster-than-light travel. This has opened a galaxy of opportunities.[14]

Working class Edit

These are people who generally earn little money with low-skilled manual labour. Little changed for those in the bottom of society since the Old-Earth's dark ages. Some governments such as on Eranin exploit citizens with duties and redistribute people's wealth into their own pockets.[37] On the planet Zaonce, masses trade stocks for the planet-wide Bank of Zaonce, selling high and buying low, but receive nothing of the gains they make.[38]

Kardashev Scale Edit

The Kardashev scale measures a civilization's level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to use for communication.[39]

  • Type I - a planetary civilization capable of utilizing all of the energy of a single planet. Earth, circa 2015, sits at 0.724 (circa 1960, 0.7), just under Type I.
  • Type II - a stellar civilization is capable of utilizing all the energy of a star
  • Type III - galactic civilization can control energy on the scale of the entire host galaxy

Type IV and V civilizations are thought to be too advanced by Nikolai Kardashev and may not be possible according to current scientific understanding. Other theorists like Michio Kaku, Robert Zubrin and Carl Sagan think it is possible.

  • Type IV - a civilization that can control or use the entire universe. They can take on gargantuan, superhuman projects such as changing the structure of space-time.
  • Type V - a civilization that can control or use a collection of universes. They are like gods, can jump between multiverses with the knowledge to manipulate the universe as they please.

Type II Civilizations Edit

Elite-Dangerous-OST-Sound-And-Essence-Art

Elite Dangerous Art

Based on the Kardashev scale, we can determine how advanced a civilization really is depending on the amount of energy it uses and how much it could harvest for its own needs.

Humans Edit

Humans are a Type II civilization in the Elite Universe. It's estimated to be around level 2.5 which is in between Type II and Type III. This is evident in the following human technological abilities and achievements in the 34th century:

  • With the Frame Shift Drive humans can travel many times the speed of light between star systems.
  • Humans can travel in a higher dimensional region known as Hyperspace.
  • Corporations control countless companies which farm, mine and use entire planets and star systems for resources and food. This is done to produce basic goods which trillions of people use for their survival. Corporations have the technological capability and actively harness the energy of entire star systems.
  • With faster than light travel (FTL) being commonly available, Dyson spheres are inefficient compared with harnessing energy (and resource) at a smaller scale over more stars and systems.
  • Humans were able to jump across the galaxy and between galaxies with modifications to the original hyperdrive. It used the fuel Quirium in the classic Elite.[40]
  • The Middle-classes can afford spaceships like cars in the 20th century.[41]
  • Humans can travel to almost any point in the whole Milky Way galaxy on a mass scale
  • Humans have the ability to harness power of thousands of star types in the galaxy.
  • Humans have expanded heavily on an interstellar level. Primarily in The Bubble and some other regions like Colonia. Human settlements and asteroid bases are scattered in deep space.
  • Tens of thousands of systems have been colonized so far. Corporations rule over vast sections of the galaxy, much of that is uninhabited.
  • There's the galactic infrastructure GalNet. It provides news, market pricing and a pilot communication system.
  • Humans can use Holo-Me holograms to instantly join other ships with telepresence. This works throughout the galaxy.

Humans don't yet control or use the energy of the entire Milky Way galaxy which is a requirement for being a Type III civilization.

Guardians Edit

The Guardians are a Type II civilization. This is based on the recovered knowledge of the Ancient Ruins.

Type III Civilizations Edit

Thargoids Edit

The alien Thargoids could be a Type III civilization. They're an intergalactic species and may exist in a parallel universe or spatial dimension. They've interdicted pilots in Hyperspace which is a higher-dimensional region. Maybe they control energy on the scale of their entire galaxy of origin.

Thargoids are not a Type IV civilization, because they don't control the universe. This is evident by their lack of control over the Milky Way galaxy.

References Edit

  1. David Braben's Core Vision explained by Sandro Sammarco https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhsH5U7tz4A&t=68m04s
  2. https://www.elitedangerous.com/en/gameplay
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/oct/18/features.weekend
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOYhoFYIWmw
  5. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/15od2s/i_am_david_braben_cocreator_of_elite_creator_of/c7qds39/
  6. http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/elite-dangerous-creator-talks-sci-fi-politics-and-whats-next-w492781
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x-kaGsHvv0
  8. https://community.elitedangerous.com/en/galnet/05-JUL-3301
  9. Tourist Spot 0165 beacon near Earth
  10. https://www.edrpg.co.uk/what-s-in-the-books
  11. https://www.edrpg.co.uk/what-s-in-the-books
  12. In-game description
  13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x-kaGsHvv0
  14. 14.0 14.1 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game
  15. https://www.edrpg.co.uk/
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elite_%28video_game%29
  17. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134644/the_replay_interviews_gary_penn.php
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/oct/18/features.weekend
  19. http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/elite-dangerous-creator-talks-sci-fi-politics-and-whats-next-w492781
  20. Tourist Spot 0165 beacon near Earth
  21. http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/elite-dangerous-creator-talks-sci-fi-politics-and-whats-next-w492781
  22. [https://www.edrpg.co.uk/what-s-in-the-books
  23. http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=dcbf6b86b4b0c7d1c21b73b1e&id=f72c0f91b2
  24. https://www.edrpg.co.uk/what-s-in-the-books
  25. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x-kaGsHvv0
  26. http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=dcbf6b86b4b0c7d1c21b73b1e&id=f72c0f91b2
  27. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x-kaGsHvv0
  28. https://www.edrpg.co.uk/what-s-in-the-books
  29. http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=dcbf6b86b4b0c7d1c21b73b1e&id=f72c0f91b2
  30. http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=dcbf6b86b4b0c7d1c21b73b1e&id=f72c0f91b2
  31. http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=dcbf6b86b4b0c7d1c21b73b1e&id=f72c0f91b2
  32. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R8jZN2_tJU Tourist Spot 0113
  33. https://community.elitedangerous.com/en/galnet/uid/5593b9d49657bab1445913c1
  34. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game
  35. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game
  36. http://galnetarchive.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-emperor-is-sick-man.html
  37. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game
  38. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game
  39. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale
  40. https://www.drewwagar.com/lore/elite-dangerous-lore-hyperspace/
  41. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game

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