I had a very quick go running BBC disk Elite via the B-Em emulator last night and did my usual thing of loading up on furs and food on the route from Lave to Zaonce (a route that is hard-wired into my brain, although the Lave-Leesti run was always my favourite). Of course, as soon as I arrived in the industrial corporate system I was set upon by nefarious pirates types – a Krait and a trio of Sidewinders, if I wasn’t mistaken. The Krait was dispatched without too much trouble, but my shields soon melted under the barrage of Sidewinder laser fire and it was game over within five minutes of launching.
Being so quickly eliminated is bad enough, but to be taken out by Sidewinders is tantamount to having your iPhone stolen in the street by a three year-old.
This is going to be harder than I thought.
I’ve been spending the last few days trying to decide which ship to fly, which is to say, I’ve been researching which version of Elite would be the most fitting vehicle to help me rack up all the kills needed to get that final Right On Commander that has eluded me all these years.
It’s actually a tough decision because while I have a great deal of affection for the “original” BBC B Elite (being the version that got me hooked on the game in the first place), there’s a part of me that would like to fly a different route, one that may be less authentic in some respects, but might be steadier and less likely get me lost in a nebula of apathy from which I’d likely never emerge.
It’s been 25 years since I last played Elite properly, when I was an idle student with a summer to fill and nothing better to fill it with but spaceships and trading, and yet I still couldn’t manage to win the Order of Elite even then. These days, being a grumpy 42-year old with a four-hour daily commute and an increasing inability to stay awake beyond 9pm, my free time is almost non-existent. So while the idea of grinding wire-frame kills has me feeling delightfully nostalgic now, the process will begin to wear me down before too long. Hence I’m veering down the path to Oolite – the rather masterful open-source tribute that is as much a remake as it is a varied collection of add-on packs. I know I’ll be able to lose myself to Oolite quite easily, but then again Oolite isn’t Elite. It’s not the Bell-Braben Elite I’m steeling myself to conquer.
My solution, I think, will be to attempt BBC disk Elite via emulation as well as a vanilla install of Oolite, thus staying to as authentic a path as possible while enjoying the graphical riches of Elite’s most recent (fan) incarnation. I’ll likely give up on one, but hopefully not both. If I do find myself wandering, I can inject a few OXPs and see if that keeps me going.
There are many things that enter my field of vision that cause me to do a double take, most of them vaguely breast-shaped, but the word “Elite” is another. It’s a word I see almost every day, on my Raptr wall primarily, since according to the tracking service I’ve been ranked as an elite EVE player (solely on the basis that I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into the game). Although it’s nice enough to be recognised for one’s efforts, even if it is by a mathematical formula, most of the time seeing the word “elite” underneath EVE Online is a cruel reminder of when games were the future, and one game especially – Elite.
I did another double take this morning, when I saw in my email inbox a couple of messages sent via crowd-funding site Kickstarter that some friends had backed a project called Elite: Dangerous – a game project, undoubtedly, since my friends typically only back games.
My first instinct was to prepare for disappointment and to find out which two-bit developer would have the audacity to call their game Elite, a game that likely had nothing to do with the Braben-Bell space trading classic. Then, quite unexpectedly, I saw the golden wings of the Elite logo perched on the screen before me and off to the side David Braben’s portrait. There it was, Elite: Dangerous. The first solid news of a new Elite game for 18 years.
I won’t lie. I was in shock. I still am.