David Braben talks about upcoming open-world action game The Outsider, and plans for development of the latest iteration of the franchise that made his name.
BRIGHTON--As one of the creators of Elite, David Braben is one of the most revered developers in the UK games industry. Perhaps just as importantly, he's also survived the 24 years since then, and heads up one of the country's most successful independent development houses, Frontier. He attended the Develop Conference & Expo this year to talk about some of this experience, as well as drop hints about upcoming games The Outsider and Elite IV.
Not much is known about The Outsider, other than that it will be an open-world action game. Braben contrasted it with his studio's last game, the WiiWare title LostWinds, by saying that the two games are "at opposite ends of the game-design spectrum." The challenge, he claims, is in the nonlinear story and in the interactions between the player and the enemies in the game. "When [players] believe in what they hate, once you give the player the chance to talk to [enemies], there is the scope to have a character feel a lot more three-dimensional. If you have a baddie taking out US buildings, the reason may be sound. You have to have a lot of backstory in order for that to make sense."
When questioned by the assembled throng of developers, Braben conceded that development on Elite IV is scheduled, but not until he's finished current projects. "We started, we stopped, we started, we stopped," Braben said with a hint of frustration. "We do have people working on..." He paused, seemingly not wanting to reveal too much, but then went on: "...it's a very difficult game to realise. The plan is to do it after The Outsider. I know it's been an awfully long time, but we are, in terms of technology, very nearly there."
Aside from these games, the main thrust of Braben's presentation was the quality of games and the cannibalisation of the market by pre-owned games. "There are fewer bad games around these days than before," he said, citing the supposed "golden age" of gaming such as the original Elite. "Innovation sells," he claimed, giving the success of LostWinds--the best-selling WiiWare game in Europe and the US--as an example. He also bemoaned what he called "retail piracy," and individual copies of games that go through the pre-owned cycle up to 10 times. Nevertheless, he offered some good news for the UK games industry, with 26 percent year-on-year sales increases to look forward to, despite the UK being "the most expensive place in the world to develop games."
akiwak- You are kidding correct? There is no way in hell this game is base on that rubbish novel. How the hell could they turn that into a game? Set in a different era and place
Elite IV "Very nearly here" sounds like a long shot, when Braben is in very clear ways explaining they will focus on finishing The Outsider now, which does not even have a release date yet. Sorry, this story just sounds like a lot of hot air to me... The Outsider looks pretty sweet though...
Elite was a benchmark game, always remember the Wolf Class ship made exclusive for the Amiga, can't remember if it was in the ST Version. I also disagree that there are less bad games now. Personally I think there are alot more bad games available, but that's another topic. About Elite IV, I think the problem with Elite is the scope of the game. The developer has to realise the scope which he intends to envision to the gamers. Everybody wants different things nowadays. Where people were satisfied attacking smaller ships, now in contrast they want bigger ships, larger universes, more planets to explore, more variety, more diversity etc.. Elite IV will be a difficult project, as what can be considered enough scope for the game? Personally, the original Elite was amazing for its' time. It showed creativity and design with limited capabilities of the machines it was developed for. I'll be interested to see how Elite IV turns out, but.. I cannot see this being anything special. I am not interested in having 1,000,000,000,000 planets... I prefer having more diverse missions, being able to command a fleet, attack capital ships, bounty hunting, command the police force, etc. What is the point of having 1,000,000,000,000 if there is no reason to explore as there is nothing there to do. I'll reserve judgement until the day beckons..
Elite on the BBC was the first epic must-play game of my generation and the first game that I fell in love with. It was also the first game where I used the name "Grieves".
I remember many a long lost weekend playing Elite,having every police Viper on my tail for drug running only to take a Government contract that wiped out my illegal rateing.Just take a few documents FAR across the Gallaxy.Countless jumps l18r one from the system I wanted the screen flashed inverse BLUE.I was stuck in hyperspace(witchspace),I'd have to kill the ships in close prox to jump out,only they were the bloody THARGOIDS!! No wonder they cleared my bloody record if I did this.I just made it out as i hit hit the auto dock and watched my Cobra Mk III turn and sinic with the station opening I glanced down at my level...I was Now ELITE! Its moments like that that define gaming,PRICLESS :)
Outsider looks cool. What I like about Frontier is that they created Roller Coaster Tycoon, game series I enjoyed so much.
The Outsider is a game based on the book The Outsiders which the writer wrote when she was 13. A movie version of the book came out also and it is basically about greasers AND prepies and how they live their lives. Good book probably should pick it up and read it sometime.
Elite would rock on the PS3. I had that game for my Commodore 64 waaaay back in the 80s. Spent many an hour running computers to a low tech/ high food planet, taking the money and buying food, then going back to the high tech/ low food production planet...lather rinse repeat and before you know it your ship is bling bling.
Elite was a game so far ahead of its time that it's a wonder how they conceived of it and executed it in the space they had. The further sequels expanded on the design in ways that didn't necessarily make it a better game. Hopefully Braben can make a new game with modern flair but still retaining the original's charm.
I would gleefully murder 100 people if they bring out a new Elite as soon as possible. Frontier was so awesome is so many ways. So many hours shooting police Vipers to classical music. :D
He does have a point about "Retail Piracy". How many times have you gone into a Gamestop/EB/Pick-Your-Poison, picked up a used game and could still see where the Blockbuster sticker was scrathced off? Hell, even the H-E-B+'s in my area sell used games now. Unless it's a game I know I must have on day one, why buy new? If you wait a few months, you can pick it up (sometimes collectors editions) for a quarter of the price. This way, the only people that get hurt is the developers and publishers. Retailers don't care, they get their money twice or more. And for anyone taking notes, this is how those games that didn't sell well have the largest fan base. The only sales that count are the original retail purchases, there's no way to include all used sales.
Frontier (Elite 2) was probably the game I spent most hours playing as a teenager. Elite 3 was awful and a huge disappointment. I'll believe in Elite 4 when I see it.
I remember when they wanted to make it a PS 1 game... Elite is never gonna come out - they have been babling about it forever and done nothing... They may realease some brand named space sim at somepoint but it will be some mainstream minded it won't even come close to a real Elite!
I can't even start to imagine how Elite would look with today's technology...guess I have one more game to look into. the closest to a revamped Elite I've played was HardWar for the pc and that was 10 years ago...
David Braben /swoon. This is cool news, been waiting a long time for this game I just hope it won't be as riddled with bugs as Frontier: First Encounters was.
lol, I cant resist to make a Pokemon Reference Were very nearly there to the Elite 4?! lol. They shoulda just made this a Pokemon game.
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