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12/21/2012

Elite Developer Races to Revive Computing Classic

Back in 1984, A small British company called Acorn launched a computer game called Elite. Now, the original creators of the game want to bring it back, better than ever. They've launched a campaign on the crowd funding site Kickstarter, but they only have  a couple of weeks left to raise the money. It's a race against time to resurrect a computing classic.

Wallpaper04Elite was a wireframe-based game developed by a pair of programmers called David Braben and Ian Bell. It put players in a galaxy of different solar systems, each with its own planet. They would travel to a planet and buy commodities, including textiles, electronics, and metals. Then, they would fly to another planet and sell them (hopefully for a profit). 

En route, they would fly from the outer reaches of a solar system to dock with a space station. While flying through space, they might encounter pirates, who would shoot them down. Shooting a pirate might release extra goods that could be sold when the player arrived.

By modern standards, the game's graphics were extremely crude, but it was still very addictive - so much so that it's still considered one of the classics, and Braben is renowned by geeks everywhere.

Braben has a company, Frontier Developments, which made a sequel to Elite in the early nineties, and which has made many games since. But this is the first opportunity in almost 20 years for another game in the Elite series. He needs crowdfunding to do it.

The Kickstarter campaign sees Braben hoping to develop the latest version of Elite, called Elite: Dangerous. He is bumping up the graphics, as you'd expect, and is also introducing an online element that enables players to work together. Some of the developments in the game look stunning. He is using software algorithms to generate cloudscapes, for example, that will enable players to fly through planetary atmospheres

At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has raised almost $841,000 - but it needs $1,250,000 to succeed. It has 14 days to go.

Elite isn't the only space trading game, of course. There are many others, such as the X series multiplayer title, and the free non-multiplayer Elite clone Oolite. But Braben is undoubtedly the king of this genre.

You can donate to the Kickstarter campaign here.

Do you have a favourite childhood video game that you'd like to see updated?

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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