Elite Game (1984) May Return via Kickstarter

Elite was a hugely ambitious video game creation. Now one of its creators is launching a similarly ambitious attempt to fund an update.

David Brabem is seeking £1.25 million (approximately US$1.9 million) through the recently launched UK version of Kickstarter. That wouldn’t put it in the 10 best-funded Kickstarter projects, but is a higher starting target than any of those projects had. It may well be the highest initial goal ever on the site (or at least the highest with anything close to a credible chance of success.)

Games have dominated Kickstarters big-budget projects: of the current top ten, five are games, two are gaming hardware and one is a line of miniature toys inspired by games. Retro remakes are nothing new either: the list includes a sequel to Wasteland, while a new version of Carmageddon easily reached its $400,000 target.

The original Elite, released in 1984, combined space combat with a trading game. It was particularly notable as it randomly created planets. Although each game “only” had 2,048 planets, the random nature meant it felt much more like an open world (or open universe) game than most platform-based rivals at the time.

Brabem notes that the entire game fitted into just 22K of memory, making it smaller than a typical modern e-mail message.

He says the new game, Elite: Dangerous, will try to blend the gameplay of the original with the sheer size of a 1993 sequel that attempted to incorporate the entire mapped Milky Way. It will also incorporate multiplayer gaming.

According to Brabem, using Kickstarter isn’t solely about getting the cash, but also about confirming there is enough interest in the game from today’s audience that it’s worth seeing the project through to completion. It’s scheduled for a March 2014 release.

Anyone pledging £20 ($32) or more gets a digital copy of the game. Those who pledge higher amounts will get access to beta test copies, be able to contribute to official discussion forums for the game’s development, and have their name appear in the game as a character, space station or planet.

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