The A-Z of geek: E is for Elite

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I persuaded my father to spend £15 of his hard earned cash on software that I assured him would 'really help me understand astronomy and physics'. In reality, it was a game of intergalactic trade and combat. What followed was many a Friday night of my youth spent battling with pirates and Thargoids on my BBC model 'B'.  Buckle your space-seatbelt for a trip through a procedurally-generated universe...

E is for Elite

Created by a young Ian Bell and David Braben, Elite was the first 3D space simulation game of all time. It featured a universe of 8 galaxies, populated by harmless bug-eyed birds, communist rodents, various coloured frogs, birds, lizards and edible arts graduates who have an exceptional loathing of sitcoms.

Elite running on the BeebEm BBC emulator.  Here I have travelled from the starting point at Lave to Diso (a planet populated by 4 Billion democratic cats).
The aim of the game is: do anything you want. This was rather a new concept for computer games for at the time games gave your three lives and expected you to play for ten minutes. In Elite you can fly to any planet you wish; trade with the various alien species you encounter; do battle with pirates, aliens, trade ships or the police. You can upgrade your space-craft with missiles or lasers, or buy from a variety of other space-technology.

Trying to dock at a space station required matching the roll of your spacecraft to the roll of the space station in addition to some careful initial 'lining up', all the while being careful not to press the trigger on your laser cannons (they don't like it - not one bit).
A photo of the manual showing artistic representation of various polygons, I mean spacecraft that you will encounter.
A list of fun stuff you can do in Elite

  • Watch planets spin below you at ludicrous speed (as the inhabitants all fly into space due to centrifugal force).
  • Wait outside space stations and glooping the police as they emerge to arrest you for glooping the police, who then send more police, who you can gloop...
  • Travel the galaxy by only using your fuel-scoops to refuel.
  • Travel into deep space looking for pirates to gloop (and using your escape pod to get home again).
  • Fill up your cargo bay with questionable products and try to blast your way into the nearest system.
  • Sell your defeated enemies to the slave trade!
  • Gloop innocent traders and steal their stuff (then sell the traders as slaves).
  • Try and find the space-dredgers and the generation ships indicated in the manual (SPOILER: they don't exist).
If you like this game, then you might like...

A few years ago I wrote a 2D space shooter game for Windows.  It is called Starfunk. You may wish to go and play it.

Introducing Star Funk for Windows. Kind of like Elite, but 2D. Visit strange new worlds and encounter mysterious beings, then kill them to death and steal their stuff.

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