Elite 4 rumour mill
This article contains rumours and hearsay (some from David Braben himself) about what Elite 4 may contain. The article will be appended to as news comes in.
The Kickstarter funding target has been achieved. Elite: Dangerous is going to be made!
On the final day of the Kickstarter campaign, both the 1st and 2nd stretch goals were hit. Now there will also be a Mac version, to be released 3 months after the PC version, but also there will be a further 10 playable ships in addition to the 15 already announced.
Additional features hinted at or described in the second half of the Kickstarter include:
- More sophisticated trading model where longer-distance trade runs are worth more, sub-types of cargo, economic responsiveness to player actions, etc.
- Various sorts of mining
- Detailed ship internals, and external modifications (e.g. different engines for speed/turning/cost), with being able to walk around your ship as a later development. Damage through shields modelled in detail. (What happens if you're walking around your ship and the bit you're in gets hit?) Bigger ships may have multiple shield banks each covering part of the surface. Really big ships will be vulnerable to small fighters getting underneath the shields.
- Choice of paint jobs and decals for ships, ship naming.
- Set in same universe as FE2/FFE with Empire, Federation, Alliance.
- Planetary landings and procedurally-generated surface activities as a later development
November 2012 - Elite 4 announced as Elite: Dangerous
- The flight model will be Newtonian again, but with a more helpful fly-by-wire system. Time acceleration is being replaced by "local hyperspace jumps" - whether this is like the old 8-bit Elite in-system jump, the torus drive, or something else remains uncertain.
- The game will support multiplayer play.
- There will be heavy use of procedural generation in the tradition of previous Elites to populate the universe beyond a scale which could be designed solely by hand.
- In-game prototype screenshots show large ring systems orbiting planets, and detailed cloud layers in the atmosphere.
- Ship models appear to have internals, and some consistent internal scale. Additionally, the models are to be damageable, with impacts at particular points being tied to particular bits of equipment, cargo leaks, and so on.
- Weapons will include the traditional lasers and missiles, as well as projectile weapons. As in Frontier/FFE ship equipment will have both mass and hardpoint limitations.
- Combat manoeuvres will generate heat, which makes ships more obvious on long-range scanners, potentially attracting others to the fight.
- The Cobra III, Coriolis, Viper II and Anaconda appear to be returning. Other concept art includes ship types not recognisable from earlier games.
- The implication is that the entire Milky Way galaxy will be generated, like Frontier/FFE. There is mention of "core" and "frontier" systems which suggests a similar type of colonisation pattern to those games. Whether the same political entities will return or the game will take place in the same continuity as FE2/FFE is harder to tell. Conversely, a sequel to the Dark Wheel is mentioned ... does this mean the return of Alex Ryder?
- The political and economic situation will be dynamic, with missions capable of making permanent changes to the universe in terms of planet allegiances, etc. Missions will have procedural elements, and will include both 'formal' and 'informal' missions.
Rumours abound that "Outsider" has been either cancelled or mothballed. Frontier always said that once they had finished working on Outsider, work would begin on Elite 4. However, I won't believe it until I see it happen.
Linwig on the Frontier forums reported a bit of encouraging news on the IGN website:
"Talking at Nottingham's Game City event earlier today, Frontier Development's David Braben dropped a handful of tantalising new hints about his latest project, The Outsider. What's more, the co-creator of seminal space-trading sim, Elite, also confirmed that Elite IV is pencilled in for release on current generation gaming hardware, following its announcement in, er, 2001"
The important words here are current generation gaming hardware, which indicates within the timeline of current PCs, PS3, Xbox 360 type hardware. This, however, can still be quite a long period of time...
Play.com now predicting a release on 30th November 2008.
Play.com is still at it! Except now they have pushed the release date for what they call "Elite IV - The Next Encounter" back to November 2007. See their rampant speculation here:
... and take this with a metric tonne of salt.
Computer & Video Games
David Braben interviewed about Elite 4 on C&VG. Latest hints suggest Elite 4 to come out after 'The Outsider' as a single (and non-massively multiplayer) version first, and a later Elite game (perhaps we should call it Elite 5?) is planned as an MMORPG some time after the single player version.
Controversially, play.com has had a release date for Elite 4, which indicated September 2006. Their pre-order for "Elite IV - The Next Encounter" has now been moved to 30th March 2007. Frontier Developments have said that play.com are merely speculating, and a name for Elite 4 has not been chosen and certainly no dates have been released.
Frontier developments forum
Marcus wrote: [...] [Y]ou might want to pick up a copy of Edge magazine, its cover story is The Outsider, one of Frontier's new games.
In the article Mr Braben talks specifically about Elite 4, so it looks very much as if it IS going to be made, thank God!
David Braben replied:
Elite 4 absolutely has to be 'right' - and does indeed need to stand out from the perceived competition. Trebor, you are right to be sceptical; the game has to be outstanding to live up to expectations, and the three reasons you give have to be considered.
Nevertheless, I have never seen Elite as (just) a space trading game - it is way more than that - even though I realise this is how it has been classified since. What we plan to with Elite 4 is quite different, and much of what we are doing in Outsider will feed into that.