The Elites: David Braben Talks Elite: Dangerous and Space Sims

The Elites: David Braben Talks Elite: Dangerous and Space Sims

We sit down with David Braben, founder of Frontier Developments, to discuss the history of the Elite games, and the influences on his recently released space sim, Elite: Dangerous.

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This is fantastic. Thank you for this article, this interview. I hope this new column continues with great success.

I concur, i loved Frontier and have already lost myself in Elite:Dangerous. More of this please :)

Nobody ever asks the most interesting question. I think one of the most amazing things about Frontier: Elite was the ability to seamlessly land on planet surfaces. Also the planets were beautifully crafted with cities, vegetation, atmosphere, clouds and hills. This is something that has yet to find its equal in a modern game. I would be very interested to know what it took for him to pull it of, and why this feature practically does not exist in any other space game.

For the record, there is one modern game I know of that also has seamless flight between space and planets, "Evochron Mercenary", which is quite an achievement. But it doesn't feel as realistic and "right" as in Frontier, because the scale is way off. In Evochron it seems like you are landing on tiny, miniature planets where a city is as big as a hole country.

Tiamat666:
Nobody ever asks the most interesting question. I think one of the most amazing things about Frontier: Elite was the ability to seamlessly land on planet surfaces. Also the planets were beautifully crafted with cities, vegetation, atmosphere, clouds and hills. This is something that has yet to find its equal in a modern game. I would be very interested to know what it took for him to pull it of, and why this feature practically does not exist in any other space game.

For the record, there is one modern game I know of that also has seamless flight between space and planets, "Evochron Mercenary", which is quite an achievement. But it doesn't feel as realistic and "right" as in Frontier, because the scale is way off. In Evochron it seems like you are landing on tiny, miniature planets where a city is as big as a hole country.

From looking at the Elite:dangerous forums landing on planets is on the cards in a future update. If you haven't played it yet its a must, took me a week to fly to the edge of the galaxy and to look at the great expanse of darkness in front of me then to turn round and see the milky way just awe inspiring!!

i have to play it on my TV just for scale and considering picking up occulus prototype just for this game

Great article. I look forward to the next.

Carzinex:

i have to play it on my TV just for scale and considering picking up occulus prototype just for this game

I'm thinking of going the Track IR route instead so i can keep playing on my monitor.

I'm wondering if microsoft's new Holo-lens would work the same as a Occulus. If so Windows 10 might have just sold me. :)

i like elite dangerous but it gets a bit samey for me, every station looks identical so im taking a break till they add some extra features like walking around your ship, stations, and i cant wait for planetary landings and exploration

Stillgard:
I'm wondering if microsoft's new Holo-lens would work the same as a Occulus. If so Windows 10 might have just sold me. :)

It would probably be good on an Oculus Rift, however I doubt MS's one will be compatible, or Razer's VR headset they announced.

As for the Rift, I'm waiting for the production model, then I need to try it for at least half an hour or more before I put down any money.

Indeed, would be a interesting niche if it worked though :)

I caution against spending too much on either the Rift of the TrackIR 5 for Elite: Dangerous

I have the full setup - X55 rhino stick on right, Thrustmaster t16000m on left, Saitek Cessna rudder pedals for throttle control, a Rift DK2, and a TrackIR 5.

The Rift is good and a great experience but I will definitely upgrade it to the consumer release when it's ready. The resolution is too low for the Elite UI menus and HUD and it does hurt your eyes after extended play. After using it for awhile (10s of hours) you can mostly eliminate simulation sickness and the headtracking is flawless so the largest problem I have with it currently is the low resolution of the display. You could engineer a game that would work well with the current res of the screen, but Elite is not that game.

Also, since you are rendering the scene twice (one for each eye) I had to upgrade to a GTX980 to handle the strain. Without the GTX980 or a card of similar power, you will have to turn down the "oculus quality" slider even further to eliminate judder which exacerbates the problem.

The TrackIR 5 has a completely different issue. Due to the fact that you're looking through your monitor, essentially a little port-hole window, you cannot set the headtracking to be 1:1. You need to make it so that when you move your head a little bit, your pilot moves his head more than you. This works well for up to 30 minutes at a time, after which your neck and shoulders really do take a beating from being kept unnaturally still for too long to keep your vision centered. I was not able to completely alleviate this by increasing the deadzone of the TrackIR.

 

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