Elite creator David Braben says 17 people have been cut from Frontier Developments as a result of “changing priorities” but insists that his long-in-development open-world spy game The Outsider hasn’t been canceled.

The Outsider, which has been kicking around since 2005, will (or would have, depending on who you ask) put players in the shoes of a rogue CIA agent in present-day Washington D.C., offering the gameplay freedom of Elite in a third-person action game. It began life as a self-funded project, was signed and then dropped by Codemasters and recently came close to striking a deal with EA, although that eventually fell through as well.

That collapse led to reports that the game had finally been shut down for good but Braben has since issued statements to the contrary, acknowledging layoffs but insisting that the game itself is still alive and kicking. After initially telling Rock, Paper, Shotgun that Frontier “had to change priorities because of requirements on other unannounced projects” and had let 17 people go as a result, he clarified the situation in a statement to Develop.

“There is still publisher interest in the project, and we haven’t canceled it,” he said. “The priority has been reduced, but we’re still working on it.”

Despite Braben’s long career, he remains best known for Elite, a groundbreaking space trading sim released in 1984. In 2006, Braben told GameSpot that work on Elite 4 would begin once The Outsider was complete. How it will be affected by this apparent breakdown – or whether it’s one of the “unannounced projects” that made it happen – will hopefully be made clear soon.

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