This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss Elite Dangerous.
Way back in December 2012 I backed the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter. It was a fairly modest event and I was hopeful if a little wary. It wasn’t the most dazzling of campaigns to begin with, something I always felt hampered it a little. Kickstarters tend to make most of their funding either early on or at the very end of the campaign. Some people will immediately fall in love with an idea amd throw money at it, while most will wait and see. While the ED campaign had pedigree from the previous three games, it didn’t show all that much up front to get people talking. As such the campaign made slow progress and looked in real danger of not funding for awhile. Fortunately it did and as Frontier Developments released more material it became a more promising pitch and finally got the cash.
Since then I’ve kept a close eye on development from the sidelines and was impressed enough with coverage of the alpha and earlier beta builds (From Frontier, the gaming media and most importantly player videos) that I doubled down and bought the Lifetime Expansion pass before it was removed from sale a few months ago. I was confident by then that Frontier were going to deliver something good that will likely hold my attention for a long time to come. But I still held back on buying beta access.
Throughout the development process to date I have been impressed by Frontier Developments. At each step of the way they have managed to put out solid and timely updates that just seemed to make sense. From what I’ve read the game is currently fairly buggy as you’d might expect from a beta but manages to draw an impressive level of praise for its general playability regardless, and this has seemed pretty consistent since the early builds. The possible deal breaker that I’m bracing for is the online networking code. It sounds like the latest beta release has improved matters but beta 2 was plagued by players suffering from networking issues to the point many switched to single player modes. If it is as bad as I’ve heard about then this would probably be the main cause for any delays in the final release.
Speaking of which, the release isn’t all that far off. On November 22nd the option to buy beta access is going to be removed from sale. If Frontier hold to pattern then this could mean that the game will be launching in late December, which would make my decision to buy into beta this late in the day a dubious one. 😉
I do have a couple of reasons for jumping in now. The secondary reason is that Frontier are dangling a last-minute carrot in players faces to encourage the upgrade purchase:
Being a Beta backer extends far beyond getting early access to the game. All Beta (and Alpha) backers have access to the beta forums and we will continue to support Alpha and Beta backers with additional benefits and special offers in the future as a thank you for the early support you have given us.
This sounds a bit like a take on the CCP Mystery code from the EVE Second Decade Collectors Edition to me. I’m really not sure how much of a benefit having this will be but hey, it’s a thing. The first reward to it is that Alpha/Beta backers will be able to access the restricted Sol system without having to earn authorisation first. This doesn’t blow me away but its a ‘thing’ I guess.
The main reason for getting into the beta however is that I really do want to get my hands on the game! My shiny new joystick is sitting around waiting to be used and I wanna use it. I’m a bit concerned by the bug reports/networking issues that the game might be held back into the new year for bug fixing/polish and frankly I’m done waiting!
I haven’t really talked about it that I can recall but the main reason why I got into EVE-Online was Frontier: Elite II. I don’t think I picked it up at release, but sometime later when my brother and I were in a local computer shop and found a slightly banged up box in their budget games bin. Limited to our pocket money as we were it was probably going cheap. I remember that it came on one floppy disk and took up less than a megabyte. And it contained a galaxy. I spent many an hour of my teens flying about in an Imperial Courier with a big beam laser carving chunks out of whatever strayed under my cross hairs, or ferrying passengers across light years. Oh and the occasional hyper drive malfunction flinging me into the middle of no-where without enough fuel to get any place else.
When previews of EVE turned up in 2002/2003 I recognised the Elite influences and knew it was going to be a game I wanted to play. So I have, for over a decade. When in turn the Elite Dangerous kickstarter went live it felt like the chance to come full circle. I am very excited to see what Frontier have come up with using twenty years of technological advances.
The game may not fit on a floppy disk any more, but it still contains a galaxy. The current Beta 3 has something like 2,500 star systems in it while the full release will contain 400 Billion. That is a ludicrous number, but one that pretty much guarantees that any player will be able to be the first to explore a system if they want to. With so many systems it even possible that no other player might ever go there again!
Think about it. The human population of Earth today stands at a little under 7.3 billion. That makes for something like 55 systems per human on earth. I’m pretty sure a few people alive today won’t get around to playing ED so that should leave us with a good few systems each once players start to spread out from the core worlds.
And on that note, my download is done. So if you are in the Elite beta, I’ll see in space. Maybe. 😉