tuesday, 6 november 2012

posted at 23:21

So today Frontier Developments started a Kickstarter campaign for the next chapter in the Elite game series: Elite: Dangerous. I heard this from half a dozen people within the first hour of it appearing. The most common question is what "what does this mean for Pioneer?". The quick answer is "nothing", but I have some thoughts about the whole thing, so I thought I'd write something.

So what's going on?

Lets have a short history lesson.

Long ago, David Braben (along with Ian Bell) made Elite. Some years later its sequel, Frontier appeared, and shortly afterwards it gained a sequel of its own, Fronter: First Encounters. Reaction to FFE was mixed, but everyone agreed Frontier was pretty fantastic. Life was good.

Braben, via his company Frontier Developments, announced that there would be an Elite 4, but nothing happened for years. Frontier got old, and the community wanted something to fill the void. Tom Morton stepped in with Pioneer, an open-source clone of Frontier. I turned up a few years later and nowadays we're trying to put legs on a game that we now like to say is "inspired by" Frontier.

A couple of people refused to give up, but most people never really thought that Elite 4 would happen. But today we saw the announcment for Elite: Dangerous, the next Elite game.

Is Pioneer now obsolete?

Nah. For a few reasons.

  • Elite: Dangerous looks more like a modern remake of Elite rather than Frontier. One particularly interested tidbit came from David Walsh over at the Frontier forums: Elite: Dangerous will not have time acceleration. Now we've thought long and hard about what the key features of Frontier are that we must maintain for Pioneer, and one of them is the ability to speed up the clock. Its also the feature that makes multiplayer infeasible. So whatever they're making, its not Frontier, and because of that, we still have a niche.
  • We have some ideas that we haven't seen done in any game yet. We can still bring something to the genre.
  • We're having too much fun :)

Does this take attention away from what you're doing?

Doubtful. Indie space games are kind of in vogue at the moment - it seems like we see a new announcement every week. Every time it happens, lots of people pop up pining for Elite or its successors, and usually there's at least one person pointing folks in our direction. We've had a steady trickle of new players and contributors for many months, and I don't see it going away. If anything happens, we'll probably see more people as more people become interested in the genre and are reminded of their youth. Or not, and we'll continue as we always have.

Is it going to work?

Honestly, I have no idea. I have my reservations about Kickstarter for software projects - seems like everyone treats it like magic fairy dust, but we still haven't actually seen any output from any of these multi-million-dollar projects.

On the other hand, someone in #pioneer noted Braben promised a $35 general-purpose computer and was then heavily involved in the delivery of the Raspberry Pi. He's got the track record.

If it doesn't work, then its going to be a very public embarrassment for Frontier Development among the Elite player community, one they may not come back from. I will watch with interest.

Need any help with Pioneer?

Only semi-related, but advertising never hurt anyone :)

We always need help. There's lots that needs doing. There's a few resources on the wiki to help you get started, or come and say hi in #pioneer on freenode.

monday, 19 january 2009

posted at 22:12

This is a rant. You're not expected to agree or care.

I bought Left 4 Dead a few weeks ago. Its a good game. Not the best game ever, but enjoyable enough. Nice idea, fun to play, etc. But, as usual, its being ruined by the internet.

I was in the mood for a game tonight so I hopped on and started looking around. I had no success finding anything interesting, just frustration. The first game had four players that based on their names were clearly affiliated with the same clan or whatever. Two of them joined survivors, the other two infected. I was survivors, and me and the other random got jumped within about a minute in while they stood idly by and did nothing. I quit shortly after.

Second game saw me on the infected side. I make some good attacks and finished with the most points, which made me happy. On our turn as survivors they somehow decided without speaking to go in another direction to what's done most commonly. Because I didn't know about it, I got seperated and they had to come back for me. I asked them to let me know if they're planning to run off with out me next time, and they voted to kick me out of the game.

By this time I'm pretty annoyed, but I decided to give it another try. The other players were at least communicative, so I knew that they wanted to rush, and I was ready for that. There's still the number one rule of this game to be remembered though - stick together. The front two rushed a little too fast through the apartments, while me and another got pinned in a place where we couldn't be saved. Leaving us behind was apparently our fault, and we got an earful for it. I just couldn't bothered after this and quit the game.

So here's a good game that I like playing and while I'm not the greatest player in the world I don't think I'm a complete passenger either. So why is so difficult to find a good game? Am I destined to play by myself forever?

So yeah, people have ruined the internet. I'm not telling you anything new. But still, sigh.

wednesday, 7 january 2009

posted at 08:02

I bought a pile of games through Steam a few weeks ago and as part of the deal I was given a guest pass for each of Counter-Strike: Source and Team Fortress 2. I don't need them but if I don't give them away soon they'll expire. If you haven't played one or both of these games and you'd like to give them a try, drop me an email and I'll send them your way.

wednesday, 31 december 2008

posted at 10:32

I've had a nice week. Christmas things were awesome, lots of fun and I scored very well - my own copy of Settlers of Catan and the Cities and Knights expansion, some tshirts, IT Crowd and Frontline DVDs and some DS accessories. People are learning my tastes well, it seems :)

Sadly I've managed to break my DS. I put some screen protectors on it a while ago but they've got pretty scratched, so I decided to replace them. When I lifted the one off the bottom screen I managed to bring the touch lens with it, so even though I've put it back on the touch screen doesn't work. I can still play most games and I wasn't playing it much at the moment anyway, so getting it fixed isn't desperately urgent, but its a bit annoying. I'm still looking into repairs. I can get a brand new LCD+touch screen element for about $70, but I'd have to install it myself and I don't know if I really need all that since the LCD works. I'd need to get special screwdrivers too. I'd rather just get someone to fix it for me but since i can get a new one for $190 I'm not sure how much effort it is. I'll probably leave it until it starts to become a problem.

Sunday was game time, mostly Left 4 Dead, Counterstrike and Day of Defeat. We also played Ricochet which is really quite cool if a little simple. All good fun, as usual. Tonight is more games, this time of the board game variety. In reality it'll just be Settlers since everyone knows how to play already.

I watched all of the Boxing Day Test, which was an excellent game even if we did lose. I predicted at the end of day two that we'd lose even though we were in a position where a loss was close to impossible, and so it came to pass. Go seer. Apparently on day two South Africa were at $13 to win; shame I didn't get some of that action.

In between all this I've done the gardening, got hold of a really awesome wooden cubby that I'll put together for the girls in the next couple of days, done a pile of chores, read lots and generally had a nice relaxing time. Gotta go back to work on Monday but I think I'll be pretty flaked by then which is exactly what I needed.