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Video: The making of Elite

[Note: To access chapter selection, click the fullscreen button or check out the video on the GDC Vault website]

January 9, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff

January 9, 2013 | By GDC Vault Staff
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Courtesy of the GDC Vault is another fascinating postmortem, this time from the Game Developers Conference 2011.

Often credited as a genre-defining space flight simulator, Elite stood out among a sea of formulaic arcade games in 1984. Publishers wanted to feed players quick experiences with a few lives, high score goals, and steep difficulty spikes, but Elite's developers were not interested in conforming. Co-creator David Braben, now Chairman of Frontier Developments, discusses here the challenges faced in developing and later pitching a game that went firmly against the arcade grain.

Even after Braben and co-creator Ian Bell had found publisher Acornsoft, the game had a drastic change weeks before mass production. The two felt strongly about implementing a new radar system, and fortunately Acornsoft agreed. That change seemed to have paid off ultimately; Braben states that Elite had sold a million copies over 17 platforms.

Session Name: Classic Game Postmortem - Elite

Speaker(s): David Braben

Company Name(s): Frontier Developments

Track / Format: Game Design

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC China already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscriptions via a GDC Vault inquiry form.

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Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC China and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.


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Comments


GameViewPoint Developer
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Thanks for this.

I remember everyone at school talking about this amazing 3D space game, and on Christmas day riding my bike down to the local computer store to buy it only to be told that it's sold out. Few weeks later I managed to find one in the window of another computer shop, and was told I was lucky to get it as it was the last one. I suspect Elite will always be regarded as one of the greatest games of all time.

Kevin Fishburne
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"We created it, and we'd go out there and see what was there." Awesome presentation. I hope his new project is as groundbreaking if not more.

Nick Harris
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Incredible to think that this classic masterpiece was created by two men in a mere eighteen months.

Even more so when waiting through the summer for a more commercial September launch with the game finished, tested, and the manual all ready for the printers that Braben decided that his players deserved a better radar - even though this meant changing the pictures in the manual.

Pity that modern developers ship such shoddy, unergonomic product despite many man-years of effort and better equipment - e.g. double-tapping (Y) to equip a grenade in Crysis 2 is awkward and the enemies get trapped walking on the spot behind low walls... less replayability too, of course.

Peter Eisenmann
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What an amazing story of creative vision and technical brilliance.


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