Fri. Mar 24th, 2023

<em>Elite: Dangerous</em> to the left, <em>Star Citizen</em> on the right!”/><figcaption class=

Enlarge / Elite: Dangerous on the left side, Star burger at the right!

Chris Roberts has an enviable pedigree: he is the man behind the Wing Commander series of games, which means that his work is behind the entire genre of modern space combat simulation – without Wing Commander there would be none X wing or Tie Fighter or Free space. The genre has been around since the release of Free space 2 almost 15 years ago, and I fight anyone who says a good space combat game has been released since then, because they Completely wrong. But Roberts’ October 2012 launch of a crowdfunding campaign for a new space combat sim in the tradition and style of Wing Commander shattered records and showed that there are still fans of what many thought was a dead and buried genre.

Unfortunately, gas jocks eager to pull out dusty Thrustmasters and blast them in black will have to wait a bit longer: the semi-private alpha release of Star Citizens dogfighting module went into the indefinite future from this afternoon. In a post posted to Roberts Space Industries’ main site yesterday, Roberts informed fans that there are still too many bugs for the product to fly. “We are very close … just not close enough to launch tomorrow,” the message read.

The game’s crowdfunding campaign and associated lengthy pre-purchase period has raised approximately $44.2 million as of this morning; this is a huge amount, but the proposed scope of Star burger is more than big enough to match. The game features a complete single-player campaign along with a persistent universe MMO with a dynamic economy; the single-player game will serve as a lead-in to the MMO. Today’s release of the dogfighting module (named “Arena Commander” and stylized as an in-universe combat sim game) would mark the first time backers could actually fly with the game’s engine.

From our vantage point on the press balcony, we were able to watch the RSI team put together an emergency version of the game right in front of our eyes at the unveiling!
Enlarge / From our vantage point on the press balcony, we were able to watch the RSI team put together an emergency version of the game right in front of our eyes at the unveiling!

However, the development of such an ambitious game is fraught with delays. Roberts first publicly demonstrated the dogfighting module at PAX East in Boston earlier this year; Kyle Orland and I were there to observe and the live demo wasn’t without some hiccups. The RSI developers had some trouble building the game and there were a few crashes (completely understandable for a live demo of an alpha game), but the game was met with roars and cheers from the enthusiastic crowd when Robert’s in-game avatar put on his helmet and shot away from the wearer.

We ended up seeing some great starship action.  Here Chris Roberts himself demonstrates the game to the audience.
Enlarge / We ended up seeing some great starship action. Here Chris Roberts himself demonstrates the game to the audience.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic

Although, while Star burger backers may have to wait a few extra days or weeks for Roberts and his team to fix more bugs, Star burger isn’t the only massively multiplayer space sim to join the crowdfunding wave. Across the pond in the UK, David Braben and his team at Frontier Developments are kicking things off and recording names for another high-profile project: Elite: Dangerous.

Yes, That David Braben – half of the duo behind the great grandfather of all spaceflight games, Elite. I was a bit misleading up here when I called Wing Commander the source from which space combat games originated; it would be more correct to say so Wing Commander is the mold from which story-driven aerial combat in space is cast. Eliteon the other hand, is the only real source of space combat and trade. Elite was already six years old when Roberts and Origin were launched Wing Commander in 1990, and like his progeny, Elite is also being revived through crowdfunding.

Gameplay of the latest Elite: Dangerous alpha release, showing off some incredible visuals (including drool-worthy witchspace hyperdrive effects).

The title of the new game is Elite: Dangerous. Although active on less than ten percent of Star Citizens huge budget—Elite: Dangerous seems to have raised about $2.8 million – the game released a slew of playable alpha demos, including a massive update on May 15th that added hyperspace travel between systems and limited trading and dogfighting – both with computer-controlled AIs and other ones as well players .

And that’s just the beginning: Elite: Dangerous is slated to move into what Frontier Developments calls its “premium beta” phase tomorrow, opening the floodgates to a large wave of crowdfunding backers who have paid for the privilege of fighting-the-open-universe-trading-piracy- test out whatever-you-want space MMO before it becomes generally available.

Plus, at least so far, Elite: Dangerous is still on track to meet the beta release date. Here at Ars we are prepared and ready to download both Star burger And Elite: Dangerous (and we’ve been playing with the latter’s alpha demo for several days now). We had originally planned a head-to-head comparison immediately, but Star Citizens delay means we will focus on first Elite.

If you want to join and the Elite: Dangerous premium beta, you just need to sign up and pay $150 (or £100 if you’re in the UK). For those who prefer it star burger, the dogfighting module should be available to backers whose packs include alpha access (the price of which varies – although according to the FAQ there are no longer alpha slots available for purchase individually, but you can still make your way to buy the dogfighting module with a pass).

Even if you can’t join (you don’t want to drop the coin or you have a console – both titles are PC only), stay tuned for Ars. We’ll be talking pretty heavily about both games as they roll towards release.

By akfire1

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