I listened with interest to the latest How to Murder Time, which touched on both Elite: Dangerous and some MMO games I used to play. I’ll put my cards on the table here, as one of the presenters of an Elite: Dangerous podcast (http://laveradio.com) so you can probably guess which direction this email is going to go.
My first MMO was Matrix Online, which as you know didn’t do very well. However, my Memories of it are fantastic. Going back over some of the old game captures, I’ve realized how much of a grind MXO was. There were some genuine innovations (class switching, Metro City Itself) but without the GMs running events or the community (which was the strongest part of the game), there was nothing but the grind. It means that the experience I had, can never be recreated. Similar to your experience with the original everquest, except your game is still running.
But my main observation is about Elite: Dangerous. As one of the original 84er’s (1), I do have a similar experience about playing the original 1984 game lately (2). Because it was the first of its kind, our generation had to ‘Fill in the Blanks’ with the lore that came with Novella. That led to the rumors of generation ships, Raxxala and black holes etc. I totally agree with you that if you play the original now, you can’t believe how many hours you put in get to Elite at the time and that it does tarnish the memories.
We, at Laveradio, did a series of podcasts call retro lave where we looked old space sims of the past. Wow, did my rose tinted glasses get smashed time and time again!! Privateer, X-wing, the original wing commander all fell by the wayside as games that we would never play these days. Privateer was the worst for me because I loved that game and when I went back to it, I found it almost unplayable.
Moving onto your comments of Elite: Dangerous, I do have to take an issue with your claim that the game play is exactly the same as the 84 version. Yes, there is the same trading and building up of the ship, but I felt you just dismissed all the gameplay enhancements (3) as not relevant. The reason these new enhancements are there is exactly because the developers knew that there had to be a lot more to the game than shipping computers and furs between Diso and Leesti.
I’ve felt that one of the issues with us old 84ers, nostalgia has worked against us. By this I mean we have been playing E:D like old Elite (i.e. just trade, upgrade, trade , upgrade, rinse and repeat) and not taking advantage of the new features. Before you know it, you’ve burnt out before you get to fly a Cobra MK III. Admittedly (and Frontier have already acknowledged this), signposting of these new features have been lacking and they are working on ways to get people to try the new stuff. That could also be because we’re all old farts who are stuck in they’re ways. Lately frontier tried a MXO like event with Dev ‘GMs’ in game. It didn’t really work to well due to the instancing, so they’re going to try something else in future but at least they’re experimenting with different methods of engagement.
Ironically, the younger (!) generation who missed Elite and got into Frontier and First Encounters instead have been enjoying the game more. Mostly because they’ve been used to some of the extra features which the 84er’s weren’t. Personally, I hated the full Newtonian flight model (4) in those games because it made the combat just feel like jousting. Thus, I didn’t get into the sequels as much as the original.
The other thing people seem to have an issue with is that they are not the ‘Hero of the Galaxy’, which you would be in the old wing commander games. I think there have been a few players, who have expected to be the next Han Solo, only to find they more like the next Arthur Dent. (5) In MMOs, and you guys have already made this point, I hate the bit where they try and make everyone the Hero. For Example, in DCUO, there were a bunch of missions in the game that you would do and complete but because that content had to be available for everyone, the enemies would always be in the same part of metropolis and never disappear, even though you’ve defeated them. In MXO and E:D you didn’t really have that, you really are only the hero in your own story and as soon as people begin to realise this then they start to enjoy the game more.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is don’t play Elite: Dangerous like Elite, there are a lot of other things to do in game if you try them. Oh and buy a joystick. 😉
1. it’s what the E:D community call the people who played the original when it was released. (It’s either that or ‘ForumDad!!)
2. You can download it from the Frontier website for free now.
3. Different mission types, dynamic economy, planetary landings, exploration, full simulation of the entire Milky Way Galaxy, Driving around planets, Community Goals, Engineers, multiplayer and wings. I’m not a fan of power play but you can quite easily ignore that part of the game if you wish (maybe keep it for End Game once you have all the ships, equipment and stuff you want).
4. I-War and I-War II did that so much better.
5. What I call ‘Special Snowflake Syndrome’