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Elite: Dangerous release date announced for next month


The latest Elite: Dangerous newsletter was just released, and it leads off with the #announcement that the space simulator has an #officialreleasedate: December 16. That’s just 39 days away, and puts paid to #FrontierDevelopments’ promises that the game would be out by the end of the year. The game can be preordered for $50, and eager would-be pilots can jump into the beta immediately for $75 (though only until November 22).

The December 16 release will be for the Windows version of the game; Mac users will have to wait until next year. Customers who buy the game will be able to download both the Windows and Mac versions (when available, obviously), and saved games will work on either platform—Windows users will be able to load their save state on a Mac or vice versa.

Frontier Developments have confirmed that they are evaluating support for the next-gen console platforms XBox One and Playstation 4 and also Linux desktop[tuxradar interview], but the initial release is only planned to support Windows and Mac OS X.

The fourth sequel to the 30-year old watershed space combat simulator Elite, the game came to the public’s attention in late 2012 when the developers launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the game’s completion. A playable alpha was made available to some Kickstarter backers over the summer of 2013—though access to the alpha could also be purchased after the Kickstarter closed. We dipped our toes into the game in June with the $150 “premium beta” (the beta access fee also included a copy of the released version and all future expansions), and have been in love with the game ever since.

Although the beta versions have been great fun (especially because of the game’s excellent support of the Oculus Rift), the most remarkable thing about the Elite: Dangerous development process has been the consistency with which Frontier Developments has hit its public milestones. Since the release of the premium beta over the summer, Frontier has rigorously shepherded the game through a number of iterations, and at each step the company has nailed both its estimated release dates and also made good on promises to include new gameplay features.

When asked Lead Designer and Elite franchise cofounder David Braben how Frontier had managed to stick so well to schedule—something that few other development houses seem to be able to do these days. The trick, it seems, is being able to make decisions on which features to include and which to drop, and then committing to those decisions. “We have been doing this for a long time now, across many different projects,” he explained. “It has enabled us to gradually grow our development team over the years, and we have a very talented bunch of people with a great blend of experience and youthful enthusiasm who are putting their heart and soul into development, but all of them are used to our processes, which enables us to stay on time. Over the years we have had a diverse output and developed launch titles for new systems, and I think that experience has also helped us to learn to take a step back when making decisions about games and all the different elements within them, to maximize the chance of them being good ones!”

As promised in the Kickstarter campaign, player feedback has played an enormous role in defining the shapes and edges of the Elite: Dangerous gameplay experience. “Developing a game ‘in public’ like this has been a fantastic experience, and the direct communication with our Alpha and Beta backers and their enthusiastic support and constructive feedback has been the highlight,” said Braben.

An archived catalog of community design activity can be viewed at the official Elite: Dangerous design discussion forum, which contains almost all of the game’s design documentation.

Braben is also quick to point out that the release of the game isn’t the end of its development or feature set. The latest newsletter contains a video focusing on “The Future of Elite: Dangerous,” and if the video is any indication, the future will include landing on planets, walking around your ship in first-person mode, and a lot of other neat things:

The future of Elite: Dangerous.

“Yes, there will be more to come, and it won’t stop with the Gamma,” explained Braben, referring to the feature-freeze “gamma” release phase the game is expected to go into prior to release. “Game development isn’t going to stop even in the ‘final’ release, so in that sense, features and content will keep going,” he said.

Speaking of David Braben, he can often be found playing his own game: “Yes, I’m playing as often as I can, and yes I’m Commander Braben, and of course people have killed me,” he responded when I asked him if he spends any time in the Elite universe. In fact, he draws his share of fire: “I’ve seen myself die on YouTube several times already!” he elaborated.

We have high hopes that the release version of Elite: Dangerous will tie together all the great gameplay elements that have been strung throughout the beta. We’ll definitely be giving our impressions as soon as we can get our hands on final code.

Reblogged from: arstechnica