David Braben: Publisher model prevented development of new Elite

One of the questions that has repeatedly been asked about Frontier Developments’ return to Elite with the Kickstarter for Elite: Dangerous is why it has taken so long for the company to work on a new title in the series. Speaking to IncGamers, Frontier’s David Braben (one of Elite’s original creators) has said that the over-cautious nature of the traditional publisher model has been to blame.

“Publishers had … ?and still have now,? ?established processes and a key part of that is the forecast ROI or return on investment.? ?For that to work there has to have been a sufficiently similar game in the near past to base the forecast? ?upon … Anything else will be? ?‘too risky?’?,” he said.

“Working with publishers is great,? ?but as part of the process,? ?inevitably the publisher will want to steer the game in a particular direction.”

That, according to Braben, was not an acceptable state of affairs for the next Elite.

“Today,? ?we would be steered to make a game with cut-scenes that would appeal to an imagined audience,” he says. ?”That is not the game I want to make.”

A full interview with Braben will be coming to IncGamers in the coming days. If you missed the new Elite: Dangerous video put up over the weekend, turn your eyes to this news post.

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    • Nats

      Look forward to it DB is rapidly becoming my hero.

    • Charlie

      Damn straight .. just like the music industry, money grabbing gimps!

    • psyounger

      That’s why we see so many sequels, it’s the risk factor publishers don’t like. It;s also one of the reasons the industry goes stale.

    • v85rawdeal

      Imagine, if you will, an entire galaxy of 256 star systems,
      each with their own economy, crammed into an executable program smaller
      in memory size than your average forum avatar.

      Now, imagine eight of these galaxies, each unique, crammed into the
      same memory. That was Elite. An entire universe in just 22kb of memory.

      Remember back to the first time you played Ocarina of Time and you
      emerged out onto Hyrule Field and the sense of awe that struck you as
      you looked on at that green expanse. Well, David Braben and Ian Bell
      managed to generate that feeling 14 years previously with Elite.

      Except, unlike Ocarina, you couldn’t just go left or right, forward
      or backward. You could go upwards, downwards, turnwise or widdershins.
      No set path, no goal on the horizon, just you and space. Lots of space.

      Imagine a game that didn’t hold your hand; a game that set you out on
      your path with just a handful of currency. A game that required you to
      master the art of docking your ship in a small, rotating rectangle
      without any aids. (The docking computer was available, but cost 4 x your
      starting credits).

      Elite had no adjustable difficulty levels; it just was what it was
      and you just existed in it. Take a jump into the wrong system, or carry
      the wrong cargo and your very existence was at risk. The game didn’t
      deliberately try and kill you, it just made sure you knew that each
      journey could be your last.

      Very few games nowadays give you feeling of uncertainty; both Demons’
      and Dark Souls manage it. But it seems that gamers need something to
      hold their hands. But now we have the chance to celebrate the rebirth of
      one of the greatest games ever released.

      We have the chance to feel that sense of awe again; a chance to break
      away from the norm and spread our wings and fly to distant corners. Not
      constrained by invisible walls or campaigns. A chance to truly be free
      and to explore a play area so large that we cannot even begin to imagine
      what the furthest edge of it looks like.

      This is what Elite: Dangerous offers us. Not a 30 hour story. Not a
      game with a defined beginning, middle and end. But a game with only one
      point of definition: The beginning. Everything after that point is fair
      game and our story to write.