One thing can be said for certain: the newsletters Frontier is putting out for it's currently in-progress title are super organized, like, on an impressive level of organization. I fully support this. Let's get back to Elite: Dangerous here, though. In 1995 Frontier created Frontier: First Encounters, which was the third in the Frontier series (previously Frontier: Elite and Frontier: Elite II). At the end of 2012, the next in the series was announced when Frontier began a Kickstarter for Elite: Dangerous, which is one of the more anticipated games in development currently. Frontier says that they are still on track for a late-year release for 2014, with the game nearing to transition from alpha to beta.
It's very risky for gaming studios to enter into hefty Kickstarter campaigns, even when they do have nostalgia on their side. Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is a perfect example of this, and not one I'll likely get over anytime soon. Should the game get capital behind it, it would once again be my most anticipated game, ever. Most games currently available have me interested in half of it. Pantheon had me interested in everything they were doing, I loved their interactions with the community, the people behind the game were incredibly sincere and loved the genre, but I think their Kickstarter killed them.
If Pantheon had gone the route that Trials of Ascension has taken, by working on small goals through direct crowdfunding through their website to drum up support and then do a Kickstarter, Pantheon could still hold a sizable amount of people truly excited for the game. Instead, with the Kickstarter first, after it became unsuccessful, people saw Pantheon as a pipe dream instead of a game that really could do something cool and revolutionary, while bringing the MMOG genre back to its roots. I'll continue to support Pantheon as I can, but when they get closer to having a game, only then will I let myself get super excited again.
Anyway, this isn't about Pantheon or my disappointment. This is about Elite: Dangerous, who exceeded their funding goal of 1,250,000 pounds by another half a million and that is super impressive. Kickstarters are often like MMO launches – you get one shot to get it right otherwise, you've completely missed your chance and the internet will not let you forget it. Unless you're The Repopulation, then you just do small Kickstarters throughout your development cycle and they're all successful.
Elite: Dangerous is a massive, open-world MMOG (don't worry, there is a single-player option if you hate other people) that focuses on crafting, combat and exploration. Trade is a big part of the game, as well, but mostly, you're there for the ship-to-ship combat. In their most recent newsletter, Frontier compares the game their making to the game they originally made as they go through a visual comparison between what we had back in 1995 and what they're doing with their new title. In addition, they put an end date on the pledge level that you can preorder Elite: Dangerous that comes with free expansions for the game's life.
They're also making ships fully functional. While you have a first person view through your cockpit when you're cruising around, duking it out in a dogfight or conducting raids on a planet with your besties, other times you can really hang out in your ship. They've put in a ton of details into the game's ships, and the video showing off the cockpit is absolutely stunning. Keep in mind that the game is still in alpha and this is a work in progress, but if you like looking at pretty things, watch this video
Eventually, this will be expanded to include exploring planets' surfaces, which is likely why they think the lifetime pass is such a deal. There's no saying when that part will be in game, but considering Elite: Dangerous is about exploring the game's universe, I would expect Frontier to work on getting that up and running as quickly as it is developmentally feasible.
The newsletter ends with a recap of their most recent screenshot contest, and I must say, the game does look gorgeous. Elite: Dangerous might be so far from the type of MMOG I'm into, but at least I can appreciate how beautiful the universe is. They also recently held an AMA (ask me anything) on their forums, which have a couple of questions highlighted in the “Mostly Harmless Questions” section. Lastly, the newly relaunched and redesigned website is announced. Go have a look and check out the media section, just in case the pictures here don't quite convince you how pretty the game is.