Talk about anything and everything Squad-related here -- what you've been playing, what you're looking forward to, and how big your Pile of Shame has grown after that last Steam sale...
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Alex Connolly

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Re: Elite and other space games.

by Alex Connolly » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:07 am

Much like the X games, I find the best way to ameliorate free-fall paralysis is to use a trading guide. Helps to have a tiny material goal to aim for in the void, be it Elite, X, Patrician or Port Royale.
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:09 pm

Crap. Forgot about Elite: The New Kind. Someome re-released it back in September for the 30th anniversary. There's even a link to it on Ian Bell's website that I completely missed. I'll still mess around with the NES version a little.
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:45 am

Okay, played a bunch of NES Elite. Full impressions over here: http://noplatform.wordpress.com/2014/12 ... lite-1984/

Short version: nifty game. My mind is still kind of blown they did this on the NES, especially the full 3D space flight. I think something would have happened had this version been released in one of the healthier NES markets like North America. It could have gotten a lot more exposure on a console in that market. I found out a Super NES version was actually planned that was basically the same game but it looked like Star Fox 1. That would've been amazing.

Part of the reason I legit got sucked into this version of the game is 1) the retro feel, and 2) how they got the whole control scheme and trading interface working on a directional pad and two buttons. Simple control scheme for a complex game. The retro look and feel adds something to it too. My only issue is the dogfighting controls are slightly cumbersome because they go just a tad beyond what the NES controller was designed for. The central gameplay loop of jumping from system to system is really compelling despite how simple the systems are. Reminds me of Mass Effect quite a bit, particularly Mass Effect 1. This type of gameplay is more or less what I wanted out of ME1 and I hope I get to see it advance when I check out later space games.

I didn't get TOO far here. I got to "Above Average" ranking, upgraded to beam lasers, got a missile scrambler, and a fuel scoop. And a docking computer too. Screw manual docking. That shit feels like that one part in Interstellar (you know what I'm talking about if you saw it). Anyway, I'm gonna check out New Kind and Oolite now.
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:11 am

Okay I just tried out New Kind for like a minute. Nope.

I was expecting some kind of modern-windows up-port where they'd maybe modernized the interface and fitted the game with today's PC controls, or maybe something where I could select all the functions with a mouse. Nah bruh. From what I can tell this is the game exactly as it was played in 1984, except it runs on today's PCs without requiring an emulator.

The old-ass PC controls are there, from the era before people figured out context-sensitive buttons. All the screens are controlled by all 12 F keys which I'm not going to remember. And every single function is a different obscure key on the keyboard, like / to slow down or A to fire lasers. Man whatever. I was able to bear with it in Ultima Underworld because that game at least did a lot of stuff with the mouse to make itself a little user friendly. This here just makes me realize I actually prefer the NES version despite its wireframe graphics (New Kind has solid color graphics) and low framerate, because the NES controller forced Elite to be a lot more intuitive.

That Unknown game on iOS is cool though, with all the functions as touchable buttons. While playing NES Elite I felt the urge to have it on a portable device and Uknown fulfills that. The touch screen piloting controls take getting used to but otherwise it's a great fit for iOS.

On to Oolite.

Edit: After trying out Oolite I'm starting to realize the NES version makes one tiny but crucial design decision that greatly impacted my opinion of Elite.

As I'm learning, in most versions of Elite you can't "supercruise" or put your ship into fast flying mode if basically any object is on your radar, be it a ship, asteroid, planet, whatever. In the NES version on the other hand, you CAN supercruise past any object smaller than a planet or space station... as long as those objects are non-hostile. Basically, only planets, stars, space stations, and hostile ships stop you from supercruising in the NES version. This means in the NES version I could, for the most part, almost instantly dash towards a planet upon coming out of hyperspace and immediately auto-dock, which considerably quickens the pace of the game. Now I understand why somebody made that Elite Dangerous trailer parodying how long it takes you to fly through space, and why all the planets in No Man's Sky will be right up against each other. This is what makes the difference between Elite being a fun game or a sterile simulator. If I ever am forced out of supercruise in the NES version, I immediately know I've entered a combat situation which is an inherently interesting event.

Oh, and space stations rotate a lot more slowly in Oolite, making manual docking not a "That's not possible. No. It's necessary" type of endeavor.
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:57 am

Just booted up Frontier Elite II for a minute. Oh man I think I'm really gonna enjoy this.

It's got that flat-shaded aesthetic, and a dedicated team of people have already put up an OpenGL version that straight-up runs on modern Windows, and in high resolution too!
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:14 am

Is this my own personal squad mission? It might be.

Anyway, I posted another detailed thing on my experience with the modern conversions of OG Elite.
http://noplatform.wordpress.com/2014/12 ... nversions/

Short version: I like the NES and iOS versions the most, particularly because they made the controls more intuitive.
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:51 am

Don't know if I can keep up with Frontier Elite II's newtonian physics. In every other aspect it's one of the most amazing things I've seen on a technical level. A full 1:1 scale galaxy combined with a rich world and just enough quests/jobs to keep you busy. I just wish they didn't start you with such a limited ship. Saving up for a better one that can actually hold a good amount of cargo and travel decent distances seems like it's going to take A LOT of grinding trade runs. At Stage 1 (starting from Ross 154) Frontier is basically "Milky Way Truck Simulator 3200". If you decide to do illegal things it becomes "Han Solo Simulator."

Running the game is kind of an issue though. A good fan site has free DOS version downloads as well as a full source port of the Amiga version that runs in high res. I've tried both and the source port actually isn't uniformly better. You get high resolution and high framerate, and the developer even added 8x anti-aliasing. Most importantly it just runs natively on Windows. I don't really consider it "complete," though. Auto-pilot is a bit broken unless you let it skip the planetary approach entirely, and planetary surface textures basically don't render. Still, learning how to actually boot games in DOSBox has been an ordeal (my first computer system was Windows 95, possibly 3.1).

In the end I'm putting Elite II in the same area as ArmA: extremely cool and technically impressive ideas made hard to reach by an explicit prioritization of realism over fun. I love ArmA, but I really wish someone would make an "ArmA-lite" that combined its open-world scale and mission design with more intuitive controls. That's how I feel about Frontier. Luckily, at least two developers are already trying to offer this very thing in the case of Frontier. I already see both No Man's Sky and Elite Dangerous have their own ways of addressing the problem of Frontier's insane distances. Dangerous apparently just gives you way faster ships and introduces some kind of "easy mode newtonian physics" while No Man's Sky simply compresses the distances between planets for aesthetic reasons. I'm really interested in Dangerous now but probably won't have the money for it for a while, am waiting for planetary exploration, and am still not sure about an online-only game.

Anyway, I've already started Freespace 1, and it is NOT what I expected.
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:31 pm

What the hell. Freespace is like ArmA 2 in space ships.
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by Teryn » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:48 pm

Quite late to the party, but if you want to know about emulating anything, I'd be happy to point you in the right direction. (... if you're doing this on a modern-ish system that runs either Windows or Linux.)

As for space games, I've also come late to the genre; Elite sounds pretty formidable if their procedural generation was a good balance of human and machine-designed mechanics. Think it was floating around Desura or GOG for free or for dirt cheap, last I'd checked.

Still having fun trying games out, Red Swirl?
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Re: Elite and other space games.

by RedSwirl » Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:25 pm

Teryn wrote:Quite late to the party, but if you want to know about emulating anything, I'd be happy to point you in the right direction. (... if you're doing this on a modern-ish system that runs either Windows or Linux.)

As for space games, I've also come late to the genre; Elite sounds pretty formidable if their procedural generation was a good balance of human and machine-designed mechanics. Think it was floating around Desura or GOG for free or for dirt cheap, last I'd checked.

Still having fun trying games out, Red Swirl?


I just need to run a DOS game in a way that's not completely ridiculous every time I want to boot it up.
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