Close encounters: Elite creator surveys the gaming galaxy and talks Starfield

Reportedly set “300-ish years in the future”, official news of Starfield’s release at E3 2021 provided the shot of hype craved by industry figures and players alike. “And now man is living amongst the stars: what does that mean?”, pondered Bethesda’s Todd Howard in an accompanying video interview to launch the title. But until Elite came out way back in September 1984, there were no stars. At least not on home computers. It was this game that first ventured into the final frontier. 

Imitating the questing, but disarmingly amateur, training phase of Ryan Gosling’s Neil Armstrong in First Man, David Braben and Elite co-creator Ian Bell devised a game founded on raw invention. They built a primitive vessel soldered together with fizzing sparks of ambition, powered by BBC Basic machine code and streamlined via straight-edged vector aerodynamics to open a portal into a new world.  

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