Road to VR has arranged an interview with the legendary game designer and programmer David Braben, he of Elite fame and most recently the Oculus Rift supporting Elite: Dangerous. We’d like to ask him questions from the VR community.

In 1984, Elite Was Published and Changed Games Forever

David Braben
David Braben

A somewhat grandstanding headline you might argue, however David Braben and Ian Bell’s seminal space trading and exploration game and its influence on a generation of gamers cannot be underestimated. Set in interstellar space, you played a lone trader making his way in the universe any way you can. The game appeared during the initial home computing revolution on the 8-bit BBC  Computer and featured realtime 3D vector graphics, a vast universe and bewildering array of options for players to explore. The title  marked the dawn of truly adult gaming. Not that it was filled with lurid content you understand, but there were no moral boundaries, leaving the player to choose their ethics as they played.

Fast forward to the present and David Braben turns to Kickstarter in order to finance the development of a brand new entry to the Elite canon, to be named Elite:Dangerous. This news was exciting enough in and of itself, but it was announced that Elite: Dangerous would be developed with Oculus Rift support that meant it was one of the few triple A titles at the time announced for the fledgling VR Headset. Since then, development has moved on apace and Kickstarter backers have been given access to early versions of the game and what’s been shown looks extremely promising.

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So, to find out a little more, we reached out to Frontier asking for an interview – happily David Braben was available and is happy to answer questions from the community. So, what would you like to know? If you have a question, drop it in the comments below. We’ll select the best from here and /r/oculus to send as part of the interview.

Thanks for your input! To whet your appetite, here are some nostalgic shots of the original Elite alongside its modern-day, VR-enabled counterpart.

(Feature image courtesy Edge-Online)

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • John Horn

    I’m a Kickstarter backer, on Premium Beta now.

    I would like to know:
    I heard you mention that you are thinking of having wildlife on planets.. How will you handle lifeforms on other planets? Procedurally generated wildlife, or hand-crafted wildlife? One could allow vast variety, but could result in buggy creatures.. the other allows for great looking and moving creatures, but low variety.

    • George

      Something like “Spore” coupled with PG sounds interesting…

  • monographix

    Well, I have a question, albeit a general one.

    Do you think that having an experience of playing a game like Elite:Dangerous in a truly immersive environment like in VR can in the long run somewhat change the way we look at the normal, day-to-day reality? If so, how?

  • George

    After playing the game in VR, is it hard to go back to playing on a monitor?

    Will the Oculus/VR be the listed under “Recommended System Requirements?”

  • EdZ

    In the current Alpha version available to Premium Beta backers (this may already have been changed in newer Alphas), HUD UI elements are rendered as ‘inside’ the cockpit. Will this be changed to infinite-depth rendering for the final release to allow for viewing of the external scene and the HUD without having to reconverge your eyes?

    Due to the Rift’s fixed-focus design, reconverging carries an additional penalty that by reflex when converging on a ‘near’ object your eyes will attempt refocus on a near object, resulting in any gaze target change from distant objects (other ships) to near objects (HUD elements) incurring the additional penalty of your eyes having to refocus for each transition due to focus overshoot, and a lesser refocus overshot penalty for changing gaze target back to an external object. The near-to-far transition overshoot can also induce some minor eyestrain as your eyes attempt to focus on a distance further than infinity.

  • John Horn

    My 2nd question to David:
    Will Elite Dangerous’ procedural planets also be “volumetric” using voxels for the terrain? That way you could dig into mountains to create secret smuggler caves. :)

  • soap

    What, if any, applications for VR do you see outside of gaming? I’m thinking more as a new interface for general computing or maybe even educational purposes.

  • John Horn

    DB: Will Elite Dangerous be “future ready” if and when a decent haptic VR input device comes to the market?
    For example, if a haptic vr glove came, where your fingers would get a simply haptic feedback when your fingers “touched” a button in your spaceship cockpit, would Elite Dangerous support that for the future?

  • Paul James

    Thanks to everyone for contributing. Some great questions here.