Dangerous. Elite.

You know what’s going to make my blogging rehabilitation difficult?

EliteSpectrumElite Dangerous, that’s what.

A chunk of my teenage years in the ’80s were lost to the original Elite on the ZX Spectrum, when crashing into the surface of a planet, engines screaming and all guns blazing looked like this:

Today, when crashing into the heart of a ringed alien moon, engines screaming with all guns blazing looks more like this:

ElitePCI am utterly powerless to resist.

Elite, for those of you who don’t know, is a space trading/combat/pirate/bounty hunter/explorer simulation. All you have to do is… Well, actually you don’t have to do anything.

The game is a reasonably accurate simulation of our Milky Way galaxy, with all its 400 billion stars.

400 BEEEEELLION stars!  Not a thousand, not a million – a frickin’ BILLION!

And they’re all beautiful.  You can sit in your ship watching the stars and planets and black holes and moons and other ships and space stations go by, if you want.

The first time I docked at an agricultural orbital and saw all the fields and houses rotating beneath me, that’s exactly what I did: turned off the engines and watched ’em all roll in, and then I watched ’em roll away again, sitting (just outside) the docking bay…

But, eventually, when the thrill of being an intergalactic tourist wears off you can make a name for yourself in space: start on a career, slowly earning money so as to upgrade your ship so that you can…earn more money to upgrade your ship.

Is that so terrible?

The heroin-like magic comes from exploring the smallest corner of this beautifully realised galaxy, filled with magic and wonder (and lunatics who shouldn’t be allowed to fly a ship out of a space station!) Clawing your way up to a slightly better ship and heading out into the enormous void of space. There you’ll believe – really, truly believe, even if only for the odd moment – that you’re a space pilot.

Until a damn pirate interdicts you and demands all your cargo in exchange for not killing you.

That was the end of this space pilot.

But then you have fun doing it over, until you get caught again – only this time you’re ready: better ship, better guns, and better reflexes. Who’s the n00b now, punk? you howl at the screen in triumph.

Now, you think to yourself, now I’m ready to head off out there…


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