Elite video game reboot hits funding target

Elite artwork Players can travel through space as traders or prey on merchants as pirates

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An ambitious plan to update classic space trading game Elite has hit its funding target.

The game first appeared on the BBC Micro in 1984 but one of the game's original creators wanted to make a modern PC version.

David Braben sought £1.25m via crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter to fund the 21st century update.

A last minute surge of pledges helped it reach its goal about 48 hours before Friday's funding deadline.

Funding squeeze

Elite: Dangerous debuted on Kickstarter on 5 November and set itself 60 days to raise £1.25m. In November, Mr Braben said Elite was a game he had wanted to come back to for a "long, long time".

Although some early work on the multiplayer title had been done at Mr Braben's game studio Frontier Developments, but needed the cash to turn the code into a finished playable product. If the game did not hit its funding target then development work would stop.

Getting the cash via Kickstarter was preferable to using an established publisher because it gave Frontier and those who backed it total control over how the final game would turn out, said Mr Braben,

The finished game, he said, would keep the central trading, travel and spaceship combat elements of the original but add far better graphics, physics and feature a much larger chunk of the universe for people to play in.

Fund tracking site Kicktraq showed that after an initial surge the number of people backing the project tailed off dramatically. On its second day on Kickstarter raised more than £271,000. However, soon after pledge totals rarely got over £10,000.

A surge of pledges came forward in the closing few days of Elite's fund-raising drive thanks to an appearance on social news site Reddit by Mr Braben and with the help of comedian Dara O Briain who urged his 1.2 million Twitter followers to back it.

David Braben talks to Rory Cellan-Jones about 'kickstarting' Elite last November

"It is really great to have exceeded the goal already," Mr Braben told the BBC. "I was delighted and touched by how many people really want this game to be made, and it was doubly good that it happened on my birthday!"

He said the Elite team were now pushing to reach "stretch" goals which would produce a Mac version of the game and add more ships to the game.

"It was an ambitious target but that is so that it was set at a realistic level to be able to make the game," he said adding that watching the total pledges get close to the target made for a "tense time".

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