Elite Dangerous: Marvel of Innovation
This week I played Elite Dangerous for a few hours and to say that I was impressed is an understatement. This game has recreated the entire Milky Way Galaxy as an explorable sandbox with proper dimensions of planets, stars, and proper distances in between them! They tried to keep things as realistic and scientific as possible except the faster than light travel (Takes too long “years” to go to another star even at the speed of light thus the term light years). But aside from this everything is very close to reality, something as simple docking your ship can be a gratifying challenge. I was in awe as to how they managed to make such a grand scale game and yet so vast, almost infinite. I looked up the game engine the developers used to achieve this and it happens to be that they have been working on their own game engine Cobra, since 1988!
Frontier has been working on their game engine since before Doom was even a thing. Id Software the creators of Doom were pioneers in the game engine movement and they themselves were only getting started at around the same time. In the book Game Histories: Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon by Henry Lowood, the writer talks about id software’s success and chronological achievements; “We can now make a precise entry in our chronicle: id Software invented the game engine around 1991 and revealed the concept no later than the DOOM press release in early 1993.”. This goes to show how much experience Frontier has refining their game engine and it shows. The game runs smoothly even though I’m encountering 3D objects the size of planets and starts. I continue to be amazed at their capacity to jam-pack a game with so much content and have such an efficient game engine to run it all as if it was years in the future.
Deger, A. C., et al. Debugging Game History: a Critical Lexicon. The MIT Press, 2016.