Elite: Dangerous drops offline mode

Frontier says refunds for Kickstarted sci-fi game will be determined on a case-by-case basis


In an interview with Eurogamer David Braben attempted to explain in more detail the reasons behind the decision.

"In retrospect we should have shared the fact that we were struggling with this aspect with the community, but we were still trying to find a solution," he said.

"As features were implemented, for the best results we chose to prioritise delivery of the online single and multiplayer experiences, with a view to providing the offline version later in development. We had to make a decision for the good of the game, and that is what we did."

Original story

Early last year, Frontier Developments secured £1.5 million on Kickstarter to create a new installment in the Elite series of space sims. The campaign promised to give players a spaceship, some pocket change, and an open universe they could inhabit as a pirate, bounty hunter, trader, or assassin.

"And the best part," according to the project description, "you can do all this online with your friends, or other Elite pilots like yourself, or even alone. The choice is yours..."

That's no longer the case, as a note from series creator David Braben in the game's latest newsletter states that the developer has changed direction, and is no longer going to offer an offline mode in the finished product.

"Going forwards, being online lets us constantly both curate and evolve the galaxy, with stories unfolding according to the actions of commanders," Braben explained. "Exploration is also a key factor, too, and it is important that what a single player explores matches what other players explore whether single or multiplayer - a complex, coherent world - something we have achieved. Galaxy, story, missions, have to match, and it does mean the single player has to connect to the server from time to time, but this has the added advantage that everyone can participate in the activities that can happen in the galaxy. A fully offline experience would be unacceptably limited and static compared to the dynamic, ever unfolding experience we are delivering."

Predictably, the news did not go over well with backers who had been particularly interested in offline play. A thread on the game's official message boards started Friday and as of this writing had logged roughly 6,200 comments. The comments page on the original Kickstarter also includes notes from upset backers, as well as a Frontier representative saying "We'll be offering refunds on a case by case basis, more information on that soon."

A Frontier representative declined to detail what sort of considerations would be taken into account when determining which cases will see their Kickstarter pledges refunded.

Elite: Dangerous will launch December 16.

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Latest comments (11)

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend7 years ago
Well that sucks, was going to buy this but seeing as it online only I will give it a miss. Shame really, was looking forward to the Elite single player open universe malarkey.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam7 years ago
You can still play the game single player, it just connects to get live updates to the galaxy. You don't actually encounter any other players when playing solo.
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Peter Bond Studying Art & Design, University of Bedfordshire7 years ago
yeah, i don't mind this, its very minor and single player mode is still in there, can't wait for this! :D
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Show all comments (11)
Ruben Monteiro Engineer 7 years ago
If SP mode is still available, then this article is misleading, as it states "That's no longer the case" after a paragraph mentioning the choice to play alone.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 7 years ago
@ John Bye

Do you know if it's just connect & patch, then play offline, or if it needs to be always connected?

Edit: Also, your company name is awesome. I loved Future Sound of London back in the day.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bonnie Patterson on 19th November 2014 3:20am

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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam7 years ago
As far as I know you need to be connected while playing, but because it's just periodically syncing data with the server the connection doesn't need to be very good. David Braben says that he's played the game in solo mode on a laptop on the train, using his phone as a wi-fi hot spot. Which is pretty much a worst case scenario, in my experience (mobile data connections on a moving train are usually terrible). If it really does work in that situation, it should work pretty much anywhere with an internet connection.
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Craig Burkey Software Engineer 7 years ago
Depends what train really, the one I travel on frequently has Frequent large 10-20min gaps in reception, and when it does come back it's usually a EDGE connection which I'm waiting a few minutes just for the Google home page to load (York to Nottingham if anyone cares)
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 7 years ago
@ John Bye

Thankees! I think there's a large difference between that and completely losing a single-player mode as happened in Sim City. A lot of people seem to be objecting to this as a form of DRM - but DRM is fine, imho, if it doesn't take away the reasonable uses you're looking for.

I have a comedy internet connection which I'm pretty sure is provided by black and white cows running and back and forth to the exchange. They're very slow and occasionally get lost entirely after seeing some really green grass or when someone really wants a burger. My little area is listed as one of the worst supplied areas in Britain that doesn't involve a mountain, and for extra comedy value, the entire area has fibre to the home as has for a decade. But our exchange only does copper, there's only one copper cable serving the entire development, giving a hilarious contention ratio, and the exchange (3.1km away) was scheduled for a BT Infinity upgrade in 2012 that never happened.

But it can manage bursty updates just fine - in fact that's pretty much the only thing it can manage.

Plus this sort of arrangement gives a rather exciting potential for single-player to mirror multiplayer in future. Single-players in future could have the option for "Market Sync" which gives them the same market as multiplayer without any of the annoying people. Or big battles in multiplayer could be replicated on single-player games with NPCs. Lot of interesting potential to turn the single-player / multiplayer binary into a continuum customizable to each user.
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Derek Smart Software Developer/Engineer, 3000AD, Inc7 years ago
Straight from the devs in newsletter #50. All questions above answered.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Derek Smart on 19th November 2014 11:26pm

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 7 years ago
Thank you! Excellent info!

"What is Frontier's plan for when the servers shut down?
We do not plan to shut the servers down, but understand it is a reasonable question. We are at the beginning of the game not the end and are focused on creating a game that we hope will be played for many years in the future. We do plan to take regular archives of the game and the servers, to preserve the game for the future.

Could the server code be released publicly some day when the servers are shut down?
Yes. This is something we would do if for whatever reason we cannot keep the game going."

This is such an excellent idea. If anyone from SOE is listening, Star Wars Galaxies and Matrix Online for this treatment please!
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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online7 years ago
If anyone from SOE is listening, Star Wars Galaxies and Matrix Online for this treatment please!
Make this the Pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies, please. :)
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