A report from the Elite: Dangerous Premiere

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Progress Report

Queuing for the Premiere

I’ve never been to a game launch before, or come to that, a ‘Premiere’ of anything, the nearest comparable event for me was when I was a guest on ‘Top Gear’ back in 2003 (Series 3, Episode 8 to be precise!) – mine’s the old Red Golf in the ‘new cars vs old cars’ piece.

Like many events in the world of Elite activity started long before with a bit of planning on behalf of the Fantastic Authors as we’d been invited to give a small set of readings. Before long the #EliteDangerousPremiere hashtag was showing up on the twitter feeds, the official forum thread was buzzing… folks were excited. It was clear this was going to be a big deal.

Huge turbo-fan engine…

Many people arrived in fancy dress (apparently it’s called ‘Cosplay’ nowadays). My wife and I travelled in as Lady and Senator, a bit of fun. There were pirates, bounty hunters, assassins, traders, I even spotted a Thargoid on the way in.

The queue stretched for quite some way. I’m not good at estimating numbers, but there were clearly several hundred people ahead of us. Upon entering and being given some ‘Golden Wristbands’ (I think for KickStarter backers) we were ushered into an enormous hangar crammed with aircraft. A huge turbo-fan jet engine was the first thing I came face to face with. It’s quite intimidating at close range – though you get a sense of awe at the engineering that goes into something that we all take for granted when we jet off on our holidays.

Just hanging out under Concorde!

The venue itself was fantastic and a fitting place for a game that is pushing the Frontiers (sorry!) of technology. Walking past an Avro Lancaster (with bouncing bomb alongside) and under the flanks of Concorde (which has a comparable wingspan to a Cobra Mk3) totally changes your perspective on these planes. They are grand and impressive, but there is a strange beauty and elegance here too, so much more than the sum of their parts.

More drinks and a rendezvous with familiar CMDRs from the game and the forum. Before long a thunderous noise echoed across the halls. It sounded like a ship approaching. Sure enough, a familiar female voice announced that we were clear for docking. Queue Strauss’ Sprach Zarathustra (Most familiar from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey) and the hangar doors pulled back to reveal…

The excitement was palpable as the doors opened to reveal…

A real life Cobra Mk3. Beautifully crafted with enormous attention to detail, fully illuminated thrusters and engines in one sixth scale. Beyond, a stage, a lighting rig and another huge hall. The Premiere had begun!

From there it was a whirlwind of joyous meetings, hugs, handshakes, with the occasional “Right On!” thrown in. The community embraced all with warmth, fun, excitement and a celebration of all things Elite. I would dearly love to mention all by name, but I simply cannot recall them all, so rather than miss one out I will just say it was an honour and a privilege to meet all of you and talk about the game and the books – and special thanks to those who backed my own Kickstarter back in 2012.

A 1/6 scale Cobra Mk3!

The Frontier team were out in force. It was a pleasure to make the acquaintance of David Braben and David Walsh once again, and then meet Selena and Ed and the rest of the crew. Throughout the evening shot snippets of film from the game were displayed on the enormous projection screen in glorious 4k resolution, it was a grand showcase.

Lave Radio were out in force, corralling people for interviews and lapping up the atmosphere. “You’re coming to LaveCon 2015?'” – O’ naturellement! Much gratitude to John Stabler who got me a beer early on!

Jessica Chobot and Andy Akinwolere ably hosted the event, talking to the Frontier folks. The twitch livestream kicked off at 8pm. Cameras seemed to be everywhere, one was on a huge crane. Twitch viewers got the better deal here – it was impossible to hear most of the interviews ‘on the floor’ and the crowd was several people deep.

Presenting David Braben with the plaque, cheques and books of memories.

On behalf of the community we were able to present David Braben with a plaque, a memory book and two cheques for charity (all raised by the fans) for the sum of £1104.92 – which if you add them up … 😉

Hours few past in what seemed to be minutes. The Fantastic authors were ushered off to one side and then filmed talking about their books, followed by more interviews, a QA session with the Devs and Andy ventured forth to get some live gameplay footage from players around the two massive ‘scanner’ tables equipped with state of the art PCs, controllers and displays.

There was a funny unscripted moment when an Oculus user was asked what he thought and replied with “It’s a bit crap really.” – I think he meant it constructively 😉

Young and old CMDRs take to the stars…

There was a strange moment too, reports came in of a strange grey-haired individual lowering his glasses and asking random people “Do you know who I am?” and “I was at the original launch.” leaving people distinctly bemused. We tried to track him down, but he was elusive and ephemeral. Some have speculated it was Ian Bell, but who’s to say? It remains a mystery even now…

There was a VIP area where you could stand and look down across the hall, it was a welcome few minutes relief from the crush for my wife and I.

Frontier Q&A

John Virgo, with two companions, launched an outrageous and unprovoked attack on a newly minted Imperial Flagship to great applause from the Federation fans in the room, demonstrating the multiplayer and teaming abilities of the Gamma release, which became ‘live’ during the evening. The Senator will be dealing with him in due course… 😉

There was a long Q&A session with David Braben and the games developers, the authors were invited on stage one at a time to give short readings from their books (thanks Frontier!)

Drew reads from Elite: Reclamation

Much thanks has to be directed to the crew who were running the show on the evening, those involved in setting up and breaking down the rigs, the people managing the equipment and AV, the people running the merchandise store. They all worked tirelessly and are often unsung – well done guys.

Also to Frontier for funding and promoting this event, providing a free bar (how often does that happen?). This did result in a few CMDRs being somewhat the worse for wear as the evening progressed, but everyone still had a great time. Frontier have, of course, made a stonking game too and it looked fabulous on the evening, with everyone so excited to get home and try the gamma version.

David Braben joined us at the end of the evening for a photo!

But also to the fans. Well behaved, fun loving and above all, welcoming. My wife was so impressed how welcoming and accommodating the community was, how down to earth the Frontier crew were and how everyone mixed and enjoyed themselves together. It was a fabulous evening.

It was wonderful to meet old friends and make new ones, a wonderful constellation of names and faces. Bravo to the organisers, bravo to Frontier and bravo to the fans. It was absolutely right on, Commanders!

 **All photos here by Rob Fisher and used by kind permission. If you’d like to see the hi-res versions they are here. **

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  1. Well said, well read, right on commander!

  2. Hi Drew, wow that looked like you all had a great time! 🙂 What a sight, to see the Premier of Elite 4 (I still call it that 😉 ), who would have thought it possible even as little ago as mid 2012 that such a thing would happen,….oh wait…:0

    Keep The Faith! 😀

  3. Well said Drew! It was a terrific evening indeed. Great to meet you (although you won’t remember I’m sure). The free bar (which ran for five hours straight) certainly did ‘lubricate’ things very well. I too had never been to anything like a ‘launch’ before and I was struck by how well organised it was. It must have taken a lot of effort to put together.

    As you mention, above all else what was most evident, was the camaraderie and friendliness of everyone. I believe that we are all a credit to the gaming community!


  4. I like you report and look forward to another final report when the game is finally released next month followed by another final few words when the audiobook is out and then the final final snippet to promote your sequel and so it begins all again.
    Am glad you all had fun.

  5. I echo Flavio’s sentiment: I dare you try out words like ‘penultimate’ and ‘last’. 😉 When Elite gets into the blood there’s no getting rid of it, so why try?

    Glad to hear everyone had a great time. I’m just a little jealous.

  6. Great blog and summary of what looked like a brilliant evening – it seems it is possible to be deeply envious and very happy at the same time.

  7. “the sum of £1104.92 – which if you add them up …”

    Sorry, I don’t get it – what does it add up to?

    • 1104.92 + 1104.92 = 2209.84

      Launch date of the original game – 22nd September, 1984. 🙂

      Yes, we’re geeks!

      • Drew wrote “Launch date of the original game – 22nd September, 1984.

        You commemorated David’s contribution to Elite by presenting him with a plaque containing a major bug?

        Um…. Right on Commander! 🙂

  8. Nice report and I would echo your sentiments on the friendliness of the event.
    Some might say I’m a strange grey haired guy, and at times I put glasses on, though I don’t recall asking anyone if they knew who I was. Pics are on Twitter _D3CK4RD .

  9. Thanks for the comprehensive write up Drew. As someone who couldn’t be there it was great to live the event vicariously though you. Cheers!

  10. Great writeup, Drew. You have a much more positive slant on it than I seem to have managed.

    It was great seeing everyone from the community again, and I think the energy there was great. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Fantasticon but it was definitely a worthy piece of history.

    Right on.

    • I think I switched of html links somewhere on my website filtering – sorry! 😉

  11. As always, a wonderful blog by a wonderful man.

    Really great to meet Anita for real at last (although I did get in trouble for all the strange stuff I’ve made you and your boys get up to over the last couple of years)

    Onwards Commander!

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