So your character and stats will exist as a persistent identity online, but you can drop in and out of online play whenever you want?
Yes, that’s right. And also confine multiplayer to only people you know, certain types of player or even with certain rule sets.
So you’ll have a lot of control over just how much contact you have with other players? Will you be able to play it entirely as a single-player experience?
If you want to. I think that would be shame, but if you wanted to you could. You’d miss out on a lot of things, such as the social side. I think there’ll be a lot of excitement when you recognise that another ship is a human player, and you’ll be able to easily identify which are real players in the game.
You’ve stated that the networking solution, mixing peer to peer and servers, is already in place. Is this something though that is going to involve long-term financial support after launch from Frontier to keep the Elite: Dangerous universe running?
Yes, and we’re planning ways of doing that. I’m always concerned with games that are server-based that you can’t then play them after the publisher or whoever turns the servers off. We’ll structure it in a way that you could play it entirely locally, so it would survive time if that makes sense.
Will there be the possibility of subscription or microtransaction models to help support that service?
We’re not considering subscriptions. I don’t think that would work well. We are looking at things where you can purchase time with cash. We’ve got to think in terms of making sure the backend is funded, essentially.
And then we also plan to have paid-for updates with extra content.
So Elite: Dangerous is something you’re looking at as a long-term project to expand on and maintain long after release, in the manner that an MMO or a multiplayer game like Battlefield 3 does?
Absolutely, this will be just the start.
You’ve often expressed your distaste for DRM schemes on PC…
I have, and I still believe it!
But will Elite: Dangerous be playable entirely offline, or will it require a constant internet connection?
We’re not planning to include any DRM in the game code, but when you connect to the servers there will be authentication. Partly because of griefing, partly because we know from other developer’s experiences that you can have ten times as many games as have been paid for being played online.
The single-player… we’re trying to work it out, but in theory yes, you should be able to play disconnected single-player. But you’ll need to connect for updates and some other things, the issue being that we need to validate that you haven’t cheated by being offline. The danger always is someone goes offline for a bit and returns with a stonkingly powerful ship, and you go “Hmm, wonder how you got that?” [laughs].
Frontier put a huge amount of work and time into The Outsider – is there any possibility of resurrecting that game using new investment sources such as Kickstarter?
It’s certainly possible with time, but it’s not something that we’re looking at right now. The Outsider has been stopped now, sadly.
Elite is clearly dear to your heart, and making a new version of it something that has been a goal for over a decade. How does it feel now that it’s finally under way?
Very exciting! I feel quite trepidatious about it, answering everyone’s questions about the game, but, yes, it is very exciting. It feels very liberating as well. Fingers crossed we will reach our funding target on Kickstarter, and I have every expectation that we will. It’s amazing – in some ways it feels like this is too good to be true!
You can find out more about Elite: Dangerous by visiting the game’s official Kickstarter page.