Frontier: Elite II




"Frontier: Elite II" was the long awaited sequel to Elite. It was written in five and a half years by David Braben, with Konami Inc of Japan as publisher. In 1993, Konami decided to get out of PC publishing, and sold the rights to Gametek. The game was released in October 1993 and was in the top few slots in the UK Gallup chart for the best part of the following year. It was the best selling game in Europe 1993 according to Gallup.

It was made up of in the region of 250,000 lines of 68000 assembler, and as such was one of the largest (and last) commercial programs to be written entirely in assembler*. Chris Sawyer (now of Rollercoaster Tycoon fame) did the mammoth task of porting it to the 80286 for the PC.

*We understand that Rollercoaster Tycoon was written in assembler, so Frontier is certainly not THE last!

"Frontier" also set a number of firsts. It was the first game to have real-sized planets, where cities could be viewed from orbit, it was the first to use curved surfaces (Bezier), the only game to do a palette-fit every frame to get best use of colours (Amiga and ST only), and (apart from First Encounters) is the only piece of software (games or otherwise) that attempts to simulate our entire galaxy.

Planets orbit and rotate correctly, so if you stay in one spot you will see sunrises, and the progression of stars, planets and moons through the night sky. It is possible to watch Saturn-rise from one of its moons.

Frontier also contextualised events along the Elite fiction timeline created by David Braben (augmented in further sequels):

1950s First man in space, controlled nuclear fission, transistor, start of the nuclear arms race.
1960s First man on Moon, commercial fission power, integrated circuits, computers.
1970s Unmanned probes in Solar system.
1980s End of first nuclear arms race.
1990s First serious environmental problems on Earth.
2000s First (minor) armed conflict between a nation and a "multi-national" corporation.

First serious population problems on Earth. Religious and political unrest.

Many minor wars.


First international environmental protection agency, first commercial space station.

Widespread religious uprisings. Widespread resource problems.

First controlled nuclear fusion.


Major World Energy Crisis. Fossil Fuel restrictions imposed.

Widespread religious and political unrest.

First baby born off Earth.


World War III. Later dubbed "The Energy War"

Huge technological advancements, huge loss of life, dreadful environmental damage.

2050s War gradually abandoned due to popular rebellions. Commercial fusion power.
2060s Rebuilding. Dominance of corporations increased.
2070s First Man on Mars. Permanent Moonbase founded. 

Manned exploration of solar system, orbital cities around Earth.

First interstellar probes launched.

2090s First Permanent Mars Base. Heavy industrial activity begins on the moon. 

Mars Fossils discovered. Hyper-spacial technology invented.

Humans spread through solar system.


Arrival of message from first interstellar probe to Alpha Centauri system.

First close-up pictures of an extra solar planet in the Lagrange point of the two main stars. 


Presence of life on Tau Ceti 3 detected.

First armed conflict in space over rights in the asteroid belt. 

2130s Hyperspace capable probes sent to all nearby systems. 
2140s Manned spacecraft sent to Tau Ceti. 
2150s Colony established on Tau Ceti. Major Corporations sending first private colony ships.

The race for the stars.

Enormous production effort to produce colony ships and mass exodus starts. 

2170s First attempt to terra-form Mars started. 
2190s Discovery of life on Beta Hydri 4, Altair 5. Human colonials spreading out of control. 
2200s Earth Environment Recovery Program started. Terra-forming of Mars abandoned. 
2230s Ultimatum sent to Tau Ceti is ignored.

Formation of the Federation.

Founder members, Earth, Tau Ceti, Delta Pavonis, Altair, Beta Hydri. 

2260s Spread of Federal influence. 
2270s Second attempt to terra-form Mars started.
2280s Discovery of first non-human relic in space. Origin still unknown in 3300. 
2300s Remaining indigenous life on Tau Ceti 3 preserved in special enclosures. 

Beginning of spread of Empire from Achenar to surrounding worlds.

Continuing war between Empire and Federation. 

2340s Continuing battles between Empire and Federation.


Due to Gametek Inc.'s disappearance, accurate sales figures are not known. Royalties were received for around 350,000 sales but it appears that actual sales were in excess of 500,000 units.

Frontier, like Elite is still widely played by many people, has many excellent fan sites, and is still discussed in the newsgroup