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):
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 alt.fan.elite.