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Frontier Elite II

Frontier Elite II
Frontier Elite II

SystemAtari ST
Floppy (3.5")2


Atari ST

Release Date: 10/1/1993
Manufacturer: Gametek
Donated By: Andy Bell
Frontier: Elite II is a space trading computer game written by David Braben and published by GameTek in 1993. It is the first sequel to Ian Bell and David Braben's earlier game Elite, and is available for Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and PC computers.

Frontier retains the same principal component of Elite—namely completely open-ended gameplay—and adds to this realistic physics and an accurately modelled galaxy. There is no plot within Frontier, nor are there pre-scripted missions (as there are in its sequel, First Encounters); instead players explore space while trading legally or illegally, carrying out missions for the military, ferrying passengers from system to system, engaging in piracy or any combination of the above. As a consequence, Frontier cannot be completed or "won"—instead, players themselves decide what to aspire to and set out to achieve it.

The game has since been released as shareware and is available as a free download, although being a DOS game, users of post-Windows 98 operating systems may have difficulty getting it to run. Primarily this was because of the game using EMS type memory rather than XMS. The program EMM386 had to be configured to use it. Using emulation such as DosBox will get the official shareware version of the game to run on modern operating systems such as Windows 7, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.

Braben originally programmed the game for the Amiga in 68000 assembly language. It had roughly 250,000 lines of code, which were ported from 68000 assembler to the PC's 80286 assembler by Chris Sawyer. Frontier also had some features that had never been seen before: it was the only game at the time to do a palette-fit every frame to get best use of colours, plus it also featured real sized planets.

Frontier: Elite II was published on a single floppy disk. For the Amiga version, this is a single 880 KB disk (disk 2 was only a selection of interesting saved games), and for the PC/DOS platform a 720 KB double density floppy. For the Amiga version, the actual executable file was only around 400 KB (uncompressed), its small size partly due to the entire game being written in assembly language while its universe was mostly procedurally generated.

Frontier’s development was running behind schedule and, to meet their advertised release date, Gametek published the game before it was ready. As a result, there were some bugs left in the first release. The most famous of these was the "wormhole" bug: Normally a ship’s hyperdrive has a range of about 15 light years at most, so planetary systems dozens of light years away are too far to reach in one hyperspace jump. However, if the player happened to find a system 655.36 to 670.36 light years away, it would be counted by the programme as within the "15 light year" range. This would also happen for systems slightly beyond 1310.72 light years, 1966.08 light years, and other multiples of 655.36. With a bit of careful triangulation it was usually possible to get near or directly to a destination system any distance away by means of just two such "wormhole" jumps.

The game features a selection of MIDI interpretations of classical music by composers such as Wagner, Mussorgsky and Grieg. Strauss’s The Blue Danube is played during any space station docking sequence, a homage to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition to this, David Lowe provided two original classical style pieces, one of which was for the intro sequence.

Frontier Elite II Floppy (3.5")
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