Sunday, 3 February 2013

Elite: Dangerous Author Interview - Dave Hughes

Today we meet Dave Hughes, he's just started a new Kickstarter project for a writers pledge. You can learn more about what he is doing in the interview below:




Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?

I'm Dave Hughes. I'm a 39-year old software developer working for Balfour Beatty Rail. I'm married with three kids and various pets. My hobbies are Elite, card modelling, web design, wargaming, roleplaying (when I can find a group) and graphic design.

When did your love for Elite begin? Why do you think the game is a classic?
My Elite journey started in 1985, when the Spectrum version came out. One of my friends at school handed me a black cassette tape with an odd bird logo on it and said I had to play it. So I played it. Then I bought it and I've been playing it ever since.

Elite is a classic because it defined a genre. It was the first time something had really ignited my
imagination. When I bought the game, read the manual and read the novella, suddenly I could see into the cockpit of the other ships on the screen and imagine the people there. The Python cruising out of the system, for example: who was flying her? What was the ship's name? You just didn't get that with Space Invaders or Pac Man.

I don't think anything's came close to that sort of experience since. Some have tried, but I don't think
anyone's managed to capture that basic simplicity and purity.

Did you ever reach Elite status in game?
I did. Twice. I used POKE cheats to help myself on the way, giving myself laser cooling boosters and a cloaking device and a constant energy bomb to get there. Then I got the Amiga version and did it all again without cheating. The experience inspired me to write about an Elite pilot being exposed as having used illegal weaponry, stripped of his status and having to start all over again.

You're doing something a little different with your writer's pack, tell us what you're putting together.
My aim is to produce a pen and paper roleplaying game based around Elite: Dangerous. For anyone who isn't familiar with roleplaying games (or RPGs), you get together with a bunch of friends and act out stories in the universe your game is set in, with one person "setting the scene". Most people will have heard about Dungeons and Dragons - Elite Encounters is a bit like that but with less elves and more space ships.

You're funding the pledge with a Kickstarter project, where can we find out more?
The project page is at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/selezen/elite-encounters-roleplaying-in-the-elite-universe. I also put together a web site for the project at http://daftworks.co.uk/eliterpg. The Twitterati can find me by following @hdSelezen.

What makes Elite a good setting for an RPG?
Elite is PERFECT for an RPG. As I said before, Elite was always open ended in nature - you could be anyone or anything in that game, from pirate to bounty hunter to gun-for-hire. Your motives and attitudes were your own and you controlled your own destiny. RPGs do the same. The way I run an RPG is very similar - I put together a rough outline of the goals and missions then let the players find their way to those goals with just a few nudges now and again. The concepts mesh quite well, I think.

Why will you create a good Elite RPG?
Because I'm a perfectionist. If I set my mind on something then I make sure it's as good as it can be. The kickstarter pledges contain places for playtesters and game developers, and my hope is that any decisions that I make for the game will be studied by those fine people and if they aren't suitable they'll keep me straight on it. My focus on Elite and its universe has never wavered in nearly 30 years, and this project is the culmination of all my desires for that time rolled into one. The "practice run" I had in the 90s with an Elite-based RPG proved to me and to those that played it that I have the ability to write a good RPG too.

I'm involved with the Writer's group already, providing some background information and helping set the scene for the new game, and that should mesh perfectly with the RPG project, since most RPGs contain a lot of background information about the universe.

I could waffle for hours about this, but I'll summarise. I may not have commercial experience with game design, but I have experience, passion and a hell of a lot of people watching and egging me on. I don't intend to do half a job!

Do you have other writings or creations you'd like to share with us?
I suppose my best work is the website I built around the unified timeline I created in an attempt to tie Elite and Frontier's universes together (http://daftworks.co.uk/elite). Many of the Elite community have referenced or used that and some have even contributed to it in recent years. Notably Drew Wagar, whose book Elite: Reclamation I'm very excited about, used it as a reference for his "Oolite Saga" during the last couple of years. The website also has some short stories in the Elite universe that I wrote years ago then re-wrote recently to make them more "professional". The site also contains some card models based on the ships in Elite and Oolite. it contains loads of stuff, but still not enough, so just explore it and send me comments if you like. :-)

I wrote and drew a comedy webcomic about wargaming and roleplaying for three years, completing it in 2010 (I think). It's at daftworks.co.uk/battlebarge.

I design and self-market card models and games based on the the principle of families spending time together to build them, although progress with this has been slower than I would have liked - you can take a look at www.madcapcentral.com.

My wife and I run a resource sharing network for local people with ADHD and autism too (http://butterflies-adhd.com).

And about 50 hare-brained schemes that reside on a memory stick in my pocket. But you've heard enough.

Do you have anything else you'd like to share with us?
Just that I want to thank everyone for their pledges, their support and their suggestions. This is the first
Kickstarter I have started, and the amount of goodwill there is amazing. Not to mention the support from the Frontier forums and staff and the great folks at the Oolite and SpaceSimCentral forums.

I'm really looking forward to getting this game made and consider it a solemn duty to not let the fans down and to do the new Elite: Dangerous game justice.

Best of luck  to Dave with his Kickstarter,if you haven't already please take the time to visit his project and pledge your support: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/selezen/elite-encounters-roleplaying-in-the-elite-universe

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