Elite-A - an extended version of Elite for the BBC Microcomputer
This document describes a version of the popular Elite game for the
BBC Microcomputer, extended by Angus J. C. Duggan. Elite was originally
written by David Braben and Ian Bell. This version has several
major enhancements over the original game, as found on the BBC micro.
An archive containing Elite-A and a PDF version of this document is available
This version of Elite used to be known as Elite III, but since the
introduction of Frontier and Frontier - First Encounter, I have renamed it to
Elite-A to avoid confusion.
Elite-A is an extended version of Elite (versions I and II) for
the BBC micro. It will run on a BBC B with Acorn DNFS 1.20. No other
commercial disc filing systems have been tested, although the author's own
hierarchical disc filing system does work.
- Player Ships
- Combat factor
- Cargo space
- Laser mounts
- Shields and hull size
- Laser power
- Equipment prices
- Number of missiles
- Hyperspace range
- Major Extensions
- Special cargos
- Buying ships
- Tube version
- Minor Alterations
- Docking fee
- Selling equipment
- Hyperspace jumping
- Equipment changes
- Sun finding
- Legal status
- Ship positions and numbers
- New ships
- File incompatibilities
- Save/Load confirmation
- Delta 14B Support
- Alterations to displays
- Disc access menu
- I.F.F. System
- Hyperspace Unit
- Docking Computers
- Common controls
- Encyclopedia controls
- In-Flight controls
- In-Station controls
- Game controls
- Delta-14B controls
The extensions to Elite include many more ships, different player
ship characteristics, an on-line encyclopedia, special cargo delivery
missions, and support for the Delta-14B joystick/button unit.
Instead of being stuck with a Cobra Mk3, as in the original Elite,
the player now starts with a puny Adder, and may buy different ships out
of a selection which goes up to the enormous Anaconda, or the fast and
lethal Asp Mk2.
Each of the ships has different operational parameters which affect
A ship's CF indicates its manoeuvrability. Ships with low CFs are
slow to turn. The CF of most ships will be in the range 1-8.
The speed of a ship is measured in Light Mach, which is the
proportion of the speed of light which the ship can go. The fastest
generally encountered ship is the sidewinder scout ship, at 0.37 LM.
The speed display shows the same range of speeds for all ships; some slow
ships will not be able to go as fast as the maximum speed which can be shown,
and fast ships have an ``overdrive'' faster than the maximum speed shown.
The cargo space of a ship determines how many standard tonne
cannisters the ship can carry. Quantities of goods which are measured in
kilogrammes or grammes are not limited by the cargo space of a ship. The
largest cargo space of a ship which can be bought is 250 tonnes, for the
Cargo space may be traded off against equipment space; the cargo space
figures given in the encyclopedia illustrate how much space a normal
configuration will have. If less equipment is installed there will be more
space for cargo.
The maximum number of laser mounting positions on each ship will be 1,
2 or 4 selected from the front, back, left and right, in that order.
The shield power and hull size of ships have a dramatic effect on
how difficult they are to destroy. In general, the larger the ship, the more
damage the ship will be able to take. High powered shields are
better against laser fire, but missiles can cause a lot of damage
through shields. Ships with larger hull sizes can take more damage from
The power of lasers which can be installed in a ship depends on the
size of the ship, and the ship's technology level.
The price of ship equipment depends on the age, rarity and
technological sophistication of the ship.
Newer ships tend to have better (and cheaper) equipment, but very common ships
will also be cheap to fit out.
The number of missiles which each ship can carry varies, from one
on an Asp up to twelve for the Anaconda.
The maximum hyperspace range of each ship varies; in general, the smaller the
ship, the smaller the range.
The fuel display shows a maximum of 7 light year's hyperspace fuel; the
hyperspace range for the amount of fuel left is shown on the status screen.
A major new addition to Elite is the Special Cargos. These are
unspecified low bulk cargos which have to be delivered to their
destination quickly. The special cargos label covers urgent documents,
medical supplies, possibly passengers, and if the pilot's status is not
clean, all sorts of illegal packages from designer drugs to illegally
``donated'' organs for transplantation.
Only one special cargo can be carried at once, and may be obtained
by paying for the contract to carry it (CTRL-f2). There is unfortunately no indication
that a special cargo is being carried, but if the W key is pressed while
the long or short range chart is being displayed, the cursor will snap to
the destination location. The speed of delivery of special cargos is
important, and any delay (especially docking at space stations) will
reduce the value of the contract. If the cargo is not delivered, or too
long is taken about delivering it, it will expire, allowing another
contract too be taken.
An on-line encyclopedia has been added, which may be called up
while in the space station (CTRL-f6). The encyclopedia contains
information about ships, ship equipment and controls. Access to the long
and short range charts, data on systems and market prices is available
while accessing the encyclopedia. To finish accessing the encyclopedia
press CTRL-f6. It is important to let the disc stop before asking for
information about ships, in case the information has to be loaded off the
As mentioned above, the player can buy new ships (CTRL-f3). The
types of ships which can be bought depends on the technology level and
wealth of the star system. All of the equipment and cargo in the old ship
will be lost, and should probably be sold before buying a new ship. The
new ship will have minimal equipment, and will probably need re-equipping
A 6502 second processor version of Elite-A is also included on the
disc. If a second processor is detected during boot-up, then this version is
loaded. It is slightly faster than the single-processor version, because the
screen handling is done by the I/O processor, and the calculation by the
second processor. This version does not need to access the disc when docking,
or looking at the encyclopedia. The ships encountered in this version are the
same as the standard version, but the combinations in which they appear are
A number of smaller changes and additions to the original Elite
have been made.
If a player decides that cargo prices are too high to buy or too
low to sell, the player may pay a 50 credit docking fee to remain in the
space station for a while (CTRL-f1), to let the prices change.
Equipment can be sold at half price (CTRL-f2) to make space for
different pieces of equipment, or to recover some of the investment,
possibly before changing ships.
Ramming ships is no longer an easy way of destroying ships, because
the amount of damage done to other ships is approximately in proportion to
the relative sizes of ships. Ramming is now seen as an aggresive act by
the orbit control space station, and traffic police may take remedial
action against offenders.
When a hyperspace jump is initiated, all of the controls are
to allow the on-board computer to calculate positions and velocities for
the jump (this also fixes the ``Soiscear'' bug of Elite I/II). Hyperspace
jumping is therefore not a very good way of getting out of trouble,
because of the lack of control during the countdown period. A Hyperspace
Unit (see the section about Hyperspace Units)
should be considered as a second last escape route, with an Escape pod as the
Energy bombs have been removed, for purposes of symmetry (in Elite-A
the principle ``If you can do it to them, they can do it to you'' has been
followed; energy bombs were a big cop-out). Extended Cargo Bays are no longer
needed, because larger ships can be bought.
Hyperspace units and I.F.F. systems have been introduced in their place.
The compass display may be toggled between the planet and the sun by
pressing the F key while in flight. On hyperspacing into a system, the
compass will be reset to point at the planet. If this key is held down, the
display will keep flipping between sun and planet, so you should just tap it
once to change the compass.
In Elite I/II, shooting innocent traders was not detrimental to the
player's legal status. This has now been fixed - would-be pirates take note!
It is also possible to get to ``most wanted'' status, in which case you will
find the police attacking you as soon as you approach a space station. In this
situation, getting as far away from the scene of the crime as possible is
Thargoids are no longer easy to destroy, as they were in the
original Elite (one smallish trader destroying eight battle cruisers is a
bit ridiculous!). The best tactics to deal with thargoids are to run away,
either by hyperspacing out, or using an escape capsule. Failing these
possibilities, the other likely option is to die!
In the original Elite, it was easy to tell whether an object was a
pirate, a trader, an asteroid or a police ship by the position in which it
appeared on the flight grid scanner. In Elite-A this is not possible, as
objects now appear at random positions in the forward quadrant. The range
at which objects appear has been increased to allow retreat from combat if
desired. The numbers and distributions of objects which appear has also been
create asteroid showers, trader convoys, police squadrons, and large
There are many more ships in Elite-A than in the original Elite.
Most of these are documented by the on-line encyclopedia, but it is not
uncommon to see unknown ship types. In particular, it is rumoured that the
Galactic Navy are testing a fast, heavily defended destroyer, and that a
secret location is being used to develop a battle-carrier to combat the
Commander files from the original Elite cannot be loaded into Elite
III, or vice-versa. This change was necessary due to incompatibilities in
usage between the versions. A separate BASIC program which will convert
commanders is provided on the disc, along with a couple of example commanders.
If the player tries to save a file without actually doing anything
with the commander, or tries to load a file without saving an altered
commander, Elite-A asks for confirmation. If in any doubt, respond to
the ``Are you sure (y/n)'' message with ``N''. This feature
prevents commanders from being overwritten on disc by accidentally saving on
them, and prevents experience from being lost by loading files on top of
the commander in memory.
Support for the Delta 14B joystick/button unit has been added, in
place of the BitStik support. The
buttons may be plugged into either socket of the adaptor unit, and take
over some of the flight control functions.
The number of missiles which a ship can carry can be more than the
number which are displayed on the screen, so the screen display acts as
a ``missiles low'' display for the larger ships.
The status screen shows the type of ship which the player owns in
the centre of the screen, in place of ``Equipment''.
The inventory screen has a new line to show how much cargo
space the currently owned ship has.
The disc access menu no longer displays the competition score,
but does ask for confirmation of risky operations.
The equipment available for ships in Elite-A is mostly the same
as the equipment in Elite I/II. There are two new pieces of equipment, the
I.F.F. System, and the Hyperspace Unit, in place of Cargo Bay Extensions
and Energy Bombs. Some other pieces of equipment have modified effects in
The Identification Friend or Foe system is designed to help pilots
detect potential aggressors, and to prevent them from accidentally
attacking innocent traders. When an I.F.F. System is installed, the colour
of the bars on the flight grid scanner will show what the type of the
objects detected are. The colours of the head and tail of the bar are:
Head Tail Ship Type
White White Station Tracked
Blue Blue Clean
Blue Blue and Red Offender/Fugitive
Blue Blue and White Debris
White White and Red Missile
Station Tracked ships are being tracked by Orbit Space
Control, and any interference with them is likely to bring heavy
Clean ships are usually traders, or occasionally bounty hunters.
Offenders or Fugitives are usually pirates, but may also be bounty
Debris includes asteroids, barrels, boulders, and anything else
which happens to be drifting about.
The Hyperspace Unit is an invention which is designed to get ships
out of trouble quickly, saving their cargo. When activated, it does an
instantaneous hyperspace jump to a random star system in the
No guarantees are made about the suitability of the system jumped to.
The hyperspace unit is destroyed by this action, and cannot be re-used.
Docking Computers have the same effect in Elite-A as in Elite
I/II, except that while the docking computers are on, no shuttles or
civilian craft will be allowed to leave the space station, preventing
Missiles in Elite-A no longer automatically destroy other ships,
but they do cause severe damage, and are very useful against ships with
tough shields, or for finishing off ships when in a large battle.
The following control keys can be used while flying or while docked at a space station:
f4 Long range chart
f5 Short range chart
f6 Data on hyperspace system
f7 Show market prices
f8 Show status screen
f9 Show inventory
The following controls can be used while in either of the map modes:
D Distance to hyperspace system
O Move cursor to current system
W Move cursor to special cargo destination
There is one special control which be used viewing the encyclopedia:
CTRL-f6 Close Encyclopedia
The following controls can be used while flying:
< Anti-clockwise roll
> Clockwise roll
TAB Activate Hyperspace Unit
ESC Fire Escape Pod
F Toggle compass between Sun and Planet
V Turn on Docking Computer
P Turn off Docking Computer
CTRL-H Galactic Hyper-Jump
A Fire Laser
T Target Missile
M Fire Missile
U Unarm Missile
E Activate E.C.M.
f0 Front view
f1 Rear view
f2 Left view
f3 Right view
These controls can only be used whilst docked:
f0 Launch ship
CTRL-f0 Pay docking fee to stay In-Station
f1 Buy cargo
CTRL-f1 Buy special cargo
f2 Sell cargo
CTRL-f2 Sell ship equipment
f3 Buy ship equipment
CTRL-f3 Buy new ship
CTRL-f6 Access Encyclopedia Galactica
@ Disc access menu
Some extra control becomes available on the maps whilst docked:
F Find planet
SHIFTed Cursor keys
Move cursor fast
The following keys control aspects of the game play:
COPY Freeze game
While the game is frozen, the following controls may be used:
S Sound on
Q Sound off
A Toggle keyboard auto-recentring
Y Reverse joystick Y channel
X Toggle startup message display
K Toggle keyboard/joystick control
J Reverse both joystick channels
F Toggle flashing information
Toggle keyboard damping
@ Toggle between keyboard/Delta-14B control
ESC Start new game
DEL Unfreeze game
The Delta-14B joystick buttons are arranged as follows:
Fire Laser Fire Laser
Decelerate Fire Laser Accelerate
Unarm Missile Fire Missile Target Missile
Hyperspace Unit E.C.M. Escape Pod
Docking Computer On Micro-Jump Docking Computer Off
Last modified on 16th June 2004 by firstname.lastname@example.org