From Elite Wiki


3) Versions of the Game

3.1) Electron Elite

3.2) BBC Tape Elite

3.3) BBC Disk Elite

3.4) Elite - The Executive Edition (BBC with Tube)

3.5) BBC Master Elite

3.6) BBC Tube Elite

3.7) Master Compact Elite

3.8) Elite A

  • 3.8.1) Description
  • 3.8.2) Missions

3.9) Amiga Elite

3.10) Spectrum Elite

3.11) MSX Elite

3.12) Tatsung Einstein Elite

3.13) NES Elite

3.14) C64 Elite

3.15) Apple II Elite

3.16) Amstrad CPC Elite

3.17) Atari ST Elite

3.18) PC Elite

3.19) PC Elite+

3.20) Archimedes Elite

  • 3.20.1) Description
  • 3.20.2) Missions
  • 3.20.3) Extra features
  • 3.20.4) Fluffy Dice

3.21) Archimedes Elite Gold

3.22) Frontier Elite II - PC, Amiga and Atari ST

  • 3.22.1) Description
  • 3.22.2) The Mirage and the Dart
  • 3.22.3) Bugs

3.23) First Encounters

  • 3.23.1) Description and missions
  • 3.23.2) Interesting Ships
  • 3.23.3) Bugs and Problems

3.1) Electron Elite (Bell & Braben, 1984)

A version for the Acorn Electron, this is the simplest form of Elite. It has the reduced ship selection, and no suns so the fuel scoop is only useful for collecting cargo. The screen is monochrome, including the console, and graphics are wireframe with hidden line removal. As on the BBC version, this does not include suns, which can be seen through their planets. All space stations are Coriolis model. There are no missions.

Elite rating is based on number of kills.

3.2) BBC Tape Elite (Bell & Braben, 1984)

This version has the reduced ship set. The space view is monochrome with wireframe ships, as above, but the console is 4-colour (red, green, and yellow or white depending on whether you had an escape pod) due to a cunning trick allowing it to be in Mode 5 while the main view was in Mode 4. All space stations are Coriolis model. There are no missions. One interesting feature of this and of Electron Elite is the inability to turn off the docking computers(!).

Elite rating is based on number of kills.

3.3) BBC Disk Elite (Bell & Braben, 1984, combined disk 1986 with Master and Tube Elite)

Like BBC Tape Elite but with more ships, and when you dock on a space station you get a brief view of other ships sitting around on the ground.

This is the archetypal classic Elite. Each sun has one planet and each planet has one space station but this may be Coriolis or Dodec class. Planets are occupied by a variety of races and have a variety of governments which act as danger classifications, from the tame Corporate States, through Democracies, Confederacies, Communist States, Dictatorships, Multi-Governments and Feudal Systems, to Anarchies, the worst of the worst.

The ships flew using an inertialess engine - the player controls speed, not thrust, and can change direction instantaneously.

The game uses the standard ship set.

The first batch of disks sold had a minor glitch which prevented asteroids from ever appearing. Boulders never appeared either - these are simply the fragments produced from shooting an asteroid with a mining laser and can be sold as minerals.

To display the authors' names on the spinning ship screen, pause the game, press X, then unpause again.


  Constrictor (triggered at 256 kills, galaxy 1 or 2)
  Thargoid Documents (triggered mid-dangerous, galaxy 3, maybe other galaxies too)

Elite rating is based on number of kills.

Bug: As in 48K Spectrum Elite, if the hyperspace counter reaches 0 while docking, you will dock in your destination system without having to fly in.

This may in fact be widespread among classic Elites.

3.4) Elite - The Executive Edition (Bell & Braben)

A special BBC 6502SP version put together by Ian Bell and given to a few people, but not published. The only differences I know between this and normal Tube Coprocessor Elite are the presence of a StarWars-type scrolltext which rolls up the screen when you start the game, and that after this you get a mock-battle, in which you are scored for number of enemies destroyed and penalised for usage of missiles.

Missions: Unknown, probably as Master and Tube (see next section).

Elite rating is based on number of kills.

3.5) BBC Master Elite (Bell & Braben, 1984, 2nd release 1986, 3rd release 1986 on combination disk with Tube and original BBC disk versions.)

The first Elite to have colour in its main display. The console is drawn in eight colours and the main display in four (including black). This version uses the standard ship set but also sports a peculiar craft which is the second one displayed during startup when creating a new pilot.

According to Chris John Jordan, who was involved with the creation of Acornsoft's editions of Elite, it is the Cougar, an initially peaceful trader which fights very effectively when attacked and possesses better-than-average shields and laser. This has since been verified by visual and missile-radar ID of the ship in Elite Plus for the PC.


         Constrictor (256 kills, galaxy 1 or 2)
         Thargoid Documents (mid-dangerous, galaxy 3, maybe others)
         Others, details unknown. Cloaking device believed to be among them.

The odd ship seen on one of the startup screens is a Cougar, believed to be the Cloak & Dagger Ship (ie with Masking Device) in this verison.

Elite rating is based on number of kills.

3.6) BBC Tube Elite (Bell & Braben 1986, superseded by joint disk with Master and original BBC, also 1986)

Designed to run on a BBC B or Master with second processor, this game appears identical to BBC Master Elite only faster. I would speculate that it also has the same missions. Note that the Cougar does not appear on the startup screens, however.

Elite rating is based on number of kills.

3.7) Master Compact Elite (Bell & Braben, 1984)

Existence of a special version designed for the Master Compact is rumoured but has yet to be confirmed.

3.8) Elite A (Bell & Braben, highly modified by A.Duggan, allowed for release 1997)

3.8.1) Description

Using the Elite A unique ship set, this game is a non-commercial significantly altered version of BBC Disk Elite. While the graphics are the same, many features have been altered: The player begins as pilot of an Adder and can buy better ships (this is _very_ expensive and seems likely to keep me in a job right up to Elitehood!) as he earns more money. Ships have different speeds, turn rates, numbers of missile pylons, shield and hull strengths, laser mounts, hyperspace ranges and cargo hold sizes. Equipment now occupies space so it is essential to strike a balance between weaponry and trading space.

Other significant modifications include:

Special cargos, which must be delivered to a specific destination as quickly as possible with payment depending on speed.

An online encyclopedia allowing access to ship statistics and pictures (though I can't see how the value given as cargo space is derived - it seems utterly erroneous on the Adder and Gecko, at least), equipment information and keys.

An IFF device allowing identification of ships' intents at a distance.

Random ship appearance positions, so you can't tell whether they're pirates by their start location.

Replacement of the vastly unfair energy bomb with an instant hyperspace run away unit.

Many more less significant changes.

Note that there are also some new ships not in the encyclopedia! One can be seen at Simon Challands' webpage. There is another, but I know no more than that it exists.

It runs in an enhanced mode with a Tube Coprocessor which is slightly faster, accesses the disk less and has more varied ship encounter combinations.

Elite rating is based on number of kills.

3.8.2) Missions

Because the game has only been made recently available to the public full mission details are unknown until someone plays through them.

However, it can be confirmed that the Constrictor and Thargoid Document missions are present, at least, and possibly more.

This version is available from Ian Bell's WWW page.

3.9) Amiga Elite (Telecomsoft, 1988 & Firebird, date unknown)

Followed by Elite Plus (Amiga Empire Interactive, 1995) which was the Elite files in a box with Elite Plus artwork, apparently.

Available from Ian Bell's webpage.

Solid colour graphics in bright colours. All stations are coriolis. Standard ship list, but with the Wolf MkII (no description available). In this version it is a tough pirate ship. Thargoids can mob you in witch space or attack as (and sometimes _with_) normal pirates. Asteroid pieces are called platelets, not boulders. Like the BBC version, but unlike PC Elite and Elite+, there is no status/danger warning light on the console. Thargoids _do_ release thargons, contrary to some reports, but are apparently very reluctant to do so even in prolonged battle. As in the Atari ST version, enemy ships fire bullets, not lasers, and only when resolved from dots.

There are 4 or 5 missions:

  Thargoid Documents
  Thargoid Invasion

There is also a cloaking device, activated by pressing Y, and which may be obtained by destroying a special ship. The mission is slightly atypical. You receive the following message:

Warning to all Traders: Reports having been coming in from Traders in this sector of an unknown hostile ship with awesome capabilities. Rumours suggest that this ship is fitted with a device which causes on-board computer systems to malfunction.

The ship is a Cougar flanked by 2 Asp Mk IIs. It does not cloak but releases the device in a cannister on destruction. When activated, enemy ships will not shoot at you, though they will fly at you and bank away as normal.

Elite rating is based on score.

This version also has the Wolf MkII ship.

Undocumented features: In early versions, enter "sara" as the protection code, followed by the correct one. Then press * during play to bring up a hex editor. The ships can be viewed using the following keys on the initial spinning cobra screen:

 F - change ship
 A - stop spinning
 D - restart spinning
 O - zoom out
 I - zoom in

Pressing W during flight gives a score, game time, and the credits.

On later versions, the initial protection code is "suzanne".

This can also be used to create custom galaxies: See for more details.

3.10) Spectrum Elite (Firebird/Torus 1985, followed by many enhanced versions and rereleases)

First game ever to use the Lenslock anti-piracy system: You look at some coloured squares on the screen through a special lens, and they reveal themselves as a 2 digit code which you type in to get access.

Ship set: Adder, Asp Mk II, Cobra Mk3, Fer-de-Lance, Krait, Python, Sidewinder, Viper, Thargoid, Thargon. All space stations Coriolis.

Status display was white on red which became white on magenta with escape capsule. Status indicator on scanner changed from green to yellow to red to flashing red depending on degree of danger.

Sometimes on docking, a message was produced: "Pirates have taken over your ship - Game Over" I doubt this did much for playability.

Pausing then pressing a specific key then unpausing toggled forced witchspace mode (witchspace every jump). The key may have been F.

And a cheat: If your hyperspace countdown finishes just as you get the docking tunnel, you will find yourself instantly docked in your destination system. So launch, trigger hyperspace, and re-dock at the station you just came to. Only tested on 48K version.

Bug: If you destroy a ship you have fired a missile at, it will fly to the last known position then stop. It cannot be shot or ECM'ed and can be flown through. This is rumoured to also appear in a version of PC Elite.

Missions: Supernova, Cloaking Device, maybe others.

3.11) MSX Elite (Tape: Mr. Micro ltd. Cartridge: Japanese import.)

Wireframe graphics, looks like 8 colours. Hideous music. Four missions:

  Thargoid Documents
  Thargoid Invasion

3.12) Tatsung Einstein Elite (Mr. Micro ltd., 3" disk)

I now know what a Tatung Einstein looks like.

A single-unit monitor and keyboard system with built in 3" disk drives. It ran CP/M, so it was probably Z80 based. Very similar to the Amstard PCW 8256/8512 but with a completely different case.

Submissions to

3.13) NES Elite (Imagineer, 1991)

Ian recommends this as the version to play if you wish to re-experience classic Elite. It certainly looks good but the emulator which he recommends is highly restrictive unless you register for the full version, and it runs slowly on a P133. Note that this game has a scrolltext and practice combat at the beginning, like executive Elite.

Wireframe graphics. Missions unknown.

3.14) C64 Elite (Firebird Software, 1984)

As colourful as BBC Master Elite but with a smaller screensize leading to a lower resolution.

There are 3 missions: Trumbles (like Tribbles), Constrictor and Thargoid Documents.

Want to know what a trumble looks like as it crawls across your screen? See Ian Bell's page (link at top of this section) - it's the blue bug-like thingy used as the C64 Elite icon.

Elite rating is based on kill-points.

3.15) Apple II Elite (Firebird, 1985)

Limited colour - uses the funny Apple II system where by lowering the screen resolution, black and white bars become colour...

Mission details: Unknown.

3.16) Amstrad CPC Elite (Firebird, 1985)

This game allegedly has the reduced ship set, but apparently there are Fer de Lances. The docking sequence is a simple tunnel, rock hermits release kraits and sidewinders when attacked, and all stations are Coriolis type. It occasionally produces a "Pirates have taken over your ship - Game Over" message on docking.

Mission details: Has Nova, Thargoid Base, Cloaking device, maybe more.

3.17) Atari ST Elite (Firebird, 1988)

Described as "Graphically very good", uses solid colour.

Missions: Supernova, Constrictor, Thargoid Documents, Masking Device, Thargoid Invasion

Apparently, combat was a severe letdown: Enemies shot round red bullets at you, not lasers, and at close range only. So buy a rear military laser and you can rule the spacelanes.

3.18) PC Elite (Microprose Software, 1987, Andy Onions)

The original PC Elite. Classical Elite, but with the option to choose solid graphics or wireframe. CGA only - 4 (sickly) colours. The two versions are completely independent of one another. The menu provides a touch of humour, telling you you need a fast computer (6MHz 80286 or faster) to run solid graphics mode.

Missions: Supernova, Masking Device, Thargoid Invasion

3.19) PC Elite + (Microprose Software, 1991, Chris Sawyer)

PC Elite improved to run in EGA or VGA (with 16 colours) or MCGA (with 256 colours) graphics modes. All modern machines will probably be able to use the MCGA mode.

Missions: Tribble, Supernova, Stolen Police Ship, Thargoid Documents, Asteroid Bombardment, Masking Device, Thargoid Invasion.

Adders and Kraits (in particular) have a tendency to "bleed" missiles: Once you fight back and start doing them serious damage they loose them all in quick succession. This makes combat very dangerous before you have an ECM, because you can't escape missiles like in BBC Elite.

Anarchies are great fun, with a relentless assault from large numbers of ships (as many as 7 have been reported) at once, and they never stop coming. Good equipment and powerful lasers are a must. Not one for your regular trade routes!

Apart from the tribbles, missions are triggered on a hyperspace count basis: After you leave galaxy 1 a counter increments with each hyperspace, triggering missions at certain levels.

Note: Also present in the code are the messages for when the player trails the Constrictor. This mission does not appear to be implemented, however.

3.20) Archimedes Elite (Gringras & Burch, 1991)

There are two versions - v1.05 and v1.14. The latter has the password protection removed.

3.20.1) Description

Claimed by all those who have played it (to the extent of my knowledge) to be the best incarnation of Elite ever. Superficially, it is BBC Elite with solid, colour graphics and extra ships. However, for the first time in the Elite universe, you are no longer the centre of action. The AI has taken a colossal step forwards. Now you can encounter pirate packs battling it out for dominance of their private patches, traders under attack, Bushmaster mining vessels smashing asteroids into chunks and scooping up the pieces, vipers towing disabled ships back to the station, vipers flying along in formation looking for some lawbreaker to fight... (they are _very_ deadly. I've seen a pack of six flying along in a perfect rectangle suddenly peel off into combat. They took down 5 caimen and 5 geckos before I could even blink). There are even other ships like yourself - Cobras armed to the teeth looking for pirates to fight, to boost their Elite rating. A considerable range of new ships, all with their own unique characters. And then there's the oddities. But that'll wait until later.

Quite simply the most playable Elite game of all time.

3.20.2) Missions Genesis Capsule

  Requirements: Galaxy 1, 550CR, 1200 kills.
  You get hired by GalFam to drop an ecology seed capsule on a 
  starving world to revitalise its economy. To succeed, simply 
  jettison it while facing the planet at very low altitude. First, 
  of course, you have to go and pick it up...
  Reward: 500CR and a rosy glow. The system data changes from "A 
  hopless starving planet" to "A starving planet with a glimmer of 
  hope". Kill Zartid III

  Requirements: 1450 kills, 4000CR, any galaxy.
  A respected member of the Tri-Alliance (Note for TEP members - in 
  those days, the thargoids were the baddies...) has been running 
  plans to the enemy. Find him and kill him. You are told where he 
  was last seen. Zartid flies blue wing-like ship, and is escorted by a
  small fleet of Mambas. If you take too long to kill him he gets
  Advice: If you can't take it, energy-bomb the mambas first. You 
  might also want to try the missile trick from the BBC Disk 
  Constrictor mission.
  Reward: Yaw boosters. These turn a good pilot into a deadly 
  pilot. In the right hands they can improve laser accuracy by as 
  much as 50%. Best used with mouse control - right hand on the 
  mouse, left on the cursors. Kill Zurid Pino

  2600 kills, any galaxy.
  You have killed Zurid's father, the infamous pirate Rantan Pino. 
  Zurid has stolen a top-secret Cobra with a cloaking device and 
  missile autolock and is coming to get you. Zurid flies a red-
  brown cobra which does not appear on scanners and has 8 missiles. 
  Another difficult fight.
  Reward: Missile Autolock. A little cross on your current missile 
  target and a lot of pose value. Medicine Run

  4600 kills, planet no. MOD3 = 1, any galaxy.
  Travel around the galaxy gathering components for a medical cure. 
  The chemicals may have various side effects - one makes you 
  likely to explode if you get too hot sun-scooping, another seems 
  to increase the damage of enemy lasers to your shields and 
  energy, and a third reacts with any of the others if your shields 
  are reduced to nil while it's in the hold. Advice: As soon as you 
  find the mixing centre, drop off the more troublesome ones!
  Reward: 2000CR and innoculation!  

3.20.3) Extra Features Space Beacons

Navigational aids for the lost spacer, these are a feature of ArcElite only. Brightly coloured tetrahedrons registering as cargo on the scanner, no benefit is gained from shooting them, and they do not appear on the hold contents register when scooped. They do take up 1t of storage, however, and cannot be shifted short of using an escape capsule.

I vaguely remember something about ejecting one in association with every tonne of X jettisoned, but I cannot remember what X was, and have tried it with minerals and food without success.

Space beacons do not stop you jumping. The Urutu

Mentioned on the Moccasin card in ArcElite Gold, this is the name frequently associated with the yellow ship with a grey underside and green nose border and triangles on its back. This ship is rectangular with a rounded nose and may be pirate or trader. It is almost as fast as a Cobra and _very_ manouverable.

Notes released on an Acorn Computing cover disk pertaining to be documentation of the state of the game, however, suggest otherwise, recording that dredgers may have been included in some of the jump-emergence event possibilities. Maybe these ships are dredgers. They certainly seem meaner than your run-of-the-mill bad guy. However, dredgers are apparently huge. This ship just doesn't seem big enough.

On the other hand, there are two very distinct forms of Moccasin and it is possible that the one not on the card is the Urutu and that the green and yellow ship is a dredger. After all, the Urutu is described as a close cousin of the Moccasin.

For convenience I refer to them as the Moccasin, Special Moccasin and Urutu. Crazy Craft

Archimedes Elite only. These ships fly in erratic circles. They are mentioned in the handbook. From the game's perspective, they are in fact trying to shoot themselves! Missionaries

ArcElite only. Harmless weak unarmed ships originally created for target practice by the navy and bought up en masse by a religious sect who fly around dangerous planets spreading the word.

Darwin in action. Messages

Sometimes, the unexpected can flash up on the bottom of your screen. Watch out for:

  REPENT, SINNER! REPENT! - cried occasionally over the radio by missionaries in hognoses.
  MEGAWEED!!! - displayed occasionally upon scooping a cargo cannister. A particularly potent narcotic. Sells as normal though. 
  WHY DID THE GROIGAN DANCE?  _ Thargoids ambushing an
  WHY WAS THE KANGAROO HAPPY?   unlucky pilot in witch-space Scrolltext

If you bring up the info window in desktop and leave your pointer on the copyright message, you get a scrolltext. Apparently one of the names credited is that of the Mad Hatter, of Micro User Elite column fame. Escorts

If you attack a ship with escorts, it does a runner while you fight them. Just thought I'd mention it. Rentadock

At Tech Level 8+ if you have no docking computer, you can press C anyhow and pay a charge of 50CR for use of the remote Rentadock. This puts rather a dint in the income.

3.20.4) Fluffy Dice

There are two expansion modules worthy of mention:

  1) !EliteExt by Ben Dooks and Andrew Clover, with a few bug fixes by Rob
      Pfeifer. Available for download from
      as a self-extracting archive: Set type to Obey and double-click.
      it gives you a ship ID system which also displays remaining shields on
      target, a clock, a cargo hold fullness readout, fluffy dice which swing
      realistically with the movement of the ship and a bumper sticker reading
      "My other ship is a Thargoid".  Versions before 1.03 (Rob's fix) confuse
      Anacondas and Boa II's, and also Moccasins and the rarer special variety. 
  2) AUEliteCht - a module available from
     which gives a super-powerful laser and rather fancy explosions, among
     many other things.

These are both off Simon Challands' wonderful Acorn Elite page

3.21) Archimedes Elite Gold (Gringras & Burch, 1991)

Archimedes Elite, with reference cards provided for the ships and a little pad to record market prices on.

3.22) Frontier Elite II (Braben, with elements attributable to Bell, 1993)

Available in Atari ST, Amiga and PC formats from

3.22.1) Description

Ian Bell and David Braben returned to the Elite universe to bring it up to date. In this game, star systems have more than one planet, planets may have many space stations and ground ports, there is far more equipment available to the player, the player may buy different and better space ships, and there are a wide range of careers open, from passenger transport to mining, assassination and life in the military. Of course, one can also stay as a trader if one wishes!

The biggest change is the inertial (Newtonian) flight engine. You have momentum and if you change facing, your thrusters will begin to act to slow you down rather than leading to an instant travel in the new direction. This is like the real world, as opposed to Tie Fighter and its ilk.

There are no hand-coded missions but the sheer variety of day-to-day careers more than makes up.

3.22.2) The Mirage and the Dart

For those of you who only have Frontier, some background is necessary. In classical Elite, thargoids attacked you by diverting your hyperspace jump then mobbing you. In Frontier, they didn't exist. In FirstEnc the thargoids are back and they're friendly. I suppose you want one of their ships now.

Forget it.

The shape is there (you can see it sticking half out of the ground at some military bases you are sent to photograph). There are snippets of storyline in the code which lead people to believe that you must be Prince with the Empire, have some sort of high pass from Sirius Cybernetics and be at the eastern edge of the galaxy. Unfortunately it was never implemented. Even the ship definition is incomplete. It is possible to create a Mirage by hacking, but the ship stats are mad. For example, it has more missile racks than the savegame file has slots for. In short any data in it is random gibberish from whatever part of the program code it happens to point to.

To put it simply, the ship does not exist in normal play. You have to cheat. Get one here.

I also heard tell once of a small ship with a Class 9 Hyperdrive called the Dart. This is an utter lie. There is no Class 9 Hyperdrive (the hackers have verified this), nor is there a shape for it in the game (again, the hackers have been through it with a fine toothcomb. The only unaccounted-for shape is the mirage). It is possible this legend arose from someone hacking themselves to be flying a missile with a Class 8 drive (and maybe even poked the text and drive stats - _creating_ a Class 9 drive where none should exist). In short, as far as getting it in the game is concerned, another fiction.

3.22.3) Bugs

The first four are beneficial. These are not guaranteed to work on all versions, or indeed at all. The ones after these are harmful and are probably far more ubiquitous... Deimos and Phobos

Apparently shooting these asteroidal moons of Mars gets you kills, and they remain intact so you can keep shooting until you're Elite or your finger gets tired. Use a mining laser at 3rd acceleration, and make sure you're a fair distance away and have shields because you get a fair load of minerals flying off. Garbage Truck Bug

Load up your ship with rubbish, fly out beyond the last planet of the system and click just below the jettison button in your cargo hold. You want to be travelling fairly fast when you do this or you'll hit the crazy stuff spewing out back. You can increase your tonnage indefinitely in this manner. Note that some say you simply jettison the rubbish and get an increase of 1t for each rubbish jettisoned. This could be 2 separate bugs on different versions, or different (and one therefore incorrect) relatings of the same bug. Try them and see. Wormholes

When hyperspacing a distance close to an exact multiple of 655.36ly the fuel tonnage required drops almost to nil on some versions. That's what you get if you skimp on variable sizes when programming! This allows rapid transgalactic travelling for very little fuel (simply knock off as many 655.36's from the distance as possible, then use the range remaining after that). This bug is only present in early releases. Nonetheless it is one of the most widely heard-of bugs in the game. Get Rich Quick

There are two ways to do this. First, go to Cemiess. Buy Gemstones on the Black Market - they pay you to take them. When your hold is full, sell your ship thereby losing your cargo but keeping the money. Repeat. Second: Get a passenger. Repeatedly try and buy a cheaper ship. You will be credited with the difference each time, but because of the presence of the passenger your ship will not actually be changed. If you don't actually want to carry the passenger, eventually buy an escape capsule and use it just outside the station. Mining Machine bug

Mining machines must be picked up in reverse order to that in which they were dropped or the game crashes. There is a patch to fix this at Mad Protection Scheme

Sometimes the scheme asks for e.g. page 8238, line 27764, word 29263. There is a patch available at George Hooper's excellent utilities page: This disables the protection altogether. Impossible Missions

Beware of missions requiring you to deliver to or kill someone emerging from a planet with no starport. They are impossible. Also beware of missions to planets near far greater masses e.g. many gas giants and a large star, as it may be impossible to get your frame of reference relative to them, making approach difficult and missiling near-impossible (nuclear missiles have a fixed velocity of about 10-15,000 km/s - if you need to match speeds by going faster than this, they'll never hit). Unshiftable dissatisfied passenger

If a passenger declares they're disgusted at how long you're taking and getting off at the next stop, their contract vanishes but they remain in the cabin, unshiftable, preventing you selling it or your ship. The only way to get rid of them is by using an escape capsule. Note

If you have other troubles, read the section on First Encounters bugs. While many of these are new to FirstEnc, some may apply to FEII as well. Likewise, some of these bugs are in turn carried forwards. There are also many minor glitches not mentioned here such as populations in empty star systems, etc. etc.

3.23) Frontier: First Encounters (Braben, 1995)

3.23.1) Description and Missions

Written by David Braben alone, this is rumoured to be the buggiest game in history with the possible exception of Battlecruiser 3000. However, it pushes FE2 that little bit further and makes something special of it. Planets are texture-mapped, there are journals you can subscribe to, keeping you up to date on current affairs, and there are some special hand-coded missions to surprise you...

The latest patch (version 1.06) is available from Jades' First Encounters Page, download section -

Handcoded missions are back in this game, and there are a wide variety, details of which can be found on Jades' missions page. They range from transporting a dolphin to destroying a law academy.

Some, however, stand out above the others: These are the missions involving Argent's Quest and the Thargoids.

Triggered by having sufficient combat rating, and being on Alioth in early October (November?) 3252. Look on the bulletin board for TURNER'S REQUIEM and donate 10,000cr.

These missions are somewhat buggy - apparently most problems can be solved by using stardreamer up until the first cutout, just before docking, then saving, starting a NEW GAME, then reloading. Then dock. When docking on space stations, do not accelerate time for the final stage.

Warning: When entering the first hidden system, make sure you've got a nuclear missile...

3.23.2) Interesting Ships Bubble Drive Ships

These are mentioned in the journals in First Encounters but are just a filler for New Scientist and don't actually exist in the game. Thargoid

You can get the "Unknown" - your very own thargoid fighter - by following through the Turner's Requiem plotline and siding with the Thargoids. Keeping the Quest

If you opt not to get a thargoid fighter but return to the Alliance in the Quest, they will take it back when you land at New Rossyth. So land at Fortress Campbell instead, sell it, buy a Lifter or something, and go to New Rossyth. They will repossess the Lifter and you can go and buy back the Quest - for keeps this time! Baffling Alien

There is one unidentified ship that is not involved in the game in any way. It is octagonal so probably thargoid in origin, but much more ornate than their usual bland functional designs. It comes with a thargoid hyperdrive (equal to or better than Class 8) and a thargoid laser of a very special type - it fires blue with a little explosion on the end. Try, All Thargoid Ships file. Long Range Cruiser

You can get a file hacked to fly a Long Range Cruiser, too. Not much fun as pirates just crash into you all the time before you can even turn to fire. Again, it's available from

I've also recently hacked to fly a Lynx cruiser and a Nuclear Missile. The ultimate hacking guide is by George Hooper and can be found at:

3.23.3) Bugs and Problems My Missile Hits Me!

It's not being projected far enough to leave your ship. Go to 3x stardreamer just after launching. This is a frequent problem with big ships. My Turret Gun Hits Me!

It's mounted in a position where it's partially enclosed by your ship's hull (e.g. Griffin Carrier lower turret). No solution. Buy a better ship. They Won't Give Me A Nuclear Missile!

Either you're wearing an Iraqi military uniform or all your pylons are full. Sell a missile before taking the photography or bombing mission. How Do I Turn On The Transmission Jammer?

It's automatic. It'll take care of itself. I Can't Voluntarily Use My Escape Capsule!

As for missiles in, you're not getting thrown clear. No solution. Just wait until someone else blows you up. In the Quest, if you want a go in the Stowmaster, try ramming a planet or something. My Assassination Target's Not There!

Reload and re-enter the system. If all pads are full when a base is generated, there's nowhere to put the target! Joystick prevents map rotation

Even having a joystick plugged in means you can't use the right button to rotate the local sectors map. I have -1 passengers and can't sell my ship

Oh dear. You took the scripted mission with a sole passenger in, didn't you? Well, you're stuck like that. Either use an escape capsule or take a contract for another passenger and try and get bug to kick in. Even if it doesn't, at least while you have the contract your passenger count returns to zero so you can carry out ship transactions as normal. Not Actually Bugs. Everyone's Out To Kill Me!

You forgot to destroy the military satellite on a photography mission or the first hidden system in the thargoid missions. Try again but get it this time. Wormholes fixed

"The wormhole fix in FFE is a blatant kludge (one of my favourite Americanisms!), as the range still appears negative and the fuel consumption is 1t. However, when you press H you get the hyperspace noise (AFAIR) and your fuel drops by 1 ton but you stay put. The thought of 1t of fuel boldly going where no TC has gone before seems very amusing." - Graham Thurlwell

This appears only to be true for early versions.


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