Elite: Dangerous’ David Braben on PC vs. console development


Last week at GDC Frontier announced that Elite: Dangerous is headed to the Xbox One in 2015. Predictably, this caused a bit of consternation amongst the space sim’s PC user base. Frontier boss David Braben took to the forums to elaborate, and soon after we peppered him with questions to further clarify how the console and PC builds of E:D are shaping up.

Click past the cut to see what he had to say.

Massively OP: Your recent forum post indicated that PC and Xbox One builds of Elite: Dangerous will be similar. Will they be getting patches, updates, and DLC simultaneously?

David Braben: The games will be much the same, but we won’t necessarily be getting the updates at the same time. What we don’t want to do is slow down what we think has been an excellent cadence of updates on PC or change that at all because of Xbox. What that may mean — and we’re still looking into it — is cross-platform play may not happen for that reason or may not happen all the time. But certainly it is a possibility.

Can you elaborate on cross-platform play, then? You mentioned It’s a possibility but do you think there will be advantages to playing on one platform vs. the other?

Well, straight out of the gate, we supported console controllers in the game, and actually I play a lot with an Xbox controller anyway. It’s easy to carry around when I’m traveling. So the control scheme is already very similar. From a development point of view (or in fact developing for console vs. PC), one of the problems with PC is that there is such a wide range of PCs — different CPUs, memory speed, audio solutions. All of those mean that one PC isn’t the same as the next, and so we can’t be sure that our experience that we have in the office is the same as your experience that you have at home, whereas with XBox, we can be a lot more confident because all of the machines are the same. So we can tune it. Really what I’m getting at is that the question already applies due to the differences between PCs. And it’s actually less likely to apply between Xbox and PC for that reason.

Having said that, we’re looking to cross-platform play and we’ll see what we can do. We genuinely don’t know one way or the other at the moment. But the update issue is probably something that would mean it’s less likely.

Do you have any concerns with console hardware being able to handle Elite: Dangerous‘ plans for planetary updates and outside-the-ship stuff?

We haven’t announced the details of what we’re doing on consoles yet, but the Xbox is a capable machine. It does some impressive things with some great games as you can see, but we’ll talk about those things as we announce the updates.

Thanks for chatting with us!

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