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Mike Janney



Cris Ekstrand


Bitmap Graphics

Tony Huisman


Thanks to:

Mikael Axelsson

Mark Craig

Maik Schulz


Unknown circa 2009 - Game Maker versionAbout three years ago (2009) I decided to play around  with making a remake of Elite - one of my all time favorite games. I did some research online and found some available materials such as the simple models and then quickly prototyped the basic flight mechanics in Mark Overmars' excellent Game Maker. There was no real goal other than toying around and trying to figure out how the original was made by testing various original versions on the MSX, ZX Spectrum, Amiga and Atari ST and studying the manuals. Then a friend (Mikael) joined me and helped shape some AI routines for the game. But now we were two developers, and how about some multiplayer dogfighting? We had to try it! None of us had played a space game with the roll/pitch flight model and though we had seen some talk online about various other remakes of Elite sporting multiplayer, none were available for download.

We soon discovered the dogfighting clearly was fun, and so we started thinking about implemUnknown circa 2009 - Game Maker versionenting the rest of the game such as trading, more equipment AI and more. We also started thinking about matchmaking for multiplayer games and while Game Maker is good it is a bit limited when it comes to the networking side of things. After discovering XNA we found that it pretty much covered all the functionality we needed so we rewrote the game for XNA and now the game ran both on PC and XBox 360 with XBox Live integration. At this point we had a pretty functional remake though it was lacking stuff such as missions and single player game play. We also ran into problems with the network code we were using and discovered debugging networked XNA is not that straightforward.

Then, Mikael got a new job with less time to work on our project and myself becoming increasingly busy with my own work we decided put the remake on hold.

After a few months I started working on it again, but it was clear it wouldn't get finished at the pace it was progressing. Meanwhile I had learned quite a bit of iOS development, the iPad came out and when that platform started supporting match making, leaderboards and achievements I could not ignore it any longer -- I started porting the game to iOS.

At this point I had to rewrite the game for the third time, tUnknown circa 2010 - XNA versionhis time with less mistakes than before and designed from ground up to support multiplayer. I brought my old time scener friend Cris on board who composed some music and it was starting to feel like a finished game. We decided in order to really finish the game we had to set a clear goal -- we wanted the true retro feeling. This meant bumping some features we really wanted to add, such as the improved graphics, and frankly after three rewrites the graphics engine was still quite limited.

We also had to implement some sort of touch interface so it would work on iOS, so we borrowed the idea of the icon system from Richard Quirky's GBA Remake, and had them slightly redrawn.

Fast forward to 2012, the first version of Unknown is now ready and we're putting it out on the App Store.

We hope that all Elite and retro space game fans will enjoy our work, and if you want to take a multiplayer match with me, feel free to invite :).

-- Mike