Authors Creating the Universe of Elite: Dangerous: Chris Booker

Authors Creating the Universe of Elite: Dangerous: Chris Booker


Chris Booker tells us what it is like to write fiction for the Elite: Dangerous universe.

Chris is the creator of the Tales from the Frontier Kickstarter and the latest author to participate in our interview series to discover who the authors behind the upcoming Elite: Dangerous tie-in novels and anthology are. Each of the previous Elite games has been released with works of tie-in fiction and the fourth instalment in the series is no exception. Rather, the connection between the fiction and the game universe is even tighter this time around as the developer aims to include bits and pieces of the novels and short stories into the game itself.

Chrisí short story, Crossing the Line, included in the Tales from the Frontier Elite anthology, follows the exploits of a pair of young, fresh faced space travellers as they unwittingly get caught up in events that could lead to interstellar war.

Chris, what is your favourite past Elite title and is there a ship in the originals that you especially liked and would love to see in Elite: Dangerous?

I played the original back in the day on the ZX spectrum and will always have fond, if distorted memories of it, but I think Iíd have to say that Frontier Elite 2 was the better game, because it pretty much took all of the elements that made the original what it was, and then threw in the extras Ė the better visuals, the ability to fly different ships, land on planets etc. It was very much still Elite, just... better.

As far as ships go, I donít think I ever got attached to one in particular. I suspect a lot of people Ė myself included Ė tried to progress through to the bigger ships and probably did so in very similar orders, there was a fairly clear progression. I spent a lot of time in the middle range of ships, though, such as the Viper and the Asp. The cobra is an icon, though, isnít it?

How about the upcoming Elite: Dangerous? What do you consider to be the most exciting part of it, based on what youíve seen so far?

Again, itís a logical extension of Elite Ė if it does for Frontier Elite 2 what that did for the original then it should be perfect. The obvious things are improved visuals, sounds and all the things that make modern games better than old ones because of the technology. The less obvious things are the fact that game design seems like a much better understood thing these days, itís no longer a couple of guys saying ďthisíll be funĒ Ė but something where teams of designers consider every little detail, and there are so many more games that have done things both rightly and wrongly, which can be used as case studies.

Iím thrilled with how the game is looking at the moment, one or two minor concerns are completely outweighed by the positives for me Ė but Iím seriously looking forward to planetary landings, I think theyíll be gorgeous.

Chris, your story has been read and commented on by your fellow authors and it is soon going to Fantastic Books Publishing for the professional editing rounds. How do you feel about the story now?

Iíll be relieved when itís in the editing process. I anticipate a lot of spit and polish will be needed to deliver a final product, but having clear comments and direction and a conversation about elements of the story will really help.

What kinds of problems did you encounter during the writing process that you did not foresee?

I started the whole thing maybe 4 or 5 times, wrote several thousand words and then deleted it all. Iím not a professional author and my talents lay elsewhere, but the whole aim of this project for me was to provide a new challenge and learn something new.

My creative skills have definitely improved from being part of the project, and who knows, maybe Iíll write more things when this is done!

The game is not out yet, so we must ask you if you have had much (or enough) information about the game universe. Are there many open questions still remaining?

There are many open questions still remaining, yes. Not least, the galaxy map! As the owner of the Tales Kickstarter though, Iíll get to experience the Alpha soon (provided I can find the time!) and I hope that will help some things fall into place, creatively speaking.

Have you written before and if you have, whatís different about writing a piece of fiction based on a game compared to your previous work?

I havenít written properly since I was at school, but for me the whole point of the project wasnít necessarily to bring a crack team of experienced authors together, but rather to get a committed team of Elite fans together. I thought that in our book, maybe the style wasnít going to be quite as polished as the more professional pieces, but the stories could be every bit as colourful and exciting because of our love for the game.

As it turns out, the involvement of the other authors from other projects has been very helpful, itís a lovely little team that Iím proud to be a part of. Having Fantastic Books on board is really the icing on the cake, because it means our book will have that professional finish, it will be better for it Ė and it will hopefully get into the hands of a lot more people!

Frontier is planning to include aspects of the fiction into the game. Do you have many ideas of what details of your novel you might want to see in the game? Are you willing to reveal some of them at this point?

Iím trying to write something that fits fairly perfectly within the confines of the game, so Iíd be happy if there was mention of the exploits of the characters perhaps, or some details of their home worlds and places they visit. It would be nice to think you could read the story, fly to the system where a battle happened, and it would look exactly as it was described in the book.

What are the next steps in your writing process until your story is delivered onto the readersí hands?

Iíve pretty much got the full thing down in a manuscript now, Iím tweaking some elements of the story to make them more believable and make the characters more realistic Ė but Iím pretty happy with how it all ends up. I wanted to emphasise action in my story and I think Iíve achieved that.

Soon it will be in the hands of Dan and the editors at Fantastic, and weíll see what they think. Iím actually very much looking forward to seeing some professional feedback, the hardest part for me so far has been wondering what people will think, whether Iím on the right lines at all with it!

Thank you, Chris, for your insight into the process of game tie-in writing! If the readers want to learn more about the story and the anthology that it is a part of check out the Tales from the Frontier site. Additionally, the Kickstarter mentioned in the interview can be found here.