David Braben, founder and chief executive of Frontier Developments, has announced that space-'em-up Elite Dangerous is to drop support for 32-bit Windows installs and DirectX 10 in a future update.
Released following a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign and as a follow-up to the Elite series of the 80s and 90s, Elite Dangerous boasts significantly improved graphics and effects compared to its closest VGA-resolution predecessor. Despite this, and early support for virtual reality hardware, Frontier Developments is looking to push the game engine still further - and to do so it's looking to sever ties with the past.
'As you know we spend a good deal of time planning for the future, and one issue (and opportunity) we are considering is the effect of supporting Win32 and DX10, and the benefits we would get if we were to drop them,
' company founder and chief executive David Braben explained in a blog post
yesterday. 'We support leading edge technology like 4K, 8K, VR, and with things like compute shaders in Horizons we really push the boundaries overall, but there are restrictions with Win32 – particularly the amount of memory we can address at one time – and with DX10 in terms of requiring an alternative rendering solution in our code. Dropping these two would help us support high end effects with a better result – to make the game better.
Interestingly, while Braben has positioned the move as something the company is simply 'considering
' and is soliciting opinion, the shift appears to be a done deal. 'It will be at least six months before we would make the change,
' Braben concluded, 'but we want to know your opinions first, and to give warning that the change will need to come at some point, so please let us know.
' Whether said opinions, if particularly strong against the move, would sway Frontier away from its planned six-month end-of-support schedule is not detailed.
According to figures cited by Braben, around 0.5 percent of Elite Dangerous owners have run the game in 32-bit mode while a further two percent run the game in DirectX 10 mode. Braben admits that those running the title in 32-bit and/or DirectX 10 mode on hardware incapable of supporting 64-bit and DirectX 11 or 12 software may need to upgrade their hardware.