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How Frontier Found Me

Month: April

Author: Robin Sharrock

It's a normal Spring morning in March, 1999. Slumped in my seat in the form room I await another boring day at school. GCSEs are in June and we'd better start working. In walks my mate Kevin. It's twenty to nine, and he slumps down at his desk in front of me.

"Morning Kev." I say monotonously.

"Morning."

Kevin drops his tired bag on the floor and takes out a very tatty looking manual. He begins reading. I look up and read the section he is on. It explains how one can refuel ones ship.

"Hey, what game's that!?" I ask excitedly.

"Err, it's called Frontier", he says.

"It looks good. It must be good if you can refuel in it".

And so on. Kevin brought in an illegal copy on disk the next day (and we photocopied his photocopies of the manual) and addicted I was. So what's my point? My point is that it was sheer chance that I discovered Frontier, or rather Kevin discovered it for me. Up until March 1999 I had never heard of Elite, Frontier, FFE or any of them. Kevin had had a copy for a few months, but didn't think I'd have liked it, which is fairly true. I am a hard man to please, but Frontier, damnit, had me in its grasp. From March until GCSE time I was hooked. I can remember my mum worked 3pm until 10pm and I'd sneak 20 minutes on Frontier when my Dad went to collect her. I'd somehow fit in 10 trips from Vequess to Facece in that time. The truth is, I should have been revising. As Tom Morton so eloquently put it:

"The game that redefined addiction and rendered so many promising young kids as academic failures: Frontier Elite 2."

And so the glorious summer of 1999 came. What a summer that was. I started searcing the web for Frontier Elite 2 in July and found Christop Tietz's vast information archive, Anders Hammar's wonderful site and LOTF. But I wasn't motivated to make my own site on it. Why bother? Then, one September day that all changed.

Summer was over. We were in the 6th form now. Life had taken a turn for the worst. Gone were the days when we walked the hills of the Yorkshire Dales playing our own version of "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" based on the Frontier Universe. We named it, for insane reasons, "Critter, Stockton, Old Mali". Don't ask, just DON'T ask. I recall an occasion when we crossed a river and lost Jonathan. Kev went to look for him while I slumped down in the afternoon summer sun and read "Stories of Life on the Frontier". When Kev returned, I went off to look while he read them. Happy Days.

Anyway, I digress. Oh yes that's it. It was the 18th of September. After Community Action I was round Kevin's house when he showed me a little project he had been working on. "Ironfrost's ELITE Downloads" a webpage with all the downloads for Frontier and Elite, which I had downloaded and given to him. I don't know what it was, but I could not stand by and watch Kevin build and launch a Frontier website. So I did that same. That's were it all started. Maybe the sites are at the end of their shelflives now, who knows? I haven't played Frontier for ages (in fact, I found out last night that I don't even have a copy) and I now find it boring. It's still a great game, but roll on Elite 4.

The end of an era.

8/Apr/2001 14:11