Skip to navigation

Downloading and playing Elite over Econet

How to get hold of the network version of Elite

To load Elite on your Econet network, you'll need to download the disc image from here:

This will let you play Elite over Econet on the following networked machines:

  • BBC Micro Model B
  • BBC Micro Model B+
  • BBC Micro Model B+128
  • BBC Micro with 6502 Second Processor
  • BBC Master 128
  • BBC Master ET
  • BBC Master Turbo
  • BBC Master with external 6502 Second Processor

Basic installation instructions are provided in a ReadMe file on the disc, but for much more detailed information, see the instructions on installing Elite over Econet.

What's on the disc?

The disc contains updated versions of Acornsoft Elite that work when loaded from a fileserver over Econet (unlike the originals). On top of this, Elite over Econet supports multiplayer scoreboards, which lets you run live Elite competitions between groups of players (see the Elite multiplayer scoreboard for details).

The game experience is unchanged - this is the same Elite game as always - but these versions load over Econet and let you load and save commander files to your network account.

That said, the version for the unexpanded BBC Micro Model B and B+ does have two features missing from the original, which had to be removed to make room for Econet. First, the docking computer now instantly docks on pressing "C", just like the BBC Micro cassette and Acorn Electron versions of Elite; and second, the planets are simple circles, without meridians, equators or craters, like the Electron version. Gameplay is otherwise unaffected, and all other versions of Elite over Econet are unchanged.

To make things fair in multiplayer competitions, all versions of Elite over Econet support instant docking (as otherwise BBC Micro players would have a time advantage). You can activate this by pressing "C" to start the normal docking sequence, and then tapping "J" to insta-dock. This feature is backported from the NES version of Elite, so it's an authentic part of the Elite canon.

Here's a summary of which versions run on which hardware:

  • The cut-down BBC Micro version works on the unexpanded Model B and Model B+.
  • The full-featured BBC Micro sideways RAM version works on the Model B with 16K sideways RAM, the Model B+ with 16K sideways RAM, and the Model B+128.
  • The 6502 Second Processor version works on the BBC Master Turbo, the BBC Master with an external 6502 Second Processor, and the BBC Micro with an external 6502 Second Processor.
  • The Executive version works on the same range of machines as the 6502 Second Processor version.
  • The Master version works on the Master 128, Master ET and Master Compact. It is based on the Superior Software release, so it supports digital joysticks on the latter.

The *Elite loader will load the correct version for the system it is being run on. For the BBC Micro version, the loader looks for 16K of sideways RAM, and if it finds it, it loads the fully featured sideways RAM variant of BBC Micro disc Elite. If there is no sideways RAM, it loads the cut-down version of BBC Micro disc Elite that is missing the docking computer animation and detailed planets.

Playing Elite over Econet

Once the game is installed on the fileserver, users can play Elite by typing:


This will load the correct version of Elite for their machine. If you are running the game on a BBC Micro Model B or B+, you will probably need to free up enough memory first - see the section on the BBC Micro below.

If you have a Second Processor enabled and you want to run the Executive version of Elite instead of the standard 6502 Second Processor version, then type *EliteX instead. See the deep dive on secrets of the Executive version for more details on this variant.

If Elite has only been installed for specific users, they will need to *DIR into their own EliteCmdrs directory first, like this:

  *DIR EliteCmdrs

If you want to run Elite over Econet on a BBC Micro that has any ROMs other than BASIC and NFS installed (such as DNFS or DFS, for example), then the loader will try to free up enough memory for Elite; just follow the on-screen instructions to do this. See the BBC Micro section below for details.

If you run into difficulties with the above command, you can run specific versions of Elite using the following:

  *EliteB     (to play BBC Micro Elite)
  *EliteM     (to play BBC Master 128 Elite)
  *EliteSP    (to play 6502 Second Processor Elite)

If you have problems, you can post to this Stardot thread and I'll do my best to help.

Here are some notes on playing Elite over Econet:

  • Commander files will be saved into each individual user's EliteCmdrs directory.
  • Each user has access to a commander file called MAX that they can load from the game menu. This contains a maxed-out commander, to give players a head start.
  • If a user tries to run Elite but doesn't have a directory called EliteCmdrs in their main user directory, i.e. $.<user>.EliteCmdrs, then the game will not load.
  • The BBC Micro version loads data every time you launch or dock. This shouldn't take too long, but if the network is slow, you might have to wait a bit longer. You can tell when the game is loading data as the top part of the dashboard tends to flicker.
  • Docking with the docking computer is instant in the standard BBC Micro version of Elite over Econet. To make things fair, all other versions of Elite over Econet support instant docking (as otherwise BBC Micro players would have a time advantage). You can activate this by pressing "C" to activate the normal docking sequence, and then tapping "J" to insta-dock; this applies to the BBC Micro sideways RAM version, the 6502 Second Processor version, and the BBC Master version.

For more on multiplayer competitions, see the Elite multiplayer scoreboard for details.

The BBC Micro version

Because memory is really tight, the BBC Micro version needs the machine to be set up correctly for Elite to work (this is particularly true when using the scoreboard feature). Specifically, the value of PAGE has to be &1200 or less for the game to work, as otherwise the Econet OSWORD calls will corrupt the game code. The BBC Master and 6502 Second Processor versions are much more forgiving - this is only an issue on the BBC Micro.

To make it easier to set up your BBC Micro for playing Elite over Econet, the loader tries to free up enough free memory by disabling all ROMs except for NFS and BASIC. This should bring PAGE down to the correct level. If you try to run Elite and PAGE is too high, then follow the on-screen instructions:

Freeing up enough memory in BBC Micro Elite over Econet

This should bring PAGE down to &1200, ready for you to run Elite. The loader might not be able to disable all ROMs, but it should work for most setups (in particular, DFS 0.9 can't be disabled, so you won't be able run Elite over Econet with this version).

Note that even with the loader trying to free up memory, Elite will not work with ANFS on a BBC Micro, as it is too memory-hungry; for the BBC Micro version, you need to use NFS or DNFS. ANFS is fine on a BBC Master or a BBC Micro with 6502 Second Processor, it's just the standard BBC Micro that has problems. If you have both ANFS and NFS fitted to your BBC Micro, then the loader will try to disable ANFS and use NFS, which should work.

If your BBC Micro has sideways RAM, then a full version of the game will be loaded. This stores ship blueprints and network code in sideways RAM, leaving enough free memory for Elite to work alongside Econet. Most sideways RAM systems will work automatically, but if you run into difficulties or you want to store the ROM in a specific ROM bank, then you can pre-load the Elite ROM yourself, and the loader should identify this and won't try to load it again.

If you want to do this, then the ROM image is the ELTBR file in $.EliteGame. You can either load it into sideways RAM yourself, or you can burn it into an EPROM or EEPROM (it works equally well in ROM or RAM).

Release history

Elite over Econet has had the following releases:

  • 2024-01-16 - Initial release
  • 2024-04-15 - Added BBC Micro sideways RAM version
  • 2024-04-16 - Fixed loading issues with BBC Micro version when multiple RAM banks are available
  • 2024-04-20 - Fixed a bug in the BBC Micro version that would incorrectly dock the ship following death
  • 2024-05-01 - Added standard BBC Micro version and multiplayer scoreboard
  • 2024-05-03 - Updated BBC Micro sideways RAM version to work with IntegraB board
  • 2024-05-11 - Fixed a bug in the scoreboard where changing port would break transmissions
  • 2024-05-13 - Fixed a crash with NFS 3.34 on launching in the BBC Micro version
  • 2024-05-14 - Added a warning to the BBC Micro loader if PAGE is too high, updated FixPAGE to disable ANFS where present
  • 2024-05-15 - Fixed a minor alignment issue with numbers in the scoreboard
  • 2024-05-16 - Reduced size of EliteB loader to allow for long custom install directory names
  • 2024-05-18 - Fixed incorrect network number shown in the scoreboard when run on a BBC Micro
  • 2024-05-23 - Forwarding now retains the correct network address of each player
  • 2024-05-28 - Added EliteConf file for configuring installation directory, improved FixPAGE process for BBC Micro, added Executive version of 6502 Second Processor Elite

You can check the release for a given disc image by loading the disc and typing *TYPE README to display the credits. The build date is at the end.

You can check the release for a deployed version of Elite by looking at the Versions file in the game binary folder (in the default installation, that's $.EliteGame.Version). You can use *TYPE to show the build date.

Known issues

The BBC Micro version of Elite over Econet has some known issues:

  • If the scoreboard machine is a BBC Micro fitted with NFS 3.34, then the scoreboard won't show updates coming from the other side of a bridge (though it will show updates from machines on the local network). Upgrading to NFS 3.40+ fixes this.
  • DFS 0.9 does not get disabled by the loader process, so you will have to find another way of disabling it (such as physically unplugging the ROM, or upgrading to DNFS or a later version of DFS). Upgrading to DFS 1.00+ or DNFS fixes this.
  • The BBC Micro version of Elite over Econet will not work with ANFS (though ANFS is fine for the BBC Master and 6502 Second Processor versions). You have to have NFS or DNFS for the BBC Micro version to work. The loader will disable ANFS, so if you have NFS or DNFS installed as well, then the game should run; if you only have ANFS, then Elite will not run at all.

If you find any other issues, you can let me know in this Stardot thread.