What we now know as open-world gaming took on a more definite shape this same year on the BBC Micro and its cheaper sibling the Acorn Electron (then later on nearly every other system). Elite changed everything. It was the home computer game to have in the mid-1980s—an open-ended spacefaring romp through eight 256-planet galaxies, which were fixed in their composition but cleverly generated on the fly by an algorithm in order to save on storage space. Its abstract 3D wireframe planets and spacecraft provided just enough detail to instil the appropriate sense of scale, with the rest left to your imagination. And there was so much possibility wrapped around that imagination.

Source: Roam free: A history of open-world gaming | Ars Technica

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