Elite and its sequel Frontier: Elite II were arguably two of the most influential early space games ever made. They dropped the player into an immense sci-fi sandbox with just a tiny ship and a handful of credits. You could work your way up to larger and larger hauling ships, fight off pirates intent on taking your loot, travel the stars in search of lucrative deals or just wormhole into deep space. If that sounds familiar, it's because Elite was part of the inspiration for sci-fi MMO EVE Online.
Space in Frontier was especially deep, with a full-scale galaxy containing 100 billion stars and several empires with their own legal systems and trading outposts. Players could choose to raid other ships or play it straight, mining moons, scooping fuel from gas giants, and landing on planets to survey them for materials. The magic that made this colossal universe possible was procedural generation and some incredibly good programming by developer David Braben.
Today David took to Kickstarter to launch possibly the most anticipated sequel in the history of sci-fi sandbox games. Elite: Dangerous promises a Frontier-style sandbox with modern 3D graphics, a ton more content, and a seamless peer-to-peer multiplayer experience with no lobbies. Whether this will qualify as an MMO or not remains to be seen, but the project promises to blur the line between what is and isn't massively multiplayer.