Distance: 998.73 LY from Sol
Distant Worlds has launched and if the early experiences around the first way point are anything to go by it’s going to pretty amazing. The clincher is the fact it feels like a fleet, this is despite the instancing limits, and some technical difficulties the fleet has had due a lot of ships hanging around the same area of the galaxy.
It’s going to be a long, 3-month experience (and that’s just one way), but this experience may just have legs.
Hanging Out For Launch
If Distant Worlds is going to succeed, for me, it has to feel like you’re in a fleet. The journey is ridiculously long in terms of game distance and real, elapsed time, so doing it alone, as most exploration is experienced, isn’t something I’d undertake.
The build up to the launch started to show what might be in store, with some good conversation going on Skype IM. As the time got closer people started landing at the launch coordinates and just hanging out, watching the ships come and go and chatting within the game. This was an amazing experience, one of those quintessential ‘why is this even interesting’ Elite: Dangerous experiences. It is though, seeing people arrive, adding them to your friends list. Seeing Anacondas lined up ready for launch and checking out the people not coming in strong exploration ships and talking to them.
What’s interesting about it is this: attrition of the fleet aside, this can potentially happen at every way point. That, as is intended, is going to be key to the experience, the use of the way points so you actually see other ships when you land at them.
The Big Launch, Err Yeah
Regrettably, unless they’ve managed to pull footage from some other sources (who knows who was making videos of what), I suspect some of the official recordings don’t look as spectacular as people hoped.
Instancing is the problem, as anyone filming isn’t guaranteed to be in the same instance with anyone who is willing to listen, coordinate and work to get the best timed and coordinated lift off and jump away. The first signs that we were stressing the instance and adjudication servers hit home not long before launch as well, putting people many a person who was in a nice, populated planetary instance suddenly into one with only a couple of people or sat on their own. This probably hindered the grandness of numerous a players launch.
As a result, the stream I was watching looked a bit chaotic, uncoordinated and not that spectacular, but this was probably inevitable. It was interesting to see people in that stream asking what was going on and were quite impressed when they found out.
I’ve not heard any stories across the fabric of the fleet’s communications to indicate that the ‘much speculated fleet of armed ships to attach the launch’ happened. I’ve not heard of anyone being attacked, which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but probably means it was no way an event. It seems, from that perspective the launch was ignored. I suspect many of us launched in the official private group of the fleet which limited damage, but even people in open play haven’t reported attacks.
Scan, Scoop and Friend
I have to admit the journey to Shapely 1 was very interesting, because everyone was setting off at once and the journey was relatively short. This meant the usual process of scan, scoop and engage FSD gets changed to scan, scoop, friend request and engage FSD based on how many other ships dropped into the same systems as they jumped their way to Shapely 1.
The closest I can show to how this actually happened can be seen on the galaxy map. These are only the people I’m currently friends with, there was more vessels stringing their way along that I won’t see on the map. I do know, as I write this, pretty much 24 hours since launch, there has been 463 ships passing through the launch system. The fleet is officially 800 or so in size, but I don’t believe it’s possible to asses how many of those actually turned up to take part.
See a Mountain? Climb it!
Landing at the way point and meeting up with other pilots and seeing their ships was pretty spectacular. Yes, it’s not really that far out at the moment, but that’s the beauty of it. I can’t help think what this is going to be like when you meet with your fellow fleet members 5K, 10K, 30K, 50K and so on out from Earth. If there is anything better than experience the solitude of exploring while out in the depths of space it’s meeting other people so far out.
The landing site was a massive crater, which had another crater within it which in turn had a large hill or mountain. I’ve not tried to assess it’s actual height. The first thing a couple of us chose to do was drive up to the top in hour buggies, which was pretty cool.
I’ve had some interesting conversation with people in the game. Specifically a guy who had come in a Diamondback Scout. He knew the ship wasn’t really capable of making the full journey so he was just taking part in the journey and experiences around the first way point, which I thought was a good way to enjoy some of the experience.
We broke the Servers!
The expedition did experience some technical difficulties. It’s highly likely this was due to the concentration of players hitting the same instances, as the problems seemed to be related to the infrastructure that decides what instance to put you in.
The expedition is probably setting records for the number of people spread across a number of planetary instances. I’m sure space stations have a better record, based on community goals being based out of stations, but players must be pretty spread out when it comes to planets under the normal model of play.
This meant it could take minutes to drop us into an instance of the launch planet. It crashed near to the launch, which then dropped everyone back in instances with much sparser populations. It did this to me which meant I went from potentially launching with busy instance to launching with one partner. When we hit the first way point I think it took me half as long to get into the instance of the planet as it did to travel the distance to it!
It’ll be interesting to see how these things pan out as the number of players in the fleet will shrink, it may also become less concentrated.
What To Do Now?
I’ve just hung out a bit at the first way point on launch day (Thursday) and the day after while doing other things (writing this for one). The fleet doesn’t launch from way point one until sometime on Sunday.
I suspect Saturday will be the main day for stuff.
I suspect I’ll pick a general direction, fly say 500 LY away, then begin exploring and scanning and get some systems in my data banks. Hopefully, when I return, I’ll have some new ‘first discoveries’, possible an Earth-like, as I’d love to find one, and I’m really hoping I get back with Elite Exploration status.
Any regrets? None, other than I wish the Diamondback Explorer was just a bit better a fit for this long voyage. I love the shape of that ship and it would have been nice to be a bit different. Of course, if the Diamondback Explorer had been a better fit then a lot more people would be flying them in the fleet. They do like nice though, especially with the new colour scheme options.