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Distant Worlds – A Gaming Experience Beyond Compare

Distance: 5.5K LY from Sol, Hull Integrity: 100%

I want take a moment to say something before I write the blog concentrating on the sights I’ve seen since last time, etc.

When I signed up for Distant Worlds I wasn’t exactly sure how it would work out. I was looking for a new Elite experience as I’d ‘traded out’ and combat wasn’t for me other than the odd experiment. I wanted to do a big exploration a trip. I assumed to Sag*A.

Distant Worlds came along and it tied up with my next choices in Elite, that was about it. The experience is turning out to be more than that and is delivering way more than I thought it would based on the game’s restrictions.

The primary success of Distant Worlds is the fleet works. Yes, you’re not literally flying around with 600+ ships, or whatever the current number is, like something off of Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars, but the community element of it really works.

The Skype channel keeps you in contact with the fleet, allows you to tap into what other people are experiencing and what they’ve seen. What some of the people ahead are doing, how those behind are keeping up. The odd image. Who has had to be rescued by the fuel rats, and I believe it’s one at this point. It’s like the fleets basic comms system only capable of text format messages.

I’ve not even experimented with the Team Speak channels yet, but I intend to, which will move the community element into voice communication. The only thing holding me back really is I’m usually doing something else and using Team Speak would involve using head phones. I’ve not actively winged with people to do things directly together either. There is plenty of scope for increasing the social side of the fleet.

The way point system is a work of genius, an obvious one, but it’s not to be underestimated how important it is to the fabric of the fleet and the community spirit. You generally just have to go 500K LY out, let’s say 1K LY out, and you suddenly see no other player ships. The chances are astronomically low even when at a known location like a nebula. We are going to be 1, 5, 10, 50K out and actually see the same people. The community expect of that is hard to understand until you can fathom the length of the journey, the depth of the commitment and the astronomical, quite literally, distances involved in the largest open world in gaming existence.

Let’s just take the above pictures. I rendezvous at WP2 at the prescribed time, and completely by a fluke of simulated obits, the ships at the way point (it was in double figures) watched ‘night fall’ as the start moved behind the epic gas giant our moon was orbiting. It was amazing to see because it wasn’t something we turned up for, it wasn’t even something we realised was happening until the place started to darken. It was just an open world moment of serendipity shared by numerous people.

Eventually I set for WP3 (as we are in a bunch relatively close together so the rendezvous dates are close as we can zap around the sights around them) to find the some of the ships already there (in my instance anyway) had formed a circle and put there lights on because the planet was on the dark side of the planet. You could see if from some distance on approach and strangely…romantic, in that miles from anyway, attempts at community sort of way.I then spent a bit of time watching the lights play across the sky and surface of the planet as people moved around in their buggies. It was like something of a Ridly Scott scifi film.

The key thing here, which is what makes Elite a success for some people and not for others, is it’s all about these moments experienced, it’s not about what ‘game is available’. It is largely about experiences and this one is a great one.

It’s proving to be awesome folks and for that I have the fellow players in the fleet to thank.

About Ian O'Rourke

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