So, I’m going on another expedition. This wasn’t the plan. The plan was to put Elite Dangerous back in its box for a while. I’d looked at other expeditions, but they didn’t appeal, they basically seemed to be a person or two saying ‘guys travel roughly over here’, the net impact of that being you’re exploring on your own and just some other people are heading in the same direction.
This is much different to an organised fleet with specific, scheduled way points to structure the fleet and bring it together socially.
Distant Worlds, But Smaller
The Crab Nebula Expedition is exactly like Distant Worlds but substantially smaller in terms of light years. This makes it much shorter in length. The beauty of it is it’s organised exactly like Distant Worlds with a set way point schedule. It’s also very sightseeing focused as the aim is to visit key nebula. This is very good as Distant Worlds tended to fall into two halves: the sightseeing half and the shared endurance event.
The Crab Nebula Expedition is 100% sightseeing, which is exciting. Take your time. Quickly get between way points. Check out some sights. Chat with the fleet. Nice.
The route can be seen above. The core route is the red one. Once we get to the Crab Nebula there are options: return, or the blue or green route back to occupied space. I’m not sure at this point in time whether the fleet and way point structure is going to be maintained beyond the Crab Nebula. The key isn’t the existence of way points, but the scheduled meets.
It’s perfectly designed as it doesn’t have the epic feel of Distant Worlds, but this is a good thing. What it does have is a long enough length to make it worthwhile, without the ridiculous commitment. I also like seeing the nebula, even if I did start getting a bit jaded by them.
There Is a Buzz!
I’ll admit, I’m surprised. I thought Distant Worlds might be a one off. It was big and bold and subject to a lot of publicity. Then the next expeditions started to kick off (though I realise Distant Worlds wasn’t the first one, but it was the first one of its type) and they were all non-organised affairs that weren’t much different to exploring alone.
I got a bit jaded and started ignoring each new expedition being announced. They had to be fleet-based or bust. I didn’t realise the The Crab Nebula was fleet-based or that it had over 300 sign-ups (it sits over 400 at launch).
What’s good is the buzz is back. I heard people were already at the launch way point on Discord and thought I’d head on over. It’s like Distant Worlds again, with multiple instances of ships waiting for the launch. A number of them are on their first fleet-based expedition which is fantastic.
I’m also adding more Friends as people arrive. It has the right feel.
New Ship, Old Ship
I had every intention of giving my Asp a bit of a rest. I’d been in it for six months on a very long trip and I wanted a change. Crab Nebula Expedition, it’s not that long I thought, I’ll switch to the vessel design that I think is the best in the game: a Diamondback Explorer. I really wanted to, but you don’t get enough internals for a SRV and auto-repair unit, which always plays on my need to be prepared. I could have got past that though, as I say, it’s not a long trip.
I find it very hard to give up on my sun destroying fuel scoop. Possibly I don’t need it, but I got really used to it making topping up with fuel a non-issue.
I satisfied my need for change by changing my colour scheme. I’ve gone for a deep read. It looks pretty cool. I’m currently preferring it to the Ice colour I previously had. It helps that the Distant Worlds decal looks absolutely amazing on it. I didn’t realise decals could look so different based on the vessels paint job, but they do. Certain paint jobs dull the decal while others make it pop out big style.
Stop Duplicating Stuff
Efficient dispersal of information during these expeditions is always hopeless. A core of this is the fault of the players. They sign-up and then stop looking at the sources of information. People ask everything and read nothing.
The other problem is fragmentation. There always seems to be way too many threads, this expedition has also fragmented it further with a Reddit thread. It always just seems a bit confusing hunting through each ‘thread’ to find stuff out.
The Discord channel route is good though.
This brings me to where game psychology is a problem. There is Fleet Comm, which is a Discord Server which I think was set-up during Distant Worlds with the idea it’d be a central location for explorers and expeditions. It even has channels on for all the current and future expeditions include the Crab Nebula Expedition.
Fantastic. That is until we get the EDEX Discord Server which seems to be the official one of the Crab Nebula Expedition and also duplicates a lot of the general exploration channels of Fleet Comm. Basically, people like to set-up their own stuff so it’s their own world so they don’t have any restrictions. The truth is the added extras like colour coded names or coding bots don’t really help that much, they certainly don’t help sufficiently to wipe out the advantage of having a single discord server running for exploration and all expeditions.
It’s not the end of the world but it is frustrating. People like having their own thing, it’s never going to change.
And We’re Off
So, we’ve launched. It went well, though it was funny seeing some of the people experience the instancing problems for the first time. It is frustrating, but you get used to it after 3-months of it. I’m now sat on the first way point looking at what some sort of alien…thing. I’m not sure what.
It’s called a barnacle.