The expedition continues to be surprising. I really was expecting it to be a routine, as I’ve done the whole Barnard’s Loop thing, but that’s not proving to be the case. I’ve seen an alien oddity, a local nebula I didn’t even know existed and it was gorgeous, and a sun that is exceedingly large. Throw in the usual chat at the base camps and it’s all a winner.
It’s been a great start to the expedition. This covers the experience up to and including way point two.
Occasionally, Frontier Developments throws stuff out there. A bit like the whole simulation behind the game it’s often overly obtuse. Space Opera or Star Wars this ain’t. Anyway, in the beginning of the year there was some reference I never fully understood in materials I never read that hinted there was something to find. I’m sure they’d sort of built up to this over time as those into it have been going on about it for ages. It’s a bit like the latter half of the X Files conspiracy stuff, information arises, people say stuff but it all doesn’t make much sense.
Anyway, this kicked off some sort of search for ‘alien stuff’ in the Pleiades Nebula around the time Distant Worlds was gearing up for launch. The result was the finding of, wait for it, a barnacle! I’ve now seen the barnacle, pictured above, as the first way point for The Crab Nebula Expedition is essentially at the strange, alien object. It doesn’t really look that alien, it just looks like some sort of crazy ass shell.
That’s about all I know, though I’m sure there are Reddit posts somewhere of obscene length written in the style of an academic article postulating what the barnacles are (as there are now others in some other locations I believe). Will all the disparate bollocks come together in some form of unified whole creating many a gamers concept of ‘lore’. Some gamers really enjoy the ‘lore’ stuff. Frontier has been giving out rumours for a while on website and on streams that aliens are going to appear in the game and it may not be that far away. I’m assuming before the end of the Horizons updates, possible as it’s grand cliffhanger leading into whatever follows.
We even had that overly ponderous, uncomfortable and everyone is just confused and embarrassing bit of ludicrous role-playing at Beagle Point but, yeah, that made no sense either.
Anyway, aliens at some point, but currently we have giant shells.
The Hind Nebula
A place I’d not been to was the Hind Nebula. This isn’t surprising as in astronomical terms it’s relatively small, existing pretty much around one system. This makes it incredibly small on the galaxy map so you’re unlikely to see it unless you’re really looking. The majority of nebula spread across numerous star systems like a spill of particularly ephemeral paint.
The Hind Nebula is a perfect example of why this expedition is great: I’d have never seen it if I hadn’t signed up for this fleet and heard it mentioned on a Youtube video related to the expedition. It was well worth the visit and is one of the killer things to see this early in the trip, assuming the Pleiades isn’t new, etc.
The nebula expands over a system that has two ringed gas giants in it, which are relatively close together. It also spreads out in a shape that is quite unique and different.
That Sun Is….Big!
Betelgeuse is home to a very large sun. The star is massive. A check on Wikipedia tells me the start is the ninth brightest star to be seen from our planet and the second brightest in the constellation of Orion. A sense of scale: if the star was in our system it would be so big the outer surface would extend to the asteroid belt covering the entirety of the inner solar system.
It does have the advantage you can fuel scoop from very far away.
Betelgeuse represents one of those moments in Elite that just gets over the vastness of space. It’s one of the things that sells the virtual world that the game offers. It’s massive. It is essentially lonely, which can be a problem for the game, but the sight of that sun looming over the horizon in all its massiveness was brilliant.
If you’re playing the game…go there and see it.
The Graphics Have Improved?
I don’t really keep track of these things, but I think the graphics have improved. I’ve noticed this in a couple of places so far: the stations and when entering asteroid rings.
I’m pretty sure the space station above looks better than it used to, especially the view from the outside. I am thinking of getting a new video card, but I keep putting it off as I’m sort of satisfied with what I have. I’m also waiting for the 980 cards to drop with the release of the 1070, etc.
Onward to Barnard’s Loop
The next way point is at Barnard’s Loop, which is a major sight near to occupied space. You see it pretty much all the time as you’re flying around occupied space and it’s often the first indication you’re getting closer to ‘home’ when it starts to show against the blackness of space.