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Short Isn’t Necessarily Easier

There has been some disruptions to the expedition which means I fell behind momentarily, chasing the way points but not actually being synchronised with the fleet. I did consider just ditching it. The expedition is short, it’s not like I’d be giving up on some epic achievement that would stand the test of time in the game. I stuck with it though.

I’m glad I did.

More Nebula? You Must Be Crazy

Have to admit, I was expecting the Barnards Loop section of the expedition to be a ‘ho hum’, not because it isn’t the place to visit within easy travel distance of occupied space, but because I’ve been here before. I’ve seen Barnards Loop, the Horsehead Nebula and The Wichead Nebula all before.

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That was before I saw The Orion Nebula nearby on the galaxy map. What dragged me to these two nebula was the visual above. I was actually Barnards Loop and you can see the impressive, deep red nebula hanging in space. Checking out the galaxy map it was obvious this was the Orion Nebula.

The Orion Nebula is certainly one of the more impressive nebula from the middle distance. It’s also very intense close up. It’s getting to discover and see new sights like these that makes undertaking these expeditions worthwhile. I’m also trying to factor a few more things into my visual tourism. Gas Giants, which I’ve sort of ignored, but I’d like to think there are some stunning ones. I’m trying to catch them around the nebula at the moment rather than seek them out specifically. Then there is rings. You can get some good photos from within asteroid rings especially since they’ve bumped up the graphics.

The Seagull Nebula is beautiful (above) but the annoying part about it was getting to it. Frontier have put up all sorts of permit walls around the whole Barnards Loop area, which meant I had to go out of my way a bit to navigate around it. Why they have done this nobody knows. It may be something to do with the rumours of aliens arriving in the game. It could be some cynical ploy around the release of tourist functionality coming in a later update, as Barnards Loop would be one of the hot spots. In truth, I don’t really care, but it was really irritating.

The Mass Wake Obsession

I’m not saying Distant Worlds pioneered it, but it certainly popularised it: videos of lots of ships entering hyperspace together. They do look cool, especially with the Battlestar Galactica-esque imagery that the game uses.

The problem is Distant Worlds did them rarely. The original launch, the beginning of a new stage weeks apart and a special one in which they tried to create the most populated instance at the black hole at the core of the galaxy.

The insanity of the Crab Nebula Expedition is they do them at every way point, this can mean one every evening or other evening. Considering how awkward they are to organise, kicking in all sorts of instancing issues, people crying out to be winged in and potentially left out. It’s just crazy to do it almost every evening. I’m not sure what the obsession is.

They’re popular though, with some of the chatter on Discord being if the mass jumps don’t work there is no point stopping at the way points at all. Well, I thought it was about expanding your Friends list and sharing experiences of the expedition? I guess not.

Different strokes and all that.

Fleet, Hold Together

The weird thing about this expedition is it’s actually harder to maintain the social aspect of the fleet via utilising the way points. There are numerous reasons for this.

It’s without doubt the distances involved in Distant Worlds brought the fleet together and made the way points special. When the way points are a week apart in time, thousands of light years apart in distance and tens of thousands of light years away from occupied space it makes meeting people more important and gives them an epically romantic feel. I guess, for many people, it’s not the same when it’s actually quick jaunt back to occupied space. Personally, I still like to use them as part of the expedition is meeting the fleet, adding people to my Friends list and talking.

Ironically, it’s harder to hit and utilise the way points when they are so close together in time and light years. You’re basically ‘leaving from one’ every day, with the odd exception. While the distances between them are small it does mean you’re hectically moving between them with what feels like less time to do anything else. A 3-hour journey with a week to do it offered much more opportunity to schedule your time and look around.

Finally, I think less people in the expedition see the point in the social fabric at way points. They just get on with the expedition, roughly following the route. Some complain they never see anyone anyway, but I don’t understand that as I see people every time I land, but then my Friends list is quite large. Some only visit them so they can try and get involved in the fleet launch which, on this expedition, are ridiculously run from every way point. A bit mad really, but if that’s the only reason some people turn up, I guess, necessary.

Despite all this when I turned up at way point five after getting out of synch for a bit, there was a good number of people there. Possibly what’s happening is the relatively short distances and the proximity to the occupied space means people have a choice.

In Distant Worlds, it was so vast people huddled around the way points like a meagre fire in a vast, unpopulated frozen tundra.

Ka-Boom!

I have crashed. This was my greatest fear during Distant Worlds. That I’d lose concentration for a moment or suffer from extreme tiredness and crash my ship into the surface of a planet. There was a very small contingent on that long expedition that stopped doing planetary landings because of this worry. It never happened, thankfully, because there would have been no way I’d have done a tens of thousands of light years trip to catch the expedition up.

Some people did, but I was never going to do that.

It’s happened on this expedition. I wasn’t concentrating and I essentially boosted into the planetary surface and instantly exploded. This results in me going back to the last station I docked at. Luckily this was Maia in the Pleiades Nebula which is out beyond the edge of occupied space. It was circa 3.5K LY from the WP 7 which is where I needed to rendezvous with the fleet. It was handy that I was settling in to watch the EU Referendum coverage so I just blasted through the journey.

Thankfully, the relatively close nature of the expedition allows for unfortunate accidents to be more easily…accommodated.

The Journey Continues…

I’m continuing on the expedition despite the pacey schedule. Ultimately, once you get past the launch, it’s not had the exact same feel as Distant Worlds, close enough, but not the same. This is only to be expected as so much of that expedition is tied up with the long time investment and the distances involved.

What is going to be a key decision point is what route to take back? Since there is a choice there is naturally a split in the fleet. This indicates to me the different routes back will utilise the way points even less. We’ll see when I get to that point, but I would like to take the opportunity to visit the nebula on the longer return route.

About Ian O'Rourke

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