UPDATE (10.6.2017): Inevitably the idea of circumventing the galaxy on some grand solo expedition was a delusion and I have returned to occupied space very early in. There is a small expedition kicking off to do exactly the same thing though with gathering waypoints every two weeks. I am going to join this. Will update when this begins.
You know I said I’d reached peak Elite and I was probably done with the game? I may have, sort of, possibly ‘lied’, or I’m lying to myself now. The trouble is the romantic idea of Elite always appeals to me. I know the reality can be very different, but there is always the small, delusional possibility it might be just close enough to awesome to keep me interested.
The key part of the game I’m wanting to engage with again is exploration. It’s all that is left. I’m pretty sure I can’t be bothered to grind out credits trading anymore and I detest the combat.
So..I’m heading off into the black.
Why I Thought I Was At Peak Elite
Distant Worlds 2 Is…Distant
The first idea was to join a planned fleet expedition. This is based on how much I enjoyed Distant Worlds. It also makes the whole thing more social. Ideally Distant Worlds 2 would have been within waiting distance.
It looks like this isn’t happening any time soon though. If it does happen it will be tied to interesting new, exploration functionality being delivered by Frontier and the chances of this happening any time soon are ridiculously low.
I did check out the small ships expedition and I was going to go on that, but I just started to think I wanted to do something much grander. Something bigger. I’d rather set-off on something grand and fail spectacularly than do something short. I didn’t stick to the last short expedition I tried out.
Around The Galaxy…Literally
What I’ve decided to do is travel around the galaxy, quite literally. I am going to travel through the outer spiral arms anti-clockwise. The first half of the journey takes me from known space around to Beagle Point (the end point of Distant Worlds).
This part of the trip is 102K light years and that is hiking directly from waypoint to waypoint. I’m not wanting to do that. The idea is to actually do a bit of exploring out of the waypoints or as the journey unfolds. While the second part of the voyage isn’t on the map yet, it will follow a similar principle, going around the outside arm (or close to it) and back towards known space.
I’ll be honest. This is going to take years to complete (or never be completed).
One Must Be Prepared
I like to be prepared for these expeditions. I don’t just like setting off randomly as if it is all spontaneous. The simple reason for that is whenever I do that I either end up heading back almost immediately as it’s not cemented in my mind or I do something silly like impact the surface on a landing.
I think the process of preparing sets it in my mind as a serious endeavour and builds up the immersion of it all.
There is also a splattering of new functions added to the game, one of them being key for me to get a handle on before I set off.
The New Camera Suite
This is largely going to be a photo journey. I know, I have a YouTube Channel, so I should be using video, but it’s not one orientated around game footage. I’m also having enough problems mastering the new camera system for stills never mind as a fantastically dynamic camera (which I’m sure it can be with experience and artistic flare).
To say the camera suite is a frustrating system full of potential is an understatement.
Strangely, one of the appeals of Elite, which is odd for me, was the experience of ‘learning discovery’. That was then and this is now. It’s no longer the fresh, new experience of boundless possibility so figuring out things like the camera suite is an irritation. It’s just like Frontier to hide something potentially awesome behind a high transaction cost of its complexity.
I think I’ve got a handle on the free camera enough that I’m going to be able to use it to take photos. I’m not sure it’s going to be as dynamic and exciting as it could be, but I figure secure the basics and then practice as I go.
I Have A Holo-Me
The second new feature is you can have your Commander existing in the game. I’m not really sure what’s going on with the whole Holo-Me thing. I can only assume it’s the strange line Elite dances with respect to immersion. Since the character designer doesn’t exist outside the game but is a feature in a space station then they have to make up some excuse for its existence.
The options seem a bit odd. There seems to be a lot of ugly stick options. A bit like Elite commanders are old men that are tired with life.
It’s probably not going to get much use, but it feels right that I should exist. I can imagine I’m in that chair, right? You never know, I may take a photo with one of the cockpit cameras.
A New Coat of Paint
I’ve given the Asp a new coat of paint. I did the whole of Distant Worlds with an Ice paint job. I’ve spent some time since then using a red paint job which makes the Distant Worlds logo look fantastic.
The trouble is the red colour is just a bit too dark for good photographs. I have now settled on what is supposed to be a gold colour but it seems more like a burnt orange to me. I’m liking it.
I’m hoping my paint work suitably degrades over the course of the voyage. Your ship suffers cosmetic damage on long expeditions, but I didn’t get to see that as my Ice paint work didn’t show it much. I’m hoping this new paint work, by the time I’m finished, will be thoroughly degraded, aged and wrecked like a badge of honour.
I want it to look like I’ve been around the ‘edge’ of the galaxy.
Explorers Get The Scraps
It’s a bit sad that Distant Worlds 2 isn’t happening until Frontier adds some more ‘exploration related’ functionality. Not because this choice has been made but because exploration content is so anaemic.
It’s an amazing pity because the exploration community on Elite is one of the most friendly and open communities in a video game. It’s hard to find anything remotely similar. It can sometimes be all too easy to make the leap to assume this is what the Elite community is like, which would be a mistake.
While I think the Elite community is better than most, the combat community, at least some of them, has the characteristics of a negative MMO community (nerf this, buff that, I don’t get enough reward this way so why bother, and so on).
The updates to the game are so focused on combat and I’m not sure they get 100% return on their investment. I’m sure they have their reasons, but there is one thing that would be true of adding significant and amazing explorer content: the community would give Frontier editorial coverage to die for.
But alas the development time gets spent elsewhere.
Make no mistake this is a big, long term undertaking. There is every chance my interest in the game will wane again before I complete it leaving my ship just in the depths of space. Possibly something else in the game will interest and I’ll return, though this is likely to be by exploding myself as hiking back on the clock to do something specific would do my head in.
At this point all I can say is I’m going to give it a go. See how the interest holds. There is every chance the idea is more romantic than the reality.
We shall see…