Months Later, Elite: Dangerous Players Make Major Discovery About Mysterious Alien Artifacts

Months Later, Elite: Dangerous Players Make Major Discovery About Mysterious Alien Artifacts

You might remember the mysterious alien items that had Elite: Dangerous players stumped earlier this year. Well, they recently made a major discovery.

Here's the gist: a handful of months ago, players began coming across "unknown artefacts" that made bizarre noises — some of which were morse code scans of nearby objects, others of which had players scratching their heads so hard that they developed premature bald spots.

After trying almost literally Everything Else, a player going by the name of Mike Juliett Kilo decided to feed a pre-recorded unknown artefact signal into an antique scanner item he had in his cargo. It spat out a vector image — specifically, one of the very ship he was flying.

Months Later, Elite: Dangerous Players Make Major Discovery About Mysterious Alien Artifacts

"I was prepared to see an alien face or Thargoid warship," he said to the official Elite community site. "I certainly didn't expect to see a Vulture, especially as I was flying one at the time! It sent shivers down my spine."

This means, presumably, that these aliens — absent from Elite: Dangerous aside from unintelligible artefacts — are collecting information on players. When PCGamesN asked developer Frontier why, they only replied that the "[unknown artefact] mystery is just beginning."

Spooooooooky. And enticing! Speculation says it's the Thargoids, an insectoid alien race that some believe first hatched outside of known space. They have been present in other Elite games, but their true motivations remain hazy. Their technology is crazy weird, and they like war. We know that much for certain. But are they really intergalactic, non-planetary arseholes? Maybe this time, we'll finally find out.

(P.S. For some good reading, check out this thread where people describe their first interactions with Thargoids in other Elite games. There are some "...goddamn" moments in there.)

Top image credit: Squid_Gibblets.


Comments

    Is there any way to play E:D as a newcomer without just getting killed immediately?

      Definitely! When I first purchased the game I just traded and then eventually started mining. I went ages without even seeing other players, let alone angry ones. The trick is be careful about traps (don't drop out of FTL to grab a whole bunch of stranded gold, it's a trap)

      If you like Firefly or Stargate Universe or Voyager then Elite just feels right.

    After trying almost literally Everything Else, a player going by the name of Mike Juliett Kilo decided to feed a pre-recorded unknown artefact signal into an antique scanner item he had in his cargo. It spat out a vector image — specifically, one of the very ship he was flying.Er... dunno where you get this from, but there isn't exactly any way to feed the signal into a Discovery Scanner :/

    Here’s the gist: a handful of months ago, players began coming across “unknown artefacts” that made bizarre noises — some of which were morse code scans of nearby objects, others of which had players scratching their heads so hard that they developed premature bald spots.And this is kind of jumping to the end before getting to the end?

    The UA were discovered during the Wings update and no one knew what they did. They were a rare item that could be found being transported by NPCs or I think would sometimes be found just floating in space. Carrying one would slowly destroy your ship from the inside. There was a lot of speculation about what they could be, given they were completely different to any other cargo items seen in the game so far, but given their organic alien appearance it was mostly assumed they were some kind of Thargoid object.

    One of the devs dropped a hint, wondering if anyone had tried listening to them. So people scrambled to do just that, coming up with binary strings based on the two tones being emitted by the UA. Each one seemed to give a different signal though, and the rarity of them made it hard to figure out. whether there were any repeating patterns to them, especially since dumped cargo slowly deteriorates until it is either destroyed or scooped up again, so there was always only a limited time you could listen to each one before needing to retrieve it. Some of the theories I saw involved the Arecibo message, a number of different ciphers and other mathematical approaches. There was also something strange about the signals, since there were two tones used but the timing between them wasn't always constant. And the message length seemed to vary too.

    After... the Powerplay update I think, the UA behaviour changed. When dropped, they would align themselves to a planet. And I believe that the player who dropped it would get a "scan detected" message from their ship? They were discovered to always be aligning themselves to the Merope system, though I can't remember what significance there was about that system, if any. But yeah, it seemed like the signal strings were actually Morse Code and MJK discovered they are coordinates that map out a vector graphic of the ship the artifact has scanned.

    This kinda bugs me though. Or at least it did, at first. Why would an alien race know Morse Code? It would make sense if this was something mathematical, but Morse is a human invention that doesn't really have any logical progression to it, so it seems incredibly unlikely for an alien race to be using it. But then, what if it's not alien? Well not entirely. Apparently in Elite lore there is some kind of a ban on AI, and in the game you can find AI Relics as a rare drop which fetches a real pretty penny on the black market. And Frontier have made mention of there being a third alien race or something that may pop up in the future. So perhaps this thing isn't Thargoid in origin, but human advanced AI making up the third faction instead?

    Last edited 14/10/15 12:42 pm

      Thanks for this explanation. I play E:D periodically but hadn't been keeping up with this story, and was really scratching my head when the article said he somehow fed the signal into a scanner.

        No problem, though the link I put below is much better and more accurate than my off-the-top-of-my-head vague rememberings :P

        I'm *still* scratching my head over where he got that disco scanner thing from...

    Here's a better and much more complete timeline of events surrounding the UA:

    https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php?t=175726&page=518&p=2935308&viewfull=1#post2935308

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