Elite Dangerous Players Feel Misled After Developers Interfere With Big Expedition To Unexplored Space

Image: Canonn Interstellar Research Group

The ambitious plan was guided by the collective curiosity of Elite Dangerous’ exploration-loving player base. A player-owned megaship would use its unique abilities to jump into a previously inaccessible portion of space. Thousands of players who had docked their ships on the megaship would hitch a ride. It was to be one of the biggest expeditions in the game’s history. Then aliens showed up.

The expedition to the Cone Sector, as the locked-off area is known in-game, was planned by a thousands-strong player collective called the Canonn Interstellar Research Group. Roughly 11,000 players spent weeks preparing, making pilgrimages to the deep space position of the ship, The Gnosis.

It was a proper event. Elite Dangerous developer Frontier approved and promoted the massive experiment. Canonn leaders made grandiose speeches about purpose and community. One player even put together a trailer for the big day.

Then the big day—today—arrived. Before The Gnosis could even make its jump, Frontier accidentally published an article on its official in-character news site Galnet that claimed The Gnosis had been intercepted by Thargoid aliens long before it reached its destination.

After all that preparation, it seemed like Elite’s developers were going to step in and torpedo the operation.

Players pressed on. Perhaps the article had been a mistake or, taking note of immediate backlash to the idea of a failed expedition, Frontier would change course and let The Gnosis continue soaring full speed ahead.

It did not. The Gnosis jumped a mere 12 light years before Thargoids enveloped it in a sea of starfish-like arms and decidedly un-starfish-like lasers. While players have only experienced the aftermaths of previous Thargoid attacks, the thwarted expedition was dragged straight into the fray.

Players had a brand-new kind of fight on their hands, but they weren’t impressed—this wasn’t what they signed up for, and bugs marred the moment even further. On top of that, many hadn’t prepared for combat, gearing their ships up for exploration rather than war. Players now feel disappointed and misled.

“This was hyped,” said one player of the expedition on Elite’s subreddit.

“The fact that there were Galnet posts at all, the fact that a player group was being allowed to lead it, and most important, the fact that we were (seemingly) being allowed into a previously forbidden zone all implies that something new and different and exciting was going to happen. And in this game, new and different is a rare thing... So yeah, people are disappointed—and they have every right to be.”

“It’s even worse to know now that they never had any intention of allowing us to jump into Cone and that thousands of commanders spent thousands of hours working to plan for the ‘event,’” wrote Elite-focused YouTuber Exigeous on the game’s forums. “This really is Elite at the lowest point I’ve seen in my 2 years, 3800 hours, and 15,000 subscribers. It’s very, very sad.”

There are countless similar threads on the game’s subreddit and official forums right now. After all that build up, people feel let down. Others, though, are basically asking, well, what did they expect?

Frontier had dropped hints that Thargoids were in the area, and even if the glowing space behemoths decided to let The Gnosis slip by untouched because they, too, were possessed by the spirit of exploration or something, what would players find? That Frontier had been hiding a treasure trove of secret content in a locked area of space for years?

In a forum post responding to the outcry, Frontier community manager Will Flanagan said that the jump was never actually possible, despite players’ clever plans.

“Without revealing too much about this area of space, the Cone Sector both in content and in game lore was always meant to be locked off,” Flanagan wrote, “and the fact that certain systems within the sector weren’t permit-locked was an oversight from a time before it was possible for megaships to make such jumps, like the Gnosis.”

Instead of just telling players “no” and slamming the airlock shut in their faces, Frontier decided to try and have some fun with the whole thing.

“Based on feedback we’ve received in the past, and in an aim to involve player agency in Elite Dangerous’ narrative, rather than simply making a universal change, or flicking a switch to ‘permit lock’ the systems in question, we decided to incorporate the actions of a great Elite Dangerous player group, and a huge number of Commanders, into the wider lore of the game,” Flanagan wrote.

“Supporting the event as best we could with our own channels while reacting to an emergent piece of content from the community.”

He noted that Frontier even debuted a new Thargoid type as part of the event to properly raise the stakes. Players have pointed out that this was a new type of Thargoid attack, too; this was the first time players had been actively involved in a Thargoid surprise attack on a major structure. Some are hoping this was a stealth reveal of a new game mechanic that’ll pop up elsewhere in the future.

Unfortunately, The Gnosis will never make it to the Cone Sector, no matter how hard players fight. Frontier head of communications Zac Antonaci clarified that the location has been set aside for a future narrative event, so it’s off-limits for now.

If nothing else, the Canonn group is rolling with the punches (and/or freaky alien tentacle lashes).

“Although all of us are hugely disappointed not to make it into the Cone Sector, the tiny amount of data were were able to collect does show this area as of great interest,” they wrote in a post on their website. “We must continue to stake out this apparent wall of Thargoids—thick enough to hyperdict a megaship.”

“Let’s make of this what we can. There’s science to be had out there.”


Comments

    Wow how entitled do you want to be.

      Don't really see how it's entitled, I can kinda understand both sides and can see why folks may have felt a little disappointed.

      A little communication might've gone a long way between organisers and devs.
      Maybe then two good intentions wouldn't have equated to a wet fart for all.

      Serious question here. Are you up to speed with the to and fro between players and Frontier Games? Or is it just a glib comment from the peanut gallery? Because It takes a LOT of preparation and commitment to be part of something like that in Elite. A lot of in game creds would have been spent decking out all their ships as explorer craft and boom. FG drops em in an impossible combat situation (and if you didn't know this, thargoids require special unique *expensive* weapons to even damage them, so most would be 200% shit outta luck). So I think calling them entitled is a bit much. I see what FG was trying to do, but I think being honest with em as soon as the idea for the expedition was considered would have been the best course of action tbh.

        I personally like the way they handeled it overall. I think they should have put more emphasis on the Thargoid threat and try to encourage leople to be prepared dor something like this to happen. But I personally like how they kept it in the context of the universe. Yeah it sucks if you were gonna go just to explore. But explore what? Some new stars that have not had any extra game content put in? This was actually some content, some of it new, and they were a part of it. This game actually needs a lot more of this, because the feeling of actual universe is what the game lacks the most.

        That's fair enough. I'll take genuine critique.
        Yeah I'm definitely being too flippant.
        But I also see the other side of the company building a narrative of an expidition gone bad (sounds like a movie) and actually interacting with the players. I figure that's cool from an outside perspective.

          As someone who played The Matrix Online who actually had a team of people hired to play and act as characters like Morpheus in-game, being able to interact with the narrative is a great and powerful thing.

          That said, hyping something up that you know is going to destroy people's in-game bank accounts does remove a lot of the coolness. :/

        Are they that expensive though? Admittedly I basically haven't played in probably years by now, but back when I was right into it money never felt all that hard to come by, and losing a ship was always a bummer but never that big a deal - usually more because of what you were carrying that was gone than anything. And that was before they added community goals which seemed to make large sums even easier to get - to the point it almost felt like cheating in comparison, so I never participated for the most part :P

        I think the outcome is as expected though. They never said to the group, "sure go to the sector, you can make it, we support you 100%" sort of thing. They simply said players were welcome to try. They dropped hints of alien activity in the area. Usually areas are closed off because of narrative, and well main narrative at the moment is THARGOIDS! With a bit of consideration of the situation the outcome is pretty obvious, in fact better since Frontier actually made it into an event. They got to participate in a story event and see several bits players had never been revealed before. That is likely better than they would have got, even traveling to the sector if it had been open. The only people they can really blame for being ill-equipped for a fight, is well, themselves.

        Last edited 08/09/18 9:19 am

    I'm a little disappointed in Frontier for not running with it. I get that they have locked it off for future content but if I were in their shoes I'd try everything I could to push it up or make something there and put that future content elsewhere.

    I mean, imagine the press they'd get if they launched an expansion based purely off their player bases' Desire to explore. Would it be easy? Hell no, but you can't buy publicity like that.

    Though I do give them points for not just saying 'no'. This story has sort of rekindled my desire to pull out the hotas and give e:d another roll.

    I wanted to like ED. I bought it, played it for a while, finally did all the stuff that allowed me to go to Sol, got a few decent ships, one good for cargo, another for fightin', another for passenger transport, took a deep breath and went...bleh.
    I'm not someone who requires tons of action, either. I spend more time on simulators than anything else. FlightGear (especially the adaptation of Project Tupolev) and Orbiter are two of my most favoured things. Arma is my go-to FPS. I'm kind of a 'Dad game' sort of person, or so I've heard. However...
    I didn't participate in this and I'm kind of glad. I haven't played that game in a while and maybe I'll go back to it if I can either walk around on a planet (yes, I know, I can drive, but...) or get some kind of automated system (seriously, most space travel is automated to hell. I know that's not exciting, but is ED really all that exciting?)
    I dunno. Maybe it's just not my thing. I want to like it though. I want to explore, but there's just this ennui it brings up in me. I'm not even entirely sure why. I loved NMS too, until it borked my save file for the final time and I decided "to hell with this waste of life". Maybe it's just not enough of one thing or the other for me. I really want to like it though.

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