Elite: Dangerous Explorers Reach New Heights After Developer Accidentally Creates Superpowered Stars

Two pilots in Elite: Dangerous [official site] travelled to the ceiling of the galaxy after a mistake by the developers accidentally gave players a huge boost to their jump drives. Frontier recently added plumes of white energy irradiating from the game’s rare white dwarves and neutron stars which, when entered by pilots, would cause some “turbulence” and a small boost to their jump drives. They had intended to set this boost at 25% but thanks to a “number mix up” it was accidentally set to 300%. Two curious explorers noticed the massive boost and began to chart a dangerous course into the highest layers of the Milky Way.

These powerful jetstreams are only part of the beta testing phase for the upcoming ‘Guardians’ update, and not available to all players yet, but two of the pilots in that beta were quick to make use of the plumes. Dr Kaii and Erimus – two explorers who you may remember from their 3-month-long expedition across the galaxy – started mapping a course into the upper reaches of the galaxy using the neutron stars and white dwarves as launchpads. Eventually, they reached their destination and recorded a stunning view of the galaxy, 1884 lightyears above the “galactic plane”.

You can hear about the whole journey in Kaii’s video, below, including the problems they faced. Explosions, set-backs, panicked scrambling for fuel – all the hallmarks of a tough space voyage.

“It was complicated, risky and required a lot of collaboration,” says Kaii, “It was so much fun.”

Only afterwards did Elite’s community manager come forward and admit that the 300% boost had been an error.

“Unfortunately there was a number mix up,” said Zac Antonaci in the Frontier forums, “which has made the boost way more powerful than was intended. The actual boost benefit, which should be in Beta 2 will bestow 25% extra range, still a significant benefit.”

The intrepid pair of explorers would later learn that their destination could theoretically be reached using “normal” means. But it’s nevertheless an impressive feat and one that proves the usefulness of the jetstreams, says Kaii.

The community seems to agree. Following the revelation of the “mix up” and the announcement that it would be reset to 25%, Elite pilots kicked up a fuss, clearly enjoying the new possibilities of these jetstreams. As a result, the huge boost has since been retained in the beta testing phase – at least for the time being.

Dr Kaii and others are petitioning Frontier not to remove or nerf the plumes when the update is released to everyone and the explorer ends his video with an appeal to the developers to allow these launchpad stars to stack with “jumponium” – the community’s nickname for a special fuel which already exists to allow greater jump distances.

“[It is] just what the exploration community needed,” he says, “something new, a new way to go about exploration, something that adds risk and challenge. Please see this for the gem that it really is.”

Elite may not have lived up to the entirety of its promise (you still can’t get out of your ship and walk around on space stations and planets, for instance – a major promise from the earliest days of development) but it’s fun to see that pilots are still finding ways to amuse themselves, whether they are discovering alien crash sites or group-warping into hyperspace beside a supermassive blackhole.

The Guardians update, meanwhile, will add ship-launched fighters and tourist spaceships as well as a slew of other tweaks. It’s scheduled to come out this month.

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  1. SupahSpankeh says:

    This game really speaks to me. Spoke to me.

    That’s why I bought it. Sadly, it also bored the living poopsie out of me, so I logged off and haven’t logged on since.

    However, the game edges ever closer to one I’d consider playing properly, and when that day comes I fully expect to lose hundreds of hours to it.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      It has gotten a lot better this year, I’d say come season 3 launch it’d probably be worth jumping back into. Thankfully FD have learnt from the rather poor offering from season 1.
      So far, 2.1 and 2.2 have been better than the whole of season 1’s additions, IMHO.

    • Karyogon says:

      It’s the kind of game to binge on before getting bored or doing other stuff and returning at a later date when something’s been added or at least its universe is ever so slightly different. Or indeed go on grand adventures with friends until you feel like doing other stuff.

  2. Hobbes says:

    It’s telling that some of the most interesting exploration came about because of an unintended bug which allowed explorers to actually do what they were hoping to do and scope out the galaxy. Had Frontier got their way, this would have been reduced to a miserly incremental increase that would have been good for a few extra light years here and there.

    Frontier, turning fun into work one patch at a time!

    • Det. Bullock says:

      If ships can do 150 ly jumps why humans are still largely confined to the “bubble”?

      Exploration isn’t meant to be this easy, otherwise you might as well just go full Star Wars and have space warrior-wizards running around doing magic stuff.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Because game, fun.

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        Yes, god forbid people play a game and have fun, instead of coming home from a slog at work and log in for yet another slog.

        God forbid space wizards livening up the place. Luckily we have Trek for realism:P

      • Det. Bullock says:

        “Fun” doesn’t necessarily mean accessible or easy, and that’s from one who usually plays on the easy setting. :/

        • Arithon says:

          It has happened with every beta. Frontier have modified the game time and again at the prompting of the community.
          It could well be that the huge FSD range boost from Neutron stars gets to stay.

          • Det. Bullock says:

            I hope not, really, otherwise what’s the point of having ships with better range than others if you can just fly into a Neutron Star and get to the other side of the galaxy anyway?

          • Synesthesia says:

            To realise getting slightly incremental numbers go up is not the definition of fun?

          • Asurmen says:

            Because they’re not exactly all over the place, and guess what? 300% of 50 light years is more than 300% of 20 light years. It still benefits to have a longer jump range for exploring.

            In addition, there’s a risk involved to using these jumps. Don’t act like they’re make jump range and exploring trivial.

        • jrodman says:

          Agreed, though for a given player, the wrong levels of easy or accessible definitely can mean “not fun”.

      • ChipDipson says:

        Yeah. Why are they? Why can’t more of the galaxy be at least marginally entertaining to explore? With PG ships and recycled stations, I don’t care. Because it would mean work, ewwww

    • Asurmen says:

      So what you’re actually saying is, devs had an idea, and now they might be responding to feedback during a beta, and keeping it at the increased level.

      • Hobbes says:

        No, the devs left a bug in the code, people found out the bug allowed them to reach interesting places, and now the players are practically BEGGING the devs to leave the bug in.

        There’s nothing involving the word “idea” in this, and Frontier couldn’t have a fun idea involving Elite Dangerous even if they tried, it’s not in their DNA, they’re even trying to wreck Coaster World by ramming Denuvo into it (soon to be followed by other unwelcome surprises no doubt).

        • Asurmen says:

          Except the original idea was for 300%. They might have wanted to lower it, but it now appears to be being left as it was, you know, like a Dev should do after customer feedback during a beta designed to do this very thing?

          Sounds like you’re whining for the sake of it, and not looking at the actual reality. Clear bias going on here. Nothing to see.

          • ChipDipson says:

            Do you know something that we don’t? The story seems to state that 300% was an accident and the intention was 25%.

    • Baines says:

      The exploration is only meaningful because it isn’t easy. If people could have made that trip on day one, then it would have been made within that first week. And then what? The same goes for the 3 month expedition. It was meaningful because it was a 3 month expedition.

      • CartonofMilk says:

        exactly. I’m all for giving exploration some love but allowing players to easily make it to the farthest reaches pretty much diminishes the efforts of the devs to make the galaxy mindblowingly large.

        What i want as an explorer is good reasons to go planetside more than anything.

      • jonfitt says:

        Exactly this. The thrill of exploration becomes apparent when you spend time pootling around the bubble. You start doing one or two jumps, and work up to where a few 100Lys is no biggie.

        So you think “I could do this exploration lark”, and scroll out. Then it hits you. People measure distances in Kylies. That’s a thousand light years. It’s going to take serious commitment and nerve to get anywhere impressive. Death means losing all that progress.

        Then you either dig in, or chicken out.

        PS I have so far chickened out after only a 1000Ly or so.

        • Dr. Raven Darktalon Blood says:

          I’ve been out maybe 1500 LY, and found the loneliness and absence of stations to get repairs nervewrecking, I just couldn’t deal with it at the time.

          Might try it again at some point.

          • jrodman says:

            As a nonplayer, I’m curious. What causes you to need repairs? Do things wear out spontaneously, or do you get punctured by space debris? Or lonely pirates take your shit?

      • klownk says:

        You are just saying it’s fun because it’s difficult to reach a place with nothing in it…

      • Sizeable Dirk says:

        Perhaps exploration can be made more meaningful by inserting gameplay via calibration offsets in the navigation mechanic.

        For example a fun challenge like the ship pulling just so slightly to the right, like some kind of Desert Bus.

  3. Det. Bullock says:

    I dunno, walking around stations isn’t a feature I miss, when I buy a spacesim I do for flying spaceships mostly.

  4. Ergates_Antius says:

    Sounds a bit like the wormhole bug in Frontier: Elite II

  5. causticnl says:

    of course that visual is the same no matter where you are, the backdrop is always the same.

    • LimEJET says:

      I see you didn’t watch the video/play the game/look at any screenshots. The skybox is dynamically generated when you enter a system and based on what stars are visible from that location.

      Like, why would the skybox when inside the galaxy be a picture of the galaxy?

    • jonfitt says:

      That is precisely wrong, and precisely why players love to see this.

      The skybox isn’t a static graphic, it’s drawn from the actual star map. If you see a far off nebula: YOU CAN ACTUALLY GO THERE. As you get closer the nebula gets bigger.

      • jrodman says:

        I’m confused, what do players love to see in this context? People being wrong, or the dynamically generated skybox? Or something else?

    • Arithon says:

      No, that would be another space game. Elite’s “sky box” is exactly what it says on the tin. a 1:1 map of the milky way galaxy as viewed from your relative position. They even had to add a higher level of space dust that scientists predicted to achieve the same appearance you see in space.
      So unlike other games, Elite’s sky is a realist simulation, not an artistic but fixed bitmap.

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      phuzz says:

      There is a skybox outside of the galaxy, which shows other galaxies, although from the footage I’ve seen, you’re unlikely to notice that due to all the stuff in the galaxy between you and the skybox (which you can fly to given enough patience).

  6. Pogs says:

    *Buzzing computer alarm wakes me abruptly from cryosleep*
    ‘What what, something has happened finally…?’
    Blearily reads RPS Galactic News
    ‘Oh not really’
    *Thumps re-freeze button*

  7. fearandloathing says:


  8. syndrome says:

    I like that there is a hypserspace in E:D. I’m guessing it’s some kind of evolved hipsterspace where everyone would compete in air drumming and instagram filtering.

  9. klownk says:

    I’m always impress by people who have fun with this game… Every news about it show mostly black screen and the same menu… Fabulous…

  10. Maxheadroom says:

    (you still can’t get out of your ship and walk around on space stations and planets, for instance – a major promise from the earliest days of development)

    Yeah when ‘IS’ that happening? Has there been any word? I drifted away from ED after the first few months but always intended to come back when that was added, but its been a good couple of years now hasnt it?

  11. Chaz says:

    Just to be boring and add a bit of detail.

    In the beta right now the white dwarfs have had their boost reduced to 25% but the rarer neutron stars have kept the 300% boost for the time being.

    Some players have worried that this would create a neutron star super highway across the galaxy, but personally if it does I think that’d be pretty cool.

    Scooping from the jet streams of the white dwarfs and neutron stars is very risky, as get it a bit wrong and you can severely damage or doom your ship. When you’re exploring thousands of light years away from civilisation that’s a risky proposition. If your ship goes pop, you’ll lose all your exploration data and find yourself back at the last station you docked at.

  12. Sporaric says:

    The game hasn’t lived up to its promise? Why? They didn’t promise being able to get out of your ship with release, they told you they would add all these things as the development coninues. And I am happier to play the game before it happens, rather than wait for many, many years until everything is finished.

  13. hassi44 says:

    “Frontier recently added plumes of white energy -irradiating- from the game’s rare white dwarves and neutron stars […]”

    I’m not trying to be pedantic here, but saying “irradiating” implies the process of becoming radiated, as in nuclear radiation. The plumes of white energy RADIATE from the game’s rare white dwarfes and neutron stars…

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