Elite pilot travels 6 hours after falling for ‘free ship’ prank


Oh dear. A pilot in Elite Dangerous has fallen for a cheeky prank. Commander SpeedyBebop undertook a six-hour journey to Hutton orbital (a remote space station orbiting 0.22 lightyears from its parent star) after hearing that a free Anaconda awaited anyone who travelled there. This is one of the space sim’s most expensive and powerful ships. But when he arrived, he discovered the whole thing was a ruse. There was no Anaconda. And it turns out he’s not the first one to fall for this prank – it has become a running joke among Elite’s pilots.

The trip to Hutton normally takes just over an hour. Unfortunately for this commander, internet problems meant his journey kept being interrupted. It took him a total of six hours of on-and-off flying before he eventually docked his Type-6 spacetruck. When he did, he observed that the station does not even have a shipyard, let alone a free vessel.

This “free ship” is a longstanding joke among pilots, it transpires. It’s mentioned on Reddit as far back as a year ago. Sometimes pilots brusquely correct one another, saying that the special ship at Hutton actually costs 1000 credits (still a nice discount on its usual price of 146 million). The origins of the rumour aren’t clear but at least one other person fell for the same trick last month.

My Anaconda don't want none, unless you at Hut-ton

“I first heard about it as a comment… on a post talking about free ship skins,” SpeedyBebop told me, “and I assumed that if there were free ship skins, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to say maybe Frontier was giving away an Anaconda for 1000 credits in the game for Thanksgiving.”

Despite the lengthy voyage, he isn’t upset with the game’s roguish commanders. On the contrary, it has earned him some fame in the community. Somebody even made fan art of the incident.

“I’m not really annoyed (other than the time that I wasted) but the feedback I’ve gotten about sharing my story of falling for such a joke has been awesome, it has made me feel less of an idiot than when I first realized it was a joke.”

So take this cautionary tale as a friendly reminder, space friends. There’s no such thing as a free launch.


  1. LewdPenguin says:

    Pff who wants a spaceship when you can get free kittens in Rancer (EVE online).

  2. Tiax says:

    What a story Mark!

  3. Psychomorph says:

    Greed overrides reason. Subsequent punishment well deserved.

  4. Ham Solo says:

    Welp, enjoy those mugs.

  5. int says:

    Pranks like these remind me of the intricate guides for getting the Triforce in Zelda: OoT.

  6. gpown says:

    This is funny until you realise that actually making money in the game is doing the same thing as he did.

    • Hakusho says:

      Sounds like Euro Truck Simulator in space.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Travel in Eurotruck is far more compelling and varied than in Elite. Far more.

      • JuveriTori says:

        To a lot of people it is Eurotruck in space.

      • Frank_K says:

        Elite:Dangerous is what you make it. There’s Eurotrucker in Space, if you want it. There’s also Euro-miner, Euro-pirate, Euro-cruise ship director. Even in Solo mode, if you prefer. I’m a combat pilot and supporter of an in game faction. We manipulate the our local area’s politics, promoting our factions interests in the sim. We do it in Open play, where you can run into other players by chance.

  7. racccoon says:

    This has got to be bullshit or a marketing plot, as I remember getting a anaconda in less time that he supposedly did, by trading back n forth for hours at the start of this games past era, I haven’t played it since that time as its too stupid a game, running into suns all the time is the most daft thing in the game that an the lines all over place.
    This game is as daft as that other one, star citizen, which should be renamed to starved citizen, as the starving are all the buyers of the game as they’ve had no game for SIX years, but the company is still popping out glorified graphical theater videos of a game that’s totally un-playerable without mass lag, mass spiking & framerate drops.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Nice bait n switch, you totes got me

    • ChrisT1981 says:

      Star Citizen’s development just ended it’s fifth year in development. And when I playtested the latest public Alpha (2.6.3) a few weeks ago it ran quite smooth in Arena Commander and Star Marine modes.

    • Asurmen says:

      You can’t make Anaconda levels of money in six hours at the start of the game’s release.

      As for crashing into suns, that was a reasonably rare occurrences in binary or higher systems, that is no longer possible.

      By lines you mean orbit lines? You’ve been able to turn them off since forever, I think possibly release.

      • Ergates_Antius says:


        • Asurmen says:

          Why whoosh? If you mean the Star Citizen bit, I ignored it.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Running into suns and “lines all over place” is a clear reference to the *original” Elite (in all it’s wire-frame glory)

  8. Rindan says:

    Hrm. I can see why you reported on this. Elite Dangerous is so boring and devoid of interaction between players that this actually is pretty hot news in terms of ED politics. Of course, as is always the case with ED, the interaction between players actually took place elsewhere; in this case, Reddit.

    ED would have made a pretty snazzy single player, either Freespace style where you have contained missions and a story, or more open worldie and economic like the X games. ED would have made a pretty snazzy multiplayer game, either in a small universe constant war thing like Planetside 2, or in some open world sandbox where you rip out Eve’s combat and stuff EDs combat in.

    ED instead basically shat itself and did none of the above. It is a functionally single player game almost entirely devoid of player to player interaction, but has no single player game play.

    The thing that makes ED sucking so hurtful, is that there is something solid and diamond at its core. The ship and combat mechanics are actually pretty good. The visuals, both in implementation and in style, are fucking amazing. The ships and their interiors are just gorgeous. Playing ED in VR and just enjoying the beauty of the game is almost worth the price for the experience. There is some beautiful work in that game.

    Too bad all that beautify and effort were wasted on a game with no gameplay. It’s upsetting how much masterful work was wasted on that game.

    • Imperialist says:

      Its definitely a case of “well built, but utterly devoid of spirit”. Its pretty, has good mechanics, cool ships, a nice “explore new worlds” style sci fi soundtrack…but nothing profound happens from hour 2 to 200. Literally every action in the game is a chore, with no effort to even cover it up. Also, its what…year 3000, we have FTL, but everything is manual. No autopilot, no autodock. Sure, docking is cool the first few times…but it gets old fast. So does seeing the same station interior 1000x with a different name painted on the wall. What a waste.

      • wombat191 says:

        Well you can buy an autodock thing for your ship. I know because I got sick of docking after the 30th time

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Docking is the only fun part (at 200ms+ upside down with multiple control inputs and the fuzz on your back!)

    • Artyparis says:

      I completely agree.
      I ve stopped playing just before Horizons dlc came out. And i keep reading subreddit for news, because i can’t admit game current state. What a waste….

      ED I dream about will remain a dream. :/

  9. biceps says:

    There is a fine line between a Public Service Announcement and ruining a good snipe hunt. You may have crossed the line.

  10. kuertee says:

    “flying on and off over 6 hours” (as reported by the person who fell for the prank, link to reddit.com)

    DOESN’T equal a “six hour journey” (as reported by RPS).

    I thought there was something fishy about the “six hour journey” when I read that his internet kept taking him out of the game as you reported (and as his own Reddit post confirmed). When Elite loses internet connection, the player loses their place in the world. And they restart back at the last station they were docked.

    With a poor internet connection, I can guess that the player would not immediately try to log back in after the game kicks him out. Instead he would wait half-an-hour or more (e.g. to get a sandwich, go to the shops, or watch TV) before trying again. This is normal, right? Or are gamers that hooked that they’ll wait around for their router lights to blink green?

    ALSO: as suggested in the link to the 0.22 lightyears Reddit page supplied by RPS, the realistic flying time from the nav beacon to Hutton space port is 75 minutes. Hardly anywhere near a “six hour journey”.

    See all these engagements from click-baity articles? Is this an actual gaming news article? Or just a shared post? Reads more like what Kutako? (Katuko? Kotuka?) would post. :P

    • Asurmen says:

      Slight clarification, but you do not restart at the last docked station. That’s only on destruction. If you lose Internet, the game will restart you at your last game state saved position (a location where the server last saw you).

      So in this case, chances are it will have re started them in normal space in the same system, but potentially a lot of light seconds back from where they disconnected.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Kotaku’s a cool website.

    • Brendan Caldwell says:

      I like Kotaku.

      • Ghostwise says:

        I’m told it’s much better than it used to be.

        • Morat Gurgeh says:

          It is. A bit more eclectic than others but I don’t mind that.

          • kuertee says:

            I was a reader of Katuko. I gave up on it during the “gamer gate” times. Immediately after an article about how to “be excellent to each other”, someone posted a “sexiest game characters ever” article. I found it a little insensitive considering the events of the time. There were other commentaries in those times that just left a bad taste.

            I’m sure it’s gotten better since.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Putting “:p” at the end doesn’t make you less of a bore. Probably the opposite.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Just to clarify: a journey that takes six hours is a six hour journey. Even if you stop to admire the view/tie your shoelaces/write a dull comment on RPS every four minutes

        • kuertee says:

          In context of the game, a “six hour journey” suggests that the flying time was six hours.

          And Asumen was correct. Returning to Elite after a connection loss restarts the player where the server recorded your last place. I was incorrect. It’s been some months since the internet kicked me out of the game.

          And I wish I could write a comment on RPS every four minutes. My current rate is 5 comments over 8 years or so. And all those 5 comments were posted this year – possibly because of the articles? :P

          Let’s see: My first comment was on an article in which the author was looking for a name for a game similar to Alien Breed. You know? Sci-fi, co-op, not-first-person view. And everyone was suggesting weird names like “third-person FPS” – sarcastically or not, I couldn’t tell. And I commented “top-down shooter”. 3 words. I should have added “Sheesh!”. And an eye-roll emoticon or something. 8-|

          My 2nd comment was on an article about paid mods. I have a particular interest in the subject because I’m a prolific modder.

          My 3rd was in the “Best PC games ever” article. In that, I suggested that the title should be “Best PC games ever (ranked by the number of hours we enjoyed the game divided by the entire PC games industry lifetime)”. That was a rant. Ha!

          And my 4th was above. That was a rant, too. And I only posted that comment because it ties in with my comment on the “Best PC games ever” about accuracy being important. Go read it so that you can comment on how interesting it was. And this, my reply to you, is my 5th.

          Yup. I posted comments because something about the articles interested me in one way or another. o.O

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            OK, but I’m not really suggesting that you post here every four minutes, I was merely illustrating how a journey could be made longer than the bare minimum. Such as is the case with your journey towards some kind of point. However, all that is incidental to the fact that your initial post was extremely rude.

          • kuertee says:

            1. Suggesting that the article doesn’t tell the correct story in context of the game … (The link to the original post of the actual elite gamer wasn’t even posted.),
            2. Labelling this article as a click-bait non-article and comparing it to a Gozmindo/Katuko type shared funny,
            3. Without the use of a WTF or any sort of hyperbolic reaction,
            4. Give my criticism of it as news because, you know, I like RPS,

            is “extremely” (a hyperbole) rude, then, ok. I accept that it is rude.

  11. Blackcompany says:

    This is the MOST interesting thing to happen in Elite in some time…

  12. Ergates_Antius says:

    I bet this guy’s facebook feed is full of those “Like this page for a chance to win a free playstation 4” scams.

    • SpeedyBebop says:

      I DO NOT! I’m waiting on that Nigerian prince to send me money so I can just buy PS4 games

      • Crusoe says:

        Haha, nice one, it’s great to see a player with a great sense of humour

  13. SpeedyBebop says:

    Great article o7 thanks for the support! I feel a lot less dumb! For my efforts I did sell the Hutton mugs I picked up for 200k in total!

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I can double your ISK mate. Just fly to Jita in a Navy fit Raven.

  14. pmcollectorboy says:

    Go to Hutton Orbital in your Anaconda and get a free Sidewinder. >.>