Elite Dangerous pilots are scrambling to rescue an explorer stranded in the void between galaxies

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An explorer in Elite Dangerous has ventured into the void between galaxies, seeking to break the record for travelling the furthest distance from our own sun. But due to a miscalculation, they’ve run out of the fuel necessary for a return trip and are currently stranded further than any pilot has ever been from civilisation. Now the fuel rats – a collection of players who save player ships from dereliction by refueling them – are mounting an ambitious multi-ship rescue that will take two days to complete.

Commander Persera swam out into intergalactic space last week, she says in a forum post, piloting a ship called the Jack of Flames. The reason for the trip is simply to go further from Sol than anyone else (a previous record was set by one Commander Deluvian, who travelled 65,652 lightyears from Sol along a similar route). But also, she says, to bring a canister of mugs from the infamous Hutton Orbital space station into the void and leave them there. Just because.

It’s a long post and full of jargon, but it’s also written in full-throttle roleplay mode, which makes it a fun read for any fellow commander. At one point, she describes a previous ship, the Siderea Balneus.

“It’s supposed to be Latin for ‘Space Bathtub’,” she says, “but it’s probably not, as I don’t actually know Latin.”

Anyway, she soon reached Beagle Point, a community-named system at the furthest reaches of the galactic arm opposite Sol. This is where, you might remember, a huge flotilla of hundreds of explorers once headed as part of a massive expedition.

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Of course, she wanted to go further. She decided to jump to Semotus Beacon – a binary star system further than any other that is currently reachable from the edge of the galaxy. From there, she’d engage supercruise – the faster-than-light form of travel normally used to close the gap between planets – and simply cruise out as far as possible. After flying for 21 hours, she had beaten Commander Deluvian’s previous record. On Tuesday, a full two days after setting her ship to cruise mode, she had travelled a total distance of 65,659 lightyears from Sol.

Then she looked at her fuel gauge.

Ok. I’ve done the math.

If Semotus Beacon is 65647.34Ly from Sol, and I’m now 11.7Ly from Semotus Beacon, that means I’m finally 65659 Ly from Sol without rounding.

But I was wrong about my fuel rollover.

“Main Fuel Tank Drained”

Guess this is it. No return trip for me.

She still had some fumes in the tank but not enough to complete the journey back. This is where the fuel rats come in. They’re a group of players who head out to remote locations to fill up the tank of any stranded pilot who gets in touch. Through the forum and messages with Commander Persera they’ve calculated the tonnage of fuel needed to rescue her and added additional ships to the rescue mission. The idea is that one fuel rat will head out to her, while others will re-fill that rat en route. After all, both the Jack of Flames the rescue ship will need to save enough fuel to make it back.

And it’s even more complicated than that. All the other shipboard systems will burn fuel, even life support, so to stop wasting energy, Persea will have to stay logged off and out-of-game for most of the next couple of days while the rats supercruise towards her. Unsurprisingly, this makes her hard to spot for Commanders Highwaywarrior, TheUnkn0wn1 and Abish – the pilots of the principle rescue vessels. Every few hours Persea needs to log back in and broadcast her position to the rats (eleven lightyears away!) like so.

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In the meantime the incoming rats might have gone off course by a few degrees, having had nothing to point towards as they cruise. They will also have to shut down non-essential systems as they fly, in order to save fuel. The whole mission is some seat of the pants NASA-style madness.

The rescue is ongoing and, again, the thread is worth glancing at even if you don’t grasp all the Elitist chatter. There’s response after response of pilots doing furious mathematics to find out how to get her home safely.

God speed, commanders. Let’s bring her home in time for Christmas.

61 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    Love it! It’s like reading one of those epic EVE dramas full of deceit, back-stabbing, disgusting behaviour and real-life threats, except with peace, charity and intelligent cooperation instead.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      And also, just like those Eve dramas, they’ve managed to make something amusing and interesting as an article, that was, in practice, utterly tedious and devoid of fun.

      • April March says:

        Lots of things that are interesting to onlookers are also tedious and unfun to those that perform it.

        • bill says:

          Like porn? Or …. actually, I can’t think of much else…

          • MiaStar says:

            Writing final versions of *anything*, 99% of making video games, hosting a performance and/or ceremony of many kinds… oh and streaming for an audience and/or recording stuff for youtube can also be utter hell powered further only by your love for what you’re doing.

            Just felt like thinking about that question. :)

  2. Rin Pryde says:

    Now I know for sure what I’m buying first in 1,5 hours =)

  3. morganjah says:

    If this had been Eve, someone would have taken their billion credit battle cruiser and traveled five days out into the middle of nowhere just to blow her up.

  4. Bull0 says:

    That isn’t how space works… It’s always nice reading about players that help though

    • uriel222 says:

      Yeah, but the way space works is dictated by the killjoys Newton and Einstein. I like this way better.

    • MiaStar says:

      The drives seem highly inspired by the concept of Alcubierre drives, almost to a fault (a lot of the tedium comes from ways they make the game mechanics flow), so while it’s clearly got some kind of quantum superposition dealy going for communications between players, a lot of the rest is a very nitty-gritty take on what a fledgling human colonization of the stars might look like. (well, at least to me)

    • carewolf says:

      Yeah, none of it made any sense from a mathematical or physical pov, just game technical nonsense.

  5. Beefenstein says:

    I went out to the shops once and, while thinking about gherkins, managed to work at least 90% of this distance. It was proper dark I tell you, couldn’t see anything, and there wasn’t even a pub to get a swift half in.

  6. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    In other news. I have become stranded in deepest, darkest FIFE. Please send Commanders A’OC and CE from the outer edge of CIVILIZATION with SAMMICHES that I may return to the promised land!

  7. fish99 says:

    Alt-F4 also works.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Stories like this are always fun. People doing absurd things in multiplayer games just for RP or enjoyment, with no mechanical benefit.

  9. YogSo says:

    “Main Fuel Tank Drained”

    Guess this is it. No return trip for me.

    Fellow space-traveller Vincent Freeman would be proud of her.

  10. geldonyetich says:

    Like most epic Elite: Dangerous events, it seems to involve a massive time sink of repetitive monotony on behalf of its participants.

    • wraithgr says:

      Arguably a realistic space experience…

    • Asurmen says:

      Monotony to you, fun to them.

      • ThePuzzler says:

        Is it fun for them? It seems like it involves pointing yourself in a direction and then waiting for twenty hours.

        • Asurmen says:

          Because people do stuff for that long because it totally isn’t fun.

          • Premium User Badge

            MajorLag says:

            Um, yeah, actually. People have motivations other than fun, and not all of them are healthy. You think its fun sitting at a slot machine all day pulling a lever? But people do it.

          • Asurmen says:

            And those are addictions not applicable to 99% of human activity. Specifically gambling has known issues with human psychology, which isn’t exactly applicable to pretending to be a pilot 1.3k years in the future.

        • lglethal says:

          Look let me give you a real world example of how different people find different things enjoyable – in one word – Cricket. If you’re one of the 1 billion fans of the game world wide, you can happily sit through 5 days of a test match and still be on the white knuckle, edge of your seat, come the end of the match. If you’re one of the 5 billion who come from a country where cricket isnt something you play from under 4’s, then the very thought of sitting around watching a bunch of guys in white hitting a ball for 5 days probably seems like the height of tedium.

          Different people, different strokes. The thought of flying through space in Elite for 20 hours bores you, for others it’s an enjyoable way to relax and pass the time. Accept that other people can enjoy things that you dont and you’ll be a lot happier as a person. :)

          PS Dont forget to switch on the Ashes on Boxing Day! (and the 27th, and the 28h, and the 29th, and the 30th….)

  11. Megatron says:

    Not such a super cruise, then? Ho ho.

    …I’ll get my coat.

  12. Dogshevik says:

    The sad part is that the stranded pilot can´t even pay the rescuers. There is simply no such option in the game.
    They are doing it because they are thankful for something to do – anything – to break up the mindnumbing grind.

    • Asurmen says:

      Well, that’s a cynical way of viewing it. They’re doing it because they enjoy it.

      • Dogshevik says:

        I think we agree. People tend to enjoy being able to meaningful interact with each other.
        The point where cynism comes in is the observation that the options to do so in this game are few and far in between. Seemingly by design.
        Mostly the mechanics let you play parallel to each other instead of with each other.

        • Asurmen says:

          Elite has always been that way though. It’s always had an aspect of “It’s you alone vs the universe”. This appears to be changing over the next year. We’ll see whether it’s fort he better.

    • Cederic says:

      Can’t you eject cargo in Elite:Dangerous?

      Rescuee just needs to buy something expensive, exit space station, eject goodies for kind rescuers.

    • sf says:

      The sad part is that folks can’t read an article about people having fun, without trying to point out how it isn’t fun.

      In short, your post, and posts like them, are the sad part.

  13. ThePeon26 says:

    If this was eve online people would scramble to see who could kill him or just let him rot away.

    • wombat191 says:

      you forget kill them and keep the body as a trophy to be sold to the highest bidder

    • Asurmen says:

      It’s been done. Someone has pretended to be a fuel rat, saw a request for help flew all the way (I think to Beagle Point) just to blow the person up. Got it all on video.

      • wackazoa says:

        I was gonna say, wasn’t there a story back a bit where they had a special event envoy who was being transported by a bunch of ships to a safe place where the whole server would get some sort of item/benefit from it. And somebody infiltrated the group and killed the envoy, because…. well… people are dicks.

        • Asurmen says:

          That was something else, and it was an intended potential result. It was done precisely because there was a chance someone would kill off the character.

    • lordcooper says:

      Eh, it’s fairly common for some newbro or other to get stuck in a wormhole and receive help after posting on /r/eve.

      Things like this happen often enough in Eve to not really be worth mentioning.

  14. Asami says:

    Pesky FTL travel, only good ’til the batteries wear out then you’re stuck at a snail’s pace.

    Elite should let players set up floating gas-stations between galaxies :P

  15. Jerkzilla says:

    The effort is reminiscent of the Black Buck raids, something like 11 tankers had to take off to get 2 Vulcan bombers from Ascension Island to the Falklands, then back. The organisation involved is impressive.

  16. wackazoa says:

    I love these type of stories. The things that people do to get joy out of RPing in a game. Almost wish all multiplayer games had roleplay only servers where you could do this kind of stuff. I will definitely read the related posts thanks.

  17. CartonofMilk says:

    the only time i called the fuel rats for help, well they were efficient, got there fast and all. Only little problem…this was at a time when the game’s instancing was buggy as shit (i think it was late lat year or something) so despite being exactly where i was, they couldn’t see me and i couldn’t see them. I died. Thanks FD

    their channel’s chat was fun though. Very RP. They have official procedures, a dispatcher and all. It felt very real. They were very apologetic that i died but i was very thankful they tried, nothing to do with them.

  18. imnolongeralurker says:

    Would love to read a follow-up! Thanks RPS!

  19. Tomdop says:

    Why wouldn’t you self destruct instead of having many players have the game use watts and volts for what exactly ? A little space story made over poor game design ?

    • Asurmen says:

      How the hell is it poor game design? It’s also literally a choice to be a fuel rat, and in this case there’s the uniqueness of it.

      They might not want to self destruct due to exploration credits.

      • montorsi says:

        Right, the fuel rats could have declined but instead decided to try to make it happen. Helping people is what they do, so I imagine this request is more than a little fun for them seeing as how most rescues are fairly standard rescues within or close to the bubble (much to the embarrassment of the bashful, stranded pilots).

        Folks commenting on whether the mechanics of rescuing a pilot are fun (or not) are entirely missing the point. It’s an enormous challenge in the context of this game and what this group of people typically do. Finding out whether they’re up to that challenge is the fun part.

        Also, quite something to be proud of because they will legitimately be able to claim they can rescue anyone, anywhere. A feat indeed.

      • Tomdop says:

        I’d say the exploration credits lost are worth a payment for a few rats travelling THE WHOLE GALAXY to save your little arse, wouldn’t you ?

    • Eater Of Cheese says:

      Tomdop – ‘poor game design’? Are you shitting me? Ay ay ay.

      • Tomdop says:

        Yes poor game design, because she has to disconnect from her account or the ship is gonna fail. This is poor game design.

        I’m an Elite player and I can tell you it’s far from being a perfect game.

        You can only FTL to a sun, sometimes you have maaaassiiiive distance to travel within a system but you couldn’t point the destination to a specific planet, nope, only to one of the many suns if there are (and you don’t get to pick which one) or the only one available.

        Why couldn’t you decide your destination more precisely ? It’s a gaming mechanic, and I think it’s poor. It’s not fun to aim your hotas a direction and just wait if something happens for 20 minutes or so. I can’t imagine how it would feel for hours & hours. You’d have to let the game idle. Earth thanks your lack of fun sense.

        • Det. Bullock says:

          It’s not bad design, it’s just “simulative” design: essentially instead of doing everything in a way that’s conveniente as a pure game they tried where possible to make the gameplay coherent with the relatively hard sci-fi setting.
          In this case the hyperdrive points at a sun because that’s what can be reliably detected light-years away, planets, even big ones, cannot be reliably detected at such distances but stars can, hell, we’ve been doing it for centuries.
          Could the supercruise mode be faster?
          Perhaps.
          Micro-jumps could also be an option but I suspect that piracy via supercruise interdiction would be massively difficult if people could just jump from the sun to the station/whatever of their choice in the system.
          But the way the hyperdrive works is coherent for the setting and for some people that’s part of the fun.

          • Tomdop says:

            You gotta love it when someone explains you with alot of aplomb how to travel to another sun.

            I’m sorry but as long as you have coordinates it’s not impossible to predict a more precise destination. And the whole galaxy is mapped, scouted planets included (that you might not jump to an unknown planet I’d concede..). Now do you know how precise our current astronomers can be at predicting coordinates of planets ? Very. Damn it we’re talking about virtual spaceships. I’m telling you it’s game design ’cause they want the players to fly around and have random encounters, you don’t believe me, good for you, but i’m not buying your talk either.

            Also if a ship can FTL to a sun, it should be able to FTL to a planet within a solar system, even if it costs more fuel or whatever it is, and this my friend you cannot countradict, which leads us to my previous point, game design.

          • Det. Bullock says:

            Who says that?
            Big gas giants perhaps, but for what we know the jump isn’t precise enough to drop you near a smaller body, it might be you have the probability to drop too far from it or too near.
            Also astronomers, are very precise in predicting only SOME planets for what we know, most methods of detection are indirect and I expect them to be less and less reliable the farthest the target star is from the observation point.

            Point about game design: piracy/interception would be basically impossible if you could hyper to single planets without spending at least a bit of time in supercruise, especially with space stations and points of interest with security forces that WILL blast you away if you try something funny near them.
            The game is supposed to make you able to go about things the way you want and unfortunately that means that making some forms of gameplay impossible for the sake of other parts of the game is not gonna fly.

  20. Jimbo says:

    Shades of Operation Black Buck during the Falklands where they had to use around a dozen Victors in an elaborate pyramid-y refueling plan (some of the Victors only being there to top up other Victors before turning back) in order to extend the range of a Vulcan bomber all the way to Port Stanley -to knock out the runway- and then back to Ascension.

  21. Atrak says:

    Ran out of fuel myself once early in my Elite:Dangerous career, luckily the Fuel Rats bailed me out. They are a Great bunch of pilots who have managed to create their own fun.

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