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The Distant Worlds expedition is, at face value, a preposterously bad idea. Take 1,000 players in Elite: Dangerous, a notoriously challenging spacefaring simulation featuring 400 billion star systems, and move them — together — to the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. And yet as of this past weekend, it's been done.
After 12 weeks of real-world play nearly 1,000 commanders have piloted their ships more than 80,000 light years to Beagle Point, a tiny rock 2,000 kilometers wide at the edge of our galaxy. Leaping from star to star, sipping fuel straight from their deadly hot coronas and dodging AI and player-controlled pirates along the way, they've finally landed at their destination. And by working together they've forged an amazing community.
"This changes everything," said one of the expedition's leaders, who goes by the in-game handle Dr. Kaii. "We've been going out into the dark alone, and Distant Worlds has changed all that. It's created a whole new level of interaction and cooperation."
I was lucky enough, with the help of Elite's development team, to join the Distant Worlds team just last week. I was able to land at Beagle Point, greet the weary travelers and wish them well. All this week a series of livestreams will broadcast the fun they're having, from a demolition derby to an online wedding, it should be a marvelous time.
Here's my interview with Dr. Kaii. For more on the expedition, check out the official forum post here and the official Twitch streams here and here.
For more on Elite: Dangerous check out our interview with another in-game community, the Fuel Rats below.