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Griefers in Elite: Dangerous are picking on a cancer patient (update)

The Enigma Expedition has been attacked

The megaship Dove Enigma was added to the game by the developers of Elite: Dangerous as a tribute to Commander DoveEnigma13 and the entire expedition to Colonia. It has since been sabotaged.
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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

A player-led expedition to the fringes of the galaxy in Elite: Dangerous is in trouble. Griefers have sabotaged a critical location, meaning that a joyride through the galaxy meant as a tribute to a terminal cancer patient is suddenly at risk of not reaching its goal.

The Enigma Expedition set out on Jan. 12 headed to Colonia, a distant star system in Elite’s strikingly realistic depiction of our Milky Way galaxy. The trip is meant as a tribute to Commander DoveEnigma13, whose real name is Brandon Keith. According to the original post, Keith has been battling cancer for at least three years and his outlook is terminal. This may be his last chance to make the trip. Travelling with him and enjoying the ride in real life is his five year-old daughter.

Colonia is more than 22,000 light years from the civilized center of Elite’s galaxy. Skilled players can make it there if they push hard for an entire day but, given Keith’s condition, the fleet is moving at his pace. They’re scheduled to arrive around Feb. 4.

Today comes word that their final waypoint, a massive megaship placed in the game world by the game’s developers, and which they have named Dove Enigma, has been sabotaged.

The mission patch created for the Enigma Expedition, a community-led event in Elite: Dangerous.
Commander Qohen Leth

An automated message, broadcast galaxy-wide in Elite, announced to all players today that the Dove Enigma is “experiencing technical issues.” That means one or more players have gone to great lengths to purposefully harm the megaship, ranging far ahead of the Enigma Expedition fleet and possibly making multiple trips. It’s an awful lot of effort to grief another player, especially one who is terminally ill.

The players making the trip aren’t necessarily in any jeopardy. They should be able to refuel at nearby stars for the return trip, and given enough time someone could make it out to assist them if they became damaged and were unable to get repairs at Dove Enigma. But if the megaship isn’t operational when they arrive, it would be a thumb in the eye to the more than 560 players who banded together to make the journey with Keith.

Polygon is trying to reach out to the leaders of the expedition for comment, as well as the game’s developers at Frontier, to see if they will intervene.

Right now, players across the Elite game world are sending up a cry for help. If enough meta alloys are delivered to the Dove Enigma there is a chance that it could be operational by Feb. 4. One commander, a streamer by the handle DJTruthsayer, is making deliveries right now.

Polygon spoke with Commander Splat via Discord, an in-game ally of DJTruthsayer. He says that their group, called The Sovereignty, is putting all their efforts into ferrying relief to Colonia. He and the rest of The Sovereignty’s leadership say that those interested in participating should join their Discord server.

Update: After our original story was published, Polygon was able to reach one of the players leading the Enigma Expedition who goes by the handle Commander Greytest. They emphasized that the threat to the the fleet is minor, at best.

“The whole area around Colonia is populated with many stations and bases,” said Greytest, “and some of the services not being available on the megaship is practically irrelevant. ... We even have plenty of support ships with us for repairs and fuel for the occasional mishap.

“All that remains is a respectless and despicable, but ultimately meaningless act, that in my humble opinion got way too much upwind. ... The positive side is the incredible supportive echo it caused.”

Frontier also echoed the sentiment in a post made early this morning. It implied that it has peeked behind the curtain, as it were, and the Dove Enigma should be in good shape by Feb. 4.

“From our view of the galaxy we can see an overwhelming number of Commanders taking flight in one direction and with one purpose: to counter the shutdown,” said Zac Antonaci, Frontier’s head of communications. “With this staggering outpouring of support, we are confident that the shutdown will be averted as Commanders arrive.”

Antonaci also went on to apologize for allowing a memorial installation placed in game to have a vulnerability in the first place.

“Seeing the community come together to support their fellow commander and support such a good cause is amazing for all of us in the studio,” Antonaci said. “We’re sorry for our oversight, and we thank you for taking to your cockpits.”

Additionally, our original story misstated the remoteness of Colonia. We’ve adjusted the article. I’ve also started out on my own journey to visit the system and see it for myself.

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