I met the people who study the Thargoids in Elite: Dangerous

A Thargoid ‘flower ship’ interacts with a ‘Barnacle’. There’s all sorts of weird stuff happening in Elite these days. Pic courtesy of Gavin Baranowski.

I wrote about The Fuel Rats in Elite: Dangerous a while ago, and it was fascinating to discover how deep the game goes – and how people are playing it in very different ways. The Fuel Rats were formed spontaneously when Frontier introduced a refuelling mechanic into the game, and a group of players thought it would be fun to create a sort of space vehicle recovery service. People loved the idea, and it evolved to the point where there’s a proper hierarchy and all sorts of procedures for dispatching rescuers into the far reaches of the galaxy.

Julian at PCGamesN remembered the article, and he approached me recently about doing a sort of follow-up, where I sought out the people who are studying the Thargoids, Elite‘s newly emergent alien race. I spoke to The Fuel Rats, and they put me onto The Canonn, a 3,000-strong community of players who are dedicated to exploring the history and science of the Elite universe.

A mysterious Thargoid device, one of hundreds that The Canonn have found. Pic courtesy of Gavin Baranowski.

I was astounded by the complexity behind the recent emergence of the Thargoids. They’re not simply space invaders that Frontier have dumped into the game overnight – there’s a huge amount of back story there, and the galaxy is littered with Thargoid ruins that contain odd devices or mysterious purpose. What’s more, the Thargoids themselves have motivations.

Frontier have clearly put a huge amount of thought into how they want to introduce the Thargoids, and they’ve left a tantalising amount of loose threads that groups like The Canonn have seized on and are excitingly following. It’s mind-boggling, really – there really is a whole virtual galaxy out there, packed with all sorts of weird stuff. Take a look at the PCGamesN article to see what I’m on about:

Studying the Thargoids: the intrepid players facing Elite Dangerous’s greatest threat

I don’t currently play Elite: Dangerous myself, but the more I talk to people who do, the more I want to dive in…

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