A year to the day, remembering Salomé

Posted by on Apr 29, 2018 in Lore

Salomé (Senator Kahina Tijani Loren)

A year ago today one of the characters I created in my book Elite: Reclamation was ‘killed’.

Kahina Tijani Loren, or Salomé, the erstwhile Senator of the Prism system, was assassinated when trying to reach the Tionisla system.

Either a spoilt brat, an explorer, a war criminal, a heroine, a terrorist, a freedom fighter or a mad woman with a fondness for oratory – depending on your outlook – her story came to an end on the 29th April, 3303 (2017). She aimed to expose the actions of and incite a revolt against shadowy powers that she claimed were manipulating humanity.

At least, that was the narrative. I’m grateful for those who have catalogued her life and put it all together on the Elite Dangerous Wiki for folks to review.

Authors have always killed favoured characters off, either as part of the plot, or even vindictively, citing the “kill your darlings” advice (sometimes attributed to G.K. Chesterton). This can generate shock, upset and outrage in the reader. It depends very much on what the author intended. Others might ask why the ‘death’ of a fictional character matters anyway.

But Salomé’s death was different. It wasn’t the author who killed her, but a player of the game the novel was based upon during an in-game event.

That in-game event, and the notoriety that surrounds it, remains a moment of note in the history of the Elite Dangerous game. Some say it was a triumph, that it showed the possibilities of community generated content, player group interaction and involvement. Others consider it a disaster, a foregone conclusion, a confused mess, an event that should have never taken place, a publicity stunt or shameless self-promotion. Many will subscribe to aspects of both views.

I’m grateful to Frontier Developments for covering the event on their livestream, newsletter and the in-game aspects. Also to Obsidian Ant, who interviewed me beforehand, the streamers who attempted to cover the event live, to Lave Radio, who covered the aftermath of the event, those who worked so hard with me on the event and those who took part.

There are many many articles online about it. This one from Polygon is by far the most accurate, as Charlie Hall was the only journalist who had the courtesy to check facts with me. Other online material ranges from the poorly researched or one-sided, through to the credulity straining (but of course, oh so compelling!) conspiracy theories. What you consider to be the ‘truth’ of the matter is entirely up to you.

What actually surprises me is how many people are still talking about it, even after all this time – but here is my reflection on it, a year to the day.

First, I’ll try to explain what I intended.

The original objective, looking at it now, seems quite pedestrian. All I really wanted was for players to determine the ‘lore’ fate of a character by means of the game, so I could finish a book. That book (Elite Dangerous : Premonition) was a chronicle, of sorts, of player actions in the game. The set up was as simple as it could be yet still be meaningful; a “Catch me if you can” chase from one point to another, a “Trench Run” win or lose scenario – but with “Iron Man” rules – if Salomé was killed, she was killed – no escape pods, no rescue. Death. A finale for the book. That was all it was.

Even that was problematic. I wanted it in “open”, so as to be as inclusive as possible. Folks were quick to point out that no one, absolutely no one ever in the history of the game, had survived in “open” with a target on their back for more than a few minutes. I was “signing her death warrant” by even considering it. Cue the accusations that I did ‘kill’ her, if indirectly. I did consider a private “Lore” group for the event, but that would have opened me up to two more problems – 1. Managing the group and any possible infiltration of it (Mobius has had a lot of problems here) and 2. Deliberately excluding a lot of the player base by an active choice. Decision to run in “open” made.

There was the PC and Xbox issue (The PS4 version had yet to be released at the time). The two universes were parallel, the same in detail but not in instancing. Should there be a “PC Salomé” and an “Xbox Salomé”? What if one survived and the other didn’t – what was the actual outcome? I decided there “could be only one.” PC had the biggest user base and I didn’t (and still don’t) have an Xbox One. Multiple characters under the control of other players was the answer to that one so the Xbox community could be involved.

Then there was the issue of the “Friends list” and somehow balancing the event so it would be worth people taking part. Salomé’s account had been accepting all friend requests since it was created many years before, without any discrimination. On the days leading up to the event hundreds of players requested to be friends. At the time (and I’m not aware this has changed since), the in-game mechanisms were insufficient for any given player to pursue another with the hope of being able to overtake and interdict them. We couldn’t advertise the destination without the danger of ‘base camping’. With a sufficiently fast ship and a long jump range, you had total immunity from any form of danger if you had no “Friends”. The “Friends list” gave away Salomé’s location, thus levelling the playing field. If you lost her, you had a way to find her again. Did it give too much of an advantage to those seeking to kill her?  Another decision to be made. Friends list was to be non-selective.

Salomé’s ship, the Imperial Clipper “Seven Veils”

Ditto the loadout of the ship. To ensure maximum chance of success, Salomé should have had a lightweight engineered Anaconda or Asp optimised for jump range and refueling – but no hardened PvP build could have kept up – result? No gameplay. Canonically, Salomé flew an Imperial Clipper optimised for exploration (during the event it was engineered for shields, jump range and speed). She couldn’t (in the lore) suddenly conjure up an uber ship out of nowhere. Imperial Clipper it was, with all the limitations that brings.

For the advantage, we should have used the best PvP pilot we could find, but again canonically, Salomé was not that pilot. She was a snooty Imperial who had flown a star-ship a handful of times, not a seasoned spacer. I choose to fly her in character, not because I was under the impression that I was a brilliant PvP pilot (as many have pointed out – I’m not) but more because I needed to ensure that she would respond to whatever happened on the fly and in character to make the lore consistent. Decisions, decisions.

None of these decisions (and there were many others besides) were taken without rationale, but crucially, none were taken with a specific outcome in mind, or to provide favour to any particular faction or player group. They were taken with the aim of making a scenario that would actually work in practice. I was attempting to create an event that had a level of tension, where the outcome was uncertain and not a foregone conclusion. That really was the only objective.

Ironically, the biggest risk I thought we had at the start was that no one would turn up and it would be a non-event due to indifference. That didn’t turn out to be a problem. The event was accused of being both over-hyped and under-advertised.

There was no conspiracy, at least, not one instigated by me. Salomé was to be protected by the Children of Raxxla and Loren’s Legion, the members of which had proven their loyalty over years of faithful service. There was no compromise of either of these factions, despite claims to the contrary by many sources. SDC were never remotely trusted by Salomé’s core group at all. PAC was permitted to organise itself around information that CoR and LL ‘declassified’. The machinations that resulted were truly emergent gameplay of a type, whether in-game or meta game. The CoR and LL mission objective was simple. Get Salomé safely to Tionisla, regardless of what else was going on. Scenarios were trialled, tactics worked through, mock battles rehearsed in advance. We were prepared.

The outcome needs little explanation. We all know the result.

So, secondly, what is my stance on the event now, a year later?

Lots of things went wrong:

  • A player discovered the end-event content (the Teorge logs) before the event started. Limitations on how to insert them into the universe meant they had to be there in advance. That was an interesting one to explain in the book. 🙂
  • I caused excessive damage to Salomé’s ship evading interdiction throughout the chase, I didn’t have time to rehearse all the heat management expertise I needed. We had AFMUs aboard, but they were exhausted by the end. This was why we ‘slowed down’ – for repairs.
  • The game did conspire against us with the usual issues – CTDs, wing connections failing, instancing issues, blue-tunneling etc. These were expected, but did contribute to the final result.
  • The amount of communication required was enormous. I had hopes of being able to issue some instructions on the way, but the reality of being hunted in “open” mode during the event rendered that impossible. That meant there was more confusion, which was actually completely authentic. That did make things hard for folks joining the event and trying to figure out what was going on, and it made life very hard for the streamers who were trying to cover the event. It’s true that “no plans survives contact with the enemy.”
  • Very shortly prior to the event Frontier had to patch the game to remove an “infinite packhound missile” bug.
  • It was alleged, after the event, that some of the antagonists had exploited a bug in the game to make their ships engineered beyond reasonable expectations. I didn’t know about this in advance and have never seen a definitive statement from Frontier about it.

I hadn’t foreseen a number things:

  • I wanted an in-game event to conclude the book. The game mechanics were (are still?) borderline unsuitable for carrying this out. I pressed on when, arguably, I should have stopped after a more sober analysis. In my defence, this wasn’t the first time a lore related event in “open” had been attempted. I’d watched others run previous events (including those run by Frontier themselves), analysed them and thought I’d mitigated their failings in the design of this one.
  • I understood the limitations of the game in theory, but not in wide-scale practice. I underestimated the emergent complexity of trying to organise even such a simple event within the context of Elite Dangerous. I opened myself up to accusations of engineering the outcome by having to make decisions that certainly influenced the outcome in an honest attempt to provide a level playing field.
  • The sheer number of players who wanted to take part and their wildly different motivations for taking part. I had originally thought that only players who had some sort of interest in the ‘lore’ of the game would take part, this was not the case. I had anticipated hostile players of course, in fact I welcomed it – it made the event actually ‘dangerous’, what was the point if there were no stakes, no risk? That was the ‘lore’ reason for the bounties. Salomé and Co were wanted.  I don’t know what the player count was, but I’m informed it was in the thousands.
  • I failed to appreciate the wider agendas of player groups beyond my immediate horizons. The meta politics of SDC and PAC are worthy of a story in themselves. This was behaviour that I had not expected, or anticipated and certainly hadn’t instigated. I hoped that player groups would be “For” and “Against” (in fact Frontier put that option in the communication menu specifically for the event), but I hadn’t expected the tangled twists, infiltration of Discord, the ‘no fire/unarmed’ order directives and the other machinations that emerged. I knew of SDC by reputation (and had a brief interaction with them earlier on during one of the exploration CGs I ran). PAC’s arrival, behaviour and subsequent departure really was emergent ‘meta’ content. More occurred than I could actually keep track of.
  • The backlash against me as the organiser of the event. Writers have to have tough hides, but let’s just say “Shields failed”, “Module damage” and “Emergency Low Wake.” I won’t be venturing into that conflict zone again. The level of opprobrium I received (‘salt’ in the gaming vernacular) was extreme. I’m not saying, necessarily, that it wasn’t warranted, nor would I say that folks aren’t entitled to their opinions – but when that level of vitriol is fired at a content creator, the community should not be surprised when that content creator looks at that response and decides to no longer provide content for them.

Had I known before what I know now I’m not sure I would have undertaken it. I would probably have decided Salomé’s fate myself and just written it down, though perhaps I’d have got into trouble for that too. That is the most obvious rebuttal of the ‘I scripted it’ accusation – I was at liberty to just write Salomé’s fate myself at any point because I was the author and she was my character. It would have been far easier to do so but I choose to give her fate to the community. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and, as my dad was fond of saying, ‘experience is one of those things you get just after you need it.’

Colonia could have been a safe haven…

I did have a number of possible outcomes pencilled in. I had, briefly, considered that Salomé would commit suicide, (certainly ‘lore-wise’ she was mentally unstable towards the end after what had happened to her) but that was rejected for being too ‘Deus Ex Machina’, taking the decision out of the hands of players and invalidating all the efforts of those players and factions who worked so hard in following and protecting her. If she died, she had accomplices that would hopefully make the run and her ‘requiem’ could be activated in game (as indeed it was). If she survived she had a speech to give and I had a plot for her to retreat to Colonia in exile (she had received an invitation to go there) and continue her insurrection from there – it was not to be.

As far as I am aware nothing similar has been attempted since, perhaps it never will be based on what happened. I certainly wouldn’t recommend organising an event of that nature to anyone. Naturally, many people were wise after the event. Truth be told, some genuinely were wise prior to the event, but none of those had visibility of the meticulous planning and preparation that had taken place. I thank the many people who did appreciate what I tried to do and have told me so. Once again, huge thanks must go to the faction members of the Children of Raxxla and Loren’s Legion who did vast amounts of organising to create the event and to the extended groups beyond that, each organising their own contributions.

In conclusion?

  • It is possible to survive in “open”. Salomé managed one hour and forty five minutes under constant attack by experienced PvPrs (and one very determined NPC) with her location being advertised, whilst being valiantly defended, primarily, by the Children of Raxxla and Loren’s Legion in-game factions operating against a very well prepared and practised plan (subject to the limitations I had put upon them). Game issues contributed to her demise (the infamous blue-tunnelling and instancing issues). I believe that implies that I did, pretty much, balance the event about right. Salomé could have, against the odds, made it.
  • Elite Dangerous can host a multi-player event, but there are severe limitations in the P2P architecture that constrain the type and conduct of such an event.
  • There is a hunger for that type of game play, which remains largely unsatisfied. If someone can learn from this experience and generate an event that overcomes its shortcomings, they will have something quite amazing on their hands.
  • Many players really do care about the lore. I was privileged to work with some truly amazing and hard working people in the course of the event.
  • It’s very difficult to manage the ‘scope’ of an event. If you want it in “open” anything goes – roleplay and non-roleplay activity gets mixed. If you want it in a “private” group, you have to manage that group and all the issues that go with that management.
  • Even a very simple event (in concept) is laced with vast complexity and needs a huge amount of work to execute; underestimate that at your peril.
  • The Elite Dangerous community is, very much, a complex multifaceted thing. Generally, it has been very supportive to me over the years, but there are some less salubrious sides to it as well.

I remain undecided whether running a “lore” event in “open” is a good or bad thing. On the good side it allows maximum participation without barriers, on the flip-side, anyone can take part and influence the outcome. In this case, the outcome was determined by a player who (as far as I can tell) has little to no interest in the lore of the game. He did from my perspective, as far as I was aware at the time, get the ‘kill’ fair and square, unpopular though that was. As I’ve mentioned, I did consider a “lore” private group – but how to police that? How could I practically vet the credentials of thousands of players? It would have been infiltrated regardless and thus the same outcome possible. Maybe having such a diverse community prevents the possibility of “lore” events entirely, perhaps they only belong in single player games with pre-programmed outcomes.

But that seems defeatist to me. I tried something, it was controversial, it didn’t turn out how I expected. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it at all, but that’s not my way. Those of you who followed me from the Kickstarter back in 2012 know that I push and cajol things, try to make them better, work around problems and don’t take no for an answer. Lots of folks told me my Kickstarter wouldn’t work. It did. Lots of folks told me I couldn’t write a book where the players set the agenda. I did. Lots of people told me that I couldn’t survive in “open” mode for more than a few minutes. I did.

With this event I didn’t want the expected. I wanted the community to do its thing and it did; good, bad, roleplay or non-roleplay. No it wasn’t perfect, no it had major flaws, but… there was high drama, tension, adventure, confusion, conflict, infiltration, intrigue, uncertainty, betrayal, subterfuge, heroics and, ultimately, tragedy. Isn’t that what we want at least some of our “content” to be like?

After 5 years, it was time for me to move on from ED. Yes, this event and the response to it contributed to my decision on that score, but it wasn’t the sole consideration. I only tried to provide some of that elusive “content”, the lack of which was a constant refrain on the forums and on reddit. Thanks to those who have contacted me in appreciation of the story elements I provided.

As for the story itself, the outline plot of Premonition and all the detail within was approved by Frontier. Much of what is in there is their lore construct and, as such, it is up to them to progress (or not) those myriad threads. My last GalNet article was published in May 2017, since then I’ve had no involvement. Michael Brookes, who was the main custodian of the lore at Frontier during my tenure, moved on from Elite Dangerous to work on Jurassic World Evolution shortly afterwards. I do not know who is curating the overall story and lore now.

I am currently working in other fictional universes and aim to create other characters as equably memorable my infamous ex-Senator – but strictly in the safe confines of static novels! I am, first and foremost, a writer, an author… that’s what I do.

Salomé on the eve of her assassination.

Book wise, Reclamation had the advantage that the game world didn’t exist beyond concept-art and previous lore. Premonition was constrained by the game itself, the lore changes that had occurred since, and the need to incorporate player actions (and some interesting names!) into a cohesive story.

As for Salomé, as an author I am gratified that I generated a character in the game lore that folks still talk about. I tried to codify the events that transpired in Elite Dangerous: Premonition as best I could. That was a risk I took knowing the community would probably throw me a curved ball in terms of the outcome as they had done before. I did want that curved ball – that was the point! This was a book about player actions in the game, for good or for ill.

Salomé wasn’t a cookie-cutter stooge, a one-dimensional good (or bad!) guy/girl, or a nondescript face with no backstory. She was complex and nuanced; some regarded her as a heroine, others loved to hate her. When she died there was a genuine outpouring of grief from some quarters. That a fictional game character can generate such an impact implies that I did something right in her creation. You can find her last message, in-game, in the Panacea Medical Centre, an installation orbiting planet A 1 in the HIP 17519 system. But she is dead now. She’s not coming back, and this is my last word on the subject.

Whether you recall her for who she was, or the event which bears her name, she got her wish…

Remember…

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    75 Comments

  1. I thought it was a great event and that the crazy salt you caught was hateful, undeserved and bordering on insane. Hope you have some fond memories of it at least.

    Please receive the thanks and gratitude for your efforts of an ED player who had a grand time.

    • I have some great memories, and those are by far the most often brought to recall! ED was taking time away from the projects I want to produce (my own series and other opportunities) so I can now put full pips to those! 🙂

  2. I have read reclamation many times now and I have to say it is a great book, I have not read premonition yet, I was there for the Salomé event, it was a very sad outcome, but it is rare that an author interacts with his fans in this way and I have to give you kudos, you are a great writer, I can’t wait to buy premonition and read it.

    • Hi Derick, thanks for the comment. I really enjoy interacting direct with the folks who read my stuff, finding out what they like and don’t like – I don’t intend to stop that. I hope you enjoy Premonition, it’s not just about Salomé, there is lots of other stuff going on there too.

  3. Cheers! Thanks for all your hard work, Drew!

  4. > But that seems defeatist to me. I tried something, it was controversial, it didn’t turn out how I expected.

    Frankly, it turned out exactly how most people expected. That it was a terrible idea was obvious to anyone who has been playing MMOs long enough – if there is any way for players to disrupt any story, event etc, it will be done. It often only takes a single individual who derives their satisfaction from watching the world burn.

    • I don’t agree, but you’re entitled to your opinion, of course. 🙂

      • Drew, having the game’s most notorious troll on your friends list meant that there was only ever going to be one outcome, given that he would know where you were at all times. How you thought that this was going to end any other way is surprising.

        I mentioned before that I couldn’t read the second book because of the predictable ending to the event, knowing that HP was essentially gifted his most famous kill irked me more than I thought it would.

        Reading this and some of your recent tweets though struck a chord. I would just like to say that I’m sorry that you received any vitriol. You need a thick skin and a firmly grounded perspective when dealing with gaming communities. Gaming seems to create entitled brats, and forums give them a voice and anonymity.

        You certainly didn’t deserve malice for trying to contribute something to the life of the game. You were by far the best contributor to the game. Salome was one of best characters to have ever existed in a game. From the original Reclamation, and the Formidine Rift, to her arrival at Beagle Point created a positive buzz in a way that I’d never thought possible in an online game. (Remember the entitled brats.) I thought she deserved better than a death at the hands of Harry Potter.

        Then it struck me, that maybe this in itself was more worthy of my attention. The fact that I felt anything about the way that she died shouldn’t be overlooked. So, on that note I’ll be giving the book a chance.

        I hope you come back at some point. The game is only hollow without the community and contributors. It relies on the lore. Some of your recent tweets make it seem like you’ve soured on the game somewhat. I’m detecting that quite a bit from some of the players on the forums, and not just the usual permanently outraged types, but some of the more moderate players too.

        Anyhoo…. All the best whatever you do, and thanks for trying. Right on, Cmdr

        • I did try. I appreciate the comment. Many thanks.

  5. Thank you very much, Drew, for your explanations. It was an honour to work on that story with you.

    • The honour and privilege was mine, CMDR. Thank you.

  6. Well written as always Drew. I do regret the amount of unwarranted abuse you received as this event was the greatest in game event I’ve experienced. One year on and I still play the game I love but the content is all but gone. I do hope one day you reconsider and get involved again, Elite Dangerous is all the poorer for you no longer contributing and in danger of dying out IMO.
    Whatever your future brings I personal;ly wish you well and thank you for all you did for this game and community. o7 Cmdr.

    • Thanks Tal, I’ll be back to play ED when the Q4 update comes out. Exploring was always my first love, hopefully they’ll be some cool stuff to see and do.

  7. Thank you for this, Drew.
    This is good closure for me, and I respect your final say on the matter.

    – Saberius

    • I felt the year anniversary was a good time to write this up. I had taken notes at the time and they weren’t bad, but I was effected by the backlash, so it took me a while to regain equilibrium.

  8. It was a shame to hear you’ve moved on from Elite. But at the end of the day you do what’s best for you. For what it’s worth I think the event was awesome, I mean we had people with all sorts of motives and affiliations and to me that made it great. Surely in a situation like this there would be infiltrators, spies, enemey, ect. So for the people who constantly cry that she was killed, yeah it sucked, but so what. It happened. That was the point, give the player base the choice. That being said I kinda wish I did more instead of staying in one system because PAC said so though haha It might have been fun flying around trying to avoid PAC whilst trying to protect Salome. But I do think it was great. You gave the players a choice to decide the future of an important character and that I am thankful for. Regardless of wether Salome was killed for Lore reasons or “just for the lolz” it was a legitimate ending in my eyes.
    To be honest Reclemation was the first book I read in years. I used to read Doctor Who all the time when I was younger but I stopped reading. Know I’m slowly getting back into reading. So thank you for that.

    Good luck with your future writing, o7. And Remember

    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m so glad to hear you’re reading again – don’t let that slip – there are so many great books out there – not just mine! 😉

  9. Where yes there were practical mishaps (I say mishaps because they weren’t exactly something you can just plan around only predict they COULD happen) I would tip my hat to that day over and over. I myself was not involved how I had hoped in that I was stuck just one system behind her for the most part. Trying to keep my distance from the defense bubble that had amassed which in of itself was an interesting reaction from my view. But I am glad to say I was part of history that day. Where tensions between groups will always be a thing I hope one day that we can write them into intricate tales of wars fought for decades over an event long since forgotten or how entire system fell beneath the wake of war as factions took their disdain beyond the realm of peace. I don’t know I’m a strange one in that I see a story in the smallest of things. But that is also why I love Elite Dangerous in particular. I can see thousands upon thousands of untold stories when the stars are the actual limit. Now that I have finished babbling, it was an interesting idea with interesting results. Take that for what you will but I for one thought it was quite an adventure.

    • And adventure was what I set out to create. There were lots of limitations of course. But we did, collectively, “do a thing” as folks say nowadays. 🙂

  10. I thought from the outset you were damn brave to attempt what you did and I remember the excitement and anxiety of her final run.

    Amazing idea that was expertly executed.

    Thanks for allowing the ED community to close Salomé’s chapter and thanks to Charlie Hall for an excellent article.

    If only there was another epic game you could be writing the official novel for…

    Onwards Lord Drew!

    • We’ll have to watch this space around midnight, eh? 😉

  11. It was a fantastic event and kudos to all those who made it happen. I think some people forgot that this was an event like no other that had been attempted, and with very limiting game mechanics to make it work as well as intended, nevertheless you pulled it off and made it memorable.

    Frontier or anyone else for that matter will be hard pressed to match the emotion and sheer fun your event did. I read the frontier forums from time to time and it seems to be about people constantly moaning how dreadfully dull frontier developments own narrative is turning out and how players are yearning for something with much more emotional intrigue and attachment – and real consequences to their actions, not this scripted BS!!. Premonition II – they’d be on it in flash 😉

    If FDev had any sense they’d hire you back in a shot to save their own tedious narrative from putting everyone to sleep!

    Anyway, roll on Distant Worlds 2 – the only other event keeping me mildly interested in E.D. these days.

    Good luck Drew, and thanks for overseeing one of the greatest moments in elite lore.

    • Well, FDev have my contact details. 😉

      I hope to be back for DW2 in person. I’m hopeful the revised exploration mechanics will make that a memorable trip. 🙂

  12. Although I was not directly involved in the event, I did take part vicariously following one of the live streams.

    I still resent the actions of the Cmdr-who-shall-not-be-named (well done Drew for not crediting him above) and SDC, as it just didn’t seem in the spirit of things. However, I also understand and appreciate that even they have a part to play in the game (so long as it is done fairly and not through exploits).

    Anyway, I personally consider the event a success despite the outcome and once again, congratulations to you for pulling it off. Elite: Dangerous DOES need more content like this and I sincerely hope that Frontier did take notice and have such things planned for “Beyond”.

    Regardless of how she was seen by the Empire and Galaxy, I for one will miss Salomé because of the extra dimension she brought to both the game and the Galaxy as a whole, mainly courtesy of your engaging storytelling. Indeed, she is often still referenced in discussions about Raxxla, etc. and she has certainly made her mark in Elite history (up there with Cmdr Jameson). It is safe to say she will never be forgotten and your event will never be forgotten; something of a milestone in massively multi-player games. In time, Salomé’s actions and contributions may be seen to be all the more significant as the narrative moves on.

    I truly hope you do return to Elite: Dangerous one day Drew, even if only as yourself rather than a character. I too am taking a hiatus until such time when there is more to do in terms of gameplay that I personally find rewarding.

    Good luck with your other literary endeavours and thank you for your frank insights into the events of 29/04/3303. I will be following on Twitter as always…

    …Oh and, “Right on Commander!” o7

    • Thank you for that Elliott, much appreciated. I didn’t set out with the intention of making Salomé a major character in the lore, she was originally just confined to my first book – but you can thank the wider community (and the original founders of the Children of Raxxla faction) for adopting her as figurehead.

      She never became part of ‘Powerplay’, instead becoming an NPC in the game with some agency as steered behind the scenes by myself and others.

      If she’s fondly remembered alongside such iconic figures of gamelore such as CMDR Jameson, I can only say a humble thanks – and point back to the actions of the community who engaged with the story I put together.

      With a writer and such a community we showed the potential of what could be in a game. I really hope that can be bettered in the future, if not in ED, in other games.

      I’m hoping to be back during Q4, when the new exploration mechanics hit. Let’s hope they’re compelling. 🙂

  13. As far as I’m concerned, you achieved the impossible. Reclamation was a gripping tale – one that I’ll constantly cherish, and one that I hope to share with my boy once he’s old enough.

    I appreciate everything you did for the community, Drew. You really are an inspiration.

    -Shabooka

    • Thanks Matt, enjoyed my time on your excellent show! Right on, Commander! 🙂

  14. Kudos, Drew. I enjoyed the whole story, and was there for most of it. I went out to the Rift. I listened to the logs on the Zurara. I watched the Salome event unfold. It was an excellent time in Elite:Dangerous, and it was because of you and your stories and ideas. ED wasn’t up to the task, really, but you pushed it to the limit. It’s something I will always remember, too.

    Glad to see you doing well!

    • Thanks Jan, I’m working on more stories – that’s never going to stop. 🙂

  15. To be fair, those familiar enough with MMO games know that companies tend not to do such official (or semi-official) events for good reasons. Player sabotage, resources spent on one-time events that could have been spent elsewhere, near-inevitable accusations of favouritism, game limitations, and so on. Too many things can go wrong, and the reward might not be worth it. MMOs aren’t really suited for storytelling via manually run events. (Unless we’re talking about private servers with relatively small populations.)
    Little wonder that most do automated ones. Players might still build their own stories around those. (Powerplay could have been great for this, if it didn’t have so many design errors.)

    However, I’m glad that Mr. Wagar decided to go ahead and try doing one in Elite. Why? Because sooner or later, someone was bound to try it, but they likely wouldn’t have written such a lengthy dissection of what went wrong. It should be quite useful as some reference material, even.

    So, thanks for getting the event running back then, and for doing the extensive write-up now!

    A couple of questions came to mind after reading this:

    Do you happen to know who wrote the Guardian lore texts? Those of the Ram Tah missions. I wonder if it was Mr. Brookes, or someone else. In my opinion, they have been more interesting than what came before.

    Also, was it Frontier who came up with The Club, and had you work it in, or was that conspiracy your idea, which they then inserted? I assumed it was the latter, but I wonder now.

    There’s another thing I’ve been wondering about, although I understand that you might not be at liberty to answer. The Dynasty expeditions went off in three directions, and we found the Zurara after the Formidine Rift. Given that there were two other zones, are there also lost ships in those two, or was that one unique? I’m curious if all the voice logs were found.

    • I’m guessing Michael write the Ram Tah missions, though I’m not certain on that.

      The Club was Frontier’s idea (David Braben’s in fact) I fleshed it out in the novel.

      As for other things hidden in the darkness… I can’t answer that one.

  16. You did good. As you say you need a thick skin for the salt but its just playground talk, hopefully you’ll remember that the complainers like to complain, most of the happy players are silent. Wish FD would do more events like this.

    • I’ll happily join in someone else’s event. 🙂

  17. I greatly enjoyed your books, and the event. It is a shame you decided to move on, but I totally understand why. I still think it was better to do it then to have not done so. For me and my friends who were involved, even in the wings, it was great fun.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Andy. It wasn’t the only thing that made me ‘call time’ on writing for ED. Creative freedom was a big call too. 🙂

  18. For everyone who would say the event was doomed from the start, all I can respond is that achieving greatness often involves taking great risks. If no one is willing to take those risks, we are all poorer for it.

    Overall, the event engaged the community, and that alone is a success in my book. What went well and what could have gone better both provide lessons for events to (hopefully) come. That is how progress happens. One person dares greatly, lessons are learned, and then we are boosted by their shoulders for the next attempt.

    Good luck in all your future writing and thank you for your contributions to Elite: Dangerous.

    For the Mug!
    CMDR Folco Took

    • I do agree you’ve got to risk things and try new stuff. #ForTheMug ! 🙂

  19. Thank you for the blog post – and for everything else you contributed to ED; I enjoyed all of it. Hope to see you again out there in the void at some point, CMDR!

    • I’m sure I’ll be back at some point! 🙂

  20. Well, I for one had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the whole saga, both in game and the books. I’d only starting playing a few weeks beforehand, but quickly got sucked in to the whole tale. The story, the theories, the searching, the discoveries. My kids got involved (they spotted the “Rebecca” letters in the final clue but we didn’t figure it out in time) And then the event itself – sure there were some problems, but speaking for myself, from my point of view – I met new friends, joined new groups, did a lot of nail biting, had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it – and at the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s a shame to hear about the all grief, totally understand and respect your decision. Good luck in future endeavors and many thanks.

    For the biscuits!
    -Sinister Hedgehog

    • Well done to your kids for spotting that clue. 🙂 And I’m glad you found a way into the community too, having fun and meeting new friends is what the ‘end game’ is.

  21. Hi Drew,

    I certainly enjoyed the escapades of the Senator, the vast effort that went into the event, but not the eventual outcome.

    Miss your wise musing on the forum.

    Write safe!

    • Thanks CMDR. Sorry to hear about the Mac version too. 🙁

  22. Thanks Drew for Your hard work!
    You are now part of Elite Universe.

    CMDR ExoForce

  23. Dear Drew,

    You’re a fantastic story teller and I really enjoyed your books,I’ve read them multiple times!
    Your input in E:D will be sorely missed,but hey Im sure you’ll be back sooner or later as it’s in your DNA 🙂

    Errr any tips on finding Raxxla? 😉

    Godspeed CMDR o7

    • Thanks Tim! Glad you enjoyed the books, I had a lot of fun writing them. I’ll probably log back in for the Q4 updates to see how they are.

      As for Raxxla – all I can say is “Second star to the left and straight on until morning.” 🙂

  24. Hi Drew,

    Anyone adding content & gameplay to ED, the insatiable black hole monster of a beast, gets a plus in my book. Thank you for organizing the event.

    Good luck in all your new endeavors.

    PS: Still searching for Raxxla
    PPS: Loved Premonition & Reclamation.

    • Many thanks Macros. Good luck with Raxxla! Look out for my own space opera in years to come.

  25. Hi Drew

    You inspired me to call my cat Salome XD. Truely a great event in the history of E:D. I sucked the whole family in and banged on about it for weeks (and months after). It was sad that Salome died but thats just the way it is (Game of Thrones kills off enough main characters every season and we deal with it XD). I have Reclamtion on audio book and Premonition on Ebook, although I wouldn’t mind and audio book of Premonition, for when I’m exploring. The salt afterwards was certainly not needed and kinda took abit of the adventure off the whole event. Now we’re a year on it seems as though it’s died down and its mainly possitive and people reflecting on what you brought to the lore and story by giving us this wonderful character. Now everyine is missing it and begging for you to do more, kinda ironcic really. Hope you’re well and see you at Fantasticon 2018, if you’re attending this year? It’s in my home town. Good luck with the future, fly safe o7

    • Thanks Wayne. 🙂 I hope your Salomé has a long and peaceful life! Look forward to seeing you at Fantasticon.

  26. Players still talk about the event a year later. That there are people who both praise and vilify you shows that it managed to raise a lot of conflicting emotions in a lot of people. That must be gratifying as a writer that you managed to create so much discussion, debate and opinion within the Elite playerbase.

    For my part, I sometimes think that I shouldn’t have shown you that video of deep dive fuel scooping. It contributed to the degradation of your ship and modules, and ultimately led to the FSD malfunctions the ship experienced. At least you used the issues in the book to add drama to an already difficult situation.

    I might not get in the cockpit as often as I used to, but I’ll be along for Distant Worlds II expedition at the end of year as well. Hopefully see you then Cmdr! o7

    Cmdr Zenith Ddraiglas

    • An honour to have flown with you! Easy to be wise about tactics after the event, but it was a good plan – and we almost made it. Hopefully see you for distant worlds 2. Need to get my Asp back home. It’s parked somewhere out in the Rift right now…

  27. Drew,
    It was truly an honor to have been part of the event. My wife still tells all of her friends about how I had the chance to be part of becoming a character immortalized within a novel! That day was a lot of fun, and to say it was stress free would be a lie. My nerves were a mess the entire trip!

    It was a sad moment to hear you were no longer taking part in shaping the world a lot of us call a second home, but entirely understandable. It’s unfortunate that you received so much flak over something within a game, but it also shows how strongly they felt about the events that transpired. You created a world within a game that sometimes is vague in its lore and never truly holds our hands to tell the story. We have to find that ourselves. While not a perfect person, Salome was a character that was truly human; conflicted, but knew what she had to do. She never backed down from a fight, and did whatever it took to see her goals accomplished. You created one hell of a character Drew, to hear the news that she died legitimately hurt.

    We will continue to carry out the legacy of Salome, and we will see her goals come true. While I may not have the chance to be on the same side of the gaming world with DW2, I’ll be taking the journey as well.
    Fly safe CMDR.

    • Hi Yuri,

      Thanks for the comment. Salomé was an interesting character to put together, see evolve in the books and then come alive in the game alongside other player CMDRs. You did a great job on the 29th – thank you!

  28. Thanks to pressures in the real world, I was an more observer than participant for all of the Formidine Rift and Salomé adventures, but thoroughly enjoyed it nevertheless. The sense of being part of a living world within the game was very real, and the tensions and excitement created made ED very special indeed – and, Drew, that’s largely down to you. People bought into it because there’s a hunger for space adventure with purpose, and you provided that. ED is somewhat empty and lifeless now, Thargoids notwithstanding! So, well done Drew, and thank you.

    CMDR Stryka Choon

    • Thanks Tim. The frustrating thing is that there were (probably still are) many folks who would happily contribute to ED to add all sorts of bits of narrative and purpose into the game. The original writers from the Kickstarter were up for that, but it was never really embraced beyond the books. It didn’t need to be a galaxy spanning save-the-universe story, but a whole bunch of individual bits and pieces around certain systems or locales would have added a lot of colour to the procgen environment – which was something we all knew would be an issue right from day one. Something of a missed opportunity alas. Thanks for your comment though, much appreciated.

  29. Hey drew thanks for this reclamation was the first time I felt connected to the game and premonition to me felt like waiting for a huge new movie and didn’t dissapoint.

    I think the backlash from the community was awful as ultimately you made the game world better. A cheeky question (which I’m not expecting you to answer!) How do you feel about fdev after this? Did they support with the community backlash or do you feel they left you hanging out to dry?

    • Hi CMDR! Glad you enjoyed Reclamation.

      The event was always ‘mine’, FDev supported with content and promotion etc, but they weren’t involved in the organising of the event itself.

      • Thanks for the reply drew! I get the event was yours but ultimately they seem to have washed their hands of the event and your awesome characters. I mean my god luko and the thargoids will be remembered for the rest of my life! But fdev haven’t capitalised on this I have to say wholeheartedly I miss you from our galaxy you added so much and the salt you got is tiny compared to the happiness your stories brought to many people ( and yes I spoke on behalf of many but only because I’m right)

        • ED is a game, and the focus has always been on that. Gameplay, pewpew etc. always trumps lore and story-telling. The game has been a major success – 3 million copies sold – so arguably FDev have done the right things from that perspective.

          I do think the lack of use of the lore/story-telling is a missed opportunity overall given the richness that the Elite franchise had over most other space games (only Star Wars and Star Trek have more), but it’s likely that from a hard-nosed investment/sales opportunity it simply wasn’t worth it from FDev’s perspective – they are not a huge company. Regardless, that ship has definitely sailed (low-waked?!) now. I don’t think that will change much in the future and thus (from my perspective at least) the best days of ED are behind us.

          Thanks for the kind words. I do invest a lot of time in getting characters ‘right’. If you enjoyed Salomé and Luko, then you’ll enjoy the characters Kiri and Fitch from my Shadeward Series and also Tarithel and Rorthron from the imminent Lords of Midnight (due to be published soon). 🙂

  30. For what it’s worth, with this type of thing there is always going to be a significant, and loud, minority who don’t like it or want to draw attention to themselves by sabotaging or criticizing the event.

    I suspect that the majority of players who took part in this with an open mind enjoyed it – I know I did and I know many others who also did.

    I guess it’s like politics – best you can hope for is that 51% of people like it, and often those 51% of people won’t even tell you – you’ll hear a lot more from those who don’t like it.

    Also, even if the event had been staged or had a pre-determined outcome (which I know it did not), what would be wrong with that? FD have run many streams and items where it appeared the outcome was largely predetermined, or at least preordained within some narrow parameters.

    • Thanks for the comment, Patrick. 🙂 I hear what you’re saying and you’re right that folks complaining always outnumbers the praise. Lots of folks have (as can be seen above) left positive comments regarding what I attempted.

      It remains ‘a thing’, but the baton is passed to others now. 🙂

  31. “Folks were quick to point out that no one, absolutely no one ever in the history of the game, had survived in “open” with a target on their back for more than a few minutes”

    I could have told you that ages ago 🙂 SDC put a 10 million credit bounty on my head after I argued that they shouldn’t be allowed to be a part of the Colonia Citizens Network.

    That was 18 months ago. I play in open. Still no one has collected. (aside from CQC or arranged EIC battles, I’ve not suffered a PvP loss in as long as I can remember. I’ve probably jinxed myself by saying that, now…)

  32. Drew it was so good to hear your one year remembrance of the event. I and a small handful of our player group (SEPP) were at the event and peripherally involved through PAC. My Imperial Courier (only Imp Ship I own – I ranked, bought and engineered it specifically for this event) still, and will always bear Salome’s name. I was saddened to see the backlash you took over the event, but I for one loved the books and the event even though I was barely involved. I hope to see you back in game after qtr 4 like you mentioned. Thank you for your stories and lore. Thank you for putting up with all the @#$@#$ that flew your way. Your efforts were NOT in vain. Salome’ will be remembered.

  33. I was new to Elite when all this was going so only vaguely aware of the events at the time. Wish I knew then what I do now, about the game and the lore, as I’d have loved to be apart of what you bravely tried to create. After reading what you wrote, above, I feel doubly saddened about what happened and that probably nothing will ever be attempted like this ever again! I’m all to aware of how cruel people can be, especially when they hide behind a monitor screen! but maybe consider this as free advertising, embrace it and use it to suit your needs.

    • Hi Alan, thanks for the comment. 🙂 I did indeed try, I hope someone can run with this sort of thing in future and exceed what I did manage to achieve. The potential is there.

  34. I recently learned that someone else did another Salome-like event during 2018. I found a trailer for the event here:

    https://youtu.be/sfhDIPBswqw

    Apparently they screen-recorded the whole event and then made it into something like an amateur sci-fi movie:

    https://youtu.be/w–Md8ZSdb4

  35. I’m very late to the show here but I just stumbled over your post today and still feel like adding my 2 cents.
    I belive that you (and the player groups and players involved) created a pice of lore on that day that is well remembered up to today. It’s just today that I read a couple of comments about the “Salami” event on the forums.
    Unfortunately I was not there when the chase was on (because of time limitations) but I read all about it on the forums and later on in the book. In my opinion it was a good story that was shaped on that day. A story with a sad ending, but that’s how some of the best storys end.
    I want to thank you, that you tried and though the event certainly was not a total success in all of it’s aspects it just as certainly did change the game world forever. And even today Frontier is not so much better in organizing in game events – the recent “Gnosis” obviously was also cursed by bugs and problems and there were similarly split opinions in the community as about the Salomé event.
    I still play the game – though not very much becaus time restrictions became even worse – and I pity your decision to turn away from ED entirely.
    But on the other hand I am looking forwart to the next part of the “Shadeward” saga. I hope it won’t be too long until I can read it (Lords of Midnight is unfortunately not exactly my piece of cake 😉

    • Thanks for the comment – much appreciated. Shadeward 3 is next on my list of priorities – hopefully early in the new year. 🙂

  36. Greetings Drew. I too am a bit late to this topic, but accept my thanks for doing what you did with the Salome event. Reading your summary here cleared up a lot of things for me that occurred on the day. I was a non-grouped commander on Raan Corsen’s friendlist, I enjoyed chasing him up through the bubble, as an ally of Salome’s. I’m not a regular PVPer, but was ready to help the mission succeed any way I could. I remember jumping into a system with dozens of PAC ships waiting. They ordered me out, I didn’t comply and one of them interdicted me using a lesser ship than mine. I stripped his shield off and damaged his hull, and rewarded his bravery by not completely destroying his ship. Unfortunately the system cops had arrived and finished him off before he could leave. And Raan Corsen succeeded where Salome did not.
    I’m sure there are many untold encounters like this one that happened because you had the nuts to attempt a public event on a P2P platform. So I offer a tip-of-the-hat in your direction sir. The limitations of the game itself were the main reason the event didn’t go that smoothly, but that isn’t your fault. You deserved kudos, not salt.

    • Thanks CMDR Den, much appreciated. 🙂

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