An Elite Dangerous fan spent two days travelling across the galaxy to rescue a marooned player who had declared his game was over.
CMDR Chiggy Vonrictofen travelled a whopping 60,000 in-game light years to help stranded CMDR Macedonica, who lacked a key resource that would have fuelled his travel back to safety.
Here's how it went down. Three days ago, CMDR Macedonica took to the Frontier forum to explain his situation. "I've messed up," he admitted.
Essentially, he had managed to jump to a system fewer than a thousand light years out from Beagle Point. What is Beagle Point? If there's a bright centre of the universe, Beagle Point is the place farthest from it, Elite Dangerous players affectionately say of it.
The problem was that CMDR Macedonica had used up a crucial resource used for boosting while out exploring, and couldn't jump back.
(It's worth noting that in Elite Dangerous, you can only jump into star systems, not "empty space".)
"I have 29 LY range on this old Lakon Type 6E," CMDR Macedonica explained. "So you can imagine my horror when I jump into the first system (with no planets) only to see that the NEXT one is 30.3 light years away."
The key resource was Germanium, which is used for fuel boosting. CMDR Macedonica mistake was he failed to realise he'd used all of his Germanium up.
Nearby systems did not have any Germanium available, and there were no other systems in jump range. CMDR Macedonica was, essentially, stranded in the abyss.
"Now I am in a dead end bouncing between two systems, unable to boost, and with one planet I can land on that lacks Germanium - the one material I am missing," CMDR Macedonica said.
"Fuel-wise I am running on a tank which is practically empty - hence the 29 LY jump range. That is my absolute maximum - and that system is 1 LY outside it. I feel the galaxy is mocking me now!"
CMDR Macedonica, faced with the prospect of triggering a soul-destroying self-destruct, declared his frustration:Lionhead: the inside story The rise and fall of a British institution, as told by those who made it.
"I have reached the end of the road."
This is where CMDR Chiggy steps in, with a simple but effective post.
"Does the system with a landable planet have any ringed planets or asteroid belts?"
Luckily, the one system with a landable planet within reach of CMDR Macedonica did have a few rings and, as a result potential asteroids ripe for mining. However, his ship did not have any mining capabilities.
But CMDR Chiggy's ship did. His idea was to travel out to CMDR Macedonica's position and mine for resources in the hope that Germanium would drop off of chunks of asteroids. Then, it would be up to CMDR Macedonica to manually pick up any Germanium (unlike fuel, resources cannot be shared between players).
"Private message sent," CMDR Chiggy posted.
What follows is hundreds of posts of encouragement from Elite Dangerous players who cheer on the rescue attempt.
Over the next two days CMDR Chiggy speeds through the galaxy in a bid to get to CMDR Macedonica's position. CMDR Macedonica, playing with a HTC Vive virtual reality headset, even uploads supplemental video logs as he waits at the edge of in-game space.
As CMDR Chiggy edges closer to his target, his long journey turns into a sprint, with forum posts acting as flag wavers on the side of the virtual road.
CMDR Macedonica, who can track the progress, streams his perspective on Twitch. The Elite Dangerous players who had seen the thread were glued to their monitors. You can watch the action in the video, below.
Here are the highlights: at the 1 hour 28 minute mark, CMDR Chiggy arrives. You can hear the delight in CMDR Macedonica's voice.
Then, at the 1 hour 45 minute mark, mining commences. But it's not until the 2 hour 3 minute mark that Germanium finally drops. To say CMDR Macedonica is excited at this point is an understatement.
And finally, the 2 hour 24 minute mark, where CMDR Macedonica finally jumps out of the abyss and back to in-game civilisation.
"I'm glad I can finally calm down," CMDR Chiggy wrote. "Having my first bite to eat all day. I was so afraid after coming all that way, I would run smack in to one of those 'roids."
A clearly delighted CMDR Macedonica thanked CMDR Chiggy for his help.
"Within minutes of posting (just to get the anger and frustration out of my system), you all responded and then acted in such a way that what was a dead-end became a new dawn; a dawn of adventure and excitement," he said.
"It was an astonishing reversal. And thanks to you all - and Chiggy especially - I am back in the game and pottering slowly back to Beagle Point 2."
The spiralling thread on the Elite Dangerous forum was unanimous in its delight at the successful rescue attempt - and the developers of the game even stepped in to congratulate CMDR Chiggy. David Braben posted, and executive producer Michael Brookes promised to mark the occasion with an in-game tourist beacon.
Players have highlighted the thread, the stream and the actions of the two players involved as one of the best examples of emergent gameplay in Elite Dangerous. This is a game that is often criticised for a lack of developer-created content, so it's cool to see the community come together yet again to make their own fun.