Featured CMDR Randalf “Numbers” Roddleton

15 May 2021

What was your first experience with the Elite universe and what keeps you playing it today?

My first experience of the Elite universe was way back in Elite 2. The whole open-world nature of the game was at the time incredible, and the idea that you could run a trade route between Sol and Barnard’s Star just blew my mind. Frontier: First Encounters may have been as buggy as hell, but the narrative story that was written provided some great focus to the game, and I also enjoyed the different careers you could follow.

TFS John Keel — journey-worn paint

As for Elite: Dangerous, I remember my first experience was eventually learning how to take off and enter supercruise, promptly dropping in to a nearby pleasure cruise. To this day I don’t know why I did, but I thought it would be cool to just open fire on the ship. I mean, how difficult could combat be? Oh how naive I was! Suffice to say I respawned back at the station, and then took the safer option of running a few courier missions on the BGS…

In terms of what kept me playing, exploration for me was a massive part of the game. Within a few months of playing, I had already set off to Beagle Point, and I’d say at least 70% of my total time playing has been spent on some expedition or other. EDSM has been an incredible resource for me, giving me plenty of waypoints for me to visit as I plan my expeditions. I’ve explored to the extremes of the galaxy, and visited some incredible locations along the way.

In between expeditions, helping out with The Fatherhood’s BGS activity has also been something that kept me playing. There has always been an objective, and in those early days some of our BGS achievements made me really proud. We may take it for granted now, but I recall the campaign to expand into LHS 197 was hard fought, and required a degree of coordination that we weren’t yet proficient in. Being able to help out in that was a proud moment for me.

That’s a KeelStack!

Tell a quick story about your favorite moment in Elite: Dangerous.

I think my favourite moment in Elite was when we coordinated a welcome home party for CMDR GrumpyInUT, who had been out circumnavigating the galaxy in a Sidewinder (IIRC). First off, it was great that we were able to get a good number of The Fatherhood CMDRs online together in game to celebrate the achievement of another of our CMDRs – it made me truly appreciate the good community that we have.

However, what made it my favourite moment is that as part of the party, we wanted to organise a parade of honour which consisted of the careful positioning of ships. I was actually out on an expedition when GrumpyInUT arrived home, so had arranged to jump in with Drazkul for the occasion. I was flying around in his fighter, taking various photos to commemorate the event. At one point, I was lining up to take a photo of the then Deputy Squadron Commander. However, somehow I managed to hit my boost button, and ended up boosting straight into him, earning a reckless flying fine not just for me, but also for Drazkul! Suffice to say, after that point many people got very nervous when I was flying around in a fighter…

TFS Interesting Times observing the galaxy from the very Eastern fringe

Tell the story of how you earned your callsign.

My squadron callsign is “Numbers”. Back in the very early days of The Fatherhood, a few of us got really enthusiastic with coordinating The Fatherhood’s efforts to be placed in-game as a PMF. We very quickly had to get to speed on how the BGS mechanics worked, and use that to coordinate our efforts. My RL job at the time had me heavily involved with extracting and analysing data, so it was a natural fit for me to combine my day job with my hobby. In no time at all I had developed an Elite Dangerous BGS dashboard which we used to monitor the progress of our BGS campaigns at the time. A few veteran members will no doubt recall the early days of doing recon runs so that we could update our data after the daily tick!

In recognition of these efforts, CMDR Olthuis proposed the callsign “Numbers” to Wing Command. I was made up to have such a callsign suggested, as it was in some way a reward for the effort that I’d put into The Fatherhood. It’s also why I’ve always been keen for callsigns to not just celebrate the stupid things that our commanders have done, but on appropraite occasions, recognise the phenomenal effort that some of our CMDRs put in.

Tell us about your favorite ship in the game.

Ha, at first I thought this would be a difficult question, because there are so many ships that I’m fond of. I have a special place for my AspX TFS Twoflower’s Folly, because she took me all the way to Beagle Point and earned me my first Elite rank. When I arrived home in Hajangai, I bought myself a Python – TFS Sapient Pearwood – which has been such a journeyman ship for me. There is very little you can’t do in it, it’s certainly one of the most versatile ships in the game and when I wasn’t exploring, we were inseparable!

TFS Twoflower’s Folly landed at Kolaga with fresh pain after returning from Beagle Point

When the Krait Phantom was added to the game, it took over from the AspX as my go-to exploring ship. TFS Lu-Tze’s Broom is highly engineered, and the jump range that I can get from her is what has allowed me to reach some of the more difficult-to-reach extremes in the game. We’ve travelled the galaxy together and I’m very fond of her.

However, despite all of the above, there is one ship which is more special to me than the others: the mighty Keelback! Much maligned and misunderstood, but there’s something special about the Keelback. Guardian technology, and surprisingly flexible array of hardpoints and space for a fighter hangar has made TFS John Keel a surprisingly capable exploration ship. If I ever need to make the journey to Colonia, then there is no better choice!

Freshly engineered TFS John Keel departing Deciat on maiden exploration voyage

What drew you to join The Fatherhood?

I’d never really been one to play computer games online with others. But for some reason, Elite: Dangerous was different for me, and I quickly decided that my experience would be better if I shared it with others. I was a recent dad and so wouldn’t be able to commit too much to a group, so when I saw TK’s advert on the Frontier Forums, it seemed a really obvious choice. I jumped into the Discord server, received a nice warm welcome from Jeb, and the rest – as they say – is history.

TFS Lu-Tze’s Broom, investigating organic structures

What’s your day job, and how do you balance your home, work and gaming life?

I’m a qualified commercial accountant, and in my current role, I manage the company’s finance and accounting systems.

In the past, I didn’t do a very good job of managing work and gaming life. Often my afternoons in work would be taken over analysing the daily BGS tick results, administering the Discord server, and planning my next expedition with little work getting done. I guess in my defence, having young children destroyed me from a sleep perspective, so I’d struggle to focus in the afternoon on work after having 4 hours sleep or so. Doing E:D related stuff was always the easier option! Suffice to say I got to the point where I felt I was too involved with E:D and that my work was suffering. As such, after returning back from Lost Souls 2 I took a significant step back from E:D.

Balancing home / gaming life is a bit easier. As a general rule, if my children are awake then they are my focus. Getting my two children into good bedtime routines has been essential in allowing me to get valuable gaming time. I also make sure that I spend time with my wife too – 9pm each night is our time together, so gaming time tends to be 7-9pm during the week.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you that you wish they did?

As part of my early BGS research, I experimented with collecting “Unknown Artifacts” from the surface using just the cargo scoop, instead of using the SRV. What I then did with that T6 full of Unknown Artefacts is a story for another time…

TFS Lu-Tze’s Broom encountering strange space mushrooms in the Colonia system

How did you come up with the name of your Commander?

In a past job, I was responsible for developing financial models used for project appraisal. One of the guys I worked with for one project was somewhat optimistic with his assumptions, leading to some very aggressive profit projections. I can’t quite recall how it started, but turning through an updated set of model inputs started to be known as “roddling” instead of “modelling”, which then developed into a nickname of “Roddleton”, as I was the one doing the “roddling”.

A very eccentric surname required a similarly eccentric first name, and thus my alter ego – Randalph Roddleton – was born!

Any fatherly advice for new CMDRs trying to make their way in Elite: Dangerous?

My advice would be to take it slow, and avoid the temptation to go straight into the big rank/credit grinds. In the first instance, I think it’s a really dull experience, and makes you miss out on some of that early variety as you are finding your way around the galaxy and try to find out how you want to play. I think it’s a more rewarding way of playing, and if you do it right, then you can rank up without really noticing.

TFS John Keel, photo-bombing a nebula in a glorious pink paint job…