First Look: No Man’s Sky

By Graham Smith on December 9th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

Like Powers Of Ten with lasers.

No Man’s Sky trailer, first broadcast on December 7th as part of the Spike VGX awards, opens by stating that the game’s “every atom” is procedural. What follows shows a character emerging from an ocean full of fish, climbing inside a spaceship and flying into space in a single contiguous motion, interspersed with quick shots of different planet surfaces, gigantic space stations, space combat, deformable terrain and more.

It’s fantastic, and exciting, and it leaves you with no sense of what the game is. The trailer shows you just enough to suggest it might contain everything you can imagine. It’s the space game you always wanted, as far as you know.

Luckily I had an advantage. When I first saw the trailer, it was a few days before the VGXs, and it was with the nervous, tired, excitable Hello Games development team. I spent two hours afterwards quizzing them about procedural generation, but also about what you actually do in No Man’s Sky.

Every player in No Man’s Sky will begin their life somewhere along the edge of a galaxy. Everything in the trailer takes place in a single solar system near the galaxy’s edge and, red grass aside, on Earth-like planets. “It helps to ground people and I think if we hadn’t shown that, people would go, ‘what the fuck?’” Sean Murray, lead developer on No Man’s Sky, is choosing his words carefully. “It’s quite weird to see a thing that isn’t a fish, in the water. And so we have grounded the trailer in a particular solar system that kind of makes sense for people.”

Which suggests it’s not going to make sense later. The loose objective for players of No Man’s Sky is to head away from the edge and towards the galaxy’s centre. As you do, the planets you visit along the way become more mutated, more dangerous.

“I hate doing this, but it is the simplest way to give people hooks for the game. Games that we will get compared to, rather than I would compare us to, would be Minecraft, DayZ, but also Dark Souls to an extent and probably Journey.” Murray is torn by these descriptions. “I hate the idea that people will go around and say, ‘It’s like Minecraft but in space.’ Fuck off!”

Let’s just get it out of the way. No Man’s Sky is Minecraft in space. Also I would compare it to DayZ and Dark Souls. I haven’t played much of Journey, so – twist – I’d throw in Spore instead.

I’m being an ass, but these are useful points of comparison for the ways in which No Man’s Sky differs as much as for the ways in which it is similar.

New Eridu is a comparitively Earth-like planet.

As you make your way towards the centre of the galaxy, the planets you pass are stepping stones along the way. You’ll land your ship on them and go hunting for resources. Those resources then, in some unexplained way, aid you in upgrading your ship and yourself. These upgrades allow you to travel larger distances, or maybe make you faster, or probably improve your guns. It’s still ambiguous.

The other reason we’re not seeing beyond these worlds is that Hello Games want No Man’s Sky to be about discovery. “What we wanted to get across was a sort of frontiersmanship, a sense of mystery and wonder. For me exploration is seeing something no one has seen before, and for your experience to be unique.”

This is also why the game is procedurally generated. At one point during the conversation, an odd, exciting question is raised: is No Man’s Sky the first game without a skybox? If you’re standing on a planet’s surface and look up, every single dot in the sky is an actual star you can go visit. If you see a tree three miles away, you can walk to it and find out what’s underneath it.

Exploration and resource gathering are the ways, really the only ways, in which the game is similar to Minecraft. The planets you land on aren’t cube-shaped and it’s unlikely you’ll build a house on them. They are the equivalent of Minecraft’s network of underground caves: exciting to find, unique to you, and full of materials which give them significance and value despite not being handcrafted.

Any planet you discover on your journey is marked on your galactic map, along with its name, its atmosphere and what resources you found there. If you choose to, you can then share that information with every other player, uploading it so that it’s shared across everyone’s galactic map.

You’ll get credit for discovering it. You’ll also, if the materials there are valuable, attract players to come visit. No Man’s Sky isn’t a multiplayer game, in as much as you’ll never see another player. But the galaxy is the same between everyone and actions of “significance” will be shared. If you kill a single bird, that won’t be shared. If you make an entire species of bird extinct, then those creatures will blink out of existence for everyone.

That means you might want to keep quiet about a planet of valuable resources, so others don’t come and deplete it. I also instantly start thinking of ways to be devious. Can I upload false information to the galactic map? Can I lure people to a system full of pirates and then, when their ships crash and burn, steal materials from their ghostly hulls?

When I ask these questions, Murray is light on specifics, but hopes players will work cooperatively. “There are some things that you could do for the wrong reasons. You could broadcast certain information for the wrong reasons. But generally people are playing together cooperatively to the benefit of everyone. You can be a dick in the game if you want, but it has less point and less value.”

These are the ways in which the game is like Spore, or to a lesser extent Dark Souls. It’s a singleplayer experience, but one enriched by a community playing with shared purpose.

All the ships are procedurally generated, too.

This maybe makes the final point of reference a little strange. DayZ is dependent on other players to fuel its survivalist anecdotes. Yet it’s the game Murray mentions most.

“We are designing a set of rules, not designing a game, and I think when I talk about DayZ that’s how those feel to me. Your experience in DayZ is your experience, and there’s a set of rules in that 200km square that you then go out and experience and make stories in. And that is what we want.”

Those systems-driven experiences begin with the way the galaxy is constructed – “Every Atom Procedural” – but extend to every part of the game design. “If there’s a crashed ship, it’s there because a ship has crashed. If there is a trading outpost, those things are there for real reasons, and the way the creatures behave around those, and the type of creatures you see are there for real reasons.”

It’s about moving the design away from strictly authored experiences, in which your actions are tightly scripted and controlled, in favour of something more expressive.

“You will at all times feel very vulnerable in this universe and not necessarily empowered,” explains Murray. “You have an enormous amount of freedom, but maybe not masses of power at your disposal.”

The emphasis on exploration and discovery, and that reference to Journey, doesn’t mean the experience of playing as passive. More than any of the claims about the size of the universe, this is the stuff that I find exciting.

“It has a set of core mechanics that you can choose how to deal with situations, and how to interact with people, and how to upgrade yourself and how to upgrade your ship,” says Sean. “We want you to make choices at all times as you go through. Like in your ship, how much cargo, how much fuel to take, and we want you to live with those choices.”

“You can be that guy who just wants to walk around, find one planet and just explore that,” says Murray “But you can also play this game and not care about exploration at all and be all about building yourself up. You can also work to help other people, you can be that person. There are like a lot of different roles you can fill.”

They don’t want to closely define the experience. That’s the opposite of my goals in describing the game, but I appreciate the overall philosophy. “You are not going to boot up the game and find a 15 minute tutorial. You are not going to find a classic RPG structure.

“We want things that happen to you to have real meaning because of those choices, in a similar way to I feel like DayZ does, and for you to want to survive in that game.”

Note the word “survive”. Failure is a big part of No Man’s Sky, although it sounds as if the exact mechanics aren’t set in stone.

“How it is at the moment, is that you can’t die, but you can lose everything,” explains Murray. “There is no saved game. Your game will be saved, your progress is saved all the time as you go along, but if your ship is destroyed then you go back to a lifepod and you’ve lost that ship, and that is your everything.”

If you decide to fill your ship with fuel and go on a risky trip to a distant, dangerous solar system, you could find yourself in trouble. “If you warp in and it is to a solar system that is full of pirates and you get shot down, then you have lost all of that. You can then rebuild from there, and you will be where you are in that universe.”

It’s your ship which defines how quickly you can progress between solar systems, so losing it would be a big blow. But if you’re lucky, you might crash land on a planet full of useful resources. “You perhaps find things that you can’t even make use of at the time and earmark that for yourself or your friends to cooperate with you to build yourself back up.”

This ship is here because it crashed, not because a designer placed it.

“I think probably if you were going to think of anything, you would think of games like roguelikes. If you want to put it in a box, which I would rather you didn’t, then that for me is the most similar experience.”

I love my roguelike box and I am happy to put No Man’s Sky inside.

I’m being an ass again. I understand Murray’s reticence in drawing comparisons. They don’t want to be hammered for not including features from games they never had any intention of mimicking in the first place.

Even other space games don’t necessarily sit well with Murray as direct comparisons. EVE Online is the only one mentioned during the interview, although he’s still as keen to stress the differences as much as the similarities.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but our background is as console developers, and I think everything about the game bears hallmarks of that,” says Murray. “In terms of your controls, in terms of the fluidity of the game, this is not a quirky, hard-to-decipher experience.”

Roguelikes, upgradeable ships, and Dark Souls, yes. But not necessarily tech trees and context-sensitive right-click menus. Hello Games are still the company that made the peppy, stunt racing Joe Danger.

Their commitment to capturing that same good “feel” is reflected in No Man’s Sky’s four-person development team. Of the three programmers, Murray does the “really big” procedural systems, and Hazel McKendrick is mainly focused on creatures and the look of planets. That leaves Dave Ream to focus solely on “gameplay”.

As if to underline its importance to the team, it’s Grant Duncan, the game’s sole artist, that first brings up the subject. “Going from Joe Danger to this is obviously a bit of a leap, but we’ve always been really obsessed with that feel of games. When you start playing a game, the way you’re interacting with it, the way the jump feels, the movement, feeling smooth. In Joe Danger we were completely obsessed with that, and we still are obsessed with that.”

“It’s weird because my work isn’t in the trailer,” says Ream. “You can’t feel the game by looking at it.” The little bit of camera shake as you blast into space, though? That was him.

This sounds like minor detail, but these details matter. You’re mad if you think they don’t. More than that, they ground No Man’s Sky’s ambitious claims more so than the Earth-like fish in the water. “It’s not some tech demo that we’re putting together,” says Murray.

I’m relieved. After separating out the bold claims of its procedural generation to focus instead on mechanics, I can start to imagine myself playing the game. I can see that loop of activity: the minutes and hours of planetary exploration leading to the minutes and hours of upgrading, of travel, of discovery, and of combat. Maybe this is the space game I’ve always wanted.

It’s still far too early to tell, but you’re allowed to be excited to find out.

Check back tomorrow for a second article focused on the procedural generation and art design of No Man’s Sky.

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162 Comments »

  1. pilouuuu says:

    This looks like Roger Dean meets Spore and I’m so excited about it. Hopefully the gameplay will be as amazing as its graphics.

    • Smashbox says:

      It sure sounds amazing. Hopefully it actually comes out.

      • Stardreamer says:

        Odd comment. Has there been a glut of titles not coming out recently?

        • phuzz says:

          This particular game just looks too good to be true in a way. I just don’t want to get my hopes up is all.

        • Cardinal says:

          Arguably so, now that alpha and beta stages of development have been monetized. Prison Architect is Introversion’s best selling game, so where’s the rush? Planetary Annihilation team have just announced it will be out “when ready” rather than by the planned date.

          Of course these guys don’t seem to be asking for early access moneys which undermines my point – but I guess I can see what the previous poster was thinking.

        • Smashbox says:

          It’s just a roundabout way of saying it sounds too ambitious to be possible. Four men are making it?

          For the record, it sounds like my ideal game.

          • Stardreamer says:

            Mine too…as long as the multi-player features are largely unobtrusive.

            But yes, I am looking forward to this being very much a thing wot I, and everybody else, can play.

  2. karthink says:

    Um, so if the galaxy is persistent, what happens after a couple of months of launching the game, when everything’s discovered and all resources depleted?

    • InnerPartisan says:

      If the Galaxy is even remotely realistic in terms of size (and with procedural generation, there’s no reason for it not to be) that’s not going to happen in the next few, oh, millennia.

      • karthink says:

        If the galaxy is remotely realistic in terms of size, just the pooled resources metadata will take up gigabytes. (Even assuming that any planet you visit is generated on the fly from a seed so it doesn’t actually exist to take up memory.)

        • pilouuuu says:

          Mmm, nope. Elite was what, 64 kb?

          • RedWurm says:

            Well, if the galaxy is comparable to the milky way, you’d be looking at around 400 billion planets, give or take, and a seed complex enough to prevent duplication would be, if you’re using a standard data type, maybe 8 bytes. That’s about 3 terabytes of data made up of random seeds.

          • Stardreamer says:

            Half that. Noctis and Frontier were roughly a meg.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @RedWurm
            100 billion planets is a lot of planets. If the game is that popular they can easily afford that amount of server space.

            Apologies in advance if that was indeed your point.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            You don’t need to store one seed per planet, just one seed for the whole universe. What you do need to store though, are all the persistent changes made by players.

          • Superabound says:

            Im glad that someone mentioned Noctis because, well….NOCTIS. It was when i first played that game (as ugly and user-unfriendly as it was) almost 15 years ago that i instantly knew that procedural generation would eventually end up the future of gaming.

        • nimbulan says:

          Since everything is procedurally generated, the game only need store changes to the original state. It probably won’t take up nearly as much space as you think it will. Take a look at Starbound which also does things this way: Even a planet which has been heavily modified by multiple players only takes up 2 MB in the save, and this is with a temporary and less efficient save file format than the final game will have.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Since they use a procedural generator, you’re talking about trillions of stars to discover (and that scales up with the seed length, a 64 bit seed would mean 18 quintillion stars). You won’t ever run out of the things.

    • MrGtD says:

      There is no “run out of things”. From what I can tell, every player generates their own universe. If they choose to share a planet with the world at large, it’ll get added to everyone’s maps. It’s impossible to run out.

      • Triplanetary says:

        No, the article says, “But the galaxy is the same between everyone”

        • mechabuddha says:

          I read that as “everyone gets the same copy of the galaxy, but play in their own game world”.

          • Martel says:

            It’s still pretty confusing, but this makes me read it the opposite way

            “the galaxy is the same between everyone and actions of “significance” will be shared. If you kill a single bird, that won’t be shared. If you make an entire species of bird extinct, then those creatures will blink out of existence for everyone.”

          • LionsPhil says:

            It’s a cunning ruse to dissuade people from waiting for a Steam sale, since by then every single planet within a thousand lightyears of the spawn will be a desolate, barren husk.

          • zal says:

            Which is exactly why I’ll wait till a steam sale. Having a seemingly endless series of changes and consumption already in place in the galaxy will only make it more interesting, and more immersive. I don’t want a pristine galaxy, I want something that feels like it’s billions of years past warranty.

  3. SteelPriest says:

    The loose objective for player’s of No Man’s Sky is to head away from the edge and towards the galaxy’s centre. As you do, the grammatical errors you encounter along the way become more mutated, more dangerous.

    Sorry, i hate myself and I’m a terrible person. Also this game looks great.

  4. MysticalEric says:

    I’m still looking for confirmation that this will be a PC release from day one. All I know is that it was a long time before Joe Danger made the leap to PC and I’m not gonna lose another promising indie title to those damn consoles (RIP Everybody’s gone to the rapture).

    • Lev Astov says:

      Hear, hear! This is the most important thing RPS should be confirming. I can’t get all frothed up for what looks to be my perfect space game if I don’t know whether it’ll be locked away on the consoles.

  5. Zenicetus says:

    “You can be a dick in the game if you want, but it has less point and less value.”

    As I feared, it’s a MMO, even if both this article and the developer are finding ways to dance around calling it that. It doesn’t matter if I can’t “see the other player” if I’m still affected by that player’s actions and that player is a dick. And there will be a lot of those.

    As much as I like what I’m hearing about the rest of the game, the MMO component kills it for me. No thanks.

    • amateurviking says:

      I get the feeling it’s going to be like dark souls in terms of player interaction, ie broadly indirect and mostly co-operative with a pinch of optional antagonism. I am not concerned.

    • InnerPartisan says:

      As I feared, it’s a MMO

      No. No, it’s not, unless you redefine the term so much it’s practically meaningless. Besides, the text heavily implies that any multiplayer features are strictly opt-in, just like Dark Souls’: If you don’t want dicks fucking up that nice planet you discovered, you simply don’t share the information about that planet.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I’m not sure it’s going to work that way. “Being a dick” implies actions that affect others, one way or another. Otherwise the phrase has no meaning. It’s a word that implies social interaction.

        • InnerPartisan says:

          Uhm, yeah, of course. You can be a dick to other players in Dark Souls. But you can also decide not to participate in the multiplayer features (by not consuming humanity).

        • killias2 says:

          I think you’re way expanding the meaning of MMO when you talk about it like this.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Is the main enemy the AI as in Dark Souls or humans as in DayZ? Can you play offline only?

            I don’t see this information anywhere.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            The interview says you won’t be encountering players. I think one can extrapolate that the main antagonist won’t be other players.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @FriendlyFire
            How did I miss that? Sounds fanstastic.

            Cheers.

        • Superabound says:

          Oh my dear sweet lord, SOCIAL INTERACTION???? *runs away and hides under my bed where the scary humans cant get me*

          • Antistar says:

            This is probably too late to be useful, but I take it you’ve never heard of Social Anxiety Disorder, considered to be the most common anxiety disorder there is.

            Social interaction is pretty damn scary for a lot of people.

      • Junon says:

        Color me surprised that no one has started beating the “it’s not a roguelike” drum

      • Finn says:

        Go on read it again: even if you never see another player their actions still have impact e.g. if players go to the same planet although they don’t directly interact they can deplete it’s resources and extinguish a species. So yeah, it’s an MMO for dickish shit, the worst reason they could go for the MMO model actually. It’s not close to Dark Souls because in the Souls series people CAN invade your world to try and kill you given certain conditions but they CAN’T really invade your game and steal your stuff or kill that specific npc and basically fuck with your fun. I just hate this trend, it’s in Elite too, why ruin a perfectly good game with shitty multiplayer, just do it so you CAN run it as a server to friends and strangers alike but don’t make obligatory.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      As far as I can tell, everyone starts in a random place on the edge of the galaxy.

      It becomes MP in a similar way that Spore, Noby Noby Boy (look it up) and as said Dark Souls is MP. It is partially MMO, but only in the way Spore was.

      They seem to be adding “discovered by” tags to reward exploration and “resources discovered here” to cause a gold rush (I’m guessing resources are shared between each SP game planet) to stop you staying in one place too long, as other players might use them up.

      So you’ll never see another player, but will find planets named after them, and resources “used up by travelers”. But then again, most SP games have those mechanisms, it’s just they are programed/written in.

      The most damaging action by trolls would be to mine a single planet dry in a galaxy with possibly exhaustible planets. As long as the programmers don’t leave choke points that could be trolled out of all resources. Though a “dead space” would be just as scary to limp around (as long as your ship has some way to keep moving without fuel)…

      • P7uen says:

        If I found a lovely scene with lovely creatures, and they were wiped out so that I could no longer enjoy them, I think that would be more damaging.

        To me (and many others I think), the worry of multiplayer means damaging my experience, not my XP, resources, progress, etc

      • macc says:

        There is more to the multiplayer than only map sharing, see the following quote:

        “The game will start out not so dangerous, but as you try to journey to the centre of the galaxy, things will mutate a lot more and will make your gameplay experience much more dangerous. Undertaking that trip will require lots of preparation. It will require you to, without going into too much detail, build up your character, build up your ship. You will have to co-operate with other people to make that journey.

      • Superabound says:

        Its funny how terrified so many people seem to be that the pristine virginity of their make believe video game universe might become ever so slightly marred by the interactions of real live other human beings. No wonder gamers all being autistic manchildren is such a common stereotype.

    • unistrut says:

      “We hope players won’t be dicks to each other”? Hope? Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment. If they can, they will, for no cause or reward other than the ability to do so.

      • Chaz says:

        Yep, basically. Even if there is no game incentive to do so, a griefer will grief because they derive their enjoyment, by ruining the enjoyment of others. Give them the means to do so and they will do it, even if it makes no sense in terms of game play.

  6. JustAPigeon says:

    Suddenly, I am more excited for this than anything else. It sounds like the game I’ve wanted since I started playing computer games.

    • BobbyFizz says:

      Exactly what I was going to write, and exactly the sort of game I was thinking didn’t exist when I was sitting having a shit the other day.

    • luukdeman111 says:

      I really need to second that….

      This concept sounds soo fantastic it almost can’t be true….

  7. aldo_14 says:

    I have to say this has just jumped to the top of my wishlist. So the trailer at least deserves applause for being that effective.

    Also, does this – and a significant number of other games in development – signal a formal recovery of the space sim genre?

    • Zenicetus says:

      No, because the space sim genre was based on singleplayer games. Unless you want to redefine the genre.

      There was a recent singleplayer launch that failed miserably (X:Rebirth). We only have two more well-funded games to look forward to — Star Citizen, which is multiplayer except for the side game, which looks like a scripted teaser for the multiplyaer game, and Elite Dangerous which looks like the only major one in development as a singleplayer-only game.

      I’m hoping Elite:D is good, but with all the fashionable focus lately on either multiplayer or stripped-down console-ization (which killed Rebirth), I’m trying not to keep my hopes up too high for a renaissance of space games in general.

      • karthink says:

        Elite Dangerous is a multiplayer game. Some of its proposed features make it look like an MMO.

        • Zenicetus says:

          I haven’t been tracking it that closely, so if it’s true then it’s depressing news. Unless it’s something like optional, drop-in MP that doesn’t have any impact at all on the singleplayer game?

      • derbefrier says:

        What? Since when have space sims been limited to single player? Many of them had multipler and it was quite fun. Star citizens single player squadron 42 is basically a new wing commander btw. Obviously you have no idea what you are talking about. But its okay not all of us obsess over these games.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Elite
          Wing Commander
          X-Wing
          Tie Fighter
          Freelancer
          Privateer
          Freespace
          Independence War 1 & 2

          Singleplayer games. Or do you have some other definition of the classic space sim genre?

          • luukdeman111 says:

            The definition of a space sim is a game that simulates space…. The reason those games were all singleplayer is because the technology wasn’t there to make a persistent online universe… Otherwise many of those games probably would have had at least some multiplayer component..

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            EDIT: Ninja’d

            All the X Games were singleplayer too

          • aldo_14 says:

            I believe most of those games had multiplayer or co-operative components, though. Plus the fundamental aspect of space sims is, well, the ‘space sim’ aspect. After all, FPS are still classed as FPS whether they are MP focused, set in a sandbox or entirely linear.

            (NB: I note you complain about console-ization, but I’d note the Freespace games were ones that would easily have fitted on console)

          • FriendlyFire says:

            Freelancer is in fact a multiplayer game first and foremost. There’s no way in hell it would’ve endured to this day without the multiplayer component.

          • Zenicetus says:

            @CookPassBabtridge
            Yeah, we should add the X series to that list of singleplayer games, and also Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, I guess. There were plenty of other games over the years, but those in the list are the ones I think most would consider classics of the genre.

            @aldo_14
            A few of those listed had multiplayer, but the majority didn’t. And multiplayer was a minor addition to the game, which was designed as a singleplayer experience. That’s different from a game like Spore, or Star Citizen, or No Man’s Sky (from the sound of it), which *depends* on the multiplayer component to provide content. That’s the dividing line — does it require multiplayer for content, or is it optional?

            Also… “(NB: I note you complain about console-ization, but I’d note the Freespace games were ones that would easily have fitted on console)”

            No they wouldn’t, especially Freespace 2. Check out the keyboard overlay:

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/80410387/freespace-2-refcard

            Anyone remember games like this that were complex enough to need a keyboard overlay? Those are commands that you need to hit instantly in combat. You can’t take the time to page through menus. The commands can be mapped to a joystick. In fact, I have a bunch of those commands mapped to my HOTAS joystick/throttle rig, since I still have Freespace 2 Open on my hard drive. That’s what I mean by console-ization killing X:Rebirth. It doesn’t even have a “next enemy” target key, or any targeting keys at all, because they wouldn’t fit on a gamepad.

          • derbefrier says:

            As said more than a few of those have multiplayer. Which admititldy isn’t the main focus but I am still technically right which is the best kind of right :p

            You don’t get to decide if multiplayer is part of the space sim genre I am afrraid as it already is. A dogfighting sim is still a sim.

          • aldo_14 says:

            A few of those listed had multiplayer, but the majority didn’t. And multiplayer was a minor addition to the game, which was designed as a singleplayer experience. That’s different from a game like Spore, or Star Citizen, or No Man’s Sky (from the sound of it), which *depends* on the multiplayer component to provide content. That’s the dividing line — does it require multiplayer for content, or is it optional?

            That’s your dividing line, you mean. Simply because the technology didn’t exist in the past (at least in the manner required for the modern day concepts) does not mean it restricts the genre to particular narrow constraints. But there’s absolutely no reason why the genre is limited to a late 90s vision., and no reason why it can’t be legitimately resurgent (even if the semantics differ from your nostalgia).

            You’re also falling into this very narrow minded binary definition of single and multiplayer as if the two are entirely separate, when one of the defining changes we’re seeing in modern games is developers seeking to find ways to use connectivity within both contexts (Spore being probably the defacto example), particularly as a way to extend beyond limitations of scripting.

            No they wouldn’t, especially Freespace 2. Check out the keyboard overlay:

            I have that overlay in the bottom of my drawer next to the IWar2 one. I’m more than familiar with it.

            After the source code was released, I distinctly remember Dave Baranec commenting on HLP that he’d like to see an attempt at a PS2 post (within the context of Linux support), and – crucially – that the controls would work.

          • Zenicetus says:

            The post I responded to in this sub-thread, asked if we’re looking at a “formal recovery of the space sim genre.”

            It’s not a recovery of the previous genre, when a new game like this appears and it’s built around a social gaming framework… whether it’s overt, or hidden as part of the economic/exploration system. That’s simply not how the classic space sims worked. The “multiplayer support” meant something very different, when it was there at all.

          • Zenicetus says:

            @aldo_14
            If this new game works like Spore, it will need a porn filter like Spore did too. ;)

            How much of this new approach for developers is “seeking to find ways to use connectivity within both contexts,” and how much is just the budget limitations of small studios that don’t want to hire good AI programmers and writers?

            We’re seeing games like Hawken come out lately that I’d love to play, if it had a singleplayer campaign. Or that new Stalker-alike thing. But no, it’s easier and cheaper to release games where you bring in other humans as opponents (including the inevitable trolls and griefers) because then you don’t need good AI and a compelling narrative. Hell, you don’t even need the narrative if the AI and environmental design is good enough.

            My complaint isn’t about multiplayer per se, because I enjoy current games like Rise of Flight where I can choose to ignore the multiplayer component. What I object to is forced multiplayer; having to deal with strangers as part of the core game mechanic. I got enough of that playing WoW for years before bailing out, and I get enough of it in real life. I want a game I can immerse myself in, that’s compelling enough without having to use the cheap trick of an online component to substitute for what the game can’t provide.

          • magogjack says:

            Actually Freespace was on consoles, and it was pretty decent (the Dreamcast to be precise).

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            Not sure about that, programming a networked game is an order of magnitude more complex that making a single player one. You need to code most things very differently, you have to deal with lag all over the place and attempt to hide it as best as you can, and so on. Yes coding AI is hard, but I think it’s on par or easier – unless you mean super-complex simulations.

      • skalpadda says:

        XvT and XWA had lively multiplayer communities back in the days, but those were dogfighting games rather than anything MMO-esque and XWA had a solid single player campaign.

      • daphne says:

        You’re overlooking Limit Theory.

        You’re also welcome.

        • InnerPartisan says:

          And Enemy Starfighter. Your welcome is welcome!

        • Zenicetus says:

          That’s why I used the modifier “well funded.” And by implication, a larger team.

          I’m keeping an eye on Limit Theory and it looks interesting, but there is only so much a one-man studio can do. Evochron for example, has some interesting features, but the scale and depth are limited by the size of the studio. I hope Limit Theory proves me wrong, I’m just going by prior examples.

          • daphne says:

            Yeah, I suppose that’s fair. The LT fellow’s pretty smart and idealistic though, and by his own words he has enough funds to develop the game for three more years (not that he intends to do so, the target’s still Early ’14), so I’m hopeful.

          • Geebs says:

            Have a look at the video put up for the Limit Theory prototype – it’s very out-of-date already but the Homeworldliness of the fleet command stuff looks compelling. Josh Parnell also has an an admirable tendency do declare that he’s going to do something and then just go and do it in a couple of days, which implies that he’s a very talented programmer and well able to handle the size of project he’s set.

            I have a bit of a “Mark Twain can’t look at sunsets any more” thing with No Man’s Sky though – having been interested in procedural stuff for a while, nothing they’ve done looks much more interesting than a lot of the hobby projects drifting around the internet, and although I like their art style the fact that they’re designing rather than generating their assets is a bit of a turn-off.

          • Stardreamer says:

            With as much respect for the Evochron dev as I can muster I think Josh’s game will absolutely trounce that series in just about every capacity.

  8. Slabs says:

    I hope shit gets real weird the closer we get to the galactic centre. I’m a big fan of the “mysterious large object in space” genre so if it includes things like ringworlds and dyson spheres I’ll be very happy. Ooh or a station like Gateway that just shoots you out to a random planet with no clue if you’ll survive.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Send that suggestion to them. :)

      Square planets, or just super constructions could be very interesting (always thought it was the strong part of the Halo series, those places were very interesting to look at, apart from the library).

      • skalpadda says:

        Can’t have square planets, by definition. Could have cuboid structures in space of course which would also be cool, they just wouldn’t be planets.

        I am a nitpicky arse.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          It’s the impossibility of it that makes it so appealing, though.

          • Koozer says:

            He’s saying that the literal dictionary definition of a planet doesn’t allow it to be cuboid. You can have as many Borg cubes as you like, just don’t call them planets or you’ll make astronomers cry.

    • SteelPriest says:

      I hope science fiction has taught you that if you ever find a dyson sphere the only sensible course of action is to put another one around it, just in case.

      • InnerPartisan says:

        Unless, of course, you find Montgomery Scott’s buffered transporter signature in a ship that crashed on the sphere’s surface. Then you’ll be just fine.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Imagining alien tech and hardware is easy. The hard part is alien biology, which is often weird enough in sci-fi literature (like “Embassytown” by China Miéville) but never weird enough in most sci-fi games. Instead we get humanoid aliens, or constructs based on Earth biology. Even Shai Hulud isn’t that weird.

    • GROM says:

      seeing dual suns from the planets’ surface would allready make me super happy

      • Stardreamer says:

        I imagine I’ll be screenshot-ing the absolute living hell out of this game. My inner Space Explorer and inner Space Tourist are both deliriously excited.

  9. TechnicalBen says:

    That could be interesting if this game goes the route of Godus (horrid click bait) but just turns the Minecraft tree hitting, into actual discovery. The tree hitting (mining that is) if balanced well, becomes just a small reason to stop off and look at the scenery. Much like the Spore game did in the galactic phase, became about just seeing what was out there and what amazing things they were (like the chocolate planet!).

    In that sense I could see upgrades to the ship simply being “find 100 rocks” to “get 2X speed boost”. I hope it does not become a grind though. Although, saying that, as long as it’s open gameplay, I could do the same as I did in Spore and just “rush” all the flight/resources and not have to worry about any grind. In Minecraft the “game” is not my real interest, it’s the finding and discovering cool looking places, and interesting dynamics (water/lava/spawners interacting etc).

  10. amateurviking says:

    The trailer and the broad hints at a gameplay loop are enough for me. I must have it.

    ASAP please.

  11. Noburu says:

    “You can be a dick in the game if you want, but it has less point and less value.”

    CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

    Seriously though, never underestimate people (especially on the internet) being a dick/asshole/faggot just because they can.

    • lautalocos says:

      this.

      i can already imagine crazy lies or scams people will o, and it will be glorious. even though the dev didnt like the comparision, i imagine EVE´s kind of web of lies. not in the economical part, but the internet is the biggest scammer ever.

      post on reddit: “hey guys, i just discovered a planet full of resources, here are the cordinates”
      people go there, and then 5 pirate galleons destroy the thousands of ships that try to go trough there. meanwhile, the dude that made the post takes his stealth ship to go to the planet, and takes the sweet, sweet loot.

      • Arglebargle says:

        That’s far too ‘in-game’ assholery. There are a significant body of griefers who aren’t involved in the game at any significant level beyond ‘Make someone somewhere feel bad’. The meta-game that they play is good for now one.

        Have these guys played online games before?? If it can be exploited, it will be….

    • vecordae says:

      I am uncertain how engaging in homosexual acts is comparable to wanton douche-baggerry, but, yes. Never underestimate man’s ingenuity when it comes to inflicting misery on his fellow man.

  12. Viroso says:

    This is sounding so stupidly ambitious. It’s basically the promise every game of this kind has made, now realized. After the trailer and this article I’m actually more interested in the limitations than in the possibilities.

  13. Zyrocz says:

    This is the most realistic gaem ever to came out since ur realty is just a video gaime and we are nuthing but data..

  14. Solidstate89 says:

    You certainly love those apostrophe’s don’t ya?

    • Metalfish says:

      Yeah, I think it’s a bit of a brainfart on Mr Smith’s part. I sometimes forget how apostrophes work, and I’m not even a greengrocer. Offending word: “planet’s”.

  15. Jalaris says:

    Actually, No Man’s Sky WILL NOT be the first game to “technically” not have a sky box. Spore had the same feature, every star visible was actually a real star that you could visit, but also, more recently, is Shores of Hazeron ( http://www.hazeron.com/ ) an indie developed game much like no man’s sky and spore. The only difference is the graphics aren’t quite all that pretty yet :P

    • Geebs says:

      Frontier and Damocles spring to mind…

      (Edit: also you owe me a new pair of retinas)

      • Stardreamer says:

        While you get GIGANTOR respect for your avatar (Saucepan of Tizer and a Giggly Sister for you, sir) I feel I must point out that Frontier, sadly, had a skybox. Damocles scored a palpable hit, however.

        • Llewyn says:

          I think that either our definitions of skybox or our recollections of Frontier differ.

          • Pockets says:

            Frontier’s skybox is essentially around the solar system rather than the planet’s sky, if I remember it rightly – it draws other stars into the right place on the background, but that’s all it is.

          • Stardreamer says:

            …good point. It’s a Starbox, not a Skybox. Well corrected, sir.

  16. Talahar says:

    If they don’t make the connectedness to other players completely optional they can keep their game. Not interested in that sort of thing.

    • kael13 says:

      It amazes me how you antisocial types are able to curtail your fears of people long enough to construct a public forum post.

      • dE says:

        Yeah, because not wanting to deal with the intentional bullshit of online players has somehow anything to do with being antisocial. It’s not fear of other people, it’s being tired of little antisocial fluffybunnies that have nothing better to do than ruin someone elses day. I reckon you’d know about that, since your post was in the same vein.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          So it’s not that you’re afraid of people, you’re just afraid of some people and wish to cut off contact with all types of people just in case? I have that right?

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            It’s probably more that he/she doesn’t mind playing with other players unless they ruin the experience. Kinda like EVE, where if you like the base concept but don’t like scummy behaviour you’re better off playing something else.

            People tend to play games for fun. Playing games with people you don’t know nor can stop from affecting your gaming experience can easily ruin someone’s fun. It’s not an a-social thing. More an anti-a-social behaviour thing.

          • particlese says:

            Yep, that’s about it…for me, at any rate. No Man’s Sky is not the kind of game where I’d welcome the possibility of someone else messing with my junk. It could work for me, as Journey’s multiplayer did, but they’d have to be mighty careful about it. Genocide of Planet Budgie’s inhabitants would annoy me for long after I stop laughing, and I doubt it would teach me any valuable lessons at this point in my life, so I’d rather invest my gaming time elsewhere.

            But if there’s a 100%-offline option (or a discoveries/good-stuff-only one), WEEEEE! This game looks/sounds/tastes amazing! Could interest me more than Star Citizen in this space, depending on how wacky it gets. My favorite sci-fi tends to take place in more creative locations than Military Outpost 69, though I suppose the latter could be wacky in its own way…

            o_o IT DOES EXIST

  17. derbefrier says:

    This is going to be awesome I can feel it. Any word on a release date or is it too early?

  18. daphne says:

    I’ll be happy with this as long as the developers acknowledge their pre-existing awareness of a little something called Noctis.

  19. Crimsoneer says:

    I get the impression this is incredibly far from being anywhere near playable.

    Also, it’s so going to be a Sony exclusive for two years, Joe Danger style.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Yes, that’ll be why they’re giving interviews to the PC gaming press. Because CONSOLE EXCLUSIVITY.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        *cough*HALO*cough*

        • Stardreamer says:

          Well played, sir. Please accept a congratulatory linctus for that cough.

          Still, that’s one example – a famous and notorious example, yes – but that was 14-ish years ago. Do devs make a habit of that same mistake these days?

          • semibad says:

            I know there’s the RPS context, but I’m confused what the ‘mistake’ was – missing out on being the best Mac game ever and merely becoming one of the most wildly successful and celebrated franchises of all time?

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I don’t really know and I don’t really care. It’s almost an involuntary reaction – never forget Halo.

            I don’t even like Halo…

  20. benjamin says:

    For the first time in quite a while I find myself getting excited about a game!

  21. Keyrock says:

    Breathe, Keyrock, breathe. Temper your excitement. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Deep breaths. Don’t give in to the hype… Don’t give in to the hype… Don’t give in… Don’t

    HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! I WANTS IT! I WANTS IT!

  22. Meister of Articulate Statelments says:

    This is the only game with the “Sorry, I’m an ass” tag? You, sir, are a liar, which makes you an ass. Which…well, closes the circle of your assitudel lies.

  23. Freud says:

    Every time I get excited about a very ambitious game, I get disappointed when I play it. There are so many warning bells here. Giant procedurally universe. The game systems have to be so solid and there has to be so much to do for a game of this size to be enjoyable.

    And the name dropping of Dark Souls, Minecraft, DayZ and Journey? Hype honey pot.

  24. Barberetti says:

    Yeah, this looks pretty damn good. Will certainly be keeping an eye on it, that’s for sure.

  25. Metalhead9806 says:

    Can we please get a confirmation if this is actually being developed for PC or will it be another Joe Danger where we wait forever and a day for a console port.

    Honestly i’m shocked this wasn’t the first thing RPS asked the devs…

    • Stardreamer says:

      Devs giving an interview to Pc gaming press maybe meant that question didn’t even need to be asked?

      • alseT says:

        As if the devs would say no to free publicity and hype even though they have no intention for a simultaneous release with PC.

        If my cynicism is unfounded all I hope is that it won’t be online-only.

        • Stardreamer says:

          Free Hype is one thing. Deliberately pissing off an entire segment of the gaming market is quite another.

          • Mctittles says:

            Yea, look at Fez. That Dev pissed of tons of people and now no one has heard about that game.

  26. Stardreamer says:

    “Don’t take this the wrong way, but our background is as console developers, and I think everything about the game bears hallmarks of that,” says Murray. “In terms of your controls, in terms of the fluidity of the game, this is not a quirky, hard-to-decipher experience.”

    Yes. Because Doom was such a hard, fiddly game to learn. Okay, okay, I’m “taking it the wrong way”. Perhaps they were referring to the X series, heh.

    • spleendamage says:

      Actually, they were comparing it to Eve.

      This was the preceding paragraph:

      Even other space games don’t necessarily sit well with Murray as direct comparisons. EVE Online is the only one mentioned during the interview, although he’s still as keen to stress the differences as much as the similarities.

  27. Stardreamer says:

    …okay. I want this. Dark Souls style multiplayer features are within acceptable tolerances. I don’t mind my explored planets all having messages saying “Jump Here” (at obvious death points) if I can simply ignore them.

    Well, maybe I do a little. But the game sounds so damned wonderful I’m willing to take a chance. Exciting times!

  28. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    I can’t wait! Though I would like to know, given the game’s scale, how big is an actual planet in comparison to, say, the Earth? And I’m still a little lost in terms of the procedural generation thing. Does that mean you can start in one spot on a planet and then if you were to walk in a straight line you’d eventually end up back where you started like on a real one? Regardless, it looks astonishing. I’ll definitely keep my eye on it.

  29. Lucid Spleen says:

    I can see it now, an in-game message popping up on screen saying:

    GameZHacKor31 has just named ‘Planet StarShyte’ in the Dickwad System.

    Also save as you go, which for me doesn’t bode well. Shame, the sea to sky to space thing was great. It does sound like an interesting concept but I am no longer interested in playing it. I am disappoint.

    • Fox89 says:

      I’m not sure you actually get to name the things you discover – it just says you’ll get credit for discovering it. The example in the trailer shows ‘New Eridu Ocean’ as being discovered by Hazel, but did Hazel name it? No idea.

      • Lucid Spleen says:

        You may be right. I was exaggerating for (not so) comic effect. The general thrust of my comment was meant to be that I don’t want to be brought down to earth when I’m flying in space. Having other flesh-sacks in my game tends to do that for me. Hopefully, the influence of others will be minimal.

      • Jackablade says:

        Given you can blast holes in things, you could still leave your mark on the planet you discover with a signature or 90,000 mile long penis, as is your wont.

  30. Burzmali says:

    Any chance of this being being finished before release? The devs sound like the type of insufferable brogrammers that talk a mighty talk but get chopped off at the knees when it is 3 months passed the deadline and the publisher (or landlord, if they are self-funded) comes knocking.

  31. buzzmong says:

    Red grass and golden(ish) trees has me thinking of Gallifrey.

  32. nimbulan says:

    I understand what they’re doing, but the comparisons to Day Z really turn me off. I find games like Day Z exceedingly boring because there isn’t any real goal. “Survive” does not lend itself to good gameplay.

    Here’s hoping there’s a bit more to the game to make it more interesting.

  33. CookPassBabtridge says:

    ” No Man’s Sky isn’t a multiplayer game, in as much as you’ll never see another player. But the galaxy is the same between everyone and actions of “significance” will be shared. If you kill a single bird, that won’t be shared. If you make an entire species of bird extinct, then those creatures will blink out of existence for everyone”

    What would be really good is if you can choose to UNDO other’s douchebaggery. Did TesticleZitPopper2130 wipe out the tree dwelling Uranki frog (whose skin pigmentation can be used to create hull paint impenetrable to thermal scanners)? Maybe you can choose to cultivate the trees it lived in, and find a genetic imprint and restart the species in your handy glove box gene resequencer. Maybe you can breed a new version of the frog with MASSIVE CANNONS on its head for future attacks. Why should people only have to suffer the effects of morons and not be given the chance to both correct and prevent it? This of course only applies to griefing – hacking is another issue.

    I like the idea of never seeing another player muchly.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      I wonder if things will be complex enough for the Massive Cannon-Headed Uranki to then proceed to squelch out all competing life forms on the planet…

    • Koozer says:

      This is my hope too. If someone has the ability to stripmine a planet of its minerals and gases and leave it a lifeless, barren wasteland, I want the tools to terraform it and bring back life.

  34. skullBaseknowledge says:

    “It’s about moving the design away from strictly authored experiences, in which your actions are tightly scripted and controlled, in favour of something more expressive.”
    Interesting choice of words here – is procedural generation more expressive? expressive of what?

  35. Don Reba says:

    This is not Minecraft in space!
    It’s much more sophisticated!
    I know it’s not 3D!

  36. KirbyEvan says:

    …Shores of Hazeron did this first with virtually no budget and one guy.

    Sure the graphics look pretty terrible but everything was procedurally generated, and it was a giant player pvp sandbox with multiplayer to boot.

    And yet it’s virtually unknown.

    If you’re interested in this game you should try that out too.

  37. honuk says:

    it really just sounds like these guys are hopping on the zeitgeist train without much of a clear idea what the hell they’re doing there

  38. Brun says:

    NOCTIS LIVES!

    Yes, if you want to compare this game to anything, it looks to be a combination of the combat aspects of Elite with the Procedural/Exploration side of Noctis. For those of you who don’t know, Noctis was a great little procedural space exploration game with star systems numbering in the billions. As soon as I saw this game I was instantly reminded of it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noctis

    EDIT: Beaten to the punch, as expected.

    • jankenbattle says:

      Absolutely! The similiarities to both games are what have me excited, the limited multiplayer where you can never meet anyone, but feel the prescence of other players in what they leave behind, the naming of planets etc.

      Finally I can scratch that Noctis itch again, and with what looks like a comparable scale, and a beautful art style.

    • Stardreamer says:

      I spent many happy hours in Noctis. Such a wonderful, unique, landmark program whose only limitation was the the eye-shredding, DOS-era graphics. That there hasn’t been a sequel is a genuine loss to humanity. If No Man’s Sky hits anywhere close to what Noctis achieved it’s going to be utterly brilliant.

      *gasp* No Man’s Sky should have a Stardrifter Mod!

      • Skinnymon says:

        Noctis remains one of a kind- even though it has been forgotten by progress. Well, not forgotten, but it was started by ONE MAN, Alex Ghignola, who has not yet found quite enough “inspiration” to finish an enormous task of taking Noctis to the next level because it means starting all over from ground zero. But despite this, the basic dream is not flawed.

        From what has been shown in the trailer, there may be considerable similarity in the exploration nature. The difference is that Noctis, which is a failing to some, is about quiet and being alone with nothing to impede your freedom to explore. I should know. I have been exploring the Noctis galaxy for over ten years now.

        I can only say here, that the Noctis community is alive and well and very much interested in seeing if No Man’s Sky will be a comparable work to what we know.

  39. emcl says:

    blah edit

  40. wz says:

    Awesome, quick interview with the answers to questions the trailer triggered :)

    Phew. Not another MMO, and an experience that isn’t diluted by grind or having to balance things for other players.

    I think this is the most important bit, and why this game shouldn’t be pigeon-holed:

    “No Man’s Sky isn’t a multiplayer game, in as much as you’ll never see another player. But the galaxy is the same between everyone and actions of “significance” will be shared. If you kill a single bird, that won’t be shared. If you make an entire species of bird extinct, then those creatures will blink out of existence for everyone.”

    - So they’re actually advancing gameplay, as well as engine.
    - Reminds me so much of Noctis, and the way the community put in to name and upload discoveries. Noctis”had a lonely desolate vibe to it, since there was no sentient life and the graphics helped reinforce it. This seems to be a happier game.
    - Common goal..finding other sentient life, a cure, ruins of past alien civilisations/extraterrestrial origin of humans? Doesn’t look like it since giving away information could be bad. So NPCs or alien invading intelligence of some sort that acts as a threat?
    - Modding?, or is everything hardcoded in a compiled language.. (I assume this is on PC as well) Procedural universes are great for modding.

  41. Windward says:

    So the description was mega-impressive, the screenshots were beautiful and then I pressed play… Boooom, 65daysofstatic all over it. This game is my new squeeze. Oh yes, oh yes. I think 65′s previous big break was 15 seconds on Emmerdale so this is a definite step up.

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