No Man’s Sky Fears: Resource Gathering Is Work, Not Play

I’ve tried to learn the lesson over my career, both professionally and as a gaming enthusiast, to not look forward to games before I or a writer I trust has had fingers on it. And especially not before the purpose of the game is entirely clear. For these reasons, I absolutely should not be looking forward to No Man’s Sky.

I am so looking forward to No Man’s Sky. I also have worries.

Obviously, like everyone else, I was very taken with the tech demo shown at E3 2014. Those folks that made the ridiculously difficult Trials-alike, Joe Danger, were on stage with the bigger boys and showing something completely unexpected. Completely beautiful. Lord knows what it actually was, but it looked intriguing enough to have most people wanting to know more. Me included.

I had concerns, of course. Games set in space seem to have a terrible inevitability of involving bloody sodding resources. In my entirely correct and unarguable opinion, the inclusion of resources changes a game from play into work. People seem to enjoy work instead of play, and while I don’t understand why, I begrudgingly allow the practise to continue. But every time I see something space-based I get all excited until I remember. I’ve done so since those first mind-blowing screenshots of Homeworld appeared. I probably did so in my youth when I saw pictures of Elite. My fingers, toes, arms and legs were crossed that NMS wouldn’t do it to me, but I expected it would.

As the drip-drip of vague information started to appear about the game, the word inevitably came up. I think I remember one interview where it was explained how resources were central to the game. My heart sunk. I moved on.

Because what I want from a space game is freedom, exploration, and isolation. I want a game that lets me travel from system to system, find planets, encounter surprises, avoid conflict, and enjoy the quietness and solitude of the journey. I’d like things to go wrong on my ship, be required to fix them perhaps, meet strangers, hear stories, just be. It’s my fantasy game, and I doubt it will ever exist. If anyone comes close to making it, they’ll also add in a need to mine for Space Zinc and then sell it at a space station for Space Dollars, used to buy Space Petrol and Space Crisps. But the price of Space Crisps is high in this sector, and I’ve got to get more Space Crystals to power the ship and then look at a graph and then worry about pages and pages of numbers and I MIGHT AS WELL BE DOING MY TAXES.

I don’t like doing my taxes. In fact, so broken-brained am I about the horror that I’ve literally passed out while on the phone to the Inland Revenue. (I’ve got an accountant now, although it still fills me with irrational terror and misery.) So when a game reminds me of doing my taxes, I know something’s gone horribly wrong, and I’m no longer playing. And No Man’s Sky sounded like it was going to involve tax.

What drew me back towards excitement was the relief of learning that “resources” in the game’s surely-not-fully-thought-through systems are in fact just big colourful crystals you shoot with a gun. It looks so dumb. I am so relieved. Running around shooting colourful things with a gun is brainless and I can do brainless. I join many others in hoping that by release they’ve thought of something a little more interesting than a simulacrum of an FPS, in which half the enemies just sit there being inorganic, but still – it’s not taxes.

Of what we’ve seen so far – and admittedly so much of what we’ve seen has had to be parsed through the tedium of watching men with beards stare at an unseen screen thanks to the incessant dreadfulness of big-business exclusivity bullshit – I find myself extremely taken by the apparent simplicity of purpose.

I’ve heard people worrying about this apparent simplicity. Yes, people say, it’s a remarkable achievement that they’ve created this literal galaxy, that it has countless millions of planets and creatures it will procedurally generate on the fly then permanently fix in space for others to see. But what do you do? Why would you want more, I reply?

It sounds amazing. Calmly flying to new regions, avoiding pirates, and discovering never-before-seen creatures before adding them to the shared database. Trotting about the planet surface, antagonising the local fauna, then nipping back into space to drift onward, backward, or inward. Not worrying about graphs, prices, crystalline economies. Just getting on with being a happily alone person in space.

It’s tempting, given the vastness of space, to let your imagination run wild about what No Man’s Sky could or should be, but were Hello Games to release the extremely pretty, technically astonishing shell we’ve seen so far, I would be very happy indeed. My greatest fear isn’t that they’ll fail to flesh out that technical achievement, but that in trying to flesh it out they’ll embrace the tropes of Space Shopping with Space Resources, which will be recorded on Space Spreadsheets and reported on Space Bar Graphs.

Just let me drift, lonely, in space, without having to do my taxes. It’s all I want.


  1. AugustSnow says:

    *Fingers crossed for mod support to fix this*

    • Cinek says:

      There will be a mod support?!

      • frightlever says:

        Not a chance of mod support. It’s an always on-line game which’ll be locked down tight.

        • BigfootNZ says:

          You can actually play offline, and never go online if you don’t want to

          • theonegunslinger says:

            have you got a link to where they have said that?, the only place i have seen posted that offline will be an option was linked to some podcast where they were talking about taking only one planet and having it offline

          • tiberiousr says:

            Sean Murray stated in interviews with both Game Informer and Edge that offline play was totally available since the game doesn’t need to be online to be played.

            The only thing you get from being online is the possibility of seeing other players (extremely rare due to the vastness of the game) and seeing discovery data uploaded by other players.

          • tiberiousr says:

            Oh, and here’s a link since you did request one.

          • theonegunslinger says:

            thanks for the link

    • Not_Id says:

      So much hype surrounding this game. Not really sure why though as the game sounds pretty boring:

      Land on planet
      Get credits
      Upgrade ship

      What for?
      To get to the center of the universe/Molyneuxs Cube.

      Fingers crossed it has more to it than that.

      • tiberiousr says:

        Well, you don’t actually have to mine for credits. You can get credits for exploring ruins and discovering species and then uploading that data at a beacon. The universe has a deeper narrative to it as well that’s entirely told by the environment (ruins, downed ships etc) that you can discover for yourself. Different factions control different regions of space, you can ally yourself in dogfights with traders or pirates. Help them out enough and you can summon wing men from them to help you out etc…

        There’s a lot more to this game than a lot of people seem to think.

        • Crane says:

          A deeper narrative which is entirely told through the procedurally generated environment?
          I’m sure it will be riveting.

          • tiberiousr says:

            Only one way to find out…

          • theonegunslinger says:

            no real way for there to be a story other than make your own when everything is made by a random line of code, this game will live or die based on how much fun its to grind gear/upgrades/levels. from some of the stuff they have posted sounds like playing with friends may not even be do able. worried that alot of this game will be like “a simulacrum of an FPS, in which half the enemies just sit there being inorganic”

          • Gaminggumper says:

            This is not proceduraly generated as in Minecraft where every level is different. This was created via procedural worlds but is “frozen” once created. so world 3416 is the same for everyone, is the “maths” are already backed into the disc to create that world. On worlds where the creator is hinting at the narative there are strategically placed items the Dev team has put there. So to sum up. The Universe is procedurally created but static at launch. AI will interact on their own and players will influence that AI, and discover the static worlds, but the worlds don’t change from user to user. other than any discoveries logged.

    • banananas says:

      This. I also think the perfect framework for such a game would be to simply allow players/modders to contribute “stories” or “quests” which you could then encounter randomly (kinda like Spore did it with the animals of other players), in an online-shared but still persistent-for-everybody (very, very big) universe. Imagine exchanging coordinates and meeting friends or strangers, going on a trip together…
      There, I imagined it! Make it real now! ;)

  2. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Why would you want more, I reply?

    Because without a gamey-game to game with, even you will probably get bored after a couple hours? It’s a waste to build all this cool stuff to poke at, and then not have a reason to keep people interested.

    You can’t have a movie with beautiful sets and no plot. Well you can, but almost nobody wants to watch those movies.

    • draglikepull says:

      “You can’t have a movie with beautiful sets and no plot. Well you can, but almost nobody wants to watch those movies.”

      Boyhood won like a billion awards last year, and it’s a film with no plot. It just uses the medium of film to do something really fascinating (watching as the passage of time affects a family). It also made about 10 times as much money as it cost to produce, so it was a huge financial success.

      This has got me thinking that everyone seems to want a Citizen Kane of gaming, but what I’d love is a Richard Linklater of gaming.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        A Citizen Kabuto would do…

      • mwoody says:

        Boyhood: the walking simulator of movies.

      • OmNomNom says:

        Except this game is expected to last more than a couple of hours.
        I mean otherwise they’d just make a film…

        • Jeroen D Stout says:

          Then maybe that needs to change. I would be happy with a few more 2-hour games if it would make them more interesting. If it’s just “expected” that they are longer then stop feeding the expectation and we can all move on.

          • theonegunslinger says:

            while i agree with the idea of more 2 hour games and games all about the look, this is not and even if some of the planets look good how many times will you see it before it gets old and how long of doing nothing fun will it take to find another good looking planet

    • Captain Joyless says:

      Perhaps true, buy maybe the plot shouldn’t be “spreadsheets in space.”

      • BigfootNZ says:

        you don’t actually have to mine anything ever in the whole game if you don’t want to. you can explore and document things for credits, or you can dogfight and get credits that way and never have to mine. you may not understand the game yet

    • John Walker says:

      See, the point of my argument is: no I wouldn’t! I’d fly to a new place and find new stuff and wander around looking for new caves and just generally be content.

      • Not_Id says:

        It’s not new stuff though John. Take a look at the footage doing the rounds (IGN has quite a bit) and you’ll notice the repetition of assets used on different planets.

        • Gaminggumper says:

          You aren’t looking cloesly enough. The math used to generate the different worlds creates evolutions of creatures from planet to planet. You might see a sabercat like thing on multiple planets, but they won’t be the same assests they will be have itterations on a base skeleton. Differnt numbers of legs, coloring, antenna. Whatever. If same but different wildlife isn’t varied enough for you than this isn’t your game. Heck i’ve seen videos where even the water is a different color from planet to planet. Universes, even infinite ones, have varitey based on order.

          • metric day says:

            Nah, i’m not buying it. It’ll be fun for some of us but the repetition will invoke the same “mile wide, inch deep” assessment tedious bores use to sum up Elite: Dangerous.

          • Oooch says:

            Exactly, everything is ever so slightly different, therefore everything is the same, happens in every single procedurally generated game

      • Cvnk says:

        I feel like you’re overestimating how interesting “new stuff” is in a procedurally-generated game. Or maybe I’m underestimating how interested you’d be in a quintillion slightly different environments

        • malkav11 says:

          Yeah, that’s my issue. I’d quite happily do a game where you just fly around space landing on beautiful hand-designed planets full of interesting hand-designed things to poke at and learn about. Expecting an algorithm to come up with anything close to that is pretty much a mug’s game, though.

          • Geebs says:

            Flying through the universe, stopping only to explore the same cave over and over, sounds a lot like Dragon Age 2.

            I’m afraid I still think the reason they haven’t shown off any variety in the trailers is because there isn’t any, because there simply can’t be.

          • malkav11 says:

            Except that Dragon Age 2 had writing and characters. Does No Man’s Sky? I haven’t heard anyone mention any.

      • realitysconcierge says:

        Noctis IV? :D link to

      • tiberiousr says:

        Actually you don’t have to collect resources, it’s completely optional. You can earn credits for pure exploration. Just discovering things and uploading that data at beacons earns you money that you can use to upgrade your suit, ship or weapon.

        Exploration is the name of the game. You can completely ignore the resource gathering aspect if you want to.

      • SpaceKing says:

        No, you’d get bored eventually. It’s like Minecraft: wandering the landscape can be interesting and fun, as you just observe new lands – but eventually you will grow bored of the patterns that emerge. Procedural it might be, but there’s always a method of generation, and given enough time the human mind will recognise those patterns and realise the sham before them.

        That’s why you NEED something to distract you occasionally, and why something as dumb as Spacebucks and Spacefuel is a good idea. Plus having resources gives you further incentive to explore and collect things, and may direct you towards places you might have avoided otherwise.

      • stblr says:

        Have you tried Space Engine, John? It’s a universe in a box without any gamey bits to get in the way.

    • noodlecake says:

      Meh. Mass appeal is overrated.

      There are lots of visually beautiful films with no real plot, particularly within animation. There are also tons of paintings people love that have no literal meaning and are more visceral things to be experienced emotionally rather than intellectually. It’s fine to not have a plot, or gameyness.

    • fco says:

      I’ve put over 60 hours on Eidolon, a game in which you did pretty much nothing but walk and enjoy the beautiful vistas, so yeah, I think I too would have fun in the game John describes.

      Just because you have trouble imagining people having fun with something, it doesn’t mean there’s actually some crazy people out there who will.

      Now, Eidolon could pull this off because it’s a small game by a small studio. Like John, I’m afraid that there’s so much people with their eyes and own expectations put on NMS, that they simply wont let it be this kind of game.

    • Akbar says:

      Can’t give you exact figures as it’s not from Steam, but I probably have 50-100 hours in SpaceEngine, which has no gamey-game stuff whatsoever.

  3. xcession says:

    I like simplicity and avoiding grinding, but my worry is that the mechanics are so simplified as to become boring for lack of any depth. We’ve seen almost nothing of the UI for any of the things you’ll be doing for most of the time in the game, besides walking and flying and I’m starting to question whether that’s because they’re not worth showing. The schpiel we’re hearing is that these are important mechanics for advancement, so i’m confused.

    • Owl Mark says:

      Go to reddit of No Man’s Sky and you should see more UI elements, like upgrading your gun, suit, ship, you can trade and craft.

  4. stblr says:

    Noctis. The answer is always Noctis.

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      Noctis has aged badly, though, and has one of the most obtuse and cumbersome UIs after Dwarf Fortress (Yes, even with the CE improvements). I value my retinas; I don’t want them scraped off by 320×200 res pixels.

      So while I appreciate and fully support the recommendation I’d say it’s for the truly hardcore only at this point.

      • stblr says:

        Oh, no doubt. The UI is not all that difficult to use once you have a handle on it, but getting to that point is non-intuitive to an extreme. That first introduction to the ship is like playing Myst for the first time, obtuse puzzles and all. I don’t mind the low resolution–in fact, it gives the game a certain feel and it tastefully obscures the game’s low fidelity, in my opinion. It’s like being able to explore the galaxy remotely with shitty technology. That said, I understand that it would be a bigger ask for some people to get around this game’s look than trying out a roguelike. It’s also shocking how big of a pain in the ass it is to even run it these days.

        BUT. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind game. It’s not for everybody, but I firmly believe anybody who loves pure exploration games should at least give it a try.

  5. -Spooky- says:

    “Resource Gathering Is Work, Not Play ..”

    Tell me about this. Mining or chopping wood all day in Ultima Online. Good, relaxing gameplay .. *oh wait*

  6. Wisq says:

    Collecting resources may be “work”, but to me, it’s “work” as in “building something” (a table, a log cabin, a car, etc.), not “doing my day job”. The key differences: I chose to do that task. I can put it down at any time, without consequence. There’s an endgame, a final state, after which I can say “yes, I’m done” and be satisfied with what I’ve accomplished. Perhaps a whole series of these.

    I don’t think games have reached the point where I could truly just sightsee and not have some task to accomplish. I certainly enjoy lovely scenery, but the typical diversity of even the best procedural worlds to date isn’t enough to let exploration itself be the game to me. I start seeing patterns, small or grand — and via those, I start seeing the algorithms they used to create the world around me. Things begin to get hollow, repetitive.

    If a game could truly offer a world with the sort of fidelity and diversity of the real world, I would happily get lost in it … for a while. If someone could perfectly simulate the entire surface of Mars, for example, I would be there in an instant. But even then, I would probably eventually want some way to better understand my surroundings than just sightseeing — using measurement tools, taking readings, analysing data — i.e. what scientists might call “work”. And at some point, I would feel that I’d seen what there was to see, and move on.

    Now, if a game could offer that sort of experience, one planet at a time, for an effectively unlimited number of planets … sure, maybe I could lose myself in it for weeks, months, maybe even years. But we don’t have the technology for that.

    So until we do, I’d rather have something to do in these worlds. Sightseeing can be a sort of accessory to that, or vice versa. I can be collecting resources, and stumble across a particularly lovely cave system. I can go off and explore and find a beautiful vista, and then I can collect some resources while I’m there. Why not?

    Plus, let’s face it: Resources and progression are the sorts of things that sell games right now. How are the sales figures for games where you just walk around doing nothing except sightseeing? Aren’t those derisively called “walking simulators” by a decent proportion of players these days? I strongly suspect that trying to market No Man’s Sky as a pure exploration game would also relegate it to the land of limited development and little-to-no post-release support.

    Truly, if all you want to do is explore and damn the resources, there will undoubtedly be mods and cheats to give yourself everything you need and let you just explore. If they implement the sort of gameplay they need to be successful in today’s market and let the sightseers mod that out, I suspect everyone ends up better off than vice versa.

    • John Walker says:

      They’re proudly called Walking Simulators in these parts.

    • OmNomNom says:

      It sounds like you are on the wrong job. Work for NASA!

      • Wisq says:

        My problem with any day job is that I need to solve difficult problems, and inevitably, even if I start out doing that, I eventually become too versed in the problem space. Things stop being difficult (and become merely time-consuming), and people start coming to me as a knowledge resource to the point that I can’t get anything done.

        Maybe that means I should’ve been a scientist, but I never could stand school and never did get any of the degrees I would need, I’m terrible at keeping records, etc etc. Instead, I just play every simulator-style game I can get my hands on — even the ones that are less play and more work — so that I can try out dozens of different careers, vicariously and at my discretion, and move on whenever I get bored.

  7. caff says:

    Maybe you could create a profile name as “Vodafone” that way you won’t have to do any taxes.

    • GameCat says:

      I miss games where you could enter some silly words in “name your character” screen and get secrets/cheats for that. :/

      • caff says:

        Me too.

        These days I just go for mildly silly names such as “Sweaty Nutsack”.

      • X_kot says:

        The most recent game I can think of that does that is XCOM, where giving your soldiers names of certain developers (such as Sid Meier) make them customized badasses.

  8. SuicideKing says:

    Games set in space seem to have a terrible inevitability of involving bloody sodding resources. In my entirely correct and unarguable opinion, the inclusion of resources changes a game from play into work.

    FreeSpace 2 stares at you sadly, wondering why you haven’t played it.

    • OmNomNom says:

      Depressingly, i am thinking about playing this masterpiece again since everything in all these years since *just doesn’t get it*

      • SuicideKing says:

        I know, right? It’s sad that Deep Silver may never acquire the license while this current Volition lasts, and make FreeSpace 3.

  9. kud13 says:

    Freelancer was (and still is) playable without “doing taxes”.

    Once you finish the campaighn with a “very heavy fighter” that’s sellable for pennies, you no longer really NEED money to upgrade to one of the “top three” ships- and you still have half the sector to explore. At your own pace.

    I mean, you will (occasionally) tow in junk, or remnants of pirate ships, and sell them so that you can make repairs. But no one is forcing you to plot best trading routes to make money if all you want is to look at the shiny vistas of space.

  10. Jools says:

    Why would you want more, I reply?

    Even if we pretend that No Man Sky’s procedural generation will actually allow for an infinite variety of interesting worlds, it’s not going to allow for an infinite level of interaction. Without mechanics or resources or context of any kind, you’d end up walking around and doing very little of anything. This doesn’t even describe a walking simulator, since walking simulators are generally either narrative based or have some loftier artistic goal.

    To put it another way, walking around and sightseeing in a game isn’t the same as, say, going for a hike. This is like the nerdiest possible thing to say, but the real world has “mechanics.” Hiking is a physical activity. There’s a connection between you and the world that you’re exploring. It wouldn’t be the same activity if you were floating down trails on a cloud while stuck in a bubble that prevented meaningful interaction. Game mechanics and resources provide that connection to the game world. Without that, you’re just looking at a pretty, randomly generated painting.

    • draglikepull says:

      A lot of people seem to be assuming that because *they* would not enjoy a particular kind of game, other people won’t either. If you wouldn’t enjoy No Man’s Sky if it was just a game about flying around and discovering things, that’s cool, but I will.

      • Distec says:

        That’s absolutely fine. But No Man’s Sky is currently straddling a PR line where players aren’t sure what kind of experience is actually being promised (or can be feasibly delivered). So the stakes need to be laid down to avoid an embarrassing disappointment.

        And my personal opinion is that NMS’ current hype is entirely based on implied complexity. It would have gotten but a fraction of its current attention if it was billed as just a Walking Simulator in space.

      • Jools says:

        That isn’t really what I was saying at all.

        Generating procedural worlds that are “interesting” to just walk around in is really, really hard. Like, it’s a problem that’s probably too difficult to expect any game developer to tackle, let alone a small team of independent developers. Most games that do procedural generation use a combination of (relatively) simple techniques, hacks, handmade prefab components, and smoke and mirrors. When you don’t use mechanics and gameplay as a guide to drive the output of those elements, you end up with something like Elite: Dangerous – a universe that just feels completely and totally sterile despite having near infinite variety.

        Basically, I think it’s a mistake to assume that you can just cleanly cut off traditional gameplay elements and end up with some super relaxing zen game about exploration. It’s not that simple and that game can’t really exist.

        • Sarfrin says:

          It’s good that you’ve used the objective truth of how Elite Dangerous feels to back up your argument. If only more people would realise all your opinions are right.

          • Asurmen says:

            Pointless snark is pointless.

          • Distec says:

            These kinds of posts around here need to die already.

          • Jools says:

            You realize how completely absurd it would be for everyone to prepend “in my opinion” to every statement made on the internet, right? It’s an implicit part of normal human conversation.

    • Erithtotl says:

      I think you’ve hit it on the nose here. If I truly am discovering 100s of new worlds, each unique, each with startling vistas and amazing, exotic creatures with fantastical behaviors, then I imagine I’d be happy with that.

      But I’m guessing that after the 4th or 5th world, the cracks will begin to show. We’ll start to see the coding behind the simulation. Repetition, bad AI, a certain genericness to things. We will find settings and creatures that are just the last setting and creatures only with a different skin. And this isn’t even mentioning how well they might actually simulate ‘intelligent’ and spacefaring entities.

      And if that’s the case, then a space-walking sim will get boring pretty quickly without some other mechanics involved. Now I definitely don’t want Eve. Actually the idea of going around and shooting resources sounds pretty damn boring though.

  11. auiouaoe says:

    You’ve exactly captured the opposite view of mine. I’m very scared this will be a depth-less walking simulator in space without a rich economy and resource system. I had hoped it would become more, but I’m increasingly convinced this will be a waste of time. A very, very pretty waste of time.

    • John Walker says:

      Do you think it’s fair to say that you already have an awful lot of space games with deep resource systems and taxes and paperwork, while I have almost no calm exploring games? Can I have just this one?

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        I believe the answer to ‘make this game more the way I want’ is ‘go make your own’.

        • RQH says:

          No, it’s not. Developers benefit from feedback, and if not the makers of this game, then perhaps some other developer present or future is reading this and might see that there are people who are interested in this sort of thing. People who have no inclination for or skill at making games shouldn’t have to make games in order to have games that they enjoy. I mean, I think everyone should make stuff because it’s good for the soul, but it’s not requisite to enjoying things, having preferences, and offering constructive criticism.

          Plus, when you actually make a game you rarely can enjoy the finished product; at least, not with the same sense of joyous discovery that you get when you chance upon a game that seems like it has been made just for you.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            There’s feedback to improve an existing game and there’s telling people to make a different game. This sounds more like the second, asking to completely remove one of the (possibly central?) systems of the game, possibly even resulting in a change of genre.

        • John Walker says:

          It’s funny how rarely people instruct those who ask for more of cinema to go shoot their own movie. What a silly thing to say.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            I don’t recall critics running onto a set and telling a director how to shoot their movie.

          • metric day says:

            That’s not true actually, John. That happens quite often and in these days of easy access to gear, software, resources, and help online… it’s a great idea. GO MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIE is definitely a valid response and a challenge worth taking on. Same with games. Making stuff is fun!

      • Wisq says:

        Serious question, John: If No Man’s Sky releases with a big resource-collection system, and you mod it out or cheat your way to infinite resources, is that sufficient to turn it into the calm exploring game you want to play?

        It’s easier to mod that sort of stuff out than it is to mod it in. In many cases, it doesn’t even require mods; you can just hook up a cheat code or a trainer. And if there’s enough demand for it, they can just make an option to disable resources and let you explore freely.

        Now, if they decide that the whole “planets and wildlife marked by whoever finds them” feature means they can’t support that kind of behaviour — no “exploration only” option, and an anti-cheating arms race — then I could certainly see your objection.

        But short of that, I’m confused as to why it’s a terrible thing that a game have resources, when almost every game has ways (legit or otherwise) to eliminate them. Isn’t that the best of both worlds?

        Certainly you could maybe argue that development efforts spent on resources means less spent on the environments. But I would posit that the resource system is what gives it its mass appeal, thus increasing the budget and benefiting all aspects of the game, including the environments and exploration.

        • John Walker says:

          The main issue would be balance. If removing a designed element of the game didn’t break the game, then the element can’t have been very well designed. I would like a game designed for avoiding doing taxes, not one where I have to blow up Revenue & Customs. Let alone the possibility that such modding may not be possible/something I could be arsed with.

          • Sarfrin says:

            Now you mention it, a game that was about blowing up revenue and customs might be fun. Perhaps historically themed so the people aren’t real and I don’t feel like a sociopath.

          • Wisq says:

            Humm, okay, a sensible concern. I was under the impression you mainly just wanted to be able to explore of your own accord, without any particular goals (other than those which you set for yourself). So I thought the simple removal of resources would be sufficient.

            I’m still not clear on what goals and gameplay you would expect from a procedurally-generated planet-exploring game if resources weren’t a thing, though.

  12. Craig Stern says:

    So, I get what John is saying here–when the core of a game is exploration, making the player Build Additional Pylons just to keep on going is a drag on things.

    However, I’m a little bewildered by the use of Homeworld as an example. The resource-gathering in Homeworld is automated, and exists mainly to force the player to (1) deal with multiple strategic objectives simultaneously (i.e. protecting harvesters while doing all the other stuff they’re supposed to be doing), and (2) avoid mindlessly flinging their ships at the enemy. Without the limitation of resources, there would be little to constrain endless ship-building; the game would have to abandon its stately, relaxed pace entirely in order to keep the player from building up an infini-fleet that could instantly shred the enemy with screen-wide barrages of ion cannon fire.

    • Nootrac4571 says:

      Automated? I haven’t played the recent re-release, but my lasting memory of every level in Homeworld 1 is: half an hour of exciting strategy, followed by an excruciatingly dull 2 hours of micromanaging resource collection, which you can skip if you want, but you’re mercilessly punished for doing so.

      • Craig Stern says:

        In the expansion, they allowed you to fast-forward time by up to 8X during resource-gathering; and in Homeworld 2, to auto-gather all remaining resources automatically post-mission. It was a design flaw not to feature something like this in the original game, but completely removing resource gathering from that game would have broken it (or at the very least, turned it into a very different type of game).

  13. Asurmen says:

    ‘Fun’ fact: We haven’t been the Inland Revenue in 10 years now. Please stop calling us that.

    The More You Know

  14. Jahooba says:

    I like searching for resources. In Minecraft I guess I didn’t play the ‘game’ as intended, or whatever, but my singular goal in that game was hunting for diamond. That’s it. I turned off enemies, made myself some picks, then dug down in search of caves that would lead me to diamond so I could make diamond picks to find more diamond.

    It was so rare that when I actually found it it was a great feeling. That anticipation->reward feeling is magical, plus I would get lost underground for hours at a time, build bridges, spiral staircases, sometimes a tower on the surface so I could find my way around.

    My greatest fear with NMS is that the game will force you off the planet long before you’re done scanning it or discovering or mining. Those robot thingies that attack you do so if you mess with stuff too much, which means the game may not want you to strip-mine a planet of its resources; just take a little bit and move on.

    • pepperfez says:

      Searching for and finding something rare is a different experience than continually gathering relatively common things. It’s the difference between finding the equipment you want in Baldur’s Gate and an MMO-ish loot treadmill. Both of them have fans, but many love one and absolutely detest the other.

  15. derbefrier says:

    I was really hyped for this at first but now i am at the wait and see point. I just have this feeling its going to be a very pretty but ultimately boring game.

  16. Underwhelmed says:

    No Man’s Sky is interesting to me, in that it has seen one of the biggest reversals in expectations among journalists and other internet peoples I have ever seen happen with a game before it has even released.

  17. BluePencil says:

    My worry about the game is that of the planets I’ve seen so far they look very similar, as do the denizens of each.

  18. merbert says:

    Ok I have to call this…..

    I just don’t buy the whole No Man’s Sky thing.

    By that I mean, I don’t buy the hyped up scope of it and I don’t buy the graphical aesthetics of it.

    I know that comment is going to rain on a lot of peoples “expectations parade” and I’ll be asked to “justify” exactly what I mean…could I give a little more insight to my “throw-away” assessment of such a grand scheme…..and I’m not here to flame or troll….I’ve been keeping an eye on NMS since it’s proposal….and I want to get drawn in by it, I really do….in concept it ticks a lot of my gaming desires boxes….but every time I come to write ups, videos and screen shots I just find myself going……”(sigh)……nnnaaaahhhh”

    That is all.

    Let the haters hate.

    • EhexT says:

      It’s because it’s Spore. The games media is lapping up the PR just like it again, it’s getting hype just like it again. But when you come down to it, it looks like Spore, it sounds like Spore, it tastes like Spore. A game that is hyped up to be too good to be true, but usually-trustworthy media are telling you it’s going to be all you dreamed of.

      The big problem is, many gamers remember Spore and have that sense of Deja Vu.

    • Harlander says:

      I’ve no beef with you expressing your disengagement, but doesn’t doing so make you the hater by the rather loose Internet standards of haterdom?

      • merbert says:

        ehhhhh……nnnnnoooooo…….not buying into something is very different to hating something…..

  19. TK-093 says:

    Since this is just one big shared universe, what happens if this company can’t pay the bills and has to shut down their servers? Or what happens if their servers simply go down for a little bit? Will I still be able to play?

  20. Jayson82 says:

    I really feel for this game and the company that are making it.

    Unlike others that promise the world and do not deliver, No Mans Skys just state what the are going to do, I have never heard them say there game is going to be anything more than what is advertised. It is everyone elses expectation and wishs that is causing all the hassle.

    People say its to simple? What do they want, Its a game about you, your space ship and an entire universe of planets to explore. You collect minerals, shoot pirates and try and make your way to the center of the galaxy. How is that simple? Its not solitaire or something.

    When it comes out I hope people just play it for what it is rather than what they hoped it would be.

    • TheoCecerus says:

      Plot Twist – Hello Games is secretly funded by EA………….

    • notcurry says:

      Exactly. Only the Internet is to blame for all this hype. The developers have merely stated how the technology works and how they want the game to feel. It’s the people who have managed to somehow accommodate all that into their personal ideal of a perfect game, and then start giving Hello Games hell for not making the game just as they’d wish it to be.

      I think that the cause might lie in the way they have advertised the game, which has been completely outside the norm. Some gamers seem to have grown accustomed to ingesting the same marketing patterns over and over, so when something original comes along they just don’t know how to react. And they react in an awful manner.

      • Cinek says:

        Must be talking about a different game, cause No Man’s Sky team have been building up hype since December 2013 when their first teaser was released, and their representatives were running around pretty much every large gaming-related media long before they had anything substantial to show. Heck – they even had a contract with Sony and Sony used their pre-rendered footage for promoting PS4.

        There’s no reason to blame Internet. It’s all up to Hello Games.

        • notcurry says:

          I don’t want to get too deep into a discussion about this, but I wouldn’t say HG are to blame, are least for the most part. Heck, if you’re an indie studio and the media come knocking on your door, what are you going to do? Should they have rejected them, telling them “No, sorry, people might get all hyped about our game…”?

          Anyway, it’s not that I want to stick up for HG. Maybe they have screwed up a little, maybe they haven’t. Maybe they should have made an effort to put out the fire early on, but I think it’s mostly on the people. They’re the ones who started going on about how this was finally the game in which you could do everything you’d ever wanted to.

          • Cinek says:

            The same excuses can be used for almost every hyped game ever. OF COURSE that Hello Games is there to blame for most of the hype. Not all – it’s never everything up to developer/publisher (in NMS case both being Hello Games), magazines and people need to catch the hook of hype, but in nearly every case, including No Man’s Sky, it’s all carefully nourished by them and it never, ever looks like you try to describe it, where magazines just “come knocking on your door”. If it even happened – for that to even happen you already need to have hype build up enough for magazines to bother. Otherwise they got another thousand indie companies developing their games, all of which want attention. Gaming industry is a very competitive one. Hype of the scale No Man’s Sky got is never build up by accident, it’s all very careful and skilled PR management. And no wonder Hello Games managed to pull it off – they got some great people with roots in EA, so you hardly can get more PR experience with large gaming media than there.

          • notcurry says:

            This is turning into a chicken and egg matter. That one turned out to be the egg, though, so I’m sure we’ll get the answer to this one eventually.

            Anyway, if I tend to think that the hype is not HG’s fault is simply because I personally am not that hyped. I’m excited for this game, sure. I’ve been following all the updates since I caught that fantastic VGX trailer here at RPS, and I’m a little hyped, no doubt, but I’ve never felt compelled to expect more than what they’ve shown. Others apparently have, and now they’re attacking HG because just as they once assumed for some reason that this would be the perfect game (in their eyes) they now assume it is going to be boring shit.

            So, if I have never felt driven to expect things that were never announced, why have so many others? Maybe it’s just because I’m an adult, and I don’t give too much importance to all this. They announced a game that looks nice. Cool. I’ll buy it when it comes out, if still looks nice. If it turns out to be boring, too bad, I’ll go do something else. What’s a little more worrying to me is the way this industry works, and the way the public behave. People seem to exhibit a sense of entitlement and a lack of respect that is very damaging to everyone involved and the overall quality of games, I think. You don’t see that happening nearly as much with movies or books.

  21. EhexT says:

    “Yes, people say, it’s a remarkable achievement that they’ve created this literal galaxy, that it has countless millions of planets and creatures it will procedurally generate on the fly then permanently fix in space for others to see. But what do you do? Why would you want more, I reply?”

    Because we’ve had this game already, several times. Hell, many are playing it right now, in an even more realistic Galaxy, that’s even bigger and it’s called Elite Dangerous. And they’ve all been boring as hell. A giant galaxy is a complete waste when there’s nothing to do in it, and so far No Mans Sky has yet to reveal anything interesting to do in it. There’s only the thinnest coating of a game layered over a skeleton that is FAR less impressive than the PR would have you believe.

    • notcurry says:

      Really? This game looks nothing like ED. In my opinion, a game goes far beyond its superficial description.

      Anyway, I guess that those who do not yet see anything to do in NMS are just not the audience this game is intended for. It’s OK, not everyone has to enjoy everything. I’m sure you enjoy games that I hate. That doesn’t mean they’re shit. It means you like them and I don’t.

      • BigfootNZ says:

        Yeah completely agree, some people don’t want to just look around at new planets and just kinda appreciate the math that made it all

        • notcurry says:

          Which is not necessarily a bad thing, if that’s what you like! I for one would kill to get my hands on that code…

      • Cinek says:

        game goes far beyond its superficial description.” – wow, you really do sound like a Hello Games PR guy.

        • notcurry says:

          Yeah, undercover HG PR here… Man, if my PR guy proposed that line to me as a pitch for promoting a game I’d be firing him the next second.

    • BigfootNZ says:

      quick question though: What do you consider something “interesting” to do it an infinite galaxy?

      • EhexT says:

        Something that isn’t “go there and look at procedural planet and fight procedural enemies”. Especially when “procedural” in this case means “random color + pool of random shapes/animal sounds/laser colors” (spore-itis)

    • bill says:

      It was probably why space sims died out, because there’s not a lot you can do with the cold empty vastness of space in terms of interesting interaction. Well, there might be, but it’s hard.

      You can shoot stuff. You can fly from place to place collecting stuff and buying and selling stuff. But the second one is dull, and the first one can only be fun for so long.

  22. BigfootNZ says:

    you don’t actually have to mine anything ever in the whole game if you don’t want to. you can explore and document things for credits, or you can dogfight and get credits that way and never have to mine. you may not understand the game yet

  23. OmNomNom says:

    At least it’ll be console first like all those other amazing console space sims….oh.

    • Sarfrin says:

      A thing hasn’t happened yet therefore it will never happen.

  24. JiminyJickers says:

    I’ll buy it and play the dickens out of it regardless.

  25. bl4ckrider says:

    Hype will kill that game.

    I am amazed that people can spend dozens of hours in GTAV without doing any missions or following the story. But the thing is, somebody put these diversions, vistas, minigames in there. Somebody decided that people could have fun for a few minutes if there was a ramp in a particular location and so it adds up.

    I doubt that NMS will have enough diversity to keep players interested. The problem of all sandbox games is: How much sand is there actually to play with, or is it just a huge empty box?

  26. aDFP says:

    My fear is that the developers have opted for simple, accessible mechanics over interesting ones. Shooting at/clicking on static, highly visible objects is literally the least interesting collection system around. Why are the resources just lying around? Why not tie it in to the ground-destruction system and make the player dig for them? My guess is that the memory needed to store changes to the world is prohibitively expensive, so we’re being guided into being sight-seers, but it would be nice to be wrong.

    Another interesting potential side-effect of mining could be the destruction of ecosystems, and the extinction of species, but I’m guessing the procedural generation system wouldn’t allow that either. A shame, because the idea of a game where players could choose to pursue a path of easy riches, by strip-mining entire planets, or a path of ecological preservation, by protecting worlds with words and weapons, or some kind of middle-ground ‘ethical capitalism’ is instantly appealing.

    But I’ll still play the pretty-looking exploration game HG are making, and hope it keeps me interested for longer than Spore did.

  27. AskForBarry says:

    Luckily they have included randomly generated caves in the planets. I hope that when the system of the resource and information gathering (which has to be returned to a beacon) is combined with cave exploring, thing may become interesting. E.g. minecraft resource gathering.

  28. Citizen Wolf says:

    Who knows whether the game will be good or not. We’ll all have to wait. But I do know that this article made me laugh out loud.

    I say to the author – well done sir. :)

  29. gbrading says:

    The author must find EVE Online utterly terrifying.

  30. cristoffson says:

    I agree! I’m willing to judge the game on the basis of whatever it will try to do, but I would really enjoy an endless walking-exploration sim. If it will be good depends of course on many factors, one of them being variation, but I generally find walking pretty compelling, especially when I’m at an unknown place (this is true in games but also in regular life). I just hope they focus more on the joy of discovery and variation of scenery more than they do on complex systems. Of course if they do focus on systems that’s okay, but it wouldn’t be the game I had imagined from the trailers and other marketing stuff.

  31. cylentstorm says:

    Thank you, John. The freedom to explore and satiate my wanderlust within the context of a vast galaxy WITHOUT the threat of typically banal sim traits is at the very core of my attraction to NMS.

    My fear is that Murray & co. will succumb to the pressure of all of the accountants, statisticians, and elite tech demo fans that seem to attack No Man’s Sky simply because it’s essence lies just outside of their beady-eyed tunnel-vision. Please, Sean (and friends): Don’t make it into THEIR game. Keep the quirky wide-eyed wonder that you described so long ago. Be free–and don’t be afraid to “fuck up.” ;)

    Personal preferences aside, why is it that so many of us seem to desperately NEED a clearly-defined path and/or the labels of our expectations? Sometimes it’s better to not know everything.

  32. ruinerr says:

    Haha… I compared Elite : Dangerous to doing my taxes and then got ridiculed by rabid inbred neck-beards. Man they were soooo mad. NMS on the other hand, looks far more interesting.