Why No Man’s Sky Has Been A Chimera

My overriding impression of No Man’s Sky’s since its reveal has been of its desire to create a wonderful space. I mean that in the sense of a space that inspires wonder – the kind of feeling I get when I unexpectedly happen upon a curious insect and am reminded of how much of the world is still unknown to me.

But there always seemed to be this really awkward relationship between No Man’s Sky pursuit of that sensation and what that meant in terms of mechanics, of objectives, of any kind of directed space. When I met Sean Murray at E3 last year we touched on the ideas of keeping people engaged with a world. The challenge didn’t seem so much creating wonder but combining it with engagement that extends beyond those initial encounters and keeps a player coming back. At the time, and at a subsequent hands-on, the engagement seemed to stem from the systems in place to keep you moving onward, never settling down, and continuing to explore towards the centre of the game’s galaxy.

I was disconcerted, then, by yesterday’s blog post titled What Do You Do In No Man’s Sky and another the day before in which Murray reveals and then reaffirms that base building is coming in a future update.

“We want to create something that feels more real and people have stories from, rather than just an ambient experience,” Murray told me at E3. “We want people to have real experiences and that means making choices and feeling like this is you, your character and what’s around you is real and the adversity of the world. Even though you will say it’s less appealing to have that, you’re wrong!

“It loses that sense of wonder – I totally get it – I have to upgrade my ship, I have collect money and I’ve done that before. But, one, we think we’re doing it in a way which really fits with the world and two, we think it gives real meaning to that discovery because you’ve had to fight for it. You’ve had to make clever decisions. That’s what we want to deliver. You’re living out your sci-fi fantasy and when you tell me your story of what you’ve done in the game it sounds like a legitimate science-fiction story.”

At the time it sounded like the idea was so focused around this nomadic existence where the game systems would combine to push you onwards. The resources and technology you found would be more advanced and valuable as you moved towards the centre of the universe, less as you moved outwards. The idea of reaching the centre would give you an overall, easy-to-hold-in-your-head aim but around the edges of that there would be reward loops that you could hopefully get absorbed in, maybe becoming a trader or following some other path.

When I went for a hands-on preview earlier this year, that was the first time I had a sense of how any of this might start coming together as a workable reality, though. Inventories, alien encounters, crafting, potentially trading, surviving extremes of temperature and of hostile fauna… That was all in there. I had a short time with it (particularly compared to the dozens (even hundreds) of hours a game like this would ideally see you put in if it’s executed well) so I had no idea how it would hold up over time but I did end up with an account that reads like a sci-fi story of sorts.

But that impetus to keep moving still felt like an integral part of the game. It still felt like a unifying element within the various systems – this nomadic streak. No home planets, no pets. Here’s the relevant part from the preview:

“The game mechanics are also a point where the team needs to keep tight control. They’ve gone with a core set which are all geared around getting people to move and to explore. You can’t build because that encourages you to set down roots, there’s no multiplayer (encountering another player would be more akin to Journey, perhaps, and is expected to be an incredibly rare event) because multiplayer encourages people to cluster and stay.”

I’m listening back to that section of the interview now and here’s the relevant part (it was cut from the preview piece because that piece was initially really long and suffered for it):

“It’s really funny talking to people who have maybe come into the office from the community and things like that or that we had in playing the game or journalists and stuff, and they will always have this one feature and they’re almost angry, like ‘Why can’t I do x?’ – pet creatures or something like that. Most of the time it’s because that would encourage you to set down roots and a lot of gameplay mechanics actually do that because games are often constrained or about that. So, for instance, building – being able to build a house or something like that. Then you wouldn’t want to go out and explore. If we had some sort of full-blown multiplayer death-match thing that would bring loads of people together. We want people to go out and explore.

“I guess the thing that’s maybe obvious or maybe not is that this is a big canvas. The reason people ask [these things] is you can look at it and go ‘Yes, that would work'”. It would be so easy to imagine as you were walking around that you could plant some plants – wouldn’t that be nice? It’s almost an obvious question to ask why can’t I do that. It kills me a little bit because we’ve had to cut a lot of those ideas but they’re not gone, they’re kind of in a box and I would like the opportunity after the game comes out, if it was popular and it was successful and people were enjoying it, I guess we could then have a sensible conversation?”

So this desire to keep the player moving acted as a tenet guiding the feature set and keeping the game focused in some way, but there was also the suggestion that at some point it might recede in importance or the game could become something else. Listening back is a slightly odd experience because I remember that the feeling after I’d been playing for a while was that this push to keep moving was really important, informing pretty much every aspect of what I’d played. It’s why planets at that point wouldn’t have multiple biomes and so on. But having read the most recent updates which talk about adding base building and owning giant space freighters, the quote seems so much more about reigning in the impulse towards feature creep until you’re in a position to open that box and examine those features you’ve had to set aside so far.

Murray’s post on the official site yesterday went through a kind of outline of what you actually do in the game. The post is a fair bit longer but here are his bullet points:

  • Exploring a universe of pretty procedurally generated worlds, with beautiful creatures
  • Trading with NPCs
  • Combat against robots/mechs and cool space battles
  • Survival/crafting in a universe sized sandbox
    An awesome procedural soundtrack from my genuine favourite band
  • For one small moment, you might feel like you’ve stepped into a sci-fi book cover
  • And the thing I wanted to say, and what I’ve been setting up with the talk of previews and early interviews and the like, is that I don’t think people are asking what you do because they haven’t seen the footage or the interviews or read the blog posts or the news articles that have added detail on particular aspects. Or at least, not for the most part. I feel like people might be asking “what do you actually do” as a shorthand for “what is the core of this thing that makes it something I can conceptualise and understand as a coherent game.” I think it’s about the gap between actions you can perform and the experience that they create.

    One definition of games which I have and which sometimes comes in useful at moments like this is that games are artworks that try to express ideas through a particular intertwining of systems which you are expected to interact with and which generally alter in response to some concept of progression. Knowing something of the systems and how they work in other contexts helps you to try and build a picture – a kind of vague sketch rather than a detailed image – of what the whole might feel like before you have a chance to play it.

    I think that’s why the question of what you actually do has come up so much with No Man’s Sky. The game has felt so resistant to being known through descriptions of its systems so perhaps there’s a suspicion that more knowledge of the latter would lead to a more knowable former. For me, this idea of movement/nomadism felt really important, not least because it offered a shape to this game and helped underpin the ideas of exploration and wonderment. I think that’s why I was so disconcerted to read that base building was being added next. It’s not that I hate building bases, but that it directly contradicts a version of the game I was able to hold in my head. The game suddenly felt like this slippery thing again.

    I don’t claim to have any special insider insight for this point, but No Man’s Sky’s final form has seemed like a fluid thing that was being altered during development to try and clothe the far more difficult-to-pin-down sensation of being an explorer of the unknown or, as Murray puts it in that list, “like you’ve stepped into a sci-fi book cover”. From his blogs over the last few days and what the team will be working on next I still don’t feel like I know what No Man’s Sky will become – if they’ve found the right clothes for the idea yet.

    I’ll get to play it in its official release form later this week and it will become a concrete experience where I can point to anecdotes and explain what I liked, what I didn’t, and what it is in relation to me. But the experience of watching No Man’s Sky as it’s moved towards a release date has been a peculiar one. The word I keep reaching for is “evanescent” – it’s been this thing fans or journalists would reach for and that would then dissolve or change somehow. Obviously the game itself was always a thing, existing in various forms and states of completion in the Hello Games offices. But the public perception of it was uniquely unstable; a chimera which will now slink away as the game trickles into full release.

    Disclosure: Our Alec did some writing for No Man’s Sky. He won’t be writing about it for us anymore. Obviously I have no such constraints :D

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    1. C0llic says:

      Is it likely that they’re adding something like base building to the game to encourage people to keep on playing when they’ve reached the centre? It would make sense depending on what’s there.

      When you reach that elusive goal perhaps some of that impetus to keep moving is lost, and this gives players the opportunity to settle down on a planet they like. Maybe it’s an answer to ‘So what now?’

      • frightlever says:

        Reaching the centre was supposed to take hundreds of hours, without the “exploits” (I hesitate to use the word). Most people don’t play games that long. I’d guess 90% of players will never reach the centre if it takes even fifty hours.

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          Captain Narol says:

          The devoted 10% that will play it to “the end” (I mean, it’s in no way really the end when you still have a almost fully unexplored universe left to discover and visit, apart from any gamified goal) will have an incentive to keep on coming back to it after the updates !

          Also, many of those who left somewhere on the journey will come back to it too as they get drawn by curiosity about the new content, so it might give the game a second life and then a third, etc…

          • frightlever says:

            Well, yeah, okay, but the pitch was there’s an effectively limitless universe to explore, and now they have houses you can decorate as well.

            It feels like the team at Hello Games have gotten nervous about their original vision.

            I’m still looking forward to it unlocking on Friday, and if I get thirty or forty hours out of it then that’s fine. I like grindy games, but I’ve no interest in playing dress-up with architecture.

            • frightlever says:

              Let’s clarify that. If it’s an exploration game, or a trading game, or a combat game, maybe you focus on making more things to explore, more wonders to find, strange animals to track down, have that galactic stock market and insider trading, have wars flare up. Frankly the combat looks weak. I’d like to see that improved immensely. Maybe even ship-boarding.

              I just see no point to base-building in a game were you have no material impact on the universe or interaction with any other players, suddenly you’re supposed to put down roots?

            • Someoldguy says:

              I tend to agree. Your ‘base’ is your ship. That’s what you are expanding, evolving, upgrading or decorating, surely? There shouldn’t be a point where you just want to park it in your garage while you do planet building stuff, should there?

              …unless you need to set up automated planetary strip-mining facilities to harvest vast quantities of materials because solo harvesting is just far too slow to build an EVE sized mega ship, death star or vast construction ship. Then you could use your vast construction ship to build something truly impressive. Now that I could get behind. Forget being the first to discover planets, who can be the first to disassemble one in order to make a ring world? Who can be the first to completely disassemble a planetary system and construct a Dyson sphere around the sun instead? Now that’s a long term project!

      • jonahcutter says:

        I watched a bit of the Giant Bomb quick look this morning, and it was related that the game starts you off with a choice that sounds a bit like “do you want free-play or story-mode?”

        Perhaps the base-building is to flesh out the free-play mode.

    2. Premium User Badge

      TehK says:

      I feel like people might be asking “what do you actually do” as a shorthand for “what is the core of this thing that makes it something I can conceptualise and understand as a coherent game.”

      Nailed it.

      I think, this actually was the first article I’ve read that so very much reflected my feelings about the game and managed to put them into a whole bunch of very well-fitting words. :)

      Seriously, thank you for this genuinely great article, Pip.

    3. aldo_14 says:

      Of course, the assumption is that base building would stop you from moving about places – but what if base building is simply a method to allow you to set fast travel points (albeit with a meta-game), so that all the planets you visit aren’t ‘lost’?

      One thing I have noticed about No Man’s Sky is that, more than any other game I’ve seen, it seems to see people forming expectations based on what they want (or imagine) more than anything that’s really been shown in trailers, etc. I’m not entirely sure what people expected, or even if there was a consensus on that… what I wanted was more or less a ‘cool alien safari game’, so I’m pretty cool with what I’ve seen so far.

      • frightlever says:

        Honestly, my guess would be a pocket solar system you can access from anywhere.

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          X_kot says:

          …with NO loading screens!

          • frightlever says:

            I don’t see how that would work. Presumably you’d have to have some sort of transition, similar to the one when you discover the centre of the first galaxy.

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              Nauallis says:

              Wait a minute, is that a spoiler? That’d actually be hilarious, if the big secret at the center of the universe was just a loading screen.

            • Technotica says:

              We all know that at the center sits Peter Molynoux right? He will have a wonderful, mind-blowing gift for whoever reaches him. A picture of himself autographed by himself.

    4. Gordon Shock says:

      Can we all move on please?

      By all means play the damn game and, ten hours in, find this it becomes extremely monotonous because it is procedural and move to another game.

      Jeez, so tired of marketing hypes. They set expectations so high that people tend to defend a product even though it is mediocre just to rationalize their emotional investment in the damn hype (yes I am looking at you Episode 7).

      Rant over

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        Yup, all this NMS hype is distracting us from what’s really important…

        Hyping up the new Deus Ex. It’s coming in 13 days! I can’t wait!

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          caff says:

          I think it should be Rimworld. I’m hoping Graham is writing a Rimworld diary.

          • hpoonis says:

            Sounds like an entire planet of tongues cleaning sphincters.

            • Feedim says:

              It really does. This I have just realised is what may be putting me off it.

            • syndrome says:

              You two have dirty minds.
              Rimworld is an ok game overall, but somehow I find it meh. << tl;dr

              Perhaps because it really is a well-disguised ripoff of a few well-established titles — and this is the first time I've ever said for a game to be a ripoff as I dislike the term intensely. But in this case I sincerely have to, it is what it is.

              Nothing stands out in it, as it is literally that-backwater-place-from-the-Firefly-universe-that-wishes-to-have-a-DF-appeal-while-looking-almost-exactly-as-Prison-Architect type of game. If you want to play it, you want to play it; but unlike Firefly, DF, or PA it doesn't have that philosophical essence that lingers from above, forcing you to leave that zone of comfort for a bit, at least intellectually. It doesn't question anything, like the system of incarceration for example, and it doesn't provide for an immersive story-telling structure, nor it has/wants the imaginative layered complexity of DF. No, you cannot learn something about geology along the way, and you won't make a comic about what happened to your Rimworld people, and no, it doesn't tinker with your moral standpoints that much nor it cares about that at all. It doesn't even seem to understand the deep allegories that criss-cross Firefly's seemingly uninvolving and lighthearted alternate history type of thing.

              All three titles provide a wide perspective for the player, a sort of an angle from which to observe the human systems that are already in place, but unexpectedly degenerate along the way, due to inherent but natural flaws, primitive biases*, or economic but ultimately inhuman excuses, despite the best of intentions. In contrast, there is nothing to take out from Rimworld.

              (* DF is mainly about the grey zone between the infinite growth and the endless greed that fuels it, as it explores the culture of mind that emerges from it; it's a mirror of sorts; and I could write an essay on what it does exactly and how it directly inspired Minecraft which is much more immediate and capitalistic, yet similarly set in the wild fantasy world that wants to be tamed.)

              Rimworld's author was probably like "Hey, these three omnipopular IPs should be merged, because that's how hits are made. Look at how obvious and smart it is, yet nobody thought of this before."

              Indeed, and for a reason. Blatant recycling almost never results with a hit, but I have to say that it's comparatively well done and it does have a few authentic gimmicks here and there, but it's nothing spectacular. I guess it was just a very convenient thing to design — to simply borrow this and that — as all three IPs have this innate character that's hard to forget. But he kinda forgot to include what made these three so special.

              I find all of that really awkward given that its author wrote a book on game design, and this game was like the safest of all the safe bets for an already relatively safe niche market.

        • Scelous says:

          I am taking vacation days for Deus Ex. I would put myself in a medically-induced coma until the release, were it possible.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        If you’re so tired of NMS hype, why are you clicking on articles about the game to talk about it? Seems like kind of a stupid, mildly narcissistic plan.

        Kind of like Episode VII. No one made you argue with fanboys over it. You sought out those interactions, just like every other person who is “over” something on the internet.

        There’s a place for criticism and discussion, but I’ll never understand the thinking that gets a person to show up somewhere and basically say “all of this is stupid, can everyone else shut up and move on?”

        Start with you.

      • Frank says:

        This piece is hardly hype. It’s more of a disquisition on the hype and the odd form it’s mostly taken.

      • MajorLag says:

        The worst part of Hype Syndrome is that even if the game is actually good it ends up being hated because it didn’t live up to the ridiculous level of hype.

        My personal theory is that that’s why we’ll never see a Half-Life 3.

    5. The Great Wayne says:

      Thank you Pip. It’s pretty much what many of us have been trying to explain regarding the interrogations most have/had with the title.

      Very well put, excellent article.

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      Captain Narol says:

      My deep feeling is that NMS is gonna be an evolving game.

      At release, it’s just an exploration/survival sandbox as announced, with the optional goal of reaching the center of the universe to know the “big secret” hidden there…

      But after the future updates that Sean unexpectedly started teasing, the game shall indeed kinda change of nature to become a sort of persistant MMO in the style of EVE ONLINE, where you can settle and live forever as space trader, a starfighter or a xenobiologist collecting informations about alien species for a database that will never be finished (or a mix of all those lives with the proportions you favor)

      I have the feeling that Hello Games want to keep us playing in NMS after we have finished what we would call the main storyline, and that, and I welcome that idea with enthousiasm if that universe they created (proceduraly !) proves itself fascinating enough to be worth spending a lifetime in it !

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        Captain Narol says:

        Let me quote Sean’s last words about it btw, as I think they mean a lot for the future of NMS :

        “This universe we’ve built is a pretty large canvas, we’ve got a lot of ideas. This is the type of game we want to be.”

        Obviously, the game that we will play starting friday is just the first step of the deep and lasting experience he wants to offer us in that beautiful procedural universe they created, time will tell if they can indeed deliver on the long run…

        • SheffieldSteel says:

          It sounds like they have a pretty good foundation on which to build.

          • minijedimaster says:

            hold on to your butts. Mass amounts of DLC incoming.

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              Captain Narol says:

              This is not Elite : Dangerous, it has been already announced that ALL UPDATES WILL BE FREE.

    7. DeepSleeper says:

      It’s a space trading game. You collect minerals. You upgrade with the minerals. You trade the minerals. You use the money you get from trading to upgrade other things. You collect more minerals. You use the upgrades to dogfight enemies. You collect minerals and upgrades from their wreckage. And you keep going, onward, onward.

      We have these. We have Space Rangers. We have Elite. We have Darkstar One and Star Wolves and Rebel Galaxy and dozens and dozens of space trading games.

      Why was “What do you do in No Man’s Sky?” ever a question? Because they added “walk around on planets” to the toolbox?

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        Captain Narol says:

        Indeed, you are quite right. They just added a little of survival and some light storyline but at the core NMS belongs to that category of space exploration games relying on trading and fighting.

        I think what makes NMS so different and the hype that intense is that none of those has 3D living planets so diversified (I think everyone will agree that planets in ED are especially dull and lifeless) with different biomes and alien animal life, that you can explore in first-person view.

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          Nauallis says:

          From what I’ve read it could satirically be described as an inventory management and puzzle game with annoyingly long and varied interactive loading screens… probably still wouldn’t satisfy the folks asking “what do you do.” Oh well.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          To be fair to E:D, barren airless world should be mostly devoid of life and activity. It would be kind of weird if they were bustling hubs of economic activity or dense ecosystems.

          Besides, atmospheric landings should be here no later than 2025!

        • milligna says:

          I find NMS far more dull and lifeless than Elite. At least I can meet friends and strangers who have been in space too long now and again.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        The impression from what I’ve seen of it today (or yesterday) is that it’s Proteus with Spore’s space stage.

        I don’t care if it has an eventual “end game” loop or a completion state if it’s enjoyable enough for a dozen or so hours.
        I’ll wait for the release mass hysteria distraction to die down and it’s possible for Top Men to analyse if it’s worth the time.

        • Technotica says:

          I think it is more of an evolution of that indie space game that ran at sub 640p and where you played a catlike alien exploring the universe… damn what was it called again?

          It had randomized planets and creatures on those planets.

          • Technotica says:

            Noctis! That’s it, its like a high res version of Noctis! Noctis with ressources.

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              Captain Narol says:

              Noctis + Elite + Proteus + Spore + Out There = No Man’s Sky !

              Equation solved, game classified.

              Quod Erat Demonstrandum

    8. otyugh says:

      So according to the above, in the earlier interview the devs said:

      “…and they will always have this one feature and they’re almost angry, like ‘Why can’t I do x?’ – pet creatures or something like that. Most of the time it’s because that would encourage you to set down roots…”

      But now the patch notes say:
      “Feeding – creatures now have their own diet, based on planet and climate. Feeding them correctly will yield different results per species, such as mining for you, protecting the player, becoming pets, alerting you to rare loot or pooping valuable resources.”

      So am I right in thinking they went from ‘no pets’ to ‘pets’?

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        I think “pet” was being used as a verb, not as an adjective.

        • otyugh says:

          Ah, I guess that makes sense. Still, having pets does seem contrary to the earlier ideal of not setting down roots. Unless you can take them with you on your spaceship :-)

          • frightlever says:

            18 quintillion planets, 18 quintillion cold goodbyes, as your ship pulls away into night, leaving space-Benji yapping plaintively on the launch pad far, far below…

      • Lanessar says:

        I remember an IGN video where the Sean guy said he would change things up over time depending on what the players requested, but they had planned on players just exploring and continuing toward the center.

        I expect the pets/bases/freighters additions are being requested by the players, and they changed their plans. Which is sort of a sane approach to any software product.

    9. kromeboy says:

      “You’re living out your sci-fi fantasy and when you tell me your story of what you’ve done in the game it sounds like a legitimate science-fiction story.”

      This describe exactly the exploration phase of Stellaris: you explore and interact with various meaningful aliens empires.

      In NMS as far as I have seen you just hop from planet to planet scavenging resources, and the aliens you encounter are just a two line dialog with no sensible outcome.

      Also in NMS all meaningful events are described in text: this is something I am ok in a Paradox grand strategy game, but it bugs me off in a first person open world game.

    10. geldonyetich says:

      Great article, I mirror most of what’s said here, including wondering how a game so focused on wandering can integrate base building.

      Seems to me they’re adding staying put as an alternate activity. Possibly as another “path.”

      • frightlever says:

        Yeah, screw exploring. Just set up a lemonade stand on that first planet.

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          Captain Narol says:

          Would be cool, I love lemonade and it should be nice to have a place in space where to get some !

    11. tslog says:

      I think this example of hype has never been more pinned on the gamers hyping it up more than the media or the developers.
      The developers never spent much time explaining what you do in the game, until very late but the selfhype was way into galactic overdrive before then. so there wasn’t much meat known to accurately promote the hype apart from its a universe wide exploration game.

      And that fits the pattern of wide breadth and shallow depth that’s become more of a problem in modern games; x 100,o00s amounts of dialogue written, dozens or hundreds of hours of gameplay…. Or how about our universe game !!!!! The ultimate of money for value. If you don’t mind being bored the whole time

    12. Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Right, so I read this article and watched all the spoiler videos on Reddit (yes, all of them), but what do you do?

      • Jason Moyer says:

        You replenish needs before their timers run out i.e. the worst gameplay mechanic ever.

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          Nauallis says:

          Yup, I know how it works. Being facetious. Somebody had to ask.

    13. Premium User Badge

      Captain Narol says:

      Pip, the more I think about, the more I think you have coined it in using the word “Chimera”.

      But not in the sense you meant, but rather in the original meaning of the word chimera : something that’s bits and pieces of other things mashed together.

      Indeed, with those last-minute changes to the game you play and with the upcoming future updates, NMS is more and more becoming a mixmash of different kinds of gameplay, which may make it hard to understand for some but all the more interesting for others (as Mount&Blade, for example, that I personally adore).

      A far as I am concerned, I already don’t see NMS anymore as a game but rather as a virtual world of quasi-infinite size that I want to spend plenty of time in, like I did before in places like Asheron’s Call, Eve Online and Second Life.

      The more varied stuff there will be to do in it, the better, and what has already been announced interested me far enough for me to be convinced by now without having even started playing it that I will spend quite a lot of time in there, mining rocks, trading stuffs and just studying alien wildlife (I’m passionated by Xenobiology, you know), probably taking all my time to lazily reach one day the center of the universe if I even do…

      The pleasure of the journey is in the journey itself, not in the destination.

      • frightlever says:

        Asheron’s Call would have been a lot more fun if the nearest player had been a few hundred light years away, instead of telling me my axe build was gimped, fifteen minutes after making the character.

        Such a good game. There must be hundreds of random dungeons now, left over from events.

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          Captain Narol says:

          I’m kinda a loner when I play in virtual worlds, so the fact that in NMS you have very few chances to meet another player does fit me quite well, to be honest !

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            Better yet then: link to reddit.com

            Apparently players can’t see each other, or the actions of others except planet naming. They were in the same place but they couldn’t see each other or results of each others actions and the in-game time day/night isn’t synced.

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              Captain Narol says:

              Yeah, I saw that.

              So either there was a server-side problem, or the lobbies were people on the same planet were supposed to be abble to meet have not been implemented yet.

              I understand that many people are very desappointed to not be abble to join with their friends inside the game, but Sean recently repeated that “To be super clear – No Man’s Sky is not a multiplayer game. Please don’t go in looking for that experience.”

              There is other space games out there for those who look for a multiplayer experience : Eve Online, Elite : Dangerous, Ascent : The Space Game, Starbound, Destiny, etc…

              To be honest, when I see the rivers of hate and stupidity in the threads over internet about “how Sean lied to us about Multiplayer”, I’m just even more happy that NMS is a single-player experience ! Even calling those people “trolls” is an unsult to the real trolls of the mythology, IMHO..

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        I’m pretty sure that’s how Pip meant it.

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          Captain Narol says:

          English is not my first langage so maybe you’re right, but I was under the impression that meant in the figurative sense : “a thing which is hoped for but is illusory or impossible to achieve”

          That’s how her last paragraph makes it sound for me, at least :

          “The word I keep reaching for is “evanescent” – it’s been this thing fans or journalists would reach for and that would then dissolve or change somehow. Obviously the game itself was always a thing, existing in various forms and states of completion in the Hello Games offices. But the public perception of it was uniquely unstable; a chimera which will now slink away as the game trickles into full release.”

    14. aircool says:

      Totally get the sci-fi book cover thing. An ancient desert with a backdrop of a gas giant. In the sand there’s a space suit with a cracked helmet with a bleached skull inside.

      The game kinda reminds me of the limited run of Starblazer comics way back when…

      • Shiloh says:

        That image really reminds me of something – I seem to remember having a book of sci fi images when I was a youngster back in the 80s and that was one of them, with a skeletal hand reaching out of the wrecked spacesuit as well… I’m going to have to go on a Google image trawl.

        • Shiloh says:

          Having had a good look round, it was probably from one of the old Terran Trade Authority Handbooks, maybe this one:

          Spacewreck – Ghostships and Derelicts Of Space

          Wonderfully illustrated by Stewart Cowley. I loved those books back in the day – complemented my Traveller obsession.

          • Shiloh says:

            Actually, Stewart Cowley wrote them, he wasn’t the illustrator.

            I’ll stop going on about it now.

            • Sene says:

              For the sake of your sanity, I think the illustrator was Alan Daniels.

    15. aircool says:

      Oh yeah… it’s all very Spaceman Spiff as well :)

      • Premium User Badge

        keithzg says:

        Hah! Yeah, I thought the same thing, it does seem in many respects like a Spaceman Spiff simulator, and that’s be quite alright with me.

    16. UncleRuckus says:

      I guess my issue here is that I’m left wondering why things like building bases and having pets, etc. matters to someone who wants to feel the need to push forward and keep moving. In a game where are 18 quintillion planets, supposedly very little human interaction, and plenty of systems in place to encourage you to push forward, what else do you need to drive you besides your own human instinct to explore?

      And why would things that encourage players to not constantly push forward change the way you intend to play? And if it makes other players not want to keep pushing forward, who cares? They’re not going to impact your game anyways, unless you come across them and their bases, pets, etc. in your travels. To me that would be a really cool thing to experience anyways.

      At the end of the day we’re all human beings. Some of us instinctually want to explore and if you throw us into an 18 quintillion+ planet universe, with the tools to explore, we’re gonna explore!!! We don’t need much more of a push. On the other hand, some of us instinctually want to settle and build. So why not provide the tools to facilitate just that??? I think it would be an incredible waste of space(pun intended) to give us just one of these two options.

    17. LapsedPacifist says:

      My problem with people saying “explore” over and over again is that it makes very little sense to me. I can explore if I can find something meaningful: If planets had civilizations you could find, mysteries of bygone ages, that sort of thing, then sifting through all that procedural guff would be easily worth it. But as far as I can understand, it’s colorful worlds that, while interesting, offer nothing substantive.

      I liked exploring in Morrowind, say, because past the next foyada there might be a tomb with some odd treasure or a book of lore or some strange, weird thing I haven’t seen before. But exploring an entirely procedural world is… empty, I guess. Fun for a while but there’s nothing truly interesting. Perhaps my tastes here are odd and to other people Yet Another Weird Beach is fascinating and a reward unto itself.

      • Premium User Badge

        Captain Narol says:

        The point is, how different from the other weird beaches you have already seen that weird beach needs to be to makes it interesting and fascinating to you ?

        The answer will strongly vary from one person to another, and indeed only the few people who find delight in nuances may appreciate finding that new weird beach in the end…

        This is one of the reasons why NMS will very probably be only a niche game for “true explorers at heart” (ie those who enjoy exploring for the pure pleasure of discovering something only slighty different but that noone else has seen before rather than for finding something significant or valuable)

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          Nauallis says:

          ^ This. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.

      • kromeboy says:

        My PC game exploration game is Google Street View. Just select a random small town in the US and find out an odd car museum, then go look up this museum web site and such.

        In a game form there are a lot of simulators where you can explore real places like OMSI, Train Simulator, or even Euro Truck Simulator. The maps are big enough to wander around but are based on the real world variation.

        Also GTA cities are a delight to explore, especially GTA 4 and 5.

        With procedural generation I think that the fun only last for a couple of hours until you start to see the patterns of the algorithm. In Minecraft is when you stop to wander around and you start to build, in NMS as right now is where you stop to play.

    18. mindcrome says:

      I don’t have know problem with base building. I like it to be there for me to use it if I want. I just don’t want the game to shift to that being a main focus of the gameplay. But I would really like to option to make a Mother Ship. A spaceship RV.

    19. heavyweather says:

      I’d like base building in this game if the base were, say, mobile! Like a capital ship or giant freighter, or even like a starbase or carrier that NPCs could land within. It’d be cool if once you reach the center, you are then coordinating sending out probes or creating missions for other players/NPCs to explore or trade on your behalf.

      Anyway, this game has a bit of Star Citizen’s problem, which is that its playerbase wants it to be everything to everyone, and they’re such a small team that that’s just never going to happen. So I hope they keep focus on the core systems and keeping the core gameplay loop fun and interesting and novel.

      Looking forward to pulling the trigger on Friday and checking it out for myself.

      • Wyrm says:

        I was just about to write the same thing – if your base was a “mothership” of sorts that could be docked on the planet while you gather resources, and perhaps be set on a course whilst you go fly around in your fighter exploring..

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          Harlander says:

          That’s what sprung to my mind when they started talking about base-building. Some kind of travelling carrier that can follow you around a bit or go where you tell it is the only thing I can think of that wouldn’t torpedo the whole nomadic vibe the game has going.

    20. CartonofMilk says:

      personally the fact that there was no base building and such is what had kept me from feeling more excited about this game. What i ideally want is for Space Engineers and NMS to have a baby. Maybe Planet Nomad will be it…..

      • CartonofMilk says:

        I forget to add, and with Elite space combat.

        • Premium User Badge

          Captain Narol says:

          You should try “Ascent : The Space Game”, it’s an indy game that has all that and is out already, with a wonderfully welcoming community !

    21. mitthrawnuruodo says:

      I would have bought it day 1 if it had a normal save-load system. But now-a-days I simply do not have enough time to throw away in something like this where you can loose hours, even days of progress due to one moment of distraction.

    22. darkteflon says:

      So I’m just sniffing around, picking at the scraps on NMS where I find ’em, then I drop by RPS and – predictably – best writing on the web.

    23. Unsheep says:

      I think a lot of people had imaginary, and thus unreasonable, expectations about what this game would be like, even though the information given about the game, by the developers, has been accurate.

    24. theirongiant says:

      I’d really like to see a spaceship game that has maybe 8 planets rather than 800 billion. I reckon there is a market for a far smaller scaled, far more richly detailed Elite/NMS/Star Citizen type thing.

    25. ZakG says:

      I think we should all start complaining when a dev decides to add more free content to our games.

      I mean if there was one thing we have learned from ED it is that we don’t actually want more content. Am i right?

    26. saulysw says:

      I think what some may be missing is that it might be a case of having your cake and eating it too. Why is it base building OR exploring? Why not AND? All you need is some sort of teleport back home device, and you can still go as far as you like, with a way back with all the loot to your comfy abode on Earth 2.0 or whatever you call base. Ideally you can then teleport back to the last planet and keep on going to the center. opinion, away!

    27. Jon Denton says:

      I watched some of Jim Trinca’s stream yesterday with his save where he was 8 hours in and liked what I saw.

      The imperative for nomadic movement reminded me of Jalopy in a way, but I did not see enough to know if the ship you have is as fleshed out as Jalopy’s Laika. In Jalopy you feel like the car is your home and it holds everything you need, and that you and the car are on a journey, an adventure. If NMS gives me that with a backdrop of colourful sci-fi fantasy then I have no doubt I will be picking up a copy at the end of the week.

    28. PancakeWizard says:

      At most the base building is going to be Subnautica style (I would be cool with this). At worst, it’ll be a prefab camp unit that you just plop down and job done (I wouldn’t see the point in this).

    29. suibhne says:

      Splendid article, Pip. I’ve been reading this site for about a decade (whoa!), and this was, for me, one of the most satisfying pieces I’ve encountered here in a long time.

    30. JoeD2nd says:

      This game should have been released on early access. That’s what it feels like. It feels like a game that wasn’t quite finished and could have benefited a lot from community input. I am in no way knocking early access. I love early access and buy EA almost exclusively these days. I even think they could have gotten away with the $60 price tag for a lot of people. But people would need to know that more was coming, not just yeah, here’s our “finished game” and we promise to add more stuff later – meanwhile the team moves on to a new game (which is sort of what’s happening). I’m not saying they won’t keep their word and add more stuff, but there’s really no obligation to do this since the game is fully released. Here’s hoping it can be improved over time.

    31. CartonofMilk says:

      It loses that sense of wonder – I totally get it – I have to upgrade my ship, I have collect money and I’ve done that before. But, one, we think we’re doing it in a way which really fits with the world and two, we think it gives real meaning to that discovery because you’ve had to fight for it. You’ve had to make clever decisions. That’s what we want to deliver. You’re living out your sci-fi fantasy and when you tell me your story of what you’ve done in the game it sounds like a legitimate science-fiction story.”

      we haven’t played the same game, sean. Oh boy have we not played the same game.