The Broken Promise Of No Man’s Sky And Why It Matters

After years of waiting, No Man’s Sky finally took off last week. For some, it soared above the clouds. For others, it crashed into a ditch and exploded. Our John had a rocky flight himself, saying that, while he was enjoying the journey, it was often infuriating. My own experience was one of disappointment. I didn’t enjoy the focus on crafting, the endless menus, the lack of purpose to it all. But it was strange that I felt this let down. Then I went back and watched the early trailers and quickly realised that I was not playing the same game I had been shown.

Here’s an old video. Let’s take a look.

When you look at what’s happening here, it’s incredible. Alien animals are moving in vast herds, there are tall reptiles bathing in water, a large predator is knocking down trees in an attempt to attack or frighten another, prompting a panicked stampede – all interesting animal behaviour. The ship shoots into space and lands on another planet, virtually seamlessly.

But when you play the game as it is, the feeling of being on a planet – even a beautiful one with a lot of life – does not match this trailer. There are no stampeding herds, no beasts lounging in the nearest river (no rivers at all), no animals tearing up trees or muck. Subsequent trailers have the same problem. There are no giant sand worms, there are no huge shipwrecks on the planet’s surface, no low sweeps across the landscape. In fact, for a game that extols freedom, it’s strange that your ship cannot fly lower than 50 metres without being forced to hover over an invisible barrier. There will be no races through narrow canyons here.

For many, the sense of disappointment people are feeling is simply due to public expectation spiraling out of control. The hype grew too great, the story goes, and no game could live up to it. Or: people didn’t understand what the game was. While it’s true a lot of people invented a game in their heads called No Man’s Sky and then were baffled when that game didn’t appear, it’s also true that the game we were shown is not the same as the one we got. Much of what was shown or described in the hype years is wildly unrepresentative of what’s there now. Not just the inability to meet other players, even when you are within a few feet of each other. Or the landscape fizzling in around you (far from the seamless surface-to-space-and-back-to-surface demonstrations of early trailers). The entire atmosphere of the game seems to have changed. What once looked like a bracing adventure was now being described by many, often in the tone of apology, as a “quiet” game, a “relaxed” game.

In the videogames industry we are used to scripted marketing material being shown at E3 or GDC or Gamescom, packed with interesting stuff that changes radically by the time of the a game’s release. We all remember BioShock Infinite’s fake trailers, which seemed like “gameplay” but were really only thinly-veiled first-person cinematics, none of which ended up in the final version. And because we have grown used to this type of advertising, a lot of people are shrugging when it comes to Hello Games’ space-faring survival game. It is no different, you could say.

This is an narrow-minded and anti-consumer attitude. Just because every game developer under the quintillion suns does the same thing, does not make it OK. The right question to ask is: Why do we think this is an acceptable thing within our industry? Why are we prepared to buy into a intergalactic spectacle and then shrug off the discrepancies when that spectacle turns out to be only spectacle? To take one example, the animals of No Man’s Sky, far from exhibiting any kind of complicated behaviour, are limited to two simplistic modes of being: hostile or non-hostile. You could replace all the animals on these planets, no matter how wonderfully weird they look, with two models – a nasty red blob, and a nice green blob – and it would not change how the game functions or how you react to this world (aside from making your screenshots folder more boring). It’s a very shallow food chain.

It’s possible some of these features – like gargantuan creatures who live in the ground – are somewhere in the game, hidden deep in the universe, and they simply have not been discovered yet. It’s also possible that some features will be added later (Hello Games has already said it will be adding some form of basebuilding to the game in an upcoming patch). But neither of these possibilities excuse the game for its shortcomings as they are now. This isn’t an early access title. The game is out, the game is expensive (and this is something I think a lot of us in the press often forget to factor into our thoughts when we get our free press copies) and we have to judge it based on what can be seen here and now. Reddit is already doing just that, in their characteristically crusading (sometimes inaccurate) way, by compiling a list of everything “missing” from the game.

When Aliens: Colonial Marines came out, revealing that all its pre-release footage was a complete misrepresentation, the press and public had a collective meltdown. That’s an extreme example, because A:CM was particularly awful and No Man’s Sky, by my judgement, is only dull. But we can look at either of these releases, side-by-side with their early trailers, and plainly see that something has been lost.

This isn’t about blaming the developers for dropping features – that happens to every game, it is entirely forgivable. We so fervently believe that programmers are magicians we sometimes forget they are fallible ones. But this is about calling developers and publishers out when any such “drops” aren’t adequately admitted before release. Later trailers for NMS did not show the giant sandworm, for instance, or low flights across the landscape, but this does not constitute “coming clean”. To admit that something has been stripped out, you have to explicitly say so, and you have to say it loudly.

There may be barriers to doing this, marketing teams to wrestle with, business and legal problems that get in the way, deadlines to meet. We often hear that there is a lot happening “under the surface” or “behind the scenes” at studios which prevent developers from being open about changes, features or other important news. But unless we know what these problems are, we can’t judge them to be a fair reason or a foul excuse. It’s the National Security fallacy. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that but, trust me, there is a good reason why.”

It doesn’t look good afterwards, in the cold light of post-release, to have neglected to mention all those deleted parts. And it’s sometimes hard to see why creators would not mention these things. All it takes is a press release, an open letter, a video on the game’s YouTube channel. And while it might be painful at the time to say, “listen guys, we had to take out the asteroid landing” it will be much less painful than the alternative – reaching the day of release and seeing the internet go into a frenzy, sending barrels of hatemail to your doorstep, tearing apart your digital baby. Things change, people will understand. But you have to tell them first.

One benefit of the early access model, for all its shortcomings, is that players see the game as it evolves. There’s an immediate transparency. They can follow changes and cuts, even respond to them, and often hear from the developers themselves in regular updates, forums, and so on. A giant blockbuster hiding behind carefully released tidbits of information does not have this comfort. Neither does anyone being purposefully coy or spoiler-allergic. As flawed as the early access road is, it might have been better for Hello Games. Perhaps not monetarily – Sony’s pushing of this game has ensured its best-selling status regardless of the critical response – but it may have resulted in a better game, and one closer to the vision set out in that first trailer.

There are some signs, however, that the dangers of hype are being recognised. As the game came closer to release, Hello Games and Sony seemed to understand that the build-up, far from being a boon, could actually be a problem. They began to show bits and pieces of what you would actually be doing on these colourful planets and space stations. And, while it began to feel more concrete, they were also too busy trying to tell everyone what No Man’s Sky actually was, that they forgot to tell the world what it wasn’t. What it didn’t have. It’s a matter of contradistinction. You can visualise an animal you’ve never seen before if someone tells you “it has wings” but you can understand it much better if they follow that up with: “…but it can’t fly.”

Future developers need to learn from this, just as future marketers do. But marketers are motivated by the bottom line and may not care if they are poisoning the industry with faux-gameplay trailers and hyper-ambitious promises. Developers, on the other hand, have a creative vision of their own and need to take care that it remains true, because it is not the marketing geezer’s reputation on the line – it’s the creators. In the case of Hello Games, the biggest marketer often was the developer, which might have been half the problem.

The thing to take away, though, is this: the more broken promises we have to endure, the more the videogames industry becomes like modern politics – a massive theatre that every contestant understands is composed of untruths and half-truths, and in which the best silver-tongue will always triumph. It is not that bad yet, at least, I don’t think so. We are more at the mercy of excitable nerds than we are manipulative Trumps. But the culture of truth-bending gets worse with every successive E3.

Regardless of how it is being received, No Man’s Sky will be remembered. Hopefully, for the right reason – not as a disappointment or a triumph – but as a lesson. You can take your audience for a soaring ride above the clouds, but you have to bring them back to earth every once in a while.


  1. FordTruck says:

    I want that guy from this website who interviewed Peter Molyneux to interview Sean Murray <_<

    • mavrik says:

      I wish that treatment would also be extended to all the idiots who STILL preorder games without knowing anything about them.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        As someone on this very site pointed out the other day, in an age when both Steam and GOG (both of which sell this game) offer very easy to use refund policies, there is actually very little risk in pre-ordering. None at all, really.

        It’s still a stupid system that’s constantly abused by publishers, but it no longer has the same risk-factor for us little gamers that it once did.

        • QSpec says:

          Exactly why I preordered. If I didn’t like it (I did), I could return it. I still got the (admittedly lame) preorder bonus. Everyone wins.

          • OscarWilde1854 says:

            This. I preorder for the occasional preload (especially on large, AAA games… )and the (admittedly not always awesome) preorder bonuses. Then if I don’t like it, I refund it… there are a couple of small upsides and no downsides. People need to stop judging preordering!

          • JoeD2nd says:

            yeah, except that Steam eventually cuts you off if you return to many times.

        • Avus says:

          In the age of digital distribution, pre-order game is just stupid.

          • BobbyDylan says:

            Not really. I preordered NMS about 2 hours before it went live, just to get all the bonus incentive gubbins. Installed it but didn’t play it right away. I watched some lets playes on youtube to see what the game would be like, an promptly refunded it.

            No risk, no fuss.

        • Tikigod says:

          You noticed how many publishers such as Firaxis have started operating their ‘pre-purchases’ where they immediately get the funds 4-6 months in advance to tentative release dates that will likely get pushed back? ;)

        • Rhenthyl says:

          Steams policy is OK, but not as good as EA’s, but for most games it’s enough. GOG’s policy however is atrocious, they only give refunds if the game is broken and they can’t get it to work. In the case of NMS they’ve actively been refusing refunds saying that as the game works for the majority of people and is actively supported by a support team, you have to wait.

          GOG’s actions over the past year have gone from worse to worse. Where as they used to be my first port of call for a game, these days i’d rather spend it at EA or even worse Ubi

          • Dugular says:

            Out of interest, what other actions from GOG has made you unhappy this year? I love GOG personally but haven’t been following their updates.

            Also, purely to play devil’s advocate, I wonder if their refunds have to be stricter because you get access to DRM-free installers, rather than an easily revoked software licence.

      • Premium User Badge

        ooshp says:

        I’d rather they interviewed the idiots who try to tell me how to spend my money.

        • mavrik says:

          Just make sure to wire a couple hundred $ to me and RPS ahead of time so they won’t run out of internet letters before you get around to reading it.

      • Josh W says:

        “I wish that treatment would also be extended to all the idiots who STILL preorder games without knowing anything about them.”

        Are you a pathological buyer?

      • Empathy Kill says:

        YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO CALL ME AN IDIOT!!! You don’t even know me! I preorder games because I never know what my finances will be like at the time of a games release. I may be balls deep in debt cause my car broke down or I may have got a really bad case of food poisoning and had to stay a few nights in the hospital. It may be the beginning of a month and all of my bills will be coming out of my account at once! When I preorder a game I don’t have to worry about finances because I have already bought the game! I usually buy on Steam so if I don’t like the game I simply just refund it (and I know if I am gonna like a game within the 1st 30min). If I get some kind of “preorder bonus” than cool, but I don’t really care about that. I just want to be able to play the game that I am excited about and if I’m not excited about a game before its release then there’s no need for me to be playing it anyways. Usually though I am a VERY GOOD judge of character when it comes to games and very rarely do I ever have to do a refund. Being called an idiot is very insulting and I don’t appreciate being called one just because I preorder games. I have a double major in graphics design, an MBA in retail management and a bachelors in electrical engineering. I own my own tshirt and logo design business of which I have been doing extremely well for the past 3 years. You may be thinking that if I am doing so well than why worry about buying a $60 game? Well to put it bluntly… I got a crap load of bills… School wasn’t cheap and I’m paying out the woo-ha for it. I have my house, car, motorcycle and office rental payments. Then there is my business credit payment I make for all of my equipment plus all of the usual insurance and utility payments… Add in gas, food, savings and retirement and I’ve got little left for recreation. Although I am 37 years old I LOVE video games and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my LOVE for gaming alive… Even if that means preordering games!

        • Spinkick says:

          Wait a minute. When you preorder a game, you are spending the same money on it that you would have spent if you had money left over after bills. All you are saying is that you are terrible at budgeting, and you need to spend it when you have it or you’d never get a game. Meanwhile, you are probably sacrificing or scrambling somewhere else to make ends meet without the money you had just spent on a preorder. So, no, thats not a great way to defend preordering, which imho, encourages anti consumer practives by publishers.

          I’d recommend getting the app “You need a budget” and sticking to it, religiously; its amazing and has helped my finances incredibly.

          • JoeD2nd says:

            I’d recommend he grow up and learn how be an adult. Jeesh. “I spend my money now because I never know if I’ll need money later” is what he’s really saying. This is how a child thinks of things.

    • wfw-rps says:

      spot on

    • The Chadillac says:

      Read John Walker’s writeups of NMS and tell me he isn’t a brainwashed product cultist who would spend the entire interview lobbing Murphy softballs because he doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Fucksake, his entire writeup was “everything in this game is boring and bad, but I love it because imagine how good it will be when I have good equipment.”

      The only reason he went hard after Molyneux was because everyone knows Molyneux is a joke at this point and John is the type of spineless coward who will kick a man when he’s down or anonymously creepshot people on twitter when they complain about his baby crying in public. Put him up against someone with actual corporate funding and he’ll drop trou and grab his own ankles immediately.

      • The Chadillac says:

        Sorry, I meant Murray. Must have been a Freudian slip because NMS is the fucking epitome of Murphy’s Law.

        • Bull0 says:

          I assumed Murphy was a make of ball, known for their soft balls.

      • Beefenstein says:

        Hey, you should start a blog so I won’t read that either.

        • Bostec says:

          I hope you don’t mind but i’m going to steal that insult. Thanks.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Assuming you don’t actually know John and he didn’t actually murder your favourite pet, you sound like a very, very angry person who needs help.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        The first part made me want to watch an Inside the Developers Studio with John sipping some Lipton, softly asking reverential, gentle questions.

        Then came a bunch of unnecessary stuff.

      • muchitto says:

        Don’t know about the first part, but on the second part I concur.
        The guy gradually annoys me more and more every time I read his writings.

        • jezcentral says:

          That’s okay. Each to their own. At least you don’t follow him on Twitter so you can be constantly infuriated by him, like the ranter above.

    • shocked says:

      “So Sean, do you think that you’re a procedural liar?”

      • melnificent says:

        That made me laugh and then choke on my tea. Well played.

      • Jakkar says:

        Special internet cookie points for YOU! <3

        If you actually want material cookies you'll have to get in touch, though.

        • puninnabun says:

          Hey, I haven’t met you.
          And this is crazy.
          But what’s your number?
          So you can cook for me — maybe?

    • Plank says:

      And he can ask Sean why that E3 trailer is on the games Steam page.

    • frymaster says:

      It’s very easy for an inexperienced team to not recognise the viciousness of the tiger they are riding until it’s too late and they are taken somewhere they didn’t intend to be. That’s why I appreciate the “more in sorrow than in anger” tone of this article. The issue with Molyneux was that he had – and admitted he had, in that interview – gone past “hey, our new game is going to be awesome ohshititturnsoutwecan’tfollowthrough” into having as his explicit thought process “I say these things so that people will give us money”

      Given the exposure of Murray to the “making the game up in their heads” crowd, I can understand and forgive why, in the effort to deny all the things he’s never said, he might forget to deny the things he has


      But now he’s battle-hardened. He surely must be aware now that telling people bad news is better than the alternative. The test will be how he interacts with the public from here on out.

      • fdel says:

        He s not, his in Bob’s/Alice wonderland: ” we ll fix the “non playing problems” and add features to our perfect game.”
        I wonder if this guy is just lalalala out of the real world, the biggest fluke on gaming history, or has his ball squized by Sony, or a combination of the 3.

    • Habondee says:

      Whenever people deny what’s right in front of their faces:

      link to

  2. mrmistermeakin says:

    Bait and switch tactics being forgiven?

    But.. why?

    There are some points made against marketers, but when one of the lead designers is/was constantly talking about things omitted from the game… There comes a point where it is not acceptable, right?

    • skalpadda says:

      Not only were they talking it up, but there were builds with a lot of the missing stuff shown live and played by people other than the devs, so at some point a bunch of it was built and coded. I wonder if it was all cut due to unresolvable bugs and deadlines or if Sony got their dirty mitts in the pie, which would go some way towards explaining the curious silence. Hello Games don’t seem like evil masterminds out to fleece people, so it’d almost be a relief to hear the Big Bad Publisher carries the brunt of the blame; Perhaps some day we’ll even get a post-mortem and find out what actually happened.

      In any case, glad I didn’t jump on-board early. Even if it remains a shadow of what was promised I’ll happily play around with an “interesting worlds generator” for a while, but not for the current asking price.

      • TheOx129 says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a combination of bugs, deadline issues, and the chance that some of the things that were cut might simply have not been fun from a gameplay perspective, among other potential reasons.

        For example, I remember reading that the simulation of stars and such – i.e., where you’re not just dealing with a skybox – was cut shortly before the game went gold and replaced with a typical skybox because players were apparently confused by the simulation and had difficulty with navigation.

        • khamul says:

          Yeah, that flying low over the landscape trailer footage? I would crash. Lots. I’m not very good at virtual flying.

          So it’s quite easy to imagine, late in the day, a marketer somewhere saying ‘landing needs to be easier’: and a virtual barrier springs into being as a result.

          Or – wouldn’t an giant underground worm thing be a total pain? Happy happy happy… *CHOMP* … swear… start over.

          Or – interacting creatures? If the balance of hostile vs non-hostile creatures is wrong, you’ll feel like you’re fighting all the time, it’s all too much work – and not worth the effort. The more complex you make the interactions, harder it gets to predict hostile/non-hostile balance. Or maybe it’s just more logic than a PS4 can handle?

          Easy to see how stuff could get changed, or cut, in the run-up to release.

          • MercurialJack says:

            And that’s all fine. I think the point is, tell us that before release, rather than putting them game out with your fingers in your ears and singing “la la la” without a word about the omissions.

        • syndrome says:

          This is why you don’t dance with the devil.

          To develop something that’s highly valued, to change the world’s perception, to really do it, you need balls. Not money. Not Sony. Not hype. Not any of this. Balls.

      • arkhanist says:

        My personal suspicion is that stuff like animal AI and the seamless terrain transitions from the early trailer had to go because the PS4 couldn’t hack it – and to get Sony marketing money, they weren’t allowed to ship better quality on what was originally a PC only title, and became a rather sad PS4 port.

        That said, I’m still rather enjoying it as a chillout game on the PC, though a joypad is a must (and the mod that gets rid of the press-n-hold UI thing). It just could have been so much more if it had lived up to more of its own trailers. Its “watch dogs” all over again alas.

        • Ineptie says:

          I’m not a follower of this “PC AS A MASTER-RACE” cult, if you ask me this is probably the reason indeed.

          On the other hand i believe Mister Caldwell point was “whatever the reason, just be open about what you remove and tell us before the launch”

          • epeternally says:

            Is it realistic to market a game only to people with PCs faster than a PS4? Some of the complaints about No Man’s Sky not running well are coming from people still using Phenom chips, even Core2Duo, both of which are quite a bit older than the Playstation 4 hardware. 47% of Steam users are still on a dual core CPU.

            Even on the GPU end, if someone has a PC build with similar specs to a current gen console, they’re going to expect to be able to run current games. Not targeting something that could run on hardware equivalent to Sony’s would never have been realistic to begin with. They might have been able to include a few more options for the PC version, but that’s about it.

          • trashbat says:

            I have a Phenom CPU, from 2009 or thereabouts. I also have a GTX970, and so the net result is I can play contemporary games at 1920×1200 and usually full settings. If that weren’t the case, I’d have upgraded the CPU, but for now it doesn’t seem to be all that much of a bottleneck.

  3. Morte66 says:

    How many times do people have to be told “don’t pre-order, wait for the hard reviews”?

    • DanMan says:

      It’s crazy, but at least on Steam we have refunds now, so it’s not that bad on PC.

      • bartman says:

        The trouble with the steam refunds and this game is that it takes more than 2 hours to prove that the game is broken and you’ve not just had the bad luck to land in a system that sucks.

      • epeternally says:

        Steam refunds are only good for the first two hours, though, and in No Man’s Sky two hours isn’t even going to get your ship fixed. You could easily not see a lot of the game’s major flaws in that time, for me the experience didn’t start to really fall apart until about ten hours in.

        • Distortion says:

          I pretty much saw the flaws in 75 minutes in, and got a steam refund. My biggest issue was, oh it’s a game where I need to collect resources, ok no prob. Wait…what is that little drone doing, why is he shooting me for mining a rock!? ”

          Got to love a resource collection game that punishes you for collecting resources. I’ll wait till it’s on a very good sale.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Or at least for some concrete gameplay footage of a release (or near release) version. The last couple of games I preordered both had a great deal of proper and representative gameplay footage shown on Youtube before launch, not scripted and played by people other than the devs too.

      Those are dev teams with nothing to hide, proud and confident enough of their work that they can let it do the talking for them.

      • Orillion says:

        I think that’s the better way of phrasing it. I’ve pre-ordered a couple of times in the past year, and plan to do so at least once more. But in my case, the most recent one was Final Fantasy 9, a game I’ve played dozens of times and was more than happy to pay for again for an even more convenient copy. The time before that was Dragon’s Dogma, which admittedly I was gambling that it would be a good PC port, but it turned out perfectly alright, at least for me.

        And sometime before October I plan to pre-order Dragonball Xenoverse 2, but that game’s been in peoples’ hands in the form of the beta/demo thing and it looks and sounds like it’s at least as good as the original, but is probably significantly better.

        The point is, pre-ordering isn’t a bad thing. The bad thing is buying products sight-unseen, which is ultimately what people are thinking of when they think of pre-ordering.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Why pre-order the game at all? Why not take that money and buy two older games that you’ve never played, and still have enough left over to pick up the pre-order game later on when it’s been patched and modded and on sale?
      Doesn’t everyone else have a ‘to play’ pile longer than their arm?

    • Shadow says:

      Problem is hype and vacuous marketing is a more powerful lure for many people than simple, common sense.

      Unfortunately I don’t think we don’t have access to Steam refund statistics, but I doubt NMS is suffering a particularly large wave of refunds.

      So the game is technically a success: it sold lots, and people are too apathetic in general to do anything but reward these marketing practices. And well, as far as Steam goes, NMS is probably a game you need to play more than two hours to fully conclude it’s dull, so a significant segment of buyers is likely stuck with it.

    • Comintern1919 says:

      How often do we have to tell you we don’t care what you tell us? I’ll never read reviews, anyway, because I like to find out whether or not a Game is good by myself. I already had it often in the past, that I read Reviews about a Game saying it’s not good, but when I played it later I actually liked it. So I never read Reviews anymore, at least not before buying the Game. And when I know I will buy a Game no matter what, why shouldn’t I pre-order a game?

      I am just NOT going to stop doing that, no matter what. To find out whether or not a Game is good is one of the Joys I, and I bet many other, have in Videogames. I am over 18 Years old, I have (soon) a Job, I can afford making some financial mistakes. And I don’t even have to do that, with Steams Refund System.

      It’s not our (we who pre-order) fault that some people have way too high expectations and get angry when they aren’t met. I bet some people bought the Game after reading Reviews and are just as angry as some are who pre-ordered.

      If you have a Problem with that, well, deal with that. I won’t change just because some people like you have a Problem with that, neither will many other.

      • KDR_11k says:

        But still, why preorder? There’s very little difference between buying the game when it comes out and buying it much earlier except you don’t have that money at hand. Especially in Europe where preorder bonuses usually apply for at least a week after the game comes out so you wouldn’t even miss out on the tiny scraps they add.

        • oafish-oaf says:

          I saved $10 on a game I ended up loving by pre-ordering. Worked out great.

      • perilousrob says:

        Comintern1919: I agree!

        Not only that, but I often find myself at odds with not just the hordes of copycat gamehatetrolls that magically appear with every major game release, but often also with game reviewers in general. I don’t demand others like the games I do, and I don’t demand others act the way I act. I wish they’d stop telling me how I’m an idiot for pre-ordering. I can (usually) do it risk-free, and also usually get a bonus for doing it.

        Not only that, but I love games. I want to support the developers of my favourite games – I want to see more of them made. Unless things change hugely in the info put out about it, I expect to pre-order Mass Effect: Andromeda on the day pre-order is made available. I have confidence they’ll produce a game I want to play. Same with the next Elder Scrolls or Fallout game. Same with the next Dragon Age game. Same with Watch Dogs 2 and Deus Ex Mankind Divided, by jingo! I loved playing the previous incarnations of these games. I expect I will love playing the newest too.

        *MY* biggest gripe is with those gamehatetrolls I mentioned earlier. All copypasta-ing their freeze-dried little hearts out, repeating the nonsense they’ve read elsewhere without bothering to check if it’s true or not. No doubt they’ll repeat what they’ve read here (with their own invective-laden twist on it) without checking it either.

        Ahh well. C’est la vie.

        • Premium User Badge

          Qazinsky says:

          I feel like this comment right here is pretty representative how I feel about gaming in general and preordering in particular. Why, just the other day I went ahead and preordered four or five games (a few mentioned in this very comment).

          I can watch trailers of the gameplay and get a sense of how it will play, I can read reviews to see what people think about it, but none of that will inform me how the game will feel when I sit there and play it. So I buy games I get the impression of that I will like.

          I don’t have any back log to speak of, if there is a two year old game I don’t own, it’s because I don’t find it interesting or I don’t know about it. Preordering usually lets me preload the game so that i can play it ASAP and sometimes I get a neat trinket or maybe even another free game tossed in.

          People always warn about hype, but I think that for me, anticipation for a game is quite a big part of the whole gaming experience as well. I want to think about that awesome game that it could be, dream about bigger and better.

          All the negativity that many commenters leave everywhere do get to me sometimes. I am not against voicing concerns or dislike for something, but all too often it takes the form of insults and opinions pushed like obvious facts.

          It never fails to surprise me how often people think calling the other side morons, describing anyone that thinks different as simpleminded or naive or in any other way using insults is part of a constructive discussion. And then get angry when you object because they just stated their opinion.

    • Buggery says:

      When the first trailers came out I was suspicious, and then pessimistic as time went by. I knew that they would not be able to do all the things they promised, and the fact that everyone got so excited by the possibilities that I can’t remember the dev ever showing they could do (outside of pre-rendered videos) didn’t exactly endear me to the idea.

      Of course, now that it’s out and I’ve read some impressions, I’m actually kind of keen to buy it. Either I’m a born contrarian or reduced expectations are a key for eking joy out of things.

      • Koozer says:

        This is very similar to me. I couldn’t care less about it for a long while with my only contact being a couple of hands-on videos with beardy Murray and an overexcited American a few weeks before release. I’ m now quite happily enjoying myself with the 4X-lite scenery simulator, completely oblivious to all these ‘missing’ features.

        • Rizlar says:

          Exactly the same here.

          It does seem like the angsty response to the game failing to meet hype (this article included) is in danger of becoming as ridiculously overstated as the hype in the first place. I feel like John’s review was a very fair one that tried to judge the game on it’s own merits.

    • Rindan says:

      There is no problem here for me. Why is there no problem for me? I didn’t buy the game. Hype is only a problem if you are dumb enough to buy something without reviews. Just don’t buy shit without reading a few reviews first. Do that, and they can hype and scream and lie until they are blue in the face, but they still won’t have your money because the first reviews will quickly blow the lies away.

      Seriously people. I have like 500 games on Steam and Origin. On that list you will not find Spore, No Mans Sky, Aliens: Colonial Marine, or a whole bunch of other hyped pieces of garbage. I just waited for reviews, saw they were universal, and I disappointedly didn’t buy them. All of those games I was a little hopeful for, and when they failed, I just moved on. It isn’t that hard. Just reign in your shitty impulse control for like the 24 hours it takes to get the first reviews.

      This is like listening to a bunch of nymphomaniacs getting angry at people that dress too hot because it drives them insane with lust, and missing the point that they are the ones an impulse control problem. The hype is only meaningful if you are dumb enough to spend money on it. Just don’t spend money on hype. If you do; well, don’t whine you find out that you got ripped off.

      • KDR_11k says:

        The con being ineffective doesn’t make the conman less deserving of contempt.

    • Titler says:

      What astounds me is that there’s a pre-order system which both works to generate more early sales, and is fair to the consumer as well; and oddly both times I’ve seen it were with Games Workshop licences, a company hardly know for decent pricing! But both Total War: Warhammer and Battlefleet Gothic Armada had pre-order bonuses which extended a week or month after the game was actually released. So you could still get the early adopter goodies AND wait for reviews too. TW:WH in particular was a spectacular sales success, so with a decent product everybody wins with this model…

      But the gaming community is perhaps the only one in the world that DEMANDS they be treated worse than they could be. They call wanting to be sure a company is treating you fair “entitlement”. I’ve never understood that; Are you guys wanting to throw money at games because you enjoy buying the hype itself? Do you think having a pre-order stub, or virtual item, is somehow an emotional event on the level maybe of queuing on release day for new tech?

      It’s not like you haven’t seen time and time again your early backing being abused and even outright ignored when companies run off with your money though, so surely the shine of this method should have worn off by now. Help me out here, when there’s a fair, viable, mutually supportive system the industry could use, why on earth would anyone support a much worse, conman enabling system instead?

  4. Xantonze says:

    They could have “hard-coded” those interesting and coherent planets in the final game, in a non-procedural way, and put them at intervals for the players to discover between procedural ones.
    They could have included coherent landscapes, buildings and wildlife, a few quests, etc.
    It would have given players a purpose, and made for a far more interesting journey. Instead they removed everything and the game is dead-dull.

    • asthasr says:

      This is what I don’t get. If you play Angband, where procedural generation is central to the entire concept, there are still places where the game lets that go and places a vault. Vaults are memorable for most players. Even the small ones can be memorable. Why not have a few hundred predesigned chunks of terrain that show up only rarely? Caves where the procedural generation gives way to a different algorithm? I’ve said it in a comment on a previous thread, but procedural generation by itself is pretty much doomed to be boring unless it is approached with some level of artistry.

  5. geldonyetich says:

    Well said, and not just because I already picked a fight about how much different the trailers were from what we got.

    Right now, I am willing to forgive everything they didn’t do except one thing: the wanted meter has been nerfed.

    You could tell me that being attacked by hordes of sentinels would be annoying, so it’s a good thing they can be utterly dismissed, their robotic shrieks snuffed out by a well timed plasma grenade.

    However, the problem is the sentinels are the only significant conflict this game had. It sure isn’t the “jerkweed” (my name for it) flora, the uncommon predator fauna, and I have yet to encounter a pirate in 25 hours of play. The sentinels were IT, the only significant adversity the game throws at you, and the broken wanted meter neuters them.

    Restore the sentinels, and No Man’s Sky gets a lackluster thumbs up. Until then, I can only look upon the hard drive imprint of this game with disappointment in my heart.

    • Xocrates says:

      “and I have yet to encounter a pirate in 25 hours of play”

      Really? I can’t move between two planets without being attacked by the fuckers.

      • yogibbear says:

        It’s based on the value of your cargo, so he’s probably religiously selling everything at a trade port before departing a planet and somehow missing the distress call freighter RNG.

        • geldonyetich says:

          Actually, I keep a stack of each element on my ship at all times so I can craft with it.

          Maybe it’s because I don’t spend much time in space since I defined a rule of discovering all fauna on all planets before leaving a system.

          So, for me, those ground based sentinels were it. Under the current wanted meter, I respond to their objecting to me shooting and looting everything by shooting and looting them. It’s stupid.

  6. oafish-oaf says:

    So much could be cleared up with some clarity from the devs. If they’re not legally allowed to talk about things they’ve had to take out of the game (as I’ve seen implied), then it needs to go up the food chain and become Sony’s problem to come clean. Someone needs to COMMUNICATE.

    I do greatly appreciate the universe they’ve created in this game and I’ve had a blast playing it. That being said, it’s almost impossible not to start mentally cataloging all the great things they could add or change (I did this with Skyrim as well, and then most of those got modded in eventually). To have a number of those things on my wishlist be, y’know, stuff that we were told would be in the game, is eyeroll-inducing.

    • DanMan says:

      If they can’t talk about the past and don’t want to admit they dropped the ball, they could at least communicate what the plan is going forward. What’s yet to come?

      • Matt_W says:

        I just think they’ve gotten so used to being cagey that it’s all they can do. They don’t know how to be forthright anymore. They’re the wizard stepping out from behind the curtain blinking uncertainly in the sunlight ready to offer a bunch of worthless trinkets to satisfy our hearts’ desires.

  7. GenialityOfEvil says:

    I wonder how much the PS4’s CPU had to do with the dramatic scale-back. It’s pretty old, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the terrain generation hogs most of the resources. Complex AI needs CPU time. It would also explain why Sean Murray said the PS4 Neo would “fundamentally change” the game, given the more powerful CPU.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      As an addendum to this (no edit button. Grrr!), the PC version barely gets above 20% CPU utilisation. Given that it has exactly the same streaming issues as the PS4, I’d say this is an enforced limitation.

      • DanMan says:

        Parity FTW!

      • melnificent says:

        Actually the CPU usage spikes to 100% when I have generation on high. It’s when in the ship and boosting over the planet, the same as the heavy stress on the PS4 build. That’s on an i5-4430.

    • mavrik says:

      An average gamer PC isn’t more powerful than PS4. Remember that developers need to support average machines, not the high-end 1000$ ones.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        The PS4 CPU is a modified Athlon 5150, which was released commercially in 2013 and only competed with mid-range CPUs from 2 years before that. The PS4 does not use “average” PC hardware by any measure you might care to use.

        • mavrik says:

          Go look at steam stats (which also include people playing on laptops) and you’ll see that gaming PCs we have to optimize for are way worse than you’d expect. It’s true, PS4 is towards the lower end of the spectrum, but the idea that PS4 is at fault for any kind of hardware limitations at this is just silly. Perhaps next year.

          • GenialityOfEvil says:

            The range of hardware is solved by spreading the performance load across settings that the PC user has access too, not by optimising for the millions of hardware variations. Low end PC users can lower their settings, but in this game the high end settings don’t do anything to solve the streaming issues that are present in the PS4 version.

      • Nosada says:

        The PS4 is running on 8 slow Jaguar core with integrated graphics. While it is true that the average PC isn’t better at pushing pixels, the average gamer wanting to play NMS has vastly superior hardware. Cards like the R9 290 from AMD and GTX970 from nVidia have been out for 3 years now and absolutely trounce the PS4’s power.

        There is simply no excuse for releasing games that look no better on an average gaming PC than on a PS4 right now, except crappy porting and conscious nerfing. And honestly, crappy porting should be a thing of the past, as the old excuses (different architecture, needing separate engines) are things of the past.

      • Czrly says:

        I’d say it’s not so much about the CPU’s speed as its capabilities. For example, if I were coding it, I would do away with the “everyone sees the same planets” bullsht and simply generate the player’s next planet on a spare core (or, indeed, any of the 3-7 you probably have) in the background while you’re exploring the current one. The procedural generation could then be proper proc. gen, perhaps with realistic erosion, predator-prey models and wot-not, and the player would not know the difference between a pre-generated planet pulled from memory (or, probably, from disk) and one generated on demand.

    • HothMonster says:

      That was always my assumption. Sony paid good money and wanted an identical version to what came out on PC. So they just kept stripping things until they got a stable framerate on the PS4 (which from my understanding still drops into the single digits at times). They wouldn’t want to have paid all that marketing cash and have the buzz being that the game is 1000x better on PC.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        I’m not saying it was malicious, Sony aren’t even the publisher of the game. I’m suggesting that Hello Games don’t have the wherewithal or maybe even the ability to port a game properly to PC.

        • HothMonster says:

          That could very well be. While Sony isn’t the publisher I can’t imagine the 10s of millions in marketing came without a contract. I’m not attributing malice so much as just business. A clause that says the PC version and PS4 must share all features or have identical gameplay, ect. Could very easily limit what gets into the final game and explain why some of the advertised features didn’t make release.

          As to why the game performs just as shitty on a computer that completely outclasses a PS4 yeah that is more likely to be incompetence or running out of budget than intentionally crippling the PC version.

          • Marclev says:

            Somehow I think it’s more likely that they just didn’t have the resources to develop two functionally different versions of the same game at the same time, than anything contractual by the evil global mega corporation.

            Sony would be more worried about the XBO than the PC, they don’t directly compete with the latter and probably couldn’t care less (much) about what does and doesn’t appear on it.

          • HothMonster says:

            Again, not trying to make some evil corporate boogey man but you are really just agreeing with me there even if you didn’t mean to. Whether they were obligated to keep them the same or they didn’t have the resources to make two versions the result is the same. They made one as good as PS4 can handle and all the stuff that we saw in trailers that isn’t in the final game was stripped to keep it playable. (Assuming it wasn’t all bullshit and they knew they would never have behavioral AI, near ground flying, ect) The final product was limited by the console version. Add a shitty port that doesn’t take advantage of PCs at all and it really just drives that home.

            Of course you get the reverse argument; without Sony’s cash what state would the game be in? But by their own narrative, pretty close to the same since this is an “indie game with a AAA marketing campaign” and “Sony didn’t directly fund development”. We all know that isn’t exactly true but I do wonder what we would have got, if anything, if they would have never went to Spike and just quietly worked on this for the last 3 years.

      • Zhiroc says:

        I’ve not noticed any fps drops on my PS4. And there was a framerate test review out that showed it was rock steady at 30 fps, only dropping when flying low and fast across the landscape: link to

  8. draglikepull says:

    While it’s certainly true that not every feature shown in the trailers ended up in the final game, it seems to me like a lot of the complaining about things that are “missing” is mostly nitpicking. Especially in that Reddit post linked in this piece, a majority of what they’re complaining about *is* in the game, even if it’s not in the game in exactly the form some people imagined.

    This reminds me a lot of Spore, where people imagined a game they wanted to play, and then were disappointed when the actual game turned out not to be that.

    While the game doesn’t exactly match some of the trailers (yeah, it’d be cool if the animal AI was more complicated, etc.), the game still plays pretty much how I expected it would based on the trailers and interviews with Sean. If it’s not what other people wanted/thought they were getting, that’s unfortunate. But I feel like the devs are being accused of some grand charade even though the vast majority of what was shown is in the game.

    • Jeremy says:

      I definitely see what you’re saying, and the article seems to address the idea that people imagined a game, and are then upset for that game not existing, or being different. That is unavoidable disappointment, and has a lot to do with how human expectations work. However, looking at the old trailers, there really is an implied immersion that just doesn’t exist within the game at present. Ship flight, creatures only really reacting to the character, and not even a variety in scripted creature behavior. It’s not so much that the things shown in the video ended up being different than expected, it’s that they aren’t there at all. In my mind, that seems a legitimate complaint, especially considering that was an actual bullet point in the game. If you have 10 bullet points from a marketing perspective, but only 6 are true.. then there is either a total lack of understanding of the product, or something more intentional. Neither of those scenarios are okay.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Some of it is nitpicking and things that don’t really matter, but the real problem is that the game is incredibly fucking boring and repetitive.

      Trade is awful. Resource collection is boring and absurd (I know why there’s plutonium littered all over every single planet, but c’mon). Crafting is awful. There are about a half dozen different buildings in the whole game.

      They’ve pasted the barest skeleton of a game over a procedural planet generator which is fairly good, but which I doubt is going to impress anyone for more than a couple hours.

      • draglikepull says:

        I’ve played for a couple dozen hours and I’m having a fantastic time. So are some of my friends. So are people on other sites I frequent. The people who are angry are always going to seem louder because the ones who enjoy a game are probably too busy playing it to spend all day online arguing about it.

        • specksynder says:

          I agree. I’m still enjoying it immensely despite harboring several major reservations. What other sites do you visit for games discussion? RPS has slowly become my solo ride; as I’ve had less and less time to play over the years, I’ve become less invested in playing new games and more interested with reading unique voices on the industry in general.

      • Marclev says:

        Trade, resource collection and crafting are not substantially different to any other Minecraft clone I’ve ever played. Care to elaborate on why you feel these systems aren’t good?

        There may not be that many buildings, but the environments they are in tend to be vastly different, so I’m not that bothered by the somewhat limited variety, as the settings tend to vary so much. I can however see why that would bother some people.

        • MajorLag says:

          “Trade, resource collection and crafting are not substantially different to any other Minecraft clone I’ve ever played.”

          Exactly. Boring, awful, and absurd. Minecraft did it, and Minecraft was successful (for reasons I still can’t quite fathom), so now every game developer seems to want to cram those sucky mechanics into their games without regard for how tragically unfun they are.

        • kromeboy says:

          NMS is lika a Minecraft where the only thing that you are crafting are better swords, armour, and pickaxe.

          Regarding all the clones of Minecraft they either have a multiplayer PvP component, or some real threat from the environment.

          In NMS i never felt any real treat and i quitted the game long before my character even died once.

          • kromeboy says:

            To expand: resource collecting to get better hardware is not a survival game but a working simulator like “woodcutter simulator 2013”.

            Some people find “zen” in working simulator but is not my case and they are very different from the survival genre

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Spore is a good analogue. It was pitched as Sim Everything with tons of promised simulation and gameplay systems that were cut or watered down into an intelligent design sim for kids. It built tons of hype and resulted in Will Wright leaving game design.

      Spore is even okay-ish if you accept it for what it became rather than what it was built up to be.

    • fish99 says:

      I don’t think it’s nitpicking. I see an enormous difference between the game as shown in those first trailers and the game they released.

    • rommel102 says:

      It is a bit nitpicking and a bit that everyone who spends five minutes in the game and doesn’t see awesome things has a loud voice.

      There are a ridiculous number of planets in the game, and most players I have talked to have never even been outside of a “yellow” system with an upgraded hyperdrive. The upgrades unlock more interesting planets, or rather a chance for more interesting planets.

      The issue is that with the scale of this game it is entirely possible to play the game as intended and never see a truly interesting planet just based on bad luck.

      I look at the original launch video and 95% of what is there has been delivered. We haven’t yet found the giant worms (though we have found flying ones) or enormous wrecked ships, but other than that you can see the type of high quality planets in the trailer if you look hard enough.

      p.s. there are also rivers, I’ve seen them and there are videos of them out there.

      • Jeremy says:

        So you’re comfortable just completely dismissing every complaint then? You think that many people gave up after 5 minutes of not having their every wish and need met?

    • aepervius says:

      Nitpicking ? Have you read the reddit post ? Some stuff is trivial while other is major. Complex crafting. AI. Multiple sentinel. Various feature not making it in. Simplified to death trading and flying.

      Note that I do not mind, because I bought the game and I am happy and did not follow any previous sean-said interview… So I am not disappointed.

      But those are major elements and not nitpicking. They should have warned the absence thereof…. the game they describe is much MUCH different. Especially the crafting and AI.

      So nitpicking is a vast understatement.

    • Geebs says:

      The whole thing has got to the point where it’s just people getting in a lather because they like being upset. I saw the early trailers and interviews, and they in no way justify either the self-righteousness or the fricking death threats. Frankly I don’t begrudge Hello their money because they’ve earned it in abuse alone.

      It was obvious from the start what would actually be possible, so I went in with low expectations and have actually been pleasantly surprised.

      I mean for crying out loud, the fact that a game of this size and level of detail has functioning collision detection is a minor miracle.

    • Zhiroc says:

      I’ve played about 20-30 hrs of NMS, watched that trailer again, and while I can’t say I’ve seen a planet like that yet, I just don’t get the “wow” that people saw in that that’s not reflected in the game. I’m not really into combat either, but I saw some space combat vids that don’t look too bad. Reading the above, I’m not really sure what makes it so disappointing. Having said that, I don’t see the gameplay as really amazing and “can’t put it down fun” either. but I enjoy it mostly, and it matches 100% with what I expected, and don’t feel ripped off.

  9. nukey75 says:

    Its all about the cash cow, Hello Games have been working on that title for years investing a ton of money in the process, a healhly bank balance outweighs a few hundred negative reviews on steam…

    • Detocroix says:

      I would like to correct that. “A few thousand negative reviews”, infact, a total of 18 thousand negative reviews :)

      But you are right, some developers only care about maximizing profits, even at the expense of ruining their reputation to attain that.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        There were a lot more on release, it dipped down somewhere into the 30%’s but Steam started removing negative reviews from refunders so it climbed back up.

        • Comintern1919 says:

          Do you actually have a source for that claim? You can’t just start such a rumor without having some sort of proof. I mean, you can, but you shouldn’t.

          • jrodman says:

            Personally I’m willing to take Press X’s word for it. He or she has been on the money so many, many, many times in the past. It’s very hard to believe this is an aberrant comment.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            I’m sorry but I have to put on the dunce cap for that one.

            I read the claims a couple of times in the subreddit and there’s been a couple of threads in the Steam forums but double checking it now seems that discussion is pretty much settled and it was reviews not showing due to other circumstances (language) or people doing what I just did with an internet rumour.

            link to

  10. Xerophyte says:

    Caveat: I haven’t played No Man’s Sky yet. I didn’t pay that close attention to the trailers but my main takeaway was “very pretty, but I have no idea what the game is about”.

    Anyhow. Development is almost always an iterative process: you try things, keep them if they work, toss them if they don’t, possibly toss them later if they conflict with something else. Ultimately you’ll always sacrifice some of the features you want to make your program run acceptably fast, be maintainable and so on. Maybe doing dynamic animations for giant sand worms wasn’t possible in the time allotted, maybe the memory churn of low flights would crash the GPU. Pre-release footage is inevitably going to be a polished snapshot from an ongoing experiment.

    You could require that devs either only show things that they’re 100% sure will make it into the final product in the best waterfall tradition, or that they meticulously document all the ideas they try but ultimately reject, but that’s a pipe dream. It’d be like us asking you to meticulously document all the rejected draft paragraphs of an RPS article that you’ve tweeted some bits about before; very courteous, but ultimately not going to happen in a world where we also get RPS articles.

    • Detocroix says:

      That is the thing. What you show to people is a promise of those things. If you are unsure it would work, or unsure it is even possible to do, you won’t show that.

      Trailers are made to show and promise the customer things they can then expect to see in the game.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Especially when they open up pre-orders right after showing the early trailer with said features.
        I doubt anyone pre-ordered the promised RPS tweet-article, even the supporters.

      • Xerophyte says:

        The practicalities of development mean that’s not really possible, though, especially in a small indie team. A polished, hacked-together vertical slice made two years before the release is a good indicator of what the team is aiming for, but it’s never going to be a good indicator of what you’ll actually get.

        You can dislike this and it would certainly be nice if trailers were promises and we could trust them. But the unavoidable reality is that they’re not and we can’t.

        • skalpadda says:

          Showing off what you’re working on I personally think is fine even if you end up having to change or cut things; It’s work in progress after all.

          It would however be a lot nicer if developers took the time and were honest enough to (and in some cases were allowed to) communicate when big things are changed before release in a way that makes previous marketing misleading.

          • RobF says:

            The larger issue there is whether you’re allowed to, rather than whether you should.

          • skalpadda says:


            Yeah, it’s an argument from wishful thinking rather than realism from me there, at least in any situation where a marketing department is involved in the contract. In fairness to the games industry and indies in particular there have been some rather heartening examples recently where devs have been able to be very transparent and gamers (with some inevitable loony exceptions) being cool about changes. Sunless Sea changing its entire combat system because they couldn’t make it fun comes to mind, and the measured realistic hype Larian built around D:OS.

            Still though, wouldn’t it be so nice if we could all be cool and honest while dreaming big and eating ice cream in the sky, far from filthy marketing pushes and angry internet men?

          • RobF says:

            Oh gosh, yes. It really would.

        • KDR_11k says:

          Yeah but it seems quite fishy when they’re talking about multiplayer just months before the release and the game has no multiplayer at all. That’s something they should’ve been aware of at that point.

  11. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Funny to see this just after seeing an article on the RPS fanzine that Sean Murray is sort-of maybe backtracking in a vague non-committal way on the “no paid DLC” statement. And that one was only made a week ago.

  12. Xocrates says:

    A couple points:

    This is not exclusive to the game industry. We’ve all seen trailers for movies that included scenes that were nowhere to be seen in the final product, and it’s not even unusual for trailers to include scenes filmed exclusively for it.
    This isn’t a defense of the practice, mind, but let’s not pretend this a problem with games.

    While I’m all for more developer openness, but requiring that developers admit when features were dropped from and unreleased game will only encourage them do disclose less, not more.
    Features get cut and change all the time during development, that’s normal and often desirable. However when developers get death threats for delaying a game can you imagine the shitstorm if they were to admit to have cut a feature to an audience with no context or knowledge?

    To be clear, I agree with the sentiment of the article. I do think the marketing materials should be as accurate as possible, and do think people should be called out for intentionally misleading the audience. But let’s be clear on the point that we should not confuse broken promises with outright lies.

    Don’t preorder.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Movies are a bit different. I have a mate who works in visual effects, and the issue is usually that principal photography is completed but the effects are not. So they rush out some really crappy effects for the trailers. In other words, what’s in a movie trailer is typically worse than what’s in the actual movie.

      And as to the rest – yes, if a game isn’t ready enough to confirm that something will actually be in it, then you shouldn’t show it to people on the basis that it will be in it. It’s called not lying.

      • Xocrates says:

        It’s only lying if at the time of reveal the feature was no longer intended to be in the game. Lying implies intent.

        The other difference between games and movies, is that in games there is effectively no difference between completing the “principal photography” and the full game. If we follow that logic we wouldn’t have any game footage until the game went gold or, at the earliest, beta. By that logic a game wouldn’t reveal any detail or footage until a couple months before release (whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to debate).

    • Furiant says:

      I’d go a step further to say that it’s ubiquitous. Nearly everything you see now is some form of advertising, and nearly all advertising is based in exaggeration and outright lies. Someone, I forget who, talked about examining the word-to-lie ratio on product packaging and commercials. It’s an interesting, disturbing diversion. I looked down at my desk just now for an example and found a package of toothpicks. Some of the text on the package: “Triple Clean” (meaningless), “Extra Strong” (relative to what?), “Fights Bad Breath” (it has a mild scent, and would definitely not make any impact on your breath), “#1 Brand” (unproven), “Arctic Blast” (gibberish)… I could go on. Nearly every word on the package is either false or meaningless. We are completely numb to it. It has become its own language. As far as games go, why wouldn’t they just outright lie? What are any of us going to actually do about it? Nothing, that’s what. Bitch on the internet. Buy it anyway. Buy it next time too.

  13. Gothnak says:

    A) Do you enjoy the game and is it value for money? That is the most important thing irrespective of previews or whatever. If you didn’t and it isn’t then fair enough, but if this game had come out via a different route with no marketing, would your lower expectations allow you to enjoy it?

    B) Would you rather hear nothing about a game before it comes out? I have worked on blockbuster titles which get shown off years in advance and you put together trailers which have everything you ‘hope’ will be in the game. But obviously because the game isn’t finished, you can’t show off the actual game, so you show off a representation of it. Now in the years after a trailer is shown, thousands of minute elements happen in development, many of which drop features here or there, lower draw distance, change interface etc until games are rarely how they looked 2 years ago. So, in short do you only want to first see a game 3 months before it comes out?

    C) Due to console trade in policies, console games make 70% of their sales in the first 2 weeks. Therefore companies have to big up a game to ridiculous amounts before it comes out. If a game isn’t finished at that point, how do you propose they do it without showing a game off in it’s best light? The PC market isn’t anywhere near as bad for this, but this game will make a huge % of its sales on PS4, so has to bear that in mind.

    D) People on the internet complain about everything (Sorry, but they do). For every person that moans about multiplayer, the creature AI or whatever, there will be 100, 1000, or 100,000 who are just playing the game and having fun. In the games industry you have to take internet feedback with a pinch of salt. Absolutely listen to the complaints, but the in game analytics are where you’ll see trends and what people think, and often, for all the crazed anger online, you’ll actually find that millions of people do love your game and that you have done a good job.

    Now, i’m certainly not saying No Man’s Sky has had a smooth ride, but there are hundreds of games a year that disappoint people, my last two were Civilisation: Beyond Earth and Guitar Hero:Live (My god that was SOOOO Awful!), the only reason you are hearing so much more about this one, is that you were hearing so much more about this game anyway. It’s just a game right in the public eye, so whatever it does well, or badly will also be in the public eye, it is no more or less disappointing than many games that will never get mentioned this year.

    • Premium User Badge

      Waltorious says:

      Well said. My sentiments more or less align with this. Although I must point out that I haven’t played No Man’s Sky yet (I’m waiting for patches), so I’m sure the internet will decide my opinion is completely worthless.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      “Now in the years after a trailer is shown, thousands of minute elements happen in development, many of which drop features here or there, lower draw distance, change interface etc until games are rarely how they looked 2 years ago. So, in short do you only want to first see a game 3 months before it comes out?”

      You are either incredibly naive or not being totally sincere here.

      It’s one thing to tweak/modify minor things as a game progresses. But when you consistently get shown super awesome looking stuff, which just happens to be the exact stuff that goes missing, then the conclusion is that they are deliberately making the game look better than it is – not that those things just happened to be the things that got tweaked out of existence.

      You set up a false dichotomy – it’s not “show deliberately exagerrated fake stuff” or “show nothing”, there’s also the option of “show realistic and not deliberately exagerrated stuff”.

      • hpoonis says:

        I agree with that sentiment. It is FAR easier to produce a game-like marketing piece than to produce something playable in the early stages. If these people then promote the end-product as being the same as the offerings released to the public, the public have a perfect right to believe that is what they will get for their money. If subsequent development reveals that these pretty things are not possible with the resources available then it is the ethical duty to inform the paying public of what is actually on offer.

        In the UK the Advertising Standards Authority exists to slap down false/mileading advertising. Cinematic trailers for video games rarely use actual gameplay footage even if some gameplay has been developed. I will always see this as misleading. Maybe no outright lies have been told but when you see one thing and end up with something other than what was presented one cannot deny that something shady has occurred: either from outside pressure or otherwise.

        It is not unreasonable for the game-buying population to have assumed that those elements of whatever was revealed to the public in the run up to the released product should exist in that released product. If they had delivered more reaslistic pre-release information and/or footage then little or none of the ballyhoo would be justified but to deliberately obfucsate the details of the product from what was shown and deliberately released to the end product and what is available deserves criticism.

        I am not criticising the final product from MY standpoint. I expected a galactic exploration environment and that is what has been delivered. As yet, I have refrained from a purchase until the price reflects the creative design employed – I do not believe procedural coding is the same as a deliberately designed and crafted gaming experience and the retail price for No Man’s, in my opinion, reflects Sony’s attempts to recoup any monies paid out over and above a reasonable return of investment.

        I paid (almost) full price for the last two Assassin’s Creed titles: Unity and Syndicate, as I appreciate the amount of detail in the cities that were presented. I have no problem with the software. I do however, think that Ubiscoff have absolutely atrocious customer service and bashed heads with them for almost 3 years in an attempt to get access to software I paid for but had never been able to use.

        It is interesting to note that this kind of backlash never occurs with business software even though it is likely that there are those who use both types equally. A lot of the flack is emotionally connected to folk spending their own money.

  14. Eight Rooks says:

    A very good piece, and something that definitely needed to be said – sure, no-one should be buying a game which only exists in their head, but there’s definitely a point where anyone, fan or critic or whatever, should be able to look at the game they got versus the game they saw being worked on and say “What the hell happened?”. (I still think Far Cry 2 deserved much more flak for this.) And yes, as someone who’s reviewed games – who got a website blacklisted for quoting a PR rep in a way they didn’t like – I agree the way the industry operates is getting way too close to political spin for comfort, and lifting the curtains more would very likely be a good thing.

    That being said –

    Things change, people will understand

    – five minutes on any Early Access forum on Steam should show you quite plainly there’s a lot of people who really, really won’t. You promised sandworms? Even once? You include sandworms, or you die. No excuses.

  15. SSR says:

    A lot of emphasis on marketing in this article, but in the context of Hello Games did they really have that big a marketing department that was driving the product? Seems unlikely.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      They had Sony handling their marketing, and a studio head unfamiliar with the fable of Molyneux.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        I’ve already decided to refer to Murray as “Molydeux” from now on, and I’m having a decent time in the game.

        But after perusing that particular Reddit thread, and going back and watching trailers and promotional material I’d avoided in recent months, I feel the need to call a spade a spade.

  16. Laurentius says:

    I was really suprised at first gameplay footages as gameplay looks nothing like in trailers, smooth exciting exploration was gone and 90% of video time was collcting resources, shooting at rocks and plants to collect resources and then juggling inventory with all this resources. No game is out and when I looked on youtube for PC footage, it is just that. All even most redundant similation aspects are gone and grindy resource management took central role. It was never advertised as such.

    • rommel102 says:

      I hate grinding and treadmill games, and while you certainly CAN do that in NMS, it is not required beyond the most meager means. If you want to stick it out in your original ship and don’t care about upgrading or investing in stuff, you can do so. The only thing you need to craft is fuel, and that can be done fairly easily without any grinding.

      If you stuck me on a similar looking paradise planet (which aren’t found until you get close to the core after unlocking advanced hyperdrives), I could replicate nearly that exact launch trailer sans the giant sandworm.

      • Zenicetus says:

        The degree of grind depends on the dice roll though. If your first few planets are fairly hostile environments (like the ones I had), then you’re going to spend a LOT of time grinding resources and crafting to keep alive in your ridiculously underpowered and weak space suit.

        Not everyone enjoys survival games or crafting grind, and that’s not exactly how the game was marketed. One reason I still play SubNautica off and on, was the option to remove the more hardcore survival features.

        • aircool says:

          Trouble is, there’s some really daft grind choices.

          Having to grind Plutonium to feed your Launch Thrusters, except that Plutonium isn’t hard to find and the mechanic only exists to persuade you to explore on foot. The result is that every four launches you have to go into you ship inventory, find the Launch Thruster icon (different place on each ship), click on it, then click on a resource.

          Same goes for the other red stuff needed for interplanetary flight. You can’t move in space for asteroids made from the stuff, they’re everywhere… so what’s the bloody point?

          Combat is the same… oh no, my gun has run out of ammo – into the inventory, hunt down the gun icon, click on it and hope you hit the cheapest resource whilst your getting shot to shit. Shields are the same, blah blah blah.

          A lot of the grind has no reason to exist. Even making a reasonable amount of cash is stupidly easy (I’m talking 100K or so, not millions). Just get a pile of Plutonium and a pile of Iron (stacks of 250 each), and tah-dah, 25 Bypass whatsits worth about 3K each for a total of 75K+. It takes about two or three minutes of mindless clicking and the frustratingly slow market interface to appear, but it is easy money considering the availability of Plutonium and Iron.

          Shit.. I’d be happy with an inventory sort (by type/value) or even the ability to stack some items which should really be stackable.

          Sorry, I appear to have ranted :(

  17. itchyeyes says:

    I understand where some of the dissappointment comes from, and I don’t want to excuse Hello Games from the misteps that they made (in particular the quality of the PC port), and there are several. But I feel like a lot of the fan backlash is pretty undeserved. Even in this article you mention two issues that someone paying even the slightest bit of attention to what they were buying should have noticed.

    The first being the multiplayer. The game is listed as single player on the box, STEAM store, and PSN store. It was not once shown, in all its years of development, with two players inhabiting the same space. The expectation that it would have true multiplayer at launch was always a thin hope hanging on a handful of offhand comments made be the developer.

    The second issue is the pop-in. Look at pretty much any video from up to a year prior to release that the game had problems with pop-in.

    Also, I think a lot of what you think of this game is pretty subject to your sample. Looking at that side by side comparison, I’ve definitely been to worlds that resemble the early trailer more than the one they’re comparing it against. Then again, I’ve also been to barren shitholes. Not every world is lush and beautiful. That’s kind of the point of the game.

    Again, I’m not excusing the things that Hello Games did mess up, or didn’t communicate well. But I don’t think I’ve ever had less sympathy for people who felt “duped” by marketing material than I do with this game. Not that I feel a whole lot of sympathy for them to begin with, because the real solution to that problem is blatantly simple: just stop pre-ordering your games already.

    • saluk says:

      Everything in the trailer is in the game. Just not at the same scale. They spread things out at further distances, the lifeforms on the planet are further apart so they interact less, the pirate attacks are rarer, and the mining filler has been stuffed in between all of those cool moments because the developers had to add something to DO on these cool worlds besides fly around and look at them. If there is a failure to live up to expectations here based on an e3 trailer, it’s in doing too much rather than too little. (And more pointedly, doing too much of the wrong thing)

      If the game had stayed an indie game and not gotten so heavily promoted and hyped, released for 20$, and not had to worry so much about traditional console gameplay, I think it would have been a marvel that the humble developers could improve on in a later iteration.

      • itchyeyes says:

        Again, I feel like all of this was pretty obvious well in advance of launch. For example, this walkthrough from E3 shows pretty clearly that the activity in the game is a lot more spaced out than the E3 trailer showed. Note that video has been viewed 4.5 million times too (also this one from over a year ago with 5.5 million views). So it’s not like this information wasn’t pretty broadly diseminated to their audience.

        Obviously many people are wanting the more dense experience. And I get that. But I think there’s a big difference between “this just isn’t the game for me” and “I feel cheated because you promised me one thing and gave me another”. And I’m hearing a lot more of the latter.

        • saluk says:

          I agree and I agree. Personally I’m enjoying the game, but I can understand the sentiment the other way. What was presented was very open to interpretation on how to fill in the blanks – and the most obvious bits to fill in those blanks are not what we got. No amount of attempts to change the narrative in the last few months is going to erase the ideas people had of what filled in those blanks.

          And some might argue that what was chosen to pad the game was wrong. If it were objectively good gameplay, even if it was not what people had expected, I think they would not notice the discrepancy as much. Crashing on a planet and running around collecting enough resources to refuel and hopefully sell at the station to make a bit of profit, as implemented in the game, is just not that compelling, and that makes up the majority of the game loop. Add to that a story and structure that encourages you to leave behind most of the cool discoveries you make rather than adding context to the generated worlds, and you have a game that seems to be at odds with itself.

          Yeah I don’t think the devs lied or anything and am not sure I agree with the above article. What we were actually told and shown and what is actually in the game are a lot closer to me than, say, Colonial Marines. I wasn’t that hyped for NMS because of what we were shown – and my impressions of the game are fairly close to the idea I had formed in my head about it. As a result I am fairly entertained, as flawed as some of the systems appear to me.

          But I do understand why so many have felt let down.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          The problem is that as a matter of both common sense and law, you can’t assume every potential customer will look at every piece of information you release.

          For example, here in Australia the law is that if you engage in ‘conduct’ which is all the circumstances is ‘misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive’ then nothing more needs to be proved for you to be liable. And if your conduct is a representation about a future matter, then the test is even more stringent – you bear the burden of proving that you had a proper basis for making the representation at the time you made it.

          It doesn’t matter if you later engage in non-misleading conduct. It’s enough that some of your conduct was actually or potentially misleading.

          Video game people like to think they are special, but they’re not. If Ford runs a TV ad where they claim a car gets 200 kilometres for every litre of petrol, then someone who buys that car has a legal remedy if it only gets 100km/l, even if Ford also ran different ads with the latter figure in it.

          TL;DR: only lying some of the time is not an excuse

  18. Mordaedil says:

    I warned people from the start that this was too alike to Spore and look at where we are.

    Spore is an even better product though.

    • Bull0 says:

      Maxis didnt aggressively mask the stepdown in features before release to try and keep sales, which is what Hello have done, for shame.

      • fdel says:

        For shame or for Sony “strict contract” Too much people forget Sony in big in.

  19. mavrik says:

    I’ve yet to see a single gaming project that actually shipped with features the design document and early alpha versions listed and experimented on. The biggest failing from Hello Games is that they’ve been inexperienced and they failed to understand that gamers do not have insight in the development process and do not understand that a lot of things will have to be cut to make the release date happen. They also failed to communicate things that did not make it into the final release so it’s kind of understandable that people feel cheated.

    Lesson learned: Don’t show off your early alpha versions unless you’re SURE you can make the major strokes work.

  20. Ur-Quan says:

    One thing missing in this article is the role of the gaming press.
    No Man’s sky was SHOWERED with praise and awards and general attention LONG before we had any idea about the actual core gameplay.
    Shouldn’t it be the role of the gaming press to ask those questions? To report critically about a new game instead of buying into the hype?

    • Laurentius says:

      Also, devs are rarly called on their obvious bullshit or exaggeration by a press which is a problem. I remember when Witcher 3 was supposed to hove super deep and world changing interaction with a world and in the end it was well known, flat mechanic of killing few monsters and then few NPC’s spawnigand and a trader. No one called them on that.

    • Baines says:

      A few people have mentioned it. TotalBiscuit mentioned it in his rambling video about No Man’s Sky hype. (TB even credited NMS’s initial hype to being the best-looking game of a bad awards show.)

      It is probably mostly a silent topic for a couple of major reasons. First, it isn’t “interesting” news. Stories about death threats being sent to the guy who posted that NMS would be delayed is an “interesting story”, while “Site X posted a bunch of positive previews based on the information that they had been given” isn’t. Second, it gets into the area of game journalist responsibility and ethics, which is an area that games journalists tend to avoid.

      • Baines says:

        As for asking the questions…

        Murray said plenty of stuff about NMS during development. A lot of the stuff he said turned out to be false, but that’s the kind of thing that no one outside the studio finds out until the game is released (or leaked).

        Journalists could ask those questions now, but that falls prey to evasive or non-responses (or even blacklisting in the cases of some publishers/studios). It doesn’t help that most sites aren’t going to fly a reporter out for a face-to-face interview, where it can be at least slightly harder to brush off or ignore questions. Instead, they’ll just fire off an email.

  21. criskywalker says:

    That kind of shite can no longer be tolerated. No Man’s Sky is Spore all over again.

    I remember when developers shared realistic work in progress like for example what Ron Gilbert is doing with Thimbleweed Park. It’s an interesting about what a game will really be.

    I wonder if “current gen” console are another cause for the sad state of affairs. How closer to the developers’ original view would Bioshock Infinite, No Man’s Sky and Watchdogs be if they were created solely with the PC on mind.

    Marketing departments are also to blame, obviously. As I previously it is much better to have the developers speaking sincerely about their games and see true gameplay instead of all that fake stuff they bring us in conventions.

    Also, the fact that demos are almost nowhere to be seen is another factor that doesn’t let people make their minds before buying.

    The developers are lying to us with no shame and in the case of No Man’s Sky I’m so very happy that I didn’t buy it.

  22. Baines says:

    And it’s sometimes hard to see why creators would not mention these things.

    Telling people that the game you are going to release lacks many of the elements that you used to pitch the game to its audience means you might lose the interest (and money) of that audience.

    The Reddit summary reminds people that the version of No Man’s Sky that was ultimately released is significantly different from the game that was promoted over the years. No Man’s Sky was sold on things like accurate planetary movement (and its consequences), wide variety of planets, searching for resources, active flora and fauna, potential direct interaction with other players , active interaction and relations with NPCs, etc… All of those things were gutted, either removed entirely or simplified to the barest bones.

  23. bee says:

    The problem is that YRMV. For me, I experienced those things you said were missing. It depends on the planet you’re on.

    • modzero says:

      Truly? You’ve seen a river? Or a sandworm? Or a crashed freighter?

      • Archonsod says:

        I’ve seen rivers. Or at least bodies of water which were longer than they were narrow, looked river-y enough to me anyway. I’ve also seen predators attack other animals (though not via crashing through a forest, but then all of the large animals I’ve found so far were either herbivores or ‘ambulatory’ whatever the hell that means). Haven’t seen a crashed freighter, but then I’ve yet to find any crashed ship thus far.

  24. PanFaceSpoonFeet says:

    The thing is…. In reality…. Wouldn’t exploring infinite space be dull as mince anyway?

    • aircool says:

      And very time consuming, but at least we wouldn’t spend half out time in the inventory screen recharging stuff.

    • Skabooga says:

      I don’t know; I enjoyed my time with Space Engine. Although I always played it in brief spurts and not long stretches.

  25. KevinRyan589 says:

    Your paragraph towards the end seems to put the responsibility of the game’s hype machine on the developers and Sony…….but that’s not really fair.

    Games media went NUTS over this game when it was first unveiled and throughout its development, RPS included.

    I mean….look at this headline from 2013: link to

    Now granted, there’s no law against being excited but once that passes it’s important to keep cautious about the statements that developers make and in this followup article, RPS *kinda* did but not really.

    link to

    Looking back on it did that interview really reveal anything? No. Key details should’ve been asked for either to the developer or by the author after the fact. Important questions that could help keep the hype train in check.

    This quote in particular stands out to me: “They don’t want to closely define the experience. That’s the opposite of my goals in describing the game, but I appreciate the overall philosophy.”

    No. There should be no appreciation towards philosophies like that. They either closely define the experience or they don’t and if they don’t, then it falls on the media to make sure that it’s clear we DON’T know what this game actually is.

    I’m not picking on RPS in particular. Everyone, including fans, is responsible for the hype train going off rails. But what doesn’t help is a combination of a lack of concrete information coming out of the developer camp and media continuously hyping said developer’s game regardless of that lack of information.

    This article analyzing the situation after the fact is helpful in recognizing this problem, but make no mistake that RPS was right in there with everyone else from the start.

    • commisaro says:

      Thanks, I was about to write this comment myself! All the writers/websites/fans who are decrying this bait-and-switch need to take a hard look at their own uncritical coverage/support in the early days. Vaporware doesn’t exists without uncritical media coverage.

  26. WhoZeDuke says:

    I don’t think the comparison to BioShock Infinite is fair. We already knew what a BioShock game was and we basically knew how Infinite would end up, looking back to the first game. Guns, powers, cool setting, twisty story. That was delivered. With No Man’s Sky, we only had what Hello Games told us, so it makes the anger and disappointment much bigger.

  27. wfw-rps says:

    good article and comments- unfortunately the empirical evidence is that this nonsense works – mr murray has been made wealthy by this experience- he clearly(i think) found it difficult to spout some of the nonsense in interviews and was trying to calm the hype – but was on the hypetrain/listened to the advice – believed his own bs – whatever the reasons- but the truth is it worked- they sold a shed load of games – i think the major lesson he or hello games is going to walk away from it is that the hype machine works- you could make an interesting doc out of brit developers who have ridden the hype machine badly and a good one of the ones who have done it well- who know maybe No Mans Sky V will be ace…

    • aircool says:

      Now that I look back on the videos, he displays the temperament of a man not wanting to lie, but unfortunately has a gun to his head.

      Either that or he’s an extreme narcissist who believes he actually has created the universe.

  28. Goschti says:

    We don’t preorder. Easy as that. But after reading into the topic I really hope this shitshow of a game will explode in their faces.

    Making lots of promises and then not coming clean about it is bad. But then admitting that the only QA was done by Sony and delivering this bad a port for pc is the next step.

    At it’s current state they should sell it for 20$ as early access. Not some AAA prices for bad quality. Even the graphics look nothing like the trailers. The textures are just lacking.

    But boy do I love that jurassic park trailer/release comparison video.

    And thinking about people calling Elite a mile wide an inch deep and calling NMS the savior a year ago just makes me smile.

    • Premium User Badge

      Iamblichos says:

      Elite IS a mile wide and an inch deep… but NMS is even more shallow. :(

      • Archonsod says:

        Funnily enough I find NMS a much better successor to Elite than Dangerous is. I suspect it’s because there’s a similar vibe to Frontier in it, whereas imho Dangerous was completely ruined via the cod-MMO pretensions and indeed multiplayer in general.

  29. aircool says:

    The Jurassic Park comparison video sums it up nicely.

    I could have accepted the game as early access, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt like lobbing a brick through a developers window.

    It didn’t look to bad from PS4 streams I watched, but it feels as if they just scrapped what they had and started a new game once Sony came along and we just got lumped with a shitty port.

    Perhaps the biggest shit of all is that Sean Murray has the cheek to inform us that

    “we’re going to make some people very happy with a PC and PS4 patch that’s in test right now :)”

    What’s he going to do? Give us the game that we were supposed to get? Are we supposed to be grateful that they’re making an effort to fix this crap?

    No Man’s Sky should meet Elite: Dangerous so they can have a good talk about delivering a half arsed game. Ironically, taking the best bits out of both games would create something that should be awesome.

    Hopefully now that they’re rolling in cash, they can hire some professionals to sort out the interface/flight-model/balancing/game engine/etc…

    • milligna says:

      No thanks, Frontier is doing a steady job with Elite and i’m loving how it’s developing. For all the sneering we do, it WORKS and the flight model and combat is fun in VR. I don’t thin it has anything to learn from this sophomoric, pastel mess.

  30. freedomispopular says:

    People need to stop thinking that trailers are anything more than promotional material made to generate hype.

  31. fish99 says:

    The obvious answer to Brendans question about why they didn’t come clean about the cut features is that it would cost them sales, in a world where pre-orders and day one sales are so important, and where they can (and did) prevent reviews from appearing until days after launch. They chose money over integrity, and they wouldn’t be the only people in the industry to do so.

  32. msd23 says:

    Game journos and media are huge part of this problem too.

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, many sites seem scared to question whether games will be good before they are released. RPS is one of the few places I’ve seen highlighting issues that games might be having behind the scenes before they’re released. If you look at recent articles for something like Star Citizen, 90% of sites don’t mention the problems the project has at all so no wonder people don’t realise what’s happening.

  33. Ralek says:

    I think the underlyinng problem is indeed marketing. This sounds abstract, but it really isn’t. More and more shots are being called by what you could call “outsiders” as well as “marketers”. This has always been an issue of course, there always been people in leading positions, who were not engineers or designers, or whatever, themselves, but I think, the difference is, that the balance is gone:
    It’s all about the presentation these days, not the product.

    It might be a small consolation, but it’s not a problem exclusive to the industry.
    It’s happening in many other industries as well, and it’s not something that only happens “mentally”, so to speak. You can actually watch how companies are slowly replacing employees, who were ‘experts’ in the field, in which the company was working (like civil engineers in a company that sells construction materials), who just happened to have ended up in departments concerend with sales and marketing over the course of a decades long career, with new employees, who have a business degree or PR & communication /marketing.

    The game industry used to have a lot of people in leading managerial positions, who came up in the industry, many of them also ‘experts’ in their field (even if they were “just” self-taught as kids or whatever). They knew what they were making and then selling – they knew it intimately. This “modell” is on the way out though, and I do believe, what we are witnessing now, is simply the fallout of that process. Depending on the amount of turn-over and future recruiting stratgies by publishers (and the future of the whole publisher modell), this may or may not change – fingers crossed! ^^

    As for NMS, the article is quite right, the developers themselves largely initiated and feed the “hype”-machine. Maybe that is the other exterme, of people calling shots on subjects they lack knowledge and experience in, and maybe more importantly, people who are ‘too close’ to the product to see the bigger picture.
    Again, a balance is need, people who know the products need to be making the shoots, but maybe not necessarily the designers, coders, engineers, animators and so on themselves, but someone with enough distance. That will take time, and first of all, the industry needs to recognize, that this is a problem – considering, that sofar the results are pretty good, econmically speaking, I don’t think that will happen any time soon, at least not on a grand scale.

  34. Chalky says:

    A great article, I completely agree. There are some people who got carried away with the hype for this game, but there is no way Hello Games released this game thinking that people were going to be satisfied they got the game they were sold.

    • pistachio says:

      You summed it all up there in one sentence. It took TB 40 a minute video to say essentially this.

  35. temujin33 says:

    Hmmm, the premise was just what I wanted in a game (even for $60), but I won’t be buying this. I’m really excited for the re-make version in 5 years though!

  36. quietone says:

    I read the first news about this game, perhaps watched some early trailer. Decided that it was a Noctis-like game (something I’ve been looking for a long time) and forgot about it until launch. I bought it immediately. And, so far, I am not disappointed. Yes, has some cheap “gamey” elements, but those are OK. They add some fun without spoiling the pace that much. The interface is abysmal, but so was Noctis’.
    I just love to explore the planets, and yes, the repetitions start to show, but it just delivers what I was looking for.

    • Risingson says:

      It’s Noctis with too shy touches of Starflight. Imho, more than visual shock value, this game needed a more tight narrative.

  37. kwyjibo says:

    Future developers need to learn from this, just as future marketers do.

    No Man’s Sky has made a shitload of money. The only lesson to be learned is that marketing hype generates a shitload of money.

    The market obviously won’t regulate itself. You either need to propose legislation, and good luck getting anyone to give a shit, or just accept it.

    Asking companies to not lie about their product is hopelessly naive.

    • Shazbut says:

      This basically.

      Business is run by money. Wanting to change things for ethical reasons is fine, but imposing an ethical viewpoint into something that isn’t affected by ethics is silly.

      They’ve made a ton of money. They’ve won. They don’t need to treat their customers well because their customers are addicts who will buy the product as long as it looks good.

  38. aepervius says:

    You know, I wonder if not much of what is missing…. Was cut because they could not get it to work on a PS4.

    Remember they started as a PC game, then sony snatched them as an exclusive…

  39. Smi7h says:

    I think the release of No Man’s Sky has been an interesting one.

    Personally I think that No Man’s Sky is a niche title by a small developer that got far more attention than they maybe expected, not only for the stunning visuals we saw but for the system that created it. Had this been released only on PC, to the indy crowd and not the mainstream, I think the reception would be very different.

    Did anyone else notice that the file size was only 3gb? That alone is amazing! Games with similar terrain sizes are far bigger meaning that Hello Games definitely created a real system that is WORKING. Maybe it’s not 10 quintillion stars but I bet there’s more than anyone is going to try to count. Yes, this can be easily stored in a list but then consider…

    the planets make sense. The wildlife isn’t brilliant but what game has brilliant ai, especially creature ai? Most games spawn in wildlife with smooth animations that look like they’re doing something amazing but really, not. Scripted. The sky above? You’ll run into it. The canyon? Rock walls. While I haven’t met a giant rhino, after playing the game and looking at that first trailer with it running through the forest, I think I could recreate that. They didn’t show it with amazing ai, it barreled through a forest. However, that image led us to the expectations that I think have skewed what was going on.

    Also, did anyone check out the oceans? They’re populated, with fauna that again, makes sense. Clam thingys. It’s pretty freaking awesome.

    I suppose it depends too on how interested you are in these kinds of games. I held back for a time till I saw actual gameplay and knew that I wanted to play this. I’ve played Long Dark, DayZ, Subnautica, other “survival/exploration” games and have generally enjoyed the experience. I know it’s boring for most and I can’t blame them for thinking so; I have to be in the mood to just relax in a digital space with some challenge, some problem to figure out, even if it’s an objective I set for myself. Having played those, I had a pretty good idea that NMS was going to be those games on CRACK.

    (God this is long….)

    The survival aspect in NMS, compared to the others, is beautiful. It’s just enough to build tension but without being annoying like DayZ characters that constantly need food/water. The idea of being on 375C planets is hilarious and funny enough, survival is pretty easy with your technology (as you would expect in the future) but sometimes you can’t find what you want….I know, not COD explosions but it does remind me of “The Martian”.

    Sigh, I feel like I could go on but alas, I need to go corner the Dynamic Resonator market. Suffice to say, Sean Murray does not strike me as the kind of person who wanted to be out in front of the cameras….Sony’s marketing needed to wrangle as many people as possible. That marketing strategy works for AAA titles that appeal to lots of people but not for indy titles that really only have a niche market. I think Sony tried to make this game out to be something it wasn’t.

    Also!!! hahaha, jesus.

    The stories seem pretty interesting. The connection between the Vy’keen, Gek, Korvax and Sentinels (don’t spoil please! even if you hate the game…though maybe you don’t know it, in which case, amazing!) has been interesting to unfold. Words being in pillars is strange, scattered around a planet, but fuck it, I’m having fun.

    Actually, yea. Fuck it. I’m having fun.

    I’m going to go mine shit because once they have base building, I’m wondering if someone is going to build a city lol.

  40. Collieuk says:

    There was no early review copies sent out and very vague gameplay trailers prior to release. The warning was there for all to see. As others have said the gaming press hyped it up to kingdom come. Let’s face it: to have trillions of randomly generated worlds with ecospheres as detailed as the early trailer is light years away. Seeing as game developers have yet to create a AAA RPG with living worlds much more detailed than that of Ultima 7 from 1992 then expecting the game in the trailer is dreaming. It was a tech demo to gain funding and media traction, a ‘here’s what we might be able to make one day’. Still at least it is out and isn’t one of those cursed Early Access games that promise the world but end up being completely different and incomplete 2 years after you started playing it. Has there been a procedurely generated sandbox game come out of that stage ‘complete’ in a reasonable time frame yet?

  41. Zenicetus says:

    “One benefit of the early access model, for all its shortcomings, is that players see the game as it evolves. There’s an immediate transparency.”

    True up to a point, but it’s still not always a guarantee of honest trailers. When there is enough money behind a new game, the marketing department has a tendency to get carried away.

    For example, in the Beta for Elite:D, an early version of the flight model had good 6-degree-of-freedom agility, but the devs eventually restricted that, to encourage people to fight while flying forward like an airplane. Some people objected, but that was what was released — ships that flew quickly going forward, and were slugs at turning or lateral 6DOF maneuvers with thrusters.

    And then, when release day came, Frontier put up a pre-rendered CGI trailer of a combat sequence showing a Cobra doing a “back flip” maneuver that was *impossible* in the actual game! It was a blatant lie about how responsive the ships were.

    But as is the case with NMS, other aspects of the game were glossy enough to sparkle in people’s eyes, so nobody paid much attention to the discrepancy between that launch trailer and how the game actually played. I think we’re seeing some of that with NMS.

    • yogibbear says:

      Yep, except in this case they’re comparing >2yr old reveal footage and nitpicking the 5 things from the reveal trailer that aren’t in the game more than 2 years later ignoring all the other actual gameplay footage that’s been done since.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Nope, those early trailers are still the first things you hit as video clips on the Steam sales page. Which makes it exactly like the deceptive Elite:D launch trailer.

        Since when is it okay to show things in a trailer that aren’t in the game? That’s the bottom line, and it’s what happens when the money is coming in so fast that nobody cares if it’s deceptive advertising. Nobody wants to cut off the flow.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      “ships that flew quickly going forward, and were slugs at turning or lateral 6DOF maneuvers with thrusters.”

      Do people not know about the Vulture? You can practically orbit other ships, while keeping your nose on point and chewing them to pieces.

      • Zenicetus says:

        The Vulture wasn’t introduced until after the game was released, when that trailer was shown.

        Also, I haven’t flown it, but I’d be surprised if it could do the “back flip” as quickly as the Cobra shown in that release trailer. I’ll bet the Cobra still can’t do it either.

  42. Foxx1304 says:

    Hey everyone just want to say that this review is a bit too salty . i almost found the experience i saw in the first footage .rivers with aquatic life ,big monster chassing others animals yet not in groups (Herds ?).Fauna and flora that are nicely developed almost crowding the planet but off course not on every planet or moon !! i found some witjout any flaura .don’t forget you need the right weather ,the right position of planet to the sun .no acid rain or violant temperature changing from night to day .i sense many players forget what already has been said since the beginning of the creation of the game .if all the conditions are met you’ll find a really beatiful planet ! i found a nicely green planet full of lakes and seas and filled off fauna and flaura .it was ,believe me, astonishing ! but it’s moon almost the same had acid rain so no flaura at all . also we have little wrecks not yet the big freighters but they are comming next update .ok the fly limitation of 50 meters that should be deleted or altered your right about that .anyway for those who tried the game (20-40 hours ) keep on exploring keep on searching you’ll be amazed i assure you off what this game has to offer you .Big Fan here so i realy felt the need to defend what this game has to offer
    Thanks for reading and HF guys and girls :D Greetz

  43. Poolback says:

    Definitely no rivers…

    I get the complains, people are disappointed that the game doesn’t like the 2 first trailers. But it looks almost exactly like what has been shown afterwards. That and also a lot people are saying that things are missing, when in fact it isn’t.

    But I admit, the two first trailers are different from the game we have. Even though the gameplay is all there, which seems to be the main complain about the game.

    What is most surprising is the amount of salt and hate against an indie game developped by 10 people. I can’t imagine how many death threats they’ve probably received at this stage.

    • milligna says:

      No it doesn’t. The recent set of 4 trailers still uses the earlier footage that isn’t in this game and right on Steam they still push the most deceptive of their trailers.

      If the guy who made Populous is a pathological liar, Sean Murray is a pathological liar who doesn’t have the decency to make Populous at least.

    • StrawberryJam says:

      I have been finding plenty of planets like this one around G6 and G2 stars. It’s not quite the E3 trailer, but it’s pretty close.

      link to

      Honestly, I think the biggest problem with the game is that nearly every planet has some kind of life. It’s distracting because the really good ones are getting lost in amongst the half-baked ones. There really should be some kind of threshold that determines whether life is even present or not.

      • Josh W says:

        I’ve also been thinking that the first half of the jurassic park thing has an advantage because it doesn’t spend much time watching the creatures; they wander over there, looking vaguely purposeful, and then they wander back.

        It’s like those freighters that warp in wonderfully dramatically while you’re doing something else, and add a bit of drama to things, but then just hang there. The moment is excellent, but there isn’t something to follow it.

        I’ve been thinking about how you might do satisfying looking purposeful ecological AI, and I think it would be very tricky, as you would have to give them loops of behaviour, where they recognise certain places as cover, others as locations for food etc. They would do things like eating warily in a heard, with a small percentage of the heard running on watchful AI, the rest focusing on herd eating AI, where they run eating animations and try to move with the rest, and particularly the watchful ones, skipping out of heard when their movement speed increases sufficiently or the watchful ones sound some kind of alarm. Then you’d want the kind of heard following predators that exist in real life, following some AI designed to harass herds without mucking up their own AI too much.

        Basically, create some semblance of a daily routine for creatures, even if it’s extremely simple, (eat then drink, then eat over there, then sleep) and add some reactive rules, and you might end up with something pretty good.

    • Baines says:

      This is the kind of fanatical support title where everyone got death threats for everything.

      When Kotaku posted news that the game would be delayed a few months, the author of the news piece received death threats. When Hello Games later confirmed that the game would be delayed, they received death threats.

      The Kotaku follow-up article was actually pretty, where the author points out that storms of death threats are so common that we just accept them. (And has a side bit on how Twitter Support brushed off a particular death threat tweet, but Twitter then suspended the account hours after the Kotaku author publicized Twitter Support’s “we checked and decided that person didn’t violate the rules” response.)

  44. yogibbear says:

    Why can’t RPS have an article on the upscaling resolution mod .paks that are already out that make the game look fantastic!!!!!! (they fix the internal 720p render)

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      The difference is pretty stark, especially with a nice, bright LED monitor. I’m running the 1620p one, it actually works better on aliasing than the in-game 4xSSAA.

  45. Synesthesia says:

    This is only a test

    • specksynder says:

      I can’t quite tell if you’re referencing NMS or your own use of the comment system, but if it’s the former, then…yeah. I like the game plenty, but I’ve caught myself imagining how it could really just be a proof of concept project for much larger endeavors. Unfortunately, I don’t understand enough about programming or game development to really know if this could be feasible. Does anyone have any insight on this? Like, with a far larger development team and a serious budget, could a game like this redefine the genre in unexpected ways within the next, say, 5-10 years? Is there a ceiling defined by hardware, or by hard set limitations inherent in procedural generation? I’m talking about random environments with levels of detail similar to a game like the Witcher or Red Dead Redemption. Am I way off base in this?

      • Wisq says:

        Might also just be testing to see how many / interesting a reply you can get if you just post a mysterious comment of “this is only a test”. :)

    • specksynder says:

      To clarify on the point of redefining the genre, I meant video games in general as a genre of entertainment. Consider the progression from Pong to Pac-man to Portal to Proteus.

  46. genoforprez says:

    I agree with the general sentiment of this article that video games should not get away with false advertising on the claim that “well the advertising was true at the time and we just forgot to mention (or couldn’t mention because reasons) that the advertising is no longer accurate”.


    I really wish that critics—both professional games journalists and just fans on the internet—would stop calling this “broken promises”, like game studio X is a girlfriend that promised them it would be forever and then dumped them.

    Trailers and advertising aren’t “promises”. If the trailer for the new stars wars had shown me chewbacca and I went to the movie and there was no chewbacca, I wouldn’t be writing angry articles about “Disney’s broken promises”. Can we just acknowledge that this sounds really weird and makes the person writing the post sound kinda weird in a “swimfan” sort of way?

    Let’s just call it lying or false advertising. Even if it is lying or false advertising by omission. But I’m kinda starting to roll my eyes at all of this “broken promises” rhetoric every time a big-name title is disappointing.

    • Brendan Caldwell says:

      “If the trailer for the new stars wars had shown me chewbacca and I went to the movie and there was no chewbacca, I wouldn’t be writing angry articles about “Disney’s broken promises”

      I would. WHERE’S CHEWBACCA?

      • plugmonkey says:

        One slight difference is that once you’ve filmed Peter Mayhew, that’s in the can. Done. Finished. You’re never going to discover down the line that your target platforms don’t have enough RAM to show Chewbacca and Han Solo on screen at the same time and still let people use the Force.

        Boundary pushing games start big and get smaller. They always have, they always will, and the only solution is to stop talking about them until their finished.

        • Wisq says:

          You might still end up going over length and having to cut stuff. It’s not really all that different.

          One would hope that you wouldn’t cut a moment that you considered important / entertaining enough to put in the trailer — but, no guarantees.

          On the other hand, I do believe most movie trailers are produced after the movie is completely finished? I could be wrong.

    • criskywalker says:

      Where’s Luke? There’s a reason they never showed Luke in the promotional material.

  47. Unsheep says:

    I think many people still expected an MMO despite the developers telling us over and over again that NMS would not be an MMO.

    Even in this early video from 2014 it is clearly stated that this game would not be an MMO:
    link to

    Also, how on Earth could anyone *not* interpret the game as being “quiet” and “relaxed” from the previous videos ?

    I mean, just look at them:
    link to
    link to

    The developers described NMS early on as being in style of Elite Dangerous, another game which is “quiet” and “relaxed”.

    I still argue that many of the people complaining about the content had strange expectations about the game, once they thought it might be an MMO they seem to have completely locked-on to that idea. Even a vague hint of multiplayer seems to induce people to expect an MMO.

  48. Pogs says:

    A small indy team promising the moon on a stick couple overwhelming media hype always sounded to good to be true in my mind. I did wait to be surprised but in then end I’m surprise anyone is surprised that it ended as it did.

  49. Pogs says:

    And all you guys and gals should go support Empyrion in its development. See it evolved to be what NMS failed to be. Plus its on sale on Steam atm for a fraciton of the price.

  50. Viral Frog says:

    Ah, this article was exactly what I needed to read. I’ve been pointing out valid criticisms aimed at the developers, publishers, and NMS itself to a lot of people. A good lot of them retort with, “how dare you try to stifle my enjoyment!”

    I’m not trying to take away from anyone’s good time with the game. I’m just showing them the truth. They were lied to. The game isn’t what anyone was lead to believe it would be. It’s hardly a shell of it’s promised self. And they paid $59.99 USD for it. I guess people don’t like the truth when they have to admit they’ve been had.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Well, it may be a shell of what was promised, but there is still a working game there (except for those who can’t run it at all).

      I basically approached it as a tech demo. I wanted to see it badly enough to spend the $60, and I knew going in that it probably wouldn’t hold my interest for long. I managed around 10 hours before the crafting grind and the copy-pasta buildings got boring, so I think I got my money’s worth.

      But I can understand all the other perspectives on the game too. It’s definitely not worth this much for some people’s expectations, and others are having fun with it. It’s like a Rorschach test for what you want in a game (or for some of us, a tech demo).

      • -Spooky- says:

        Some people, includes me, are spending more money on KS. What is the big fuzz about? I don´t need other people to tell me, how i´ve to “invest” my money. We need game brooker now? *jeez*

    • Timo says:

      This article is nonsense.

      Consider Minecraft. Let’s say we were shown a video of enchanting items, making potions, an abandoned mineshaft, an underground library, the nether, a spider jockey, trading with villagers, and ends with a shot of the ender dragon. Now consider that there is NO online guide to teach you how to get to any of that. Loads of people wouldn’t have even come across a village. Less still would have found a mine, even less an underground library. Likely not a soul would have found out how to make a portal to the nether, and therefore wouldn’t be able to experience enchanting, or potions. The people that identify with this article would scream from the heavens that there’s no way the content in that video could be in the game.

      This article claims that things are missing from the game. This insanely sized universe had only been in people’s hands about a week or so when this article was written, and yet the author thinks that he should have seen everything the game has to offer in that time. Ridiculous.

      I can’t know how much more content there might be as we progress in towards the center of the galaxy, but in no way does the author have any business saying “…there are no giant sand worms, there are no huge shipwrecks on the planet’s surface…” 18 quintillion planets and he thinks he can state that these things don’t exist in the game? Nonsense.

      He almost reigns in his ridiculous claim by admitting that these things might be in the game, but haven’t yet been discovered. But then he goes on to say that even if those things are in the game, it doesn’t “…excuse the game for its shortcomings as they are now…” If those things are in the game, it doesn’t have to excuse itself for “missing content”. If you don’t like the game, you don’t like the game, but don’t claim that giant animals aren’t in the game just because you haven’t seen one.

      The biggest thing surrounding this game was mystery, not certainty. The game space was meant to be explored and discovered, not given to you in the first 8 hours of gameplay. If you wanted a game that exposed all it had to offer in the first few hours of gameplay, fine, but you made that narrative up in your head. Completely. No trailer or presentation ever “promised” all it’s content to be delivered in one day of play.

      • fdel says:

        Except many people reached the center….and there nothing new under the sun in any way ?

        • Timo says:

          I don’t believe that really says anything.

          I can’t speak for those people’s experiences and what they are or aren’t seeing/reporting, but what you describe is analogous to someone getting to the End and defeating the Ender Dragon in Minecraft having never discovered a village, potion making, enchanting, the Elytra, etc… the naive person who got through the End and never saw those things would still come away mistakenly saying that those features are missing.

      • Wisq says:

        If what you say is true — if the content they showed us can be found, and the reviewers just didn’t find it — then where are the people coming onto the review comments thread and saying “no, I found it, you just didn’t look hard enough”? Where are the community-made videos showing similar sorts of things to what the devs showed us?

        If nobody has found content that’s at all like the dev videos yet, then that can mean only one of two things:

        One, the content they showed us isn’t really in the final game.

        Two, the content they showed us was so incredibly atypical that it really may as well not be in the game.

        Plus, it’s not just that people aren’t able to exactly recreate the dev videos by hunting across random planets. That’s surely a near-impossible task. But to not see any of the individual elements of those videos? I mean, those videos showed stunning scenes of e.g. giant majestic creatures knocking down trees, herds of herbivores running from carnivores, etc. Whereas, by all accounts I’ve heard so far, the monsters look less majestic and more like rejects from Spore, and they only have two AIs, one that ignores you and one that attacks you.

        I really don’t think the “these things exist, you just haven’t found them yet” argument can reasonably be applied to this situation.

        • Timo says:

          I’m not trying to convince anyone that all of the planned features expressed in interviews or videos made it into the release.

          AngryJoeShow’s review of No Man’s Sky has him flipping out and calling bullsh!t on even the existence of the squiggly flying dragon/eel like creatures we see in some promotion videos. Splattercat’s playthrough of NMS shows creatures kind of like that.

          The mentality that AngryJoe shows in his video is exactly the mentality of this article, and they’re both off-base. There have been images from the community that show similar dinosaur like creatures. I have personally encountered a dog like creature maybe 4 times as tall as my ship who shook the ground when he walked near me.

          It may be absolutely true that the creature a.i. never got to the point they wanted in the original promotional video, with carnivorous creatures hunting other creatures, or herd-like behavior. If that ai really isn’t in the game, it’s a shame for sure, but again, this article’s claim comes from a position of ignorance. Again, the article was written about a week’s time from the game’s release, and again, using Minecraft as an example, it is incredibly unlikely that anyone in a week’s time from release would have discovered all of the content or features of Minecraft without online guides. Now, I don’t deny that if a feature expected is that carnivorous creatures are supposed to hunt and kill other animals, we can reasonably conclude that that feature is missing, as many of us have encountered carnivorous creatures in our play and they seem to only be aggressive towards the player. I’m not defending that everything projected to be in the game made the release version. I can’t know that. What I am calling nonsense is this article’s presumption that it could know what all is and isn’t in the game at the time it was written. Considering the “Minecraft anaology”, I don’t see how a reasonable thinker could think this article had any merit being written.