My New Thing Is Making Sculptures In No Man’s Sky

As the dust settles around No Man’s Sky and people realise what it isn’t, more and more are discovering what it can be for them. For me it’s about the ridiculous compulsion to make 22m units so I can buy a 38-slot spaceship. But along the way, I’ve taken to trying to sculpt the vast rocks of elements that litter the surface of the planets. It’s really flipping hard.

The multitool is not well designed for fine craftsmanship, and depending upon the rock you’re breaking down, how it breaks apart can be most frustrating. Gold is a complete arsehole to work with, cracking apart in enormous chunks, with random sections of the rock refusing to be carved at all. Copper is brilliant to carve, but annoyingly floats in the sky (you know, like copper does) so limits the potential for bashing it into some sort of shape. Oh, and being entirely without any skill in the matter of sculpting isn’t likely helping.

So, for your edification and delight, I’ve cobbled together some of my half-arsed attempts for you to admire in stunned silence, then rapt appreciation.

Skull Mountain

This was my first attempt, having noticed how much the line I’d carved through the bottom looked like a grim mouth. He still stands there, in aluminium, on whatever planet he was on, so taken was I with the romantic notion that another player might land there and be freaked out. Except that the chances of another player landing on that planet are almost zero, let alone that tiny region of that planet-sized planet, let alone that the game’s so-called shared universe is all bullshit and I’d bet my bum it wouldn’t be there. But apart from that, what a lovely idea!

What’s That Coming Over The Hill?

Is it a monster? No, not in any sense is it a monster. But it was intended to be. I wanted to create the impression that it was a monster appearing from behind a steep hill, but in the end it looks like a pair of pants blowing in the wind.

This Way Home

I built this one as a guide for if I ever forgot which way to go to leave the planet. Or because it already looked a bit like a finger, and I tried really hard to carve out a thumb/hand-shape. Yes, it’s a very bulbous thumb, but attempts to narrow it did not go well. Michelangelo was unlucky that he couldn’t get away with screenshots. Interestingly (he said with a straight face), this is a piece carved from both aluminium and nickel.


This is an ironic commentary on the state of game development promises.

The Sky Is Horror

A simple piece, but I would argue on of my greatest works. The sculpture is to be understood in its setting, its framing, and the way I fluked getting teeth in the mouth hole.

Death Of The Baftas

A commentary on how the Baftas always invite other lesser games journalists to their weird game things, but never me, despite my being great. For proof of my greatness, check out the definition of the nose on this one – it was hard work!

Clyde’s Lament

Okay, look, see, I got pretty decent at this! This is Clyde the ghost from off of Pac-Man. You can tell it’s Clyde because he’s vaguely yellow. It went dark by the time I finished this one and I was fucked if I was going to stand around and wait for the sun to show up again, but please be assured that he is entirely floating from the ground and everything.


I think this is my most and least successful sculpture so far. I tried to make a Thwomp. It’s kind of like a Thwomp, right? I mean, sure, it’s not grey, or very square, and the eyebrows were impossible to do, and the spikes are terrible, but then at the same time, I was playing No Man’s Sky and thought to try to make a Thwomp.


  1. TheAngriestHobo says:

    This is actually really cool.

    I don’t play NMS, but now I’m imagining how great it would be to happen upon a planet where some mad sculptor has made his home, and spend a few hours wandering through his creations like some virtual museum.

    • Rizlar says:

      Sadly I believe that seeds for the worlds are shared with but you don’t share the effects of player actions, so you will never land on a planet that’s been cleaned of resources and we will never know what it is to gaze at the works of John as he intended. :'(

    • Eclipse says:

      it’s a single player game with almost no online features at all, so sadly at least for the moment it’s not going to happen.

    • Captain Narol says:

      Would be great if the modifications you make to a planet could stay and be seen by other players, but I’m not sure it’s technically possible considering the size of the NMS universe and the quantity of datas that would have to be stocked for that…

      • Josh W says:

        This is the feature I most want them to add; running your own server that stores the effects you have had on planets you discover, so that no-man’s sky’s servers (‘s programs) can set up peer to peer connections that stream you the information as you enter the system. That way people could keep persistent claims on certain worlds, and even create the equivalent of low-featured minecraft servers connected by in game space rather than links.

    • Captain Narol says:

      PS : but you should give a try at Second Life, you have some amazing virtual museums there made by real artists and everyone can see them freely !

  2. geldonyetich says:

    Open world games: Game doesn’t have a purpose? Players will make one.

    • Eclipse says:

      the game actually has a purpose. For those that claim it doesn’t explain stuff or there’s no story: it has more story\direction than the original Legend of Zelda or Castlevania II

      • OscarWilde1854 says:

        Yeah… but it’s 1/10th as interesting. 1000x more disappointing when you achieve it….

      • funky_mollusk says:

        Just because there are “worse” examples doesn’t somehow magically change the content of the game. This is the “relative privation” fallacy in action.

    • Captain Narol says:

      That’s the good thing with sandbox, you choose freely how you have fun in it instead of being guided on rails…

  3. GWOP says:

    Any other explorer coming across your work will simply shrug them off as paradolia.

    In space, no one can hear you sculpt.

  4. OscarWilde1854 says:

    One of the few things I did in NMS that I enjoyed quite a bit was using the plasma launcher on my multitool to blow a tunnel straight through a mountain on some planet… it took like 60 shots and I had to go collect resources to recraft the ammo a LOT of times, but I made it all the way through and I had the same thought as you: “man, I really hope someone stumbles upon this”

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      I do this to make arches on the beach sometimes, if the planet doesn’t have natural ones. Just waiting for a mod that increases the radius so I can blow away entire mountains.

    • BigDaveyB says:

      Single player game!

      • OscarWilde1854 says:

        Yeah… I’m aware. I meant it as a “wouldn’t it be nice if it actually was like this” … So many bitter people with this game. I just refunded it and moved on with my life.

  5. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    If you had told us your monster was a hip-bone we would have been much more impressed.

  6. airknots says:

    I’m pretty sure that the developers mentioned before that anything you destroy will be reconstructed after leaving the planet’s surface. So, even if someone else lands there they won’t see your sculptures.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      It’s not that they’re reconstructed, it’s that changes aren’t shared (though seemingly nothing but names are). Locally, any changes you make are marked in your savegame file.

      • airknots says:

        Oh, ok. Found the original article, but seems like PC Gamer fixed it already. Here’s the original quote:

        So, if you use a mining tool to blast a section of a planet, perhaps to draw a giant penis on the ground (I will just assume that is what you will do), once you leave that planet and fly away, the game will once again disassemble the planet behind you. If you return, or if another player visits, the planet will be reconstructed, but any changes you made to the topography, penis-based or otherwise, will not be rebuilt. Only the original state of the planet will be reformed. In that way, the universe and everything in it, once born, are static and unchanging.

  7. Epicedion says:

    Just remember, nothing you do matters to anyone. No matter what mark you leave behind, what monoliths you erect, what landscapes you create or destroy, all that anyone will know of you is Your Mum’s Backside.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      So like all other single player games, then.

    • invitro says:

      Not if you make screenshots or videos of your creations and post them somewhere.

    • John Walker says:

      I’m glad you noticed : )

      One of my more pleasant planet names.

    • April March says:

      “nothing you do matters to anyone”

      and in the game

    • jrodman says:

      Is this an intentional comedic reference to Eclipse by Pink Floyd? Because if not, I feel somehow it’s a strong argument for nothing ever being new, and that in turn is amusing in the game’s context.

  8. Sardonic says:

    NMS certainly looks like it would be livened up if you could come across the world of Zardoz.

  9. Mr. International says:

    You should try journalism, it’s fun and the world needs it right now!

    • John Walker says:

      You should try reading a site about world news, rather than video games!

      • Mr. International says:

        this place used to do the trick
        link to
        What’d you do with this guy anyway?

        • noodlecake says:

          I didn’t like that interview. It was very un-rockppershotgun. I read RPS because the articles are funny and there’s a general warmth and positivity that comes through in most of the site’s content. I don’t come here for Jeremy Paxman style interviews. I’m sure that’s the norm on dryer sites and if I wanted that I’d go find it elsewhere.

          • April March says:

            The norm on most other sites is actually something like
            “So you’re working a new game?”
            “Looks great!”
            “Don’t I know!”

          • Klydefrog says:

            I know it’s a bit pointless commenting this late but just wanted to say that I think RPS has a place for nice articles like this one and the kind of consumer advocacy writing John often does, including that interview. I think a lot of people who weren’t that familiar with John misinterpreted that interview as being mean whereas in reality I think it just came out of pure honesty. My favourite thing about John, having listened to a lot of his podcasts and read his stuff for quite a few years, is that he always writes and talks with complete honesty about his feelings whether that be in articles like this one where he’s just talking incidentally about something he likes or in that interview where he’s expressing a very personal frustration with the things he’s seen from Molyneux for many years. I do disagree with Mr. Intentional though, RPS has always been and still is a place in which a group of people who have played a lot of games can say pretty much anything they want about playing them which allows for a brilliant variety from nice silly articles like this one to excellent investigative journalism. That’s why it remains my favourite video games related site.

    • Harlequin says:

      You know what the world really needs? A sequel to Jade Empire.

  10. Ben King says:

    These are adorably ugly and I really like them.

  11. JustRuthless says:

    Lol for a 48 slot ship you need like 100mil… but you can just search for crash ships from transmission towers… it took me like 10 hours to go from 20 to 48 slots… and crash ship only can have -2 -1 0 +1 +2 slots from your current ship so… you have to trade like 35 ships from the beginning of the game to get max slots without spending tons of time farming credits for a ships…

    • Titler says:

      Yup; what’s more, the high end resources for the final upgrades are a swine to get… unless you’re also taking the free crashed ships, in which case you can dismantle all their bonus upgrades and get the resources back that you’ll need to put them on your final ship when you get to it.

      Furthermore, if you pause at 47 and then just use loads of Transmission Towers to pin down where on the maps the ships are, you can choose the type of ship you get with that last +1. I went for one with the combat cockpit, which has a much wider field of view when looking around with the right thumbstick than the others.

      Still, one thing I’ve noticed about the remaining NMS fans is that they’re deliberately not treating NMS like a game, which would reveal it’s shocking limitations and deliberate content-gating behind grind; and that’s fine, if that’s how they gain pleasure. They aren’t wrong to enjoy just wandering around and looking at stuff. But treating NMS as if this is how it actually plays is continuing the pre-release deception. The ship improving is, like everything else, completely broken and, when you work out how best to use it, shows there’s bugger all point to it really. Get the 48 slots, get all the upgrades and bonuses, and the ships are so overpowered for what poor content there is, that any ship at all works exactly the same. They just slow down the way to get it, like everything else, to hide the fact that there’s no content otherwise.

      And yes, I’ve completed the Atlas line of quests now, and got everything maxed. Just going to get to the centre of the galaxy so I can say I’ve covered everything possible, then complete a video review of it…

      • JustRuthless says:

        that basically where im at too… everything is max & i have a good looking ship… only thing left is get every word and traveling to the center…

  12. lancelot says:

    In the BAFTA pic, I don’t know what the thing on the right is, but it totally looks like John sculpted himself as a robo-dog (with two tails?) barking at BAFTA.

  13. Grim Rainbow says:

    I just wish another player could stumble across Death of the Baftas. It’s unnerving.

  14. racccoon says:

    I’ve just started mindlessly wasted resources by doing the same thing! but, the one thing I started since I began the game is adding what ever name I come with an adding zzzoom to everything! planets and systems etc, lol Its a nice touch I think! I came up with name idea years ago and with day some lucky person will fall upon them! lol theres a friggin a lot zzzooms about lol

  15. VeganBurrito says:

    That’s funny, I just shared my screenshots of mineral sculpting in the Steam forums the day before this article went up… and one of them was a hand reaching for the sky, and another was a face in a floating rock… what a coincidence. ;)

    link to

  16. virtenebris says:

    So, a beautiful game that inspires and encourages creativity on top of everything else. And people still don’t like it. I find that sad. I have nearly 50 hours in by now, and I still can’t wait to get back into it. For one, yes, there is always the next tech upgrade, and the glee to find what curiously awesome, or crazy stuff shows up on the next planet, or how the next world wants to try and kill me. Fenzies Sentinels? Fire storms? Ice? Radiation? All of the above? From the stars, knowledge!

  17. SevenJack69 says:

    Can’t believe nobody has said this.