Tales From One Man’s Sky: The Goldilocks Planet

As I continue to attempt to justify to myself abandoning all notions of spare time in order to play more No Man’s Sky [official site], here’s the second entry in a diary trying to get to grips with how it has its claws in me. This time, played while watching all of season 13 of Top Chef, a tale of the perfect planet.

One of the more compelling elements of spending an enormous amount of time with No Man’s Sky is stumbling upon a planet that offers abundance. For the most part, a new planet means dashing about scanning a few new beasties (and if they’re plentiful, seeing if you can score the 200,000 units or so for scanning enough of them), enjoying the scenery, and perhaps scouting out some crashed ships and ruined temples. You don’t hang around for long, grab-and-go, sell what you’ve found at the local space station. But then every now and then there’s a place worth staying.

However, a world of plenty comes with problems. The game is designed such that if resources abound, it attempts to make the environment more difficult to survive. I’ve found planets where Vortex Cubes line the floor of every cave, meaning a big enough inventory space lets you hoover up a ton of cash nice and quickly. Except for those night temperatures at -120 degrees, dropping to -180 when a storm rolls in. Caves provide protection, but at those temperatures being outside is incredibly dangerous. You can install cold shields, but they guzzle resources, and you’ll end up blasting through so many elements just keeping yourself from freezing to death that it becomes a balancing act.

The same is true for very hot planets, or those throbbing with radiation, and while the pay-offs can be great, the panic of staying alive can take the edge off. Or, more likely, the frequency of storms become very annoying. But, those Vortex Cubes! You can make a few hundred thousand units in a run! And this is very compelling, making it awfully hard to finally say, “Okay, I’m done, time to move on.” Which gold miner walks away from a stream while it’s still bursting with ore? But unfortunately this is a might-as-well-be-infinite supply, and eventually you’re repeating a mundane task for no goal, and that’s what real life is for.

However, the supply never feels quite enough. Vortex Cubes can be in their dozens in one cave, more than you can carry, but then the next place will have only one or two. And far more strangely, a really mad bug causes them to reappear where you took them from, but be incorporeal, disappearing as soon as you get close. This is enormously irritating when revisiting an area to collect those you couldn’t carry before, the ghost cubes pinging out of existence the moment you try to pick them up. And on top of all this, planets possessing lots of goodies tend to have the most frenzied Sentinels.

Sentinels have different aggression levels on different planets, on some only stepping in to zap at you if you go on a crazed fauna killing spree or attack them yourself. On other planets they attack on sight, and that’s often the case when the cupboards are bursting. They are an enormous irritant, buzzing around you, and if you get in a proper pickle can frustratingly kill you miles from your ship. I’m not sure anyone who’s played No Man’s Sky has said, “Gosh, the Sentinels are good!” But they’re ubiquitous and extremely annoying. (Although we’ll come to my cunning technique for dealing with them in a moment.)

Which is all to say, these gold mines are dangerous, and eventually the ratio of frustration to riches will tip over. Or perhaps just the daunting thought that there’s an entire planet of exactly the same place you’re in right now, with just as much stuff, and if you don’t walk away your family might find your skeletal corpse buried beneath cobwebs, your game wallet full of units you’ll never spend.

For the most part, that’s been the game for me – fluctuating between fleeting visits and tumultuous longer stays on more dangerous lands. Until the Goldilocks Planet.

Unfortunately that’s not the name I gave it. The planet is in fact called “Eurgh I Feel Dreadful”, named as it was while in the midst of a heavy cold. It’s in the solar system “DEATH TO HUMANS” if you happen to stroll nearby, along with other planets called “Just A Planet” and “More Bums”. (I was a lot more imaginative about 292,394 planets ago.) It seemed unremarkable. In fact, it seemed pointless on arrival:

Weather: Moderate
Sentinels: Standard
Flora: Absent
Fauna: Nonexistent

No animals, no plants, stony ground, featureless views. Little of note. In fact, I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t just take off straight away. I think I may have noticed a big shiny yellow-green Emeril rock and thought I may as well grab that – easy cash and a rare find. And then I would have noticed the next Emeril rock. Well, not a rock. A massive tower of it reaching above me and burying deep into the ground. Cor! I filled my boots.

In was sometime after that when I got hurt. I wasn’t sure how. Then looking around I saw a Sac Venom. I’d never seen one in the wild before – a pink-purple bobbly ball on the ground, which, it seems, jabs out dozens of barbs if stepped too close to. Cross plant. So much for absent flora, game. Anyway, cool! These things are worth more than Vortex Cubes!

And then I found another Sac. And another. Then hit C to scan, and surrounding me was a cloud of green exclamation marks. On the horizon, more towers of Emeril. Huh.

I filled every inventory slot with Sacs, and then rushed to a store point. Half a million units! This was crazy. And no adverse temperature, radiation, nor storms. But there was, of course, a catch.

The game is loathe to give anything away for free, and as with a few of the expensive items, plucking them from the ground will trigger Sentinels no matter how tame they are. And this is REALLY tiresome. You pick up an object lying on the ground, and two flying bastards and the weird doggish laserbeam-firing ground Sentinel teleport in.

At first I was charging around, dodging their attention, gathering as fast as I could while they tried to catch up. But it wasn’t working so well. The doggibots are pretty dangerous, and too many hits will leave your shield down, making you vulnerable. I soon realised I could take out the dog and one of the flying arseholes and then just dodge the attention of the other while harvesting, since no more spawned if any of the original gang were left. That worked, right up until the timer on that remaining Sentinel elapsed bringing in reinforcements. Really HUGE reinforcements.

The top tier sentinel is a big stompy AT-ST-like robot whose weapon fire is so powerful that it knocks you flying, and renders you immobile and dizzy for a few seconds after. It’s a pain in the bum. It makes shooting at pink spiky balls a little tricky.

Except, and here’s where this switches from rambling anecdote to super-top walkthrough guide brilliance, it turns out triggering Stompy was the best thing to do! I killed him, and his gang of flying shithead friends, and the alert rating stayed flashing on five, but I didn’t receive a message saying “Sentinel Force Deactivated”. I had reached a limbo, a post-Sentinel space. It turns out that here, I could gather as much as I liked and no more would be triggered. Hooray!

This was only thwarted by the flakiness of the game, and that I’m only playing it in short bursts between other things, half an hour here and there, now for almost a week on this same planet, which means leaving the game running in the background. And there’s some sort of memory leak bug that means after a few hours it will suddenly lose its grip and start staggering. It’s usually when I get into my ship, and everything goes slideshow, and never comes out. That means restarting the game, and that, it turns out, resets the Sentinels. But the thing is, so long as you’re near your ship in case all goes wrong, it’s not that hard to trigger a Stompy and take him out, and once again have free run of the place.

And the results have been ridiculous. Through methodical Emeril mining (the rocks are easier than the towers, which have a weird core of unminable green), and gathering Sac Venom with wild abandon, I have been making outrageous hauls. A million units a time. And then I realised I could have even more.

Why am I doing this? Because I want the biggest ship possible. So what don’t I need? My current ship to be of any use beyond hopping around this bank vault of a planet. So I’ve stripped my ship down to its barest parts, all bonus components removed, no longer capable of space travel. It’s all for storage, with its inventory slots capable of holding twice as much as my exosuit ones. I’m bringing in loads of Emeril worth over three million units a time, my balance now at almost 90m. I figure I’ll stop this insanity at 110m or so, buy a 48-slot ship, and then finally be free of this all. And it’s all thanks to the Goldilocks Planet, where everything is jussssssst right.

From this site

52 Comments

  1. GenialityOfEvil says:

    That sentinel bug happens in a few situations. When attacking factories there’s usually one patrolling. If you kill it and then start breaking down the door before the wanted level fades, the alarm doesn’t trigger any sentinels.

    • frightlever says:

      I don’t think it’s a bug, I think it’s a feature. You pay for it by picking up an angry Sentinel ship when you leave orbit.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        The sentinels automatically deactivate when you hack into the terminal.

    • GG7 says:

      Just an FYI for everyone still out there enjoying the magic of the NMS universe!

      If your ultimate goal these days is finding the next earth-like planet, you don’t need to trust your fate to random chance if you know which star types provide the lion’s share of what the author of this article refers to as the “Goldilocks” planets in the NMS universe.

      If you have the “Warp Reactor Tau” installed on your ship, you can direct travel to “E”, “M” and “O” class star systems which tend to provide at least one of what Hello Games calls a “Tropical Planet”. In my travels, I often find at least two in these three star class systems.

      These are planets that tend to offer very mild temps, full oceans with abundant marine life, no toxic, radiated or otherwise poisonous environmental conditions and visual appearance on the surface you would normally associate with the Hawaiian Islands and other similar locations on Earth.

      By searching the star map for these specific star types, you can remove the guesswork from your exploration activities and fly straight to a system that will provide you with these beautiful gems. Full of flora and fauna and ripe with hundreds of stunning screenshot vistas.

  2. GWOP says:

    Never played No Man’s Sky, so I have a few questions. Can you get in your ship and blast terrestrials away with your spacefaring boomsticks? And does the name of the game stem from the fact that that universe is run by a matriarchy?

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      Ship-to-ground combat is essentially useless (actually all the combat is pretty useless). It’s really hard to angle your ship appropriately (it doesn’t want you to hit the ground, so there’s a minimum clearance), and you can’t hover in place either. Also there’s no way of marking a location nor is the radar any use at pinpointing hostiles on the ground either (not that it’s any better for the space combat…)

    • frightlever says:

      If you fly along the surface of a planet, and by surface I mean considerably above the surface such that you can’t actually see any aliens, randomly firing your beam laser, which auto-targets, you will get the occasional puff of carbon accruing to your space sock drawer. You don’t get to look into the creature’s eye as it perishes, but you have the satisfaction of knowing you snuffed out a life.

      So yes, yes you can shoot terrestrial life with your space laser, but not in a way that could be confused for fun, except possibly by Contrary John, who is CLEARLY trolling us about his love for this game.

    • JackMultiple says:

      “And does the name of the game stem from the fact that that universe is run by a matriarchy?”

      I assumed the name of the game was a play on the phrase “No Man’s Land” only it’s in the “sky” instead of the “land”, get it? :) OK, maybe not. NMLs are like unoccupied areas between opposing factions or something like that, so maybe it’s not a perfect analogy, but there probably is a lot of “no man’s land” in No Man’s Sky. You know, in between the sky parts.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Ben King says:

    I have still only gotten to play a few hours of this at a friends house but I remember being really pleased when I discovered that abandoned ships might have more slots than my own. Suddenly no matter where I went I would have a quest! And it was (relatively speaking) a pretty interesting quest to boot- with fixing up each derelict requiring accumulating a stash of a variety of metals that could require a good bit of hunting and pecking to track down depending on your inventory and surroundings. Fooling around with the sentinels to accumulate money sounds a little less fun to me but on the flipside when new content is released that requires some handy petty cash I will be pretty jealous of you! As of right now I still don’t quite have the gumption to buy it for full price but I am SO looking forward to a little holiday discount as motivation to pick it up and returning to drill holes in mountains and enjoy pretty vistas.

    • qrter says:

      Crashed ships tend to have only one more storage space then you currently have (and more frequently have a lot less), and even then it’s a lot of hassle to repair it for relatively little gain.

  4. frightlever says:

    “The same is true for very hot planets, or those throbbing with radiation”

    And the only difference is you destroy your old shield boosters and re-build new ones, like a diligent little Motie because having a duffel bag in your ship to store them would be insane.

    So four different extreme environments, dealt with the same trivial way, but just annoying enough to remind you why the design of the game sucks. (ie radioactive planets could have mutating creatures going rogue, hot planets could have magma erupting, ice planets could have ice comets you have to dodge, toxic planets could have, I don’t know… I haven’t had four fucking years to think about it.)

    Even the sentinels rapidly become nothing more than a source of titanium.

    • Sleepy Will says:

      Hot planets are less dangerous under water, radioactive planets are more dangerous under water. Cold and poison have little differences like these too, minor difference I know, but it makes a major change in how you navigate the planets.

      • April March says:

        Radioactive planets are more dangerous under water? That’s not how radiation works at all. As XKCD pointed out, water is such a great radiation dampener that if you were to dive a meter into a spent fuel pool of a nuclear power plant, you’d get less radiation than you are getting right now (since the water would completely eliminate both the radiation from the spent fuel and the background radiation of the universe).

  5. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    I found a gold-rich planet and a vortex cube planet both with minimal sentinel activity and very low hazards. Nowhere near your 90m units (why “units” anyway? could they not come up with anything even slightly imaginative? I’d have settled for the boring but serviceable “credits”), but enough to have a decent ship (31 slots) and I think 38 for the suit. Not sure I have the motivation to make it to 48 for each.

    • try2bcool69 says:

      “Units” is a metaphor for “Penises”…John has 90 million of them, and apparently it’s not enough. ¯\_(シ)_/¯

  6. frightlever says:

    Also, you can cheatengine money and just buy a ship. It makes WAY more sense to do that than grind for crashed ships (I went from about a 20 slot to a 47 slot just from crashes but it was the dullest thing).

  7. Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

    My friend John Walker makes millions of spacebucks working from home! It’s true, he sells space green gonads for >>>500.000U<<< an hour! Don't believe me?
    Visit http://www.rockpapershotgun.com to find out how he did it!

  8. Shiloh says:

    You are the finest of men, John, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for diligently playing this clunker of a game so I don’t ever have to.

  9. geldonyetich says:

    There actually exist planets out there where sentinels are an impediment and the environment challenging? Perhaps I stopped playing too soon. Perhaps I may never find such a planet.

    • Jediben says:

      No my friend you stopped playing too late. Forever will you be tainted.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      When you first reach a planet it pops up a little info panel that tells you the weather condition and sentinel alertness. Occasionally you can come across hostile and frenzied sentinel planets, they attack you on sight which will cause your wanted level to increase very quickly.
      You also get extreme weather planets where it’s almost always stormy. Even with all of the protection upgrades, it wears out in less than a minute.

      • qrter says:

        I think OP’s point was more that the sentinels never really are that much of a threat to begin with, neither are hostile enviromental conditions.

        In my own experience, they were easily manageable, and more of an annoyance, really.

        • GG7 says:

          “More of an annoyance” is precisely what this Sentinel behavior is as far as I am concerned.

          These days I don’t even bother exploring these types of planets unless they contain oodles of Vortex Cubes in the caves or something like that which makes it worth the hassle.

          Now that I have maxed out all my Journey milestones including “Extreme Survival”, the second I see a RED condition listed when I first land, I usually get right back into my ship, rename the planet with an “X” in the name and move on.

      • GG7 says:

        You left off a VERY important aspect of planets like this!

        These “Frenzied” and “High Security” sentinel descriptions are always listed in RED and as such these planets are considered “EXTREME” and will count towards your Extreme Survival Milestone timer.

        I actually completed my own Extreme Survival Milestone on just such a planet. This planet also contained thousands of those cave based Vortex Cubes, so not only was I easily able to complete my Extreme Survival, I ended up with well over 10 MILLION units in additional $$ during my visit.

        So… Any time you see a planet’s description include a listing in RED, that means you are on an Extreme Planet.

  10. congenetic says:

    Love to be inspired by tales of sac sales.

  11. Jakkar says:

    Perhaps the name of the game refers to what will be left of the universe when John and his poor fellow wanderers have finished mindlessly strip-mining the entire galaxy into cratered, resource-depleted slag.

  12. BrowMiaow says:

    Yes, yes, this is all very nice, but what did you make of Phillip’s strawberry-and-champagne salad?

  13. PancakeWizard says:

    “You can install cold shields, but they guzzle resources”

    The first tier ones do. The more advanced ones don’t nearly as much.

    It’s also more efficient to build shielding sheets out of easily obtained iron, than directly fuelling them with raw resources.

  14. Niente says:

    Those Emeril towers always remind me of a kebab meat rotisserie after you’ve stripped all the Emeril you can get off them.

    Even though this kebab meat roisserie can’t be mined they are always large sections that can be underground. Blast the Emeril at the base of the tower and sometimes you can go down 40 feet or more while continuing to mine.

    As for Sac Venon, I’ve yet to see one in game, despite having played for over 100 hours.

  15. Hedgeclipper says:

    Every time I read something about NMS I can’t help but feel that of the features that seem to be working as intended the one which will irritate me most will be the thousands of planets and organisms named for euphemisms to get around the obscenity filter.

    • GG7 says:

      I seriously doubt you would ever encounter enough “other player” systems to ever care what they named anything.

      I’ve got almost 150 hours into my PS4 version now, and I have only seen “5” systems discovered by another player. And based on the user names of these other players and the unimaginative names they gave to the star system itself, I have yet to bother visiting any of them.

      In other words… Not an issue by any stretch of the imagination. ;o)

  16. GG7 says:

    Just an FYI for everyone still out there enjoying the magic of the NMS universe!

    If your ultimate goal these days is finding the next earth-like planet, you don’t need to trust your fate to random chance. If you know which star types provide the lion’s share of what the author of this article refers to as the “Goldilocks” planets in NMS, you can warp to systems guaranteed to offer these rare planets any time you want!

    If you have the “Warp Reactor Tau” installed on your ship, you can direct travel to “E”, “M” and “O” class star systems which tend to provide at least one of what Hello Games calls a “Tropical Planet”. In my travels, I will often find several of these gorgeous planets in the same system!

    These are planets that tend to offer very mild temps, full oceans with abundant marine life, no toxic, radiated or otherwise poisonous environmental conditions and visual appearance on the surface you would normally associate with the Hawaiian Islands and other similar locations on Earth.

    By searching the star map for these specific star types, you can remove the guesswork from your exploration activities and fly straight to a system that will provide you with these beautiful gems. Full of flora and fauna and ripe with hundreds of stunning screenshot vistas.

  17. Neutrino says:

    “You can install cold shields, but they guzzle resources”

    This doesn’t make sense. Cold isn’t a thing that your have to shield against it getting in. Cold is simply the absence or lost of heat.

    If even in this day and age we can keep a man in a suit or a space station warm in the vacuum of space, why in the world of far future FTL tech would that suddenly become an insurmountable problem?

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      It’s not a problem in space because vacuum is already a perfect insulator. Out in the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons is keeping its temperature sensitive components warm just using incidental heat from its electronics, and it uses radiators to get rid of most of the heat its power source generates.

    • cablechip says:

      even in this day and age we can keep a man in a suit or a space station warm in the vacuum of space

      Fun fact of the day: it’s a much harder problem to cool the ISS and astronauts than to keep them warm. As it turns out, vacuum is a really crappy heat conductor which leads to heat buildup unless there is some active system for shedding the excess.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      Keeping warm in the vacuum of space is easy, there is nothing to conduct heat away so it can only be lost by radiation. Overheating is a larger problem in a vacuum. On a planet, where you have cold materials (solid, liquid or gas) in contact with the suit it becomes a lot harder to keep warm.

    • GG7 says:

      Think of it as a force field version of a very heavy coat. ;)

  18. Bobqat says:

    ….aaaaand there’s seeing the phrase “It makes shooting at pink spiky balls a little tricky.” checked off my bucket list…

  19. purpledoggames says:

    If you one shot sac venoms with the boltcaster and wideshot addon, sentinals do not aggro.

  20. Titler says:

    This is turning into Polygon-esque levels of “I can’t play the game, but sod off I’m having fun” commentary.

    Those extreme worlds? Grenades. That’s it. That’s the challenge. Even the stompy robots die to a few upgraded grenade shots, and the angle to hit sentinels, dogbots and stompies is almost identical because they hold off at roughly the same range to shoot you, so you ark your shots every time the same way to get them back. You can add homing upgrades if you can’t even do that, but the hit boxes are so huge just putting them in the right direction is usually enough.

    The only problem is the fact that they come back every few seconds on extreme worlds, which just makes them busy work not difficult; get into the pattern of “walk set time, wait for respawn”, and they’ll only get you when you don’t have time to recharge your weapons and shields. And that’s bad design, not challenge.

    And he’s STILL trying to earn money to buy the perfect ship? In the time it’s taken John to find a planet that brings in money, I actually looked at how the game worked, did the Locate Transmission Tower > Use Tower To Locate Ship and 40 odd towers later now have a fully upgraded ship. Repairing each ship isn’t exactly hard when you simply ignore everything but engines, scrap the rest of the stuff for free resources, and use the engines to move to the next ship upgrade and repeat. You just need the plates, and those are Iron and Carbon, and that is guaranteed to be next to the ship even on dead worlds.

    I also got the perfect tool, perfect suit, finished the Atlas line, and then got bored of the jump to the centre and uninstalled in the time these RPS articles have been coming…

    “And there’s some sort of memory leak bug that means after a few hours it will suddenly lose its grip and start staggering. It’s usually when I get into my ship, and everything goes slideshow, and never comes out. ”

    Yeah, that’s the only bug that affected me too, fortunately unlike many poor sods on PC. It normally hits about 3 hours in.

    “This was only thwarted by the flakiness of the game, and that I’m only playing it in short bursts between other things, half an hour here and there, now for almost a week on this same planet,”

    And that explains it. We’ve had article after article about how awesome NMS is… but you haven’t played it long enough to run into this bug until now?

    Save yourself the trouble fact fans of even bothering about earning money; The system discovery bonus just for warping to a new system is always more than the cost of simply buying the resources to refuel your warp drive from the ships landing on the station. The Thamium9 is in the asteroids outside, and the plutonium on any and every surface. Get the warp fuel recipies, and the game has nothing more to do but Warp, purchase at station, land for Plutonium, refill to full, move on. That’s it. That’s what the game does. THAT’S ALL IT DOES.

    Arghghghgh….

    • Premium User Badge

      Head Bob says:

      You seem to have discovered how to “beat” the game without actually enjoying it. I’d much rather read John’s take on it, since he’s playing much like I would, i.e. as entertainment not a full-time job.