Is No Man’s Sky really the Elite that Elite Dangerous isn’t?

There’s a lot being written about No Man’s Sky at the moment. Unfortunately a lot of that is fairly critical, or at least wildly diverging on whether it’s a success or a disappointment. Personally I’m somewhere in the middle. I am enjoying the game for what it is, but also feeling a bit let down that some of the more ambitious features didn’t make it in. For me I feel that the vision may have been compromised by the limitations of the platform and the size of the team/time frame for development.

Space Station arrival

Space Station arrival

That said, I AM enjoying the game, and I have put a lot of hours in, and will continue to do so. I’m certainly enjoying it more than Elite Dangerous. With Elite, I just cant get back into it after the initial enthusiasm. I played the hell out of it when it was released, I bought VR gear, head tracking devices, and even started a small business based on selling voice packs for the game. I don’t play Elite any more though. I can’t offer the game my time in the way that a game of that scope needs.  I feel that to get back into Elite would take days of dedicated gaming, days I just don’t have, or want to spend on it. Elite requires commitment, big chunks of time, it’s a simulation with all the requirements of the player that a sim demands. It’s awesome, it’s fun, but it’s not something I can drop in and out of whenever I want.

No Man’s Sky is also massive, more so that Elite in the scale of the universe provided, however NMS is accessible. I can jump in, play for a few minutes, pop the controller on the couch and walk away. I can spend 10 mins or 8 hours playing it and have the same sort of fun. This is actually one of the biggest things Hello Games got right with NMS. They’ve made an incredibly accessible game. Instantly accessible. You boot the game up and you’re there, on a strange world that no one has ever visited before. You can do.. well pretty much anything, explore, shoot things, document the wildlife, grind for upgrades or just fly at cruising level over entire planets. I can see how this part of the vision is a success. Whether it’s the whole vision, only Sean and the team at Hello Games may ever know.

No Man's Sky - Red Planet

No Man’s Sky – Red Planet

Ok, I’m rambling. I started this post as a way of introducing someone else’s article. Someone who I think gets what No Man’s Sky can be. Take a read of Keith Stuart’s article over at The Guardian and see if you agree.

 

One Day To Go!

While some got in very early, and PlayStation players in other parts of the world got on board today, us poor bastards in Australia still have a day to go before we can officially get our hands on no Man’s Sky.

It’s been a long wait. At first it seemed like something unknowable, and far enough in the distance that the waiting was easy and it was a game to look forward to. However in recent months the frustration at now yet being able to play the game became palatable! The leaks made me anxious to get my hands on a copy of my own, but instead I took the high road and reduced my No Man’s Sky exposure. Limiting the Reddit posts I looked at and visiting the same less often than before.

Now, with less than 24 hours until I can play the damn game I’m ready damn it, give it to me! I’m excited to play something unlike anything I’ve played before, a game that I hope, and expect, will be game changing. I’m going to explore options for sharing my discoveries, definitely here of course, but possibly also on other sites if it’s easy enough to do so.

Did They Stick to Their Guns

So I was reading an old article today, reminding myself of some of the earlier information that had come out about No Man’s Sky, and some of the titbits that Sean Murray has let slip.

Over time I’ve picked up the feeling that they’re making a game for adults. A game that wont hold you hand, that could be boring at times, and doesn’t spoon feed you. All this though could be a really hard sell for people that just don’t ‘get’ it.

In this article at Eurogamer there is a lot more talk of multiplayer than you see in other articles. For example Sean states:

“These guys are AI, yeah. And, actually you won’t know if they’re AI or real players in the final game. It’s not a thing we’re going to mark, I think.”

So how will you know if a ship is controlled by a real player?

“You won’t. But they might get out of the ship and start moving around [on the surface of a planet], so then you would.”

That’s a really cool way of doing things, and it’s this type of thing I’m really hoping has made it through to the release version. I hope Hello Games has been able to stick to their guns and keep that anonymity for players.  Sean is always cautious of over emphasising the multiplayer, but again, I hope that’s because the game does it, but it isn’t important. The concept of something working really well (technically), but not actually being at the forefront of gameplay appeals to me.

In other interviews Sean has flagged other creative decisions that may not be ‘fun’ for everyone, but are integral to the experience they’re trying to create, and I think that’s fantastic. I just wish I could remember a more concrete example, but that attitude is one I admire, and I am really looking forward to playing their game, the way they imagined it, uncompromising, and unspoilt by the demands of publishers and such.

 

Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop

If you, like me, love the art of No Man’s Sky then there is a good chance you’ll also like the work of artist Simon Stålenhag. I’d first seen some images of his on various web sites, most likely Pinterest or similar some time ago. Then one day I found out about a kickstarter project to produce a book of his artwork. That project was Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop and I was onboard immediately.

Simon Stalenhag

Simon’s vision of an alternate reality is compelling and beautiful. It’s well worth looking him up, and you can check out some of his work on his website here. In fact you should buy his books, they are magnificent art books. I believe only one is available at the moment but a second is in production thanks to the succesful Kickstarter.

simon stalenhag tales from the loop

His style really calls to the classic sci-fi artists and his creatures, machines and buildings feel like they’ve been ripped out of No Man’s Sky though I’m sure it’s actually been the other way around! In fact they have no doubt helped inform the art of the game. My wife actually asked if these were images from the game, or if he’d worked on No Man’s Sky. Turns out it’s a bit of both as some of the concept art for No Man’s Sky was actually done by Simon. The beautiful image below is available exclusivly as a print from the iam8bit No Man’s Sky store.

NMS Concept Art

Here’s another gratuitous image of Simon’s the style is a perfect match.

Simon Stalenhag

When someone is as talented as this guy I want to see them thrive and succeed. It makes me happy that these works exist in our world. Thanks Simon.

Artworks copyright Simon Stålenhag and Hello Games

Terran Trade Authority anyone?

When I was young I was given a book called Spacewreck. It’s the second book in a series of Terran Trade Authority books, these big format hardback art books are full of amazing science fiction artwork by the likes of Chris Foss and Peter Elson amongst others. The imagery from these books has always stayed with me, and I have collected a few more over the years.

When I first saw No man’s Sky, without knowing of the influences for Sean and the team at Hello games, I was instantly struck by the feeling that this game was set in a universe I understood and knew. The screenshots I saw and the videos posted brought memories flooding back and made me incredibly excited.

This screen shot in particular…

no_mans_sky

the colours and the ship felt familiar, as if I’d seen it before, from another angle perhaps. I imagined a skeleton in the cockpit, a smashed windshield. perhaps it felt like this painting from Spacewreck…

510This is why I’ve fallen in love with the vision of No Man’s Sky. Finally it feels like the Terran Trade Authority universe may come to life in a way I never dreamed possible as a kid.