It’s a Bit of a Fixer-Upper

Before the Beyond update, the last time I played No Man’s Sky was at launch. Back then finding a spaceship wreck on another planet was a fairly common occurrence. But also an experience lacking any kind of excitement. They were always the same ship — a carbon copy of the one you started with. In fact, the whole space around them screamed that you’d simply found another potential starting point for another player.

So I hadn’t really noticed their lack this time around. Until I found one.

I’ve managed to get this thing off the ground and flight worthy. Just. There is still a load of damage to repair, though.

Off the bat, I could tell it wasn’t the same design as the starter ship. It looked about as close to an X-Wing design as the lawyers of Hello Games were willing to let them go.

Intrigued, I jumped into the cockpit to see the damage. From outside it was visibly sparking, with parts of the fuselage torn.

It’s a rainbow! I didn’t even know they’d added these as a possibility!

I was greeted by a series of alerts and warnings from the ship’s auto-diagnostic scan. Shields were inoperable. Launch drive busted. Pulse drive out of action. Photon cannons kaput. Hyperdrive broken. Through all this I almost entirely missed that underneath all the muck and destruction, was an A-Class ship, compared to my C-Class. Also? It had an S-Class (Legendary, basically) ranked Launch System Refueller mod. A mod that would slowly recharge the launch drive when the ship was inert. (Or perhaps at S-Rank, not so slowly.)

The Refueller sealed the deal. You see, without one of these, it’s a constant battle to keep the fuel-hungry launch drive ready to go and able to answer your beck and call should you so wish it. I had to make this thing mine. It was time to setup a base on this planet and fix it up.

Repair of the basic systems was not too difficult. Placing down a portable refinery, I was able to synthesise the more basic compounds on the spot.

The more advanced materials I still can’t manufacture on my own. But with the basics I could at least get into the air with it and navigate to the in-system space station. There I could purchase the necessary microchip components and nanoweave-type materials to bring the remaining systems online.

All systems but one.

The Launch Thruster Refueller required technology not available in this system. Namely, a Carbon Mirror. I’ve seen them on offer before but I had no requirement for one previously. And they were expensive. That plus 3 additional Antimatter will do the trick. That I can make on my own steam next time I jump in to play.

After this? Well, the work still isn’t done. A lot of the storage space is also wrecked. A mix of containment leaks from elsewhere in the ship to sections torn to shreds like I mentioned before. On top of this, all the additional technology spots are in need of expensive repairs.

It’s entirely possible I’ll take this ship to market and check on its resale value against another functional ship with the modification I want. But who knows… Everyone needs a project. :)

Hello Games

So begins Week Three of Blaugust 2019. Developer Appreciation week. The title isn’t giving greeting to Games in general. Rather it is indicating that we’ll be talking about the developer behind the once much maligned No Man’s Sky.

There is no denying that mistakes were made in the marketing around No Man’s Sky. Gamers as a bunch while not happy about it, have certainly come to expect some… ‘flux’ between developer promises and end product. There are whole rafts of reasons why something discussed early on in a development cycle might not make it to the launched product.

Waking on a new world. This shot doesn’t show it obviously, but planets can have more than a single biome/texture type now. I can’t begin to express how happy this makes me.

But Hello Games (and in particular, Sean Murray lead dev and face of the project) took this to some really extreme places. The one that everyone typically recalls is multiplayer, but there was more. Much more. I would argue some of those additional missing aspects to be even more impactful of the overall experience, too.

The difference in this case though, isn’t that it was just early video or promises latched onto.

A month out from launch, Sean was out in front of media, launching new footage and in general hyping up a version of No Man’s Sky that simply did not exist in any playable form.

I don’t think this narrative should be allowed to be retrospectively altered. I don’t think that people angry about this should be cast as merely ‘entitled’, as if there was no legitimate reason to be upset about what happened. Nor do I think it is OK to blame the consumer for being suckered into believing there would be multiplayer.

Having said all that though…

Sean said it very well in an interview last year:

“The internet is really good at knowing when somebody has made a mistake, [but] it’s not necessarily the best at determining the most appropriate response,…”

Sean Murray, talking to The Guardian (2018)
Visibility conditions were amazing before the storm hit. In this shot, I’m no longer even sure I’m still heading toward the shelter I saw as the storm rolled in.

And this is exceptionally true.

Death threats were made against the team and Sean personally for how things unfolded. It should probably go without saying — but that’s never OK. The entire interview is well worth a read. Even though Sean was understandably reluctant to dredge through the details of the launch era the insight into the pain and worry caused is clear to see.

But They Didn’t Give Up

And this is where the ‘appreciation’ part of this post really begins.

I don’t know commercially how they’re even funding these updates. I haven’t looked into sales figures around each update but while I would assume there to be a spike I also struggle to imagine it’s sufficient to break even.

Perhaps I’m totally wrong — maybe the early cycle of refunds of NMS meant there was much left money left on the table after all.

But whether it’s commercially viable or not. When this sort of thing happens, the usual response is to head for the hills and maybe one day return under a new banner. Or to simply move on to a new title and try put the last one behind you.

Ringed planets might not have been in at launch. But they certainly are now. And they look even better from the surface.

Hello Games has stuck around and put in some huge effort into bringing the original vision if not all the way, then at least closer to being reality. Reading the Reddit post I referenced earlier is actually quite amazing. It puts into context how much of what was missing at launch is present now.

There might be some line of sight to eventual monetisation of this work. Some sort of expansion or full on NMS 2. But after bringing in true multiplayer, controllable Freighters, base building and technology research, improving the flight model, expanding planet biome diversity and just a craptonne more. All for free. At this stage I’d say they’ve earned the right to it. I’m extremely appreciative of the work Hello Games has pumped into NMS.

And if you’ll excuse me a moment, I need to go jump back in with a friend! :D