Monday, 5 September 2016

No Man's Sky - Early Thoughts

Bumpy landing on a hot, watery planet!

Pre-ordered No Man's Sky having been following its development for about 2 years (and hey they're from Guildford!) and been playing it since the day it came out on the PC (and my 2nd and 3rd sessions were playing it on the train to Edinburgh).

It's been interesting/frustrating to read all the negative hype. In most way's I think the game is exactly what I was expecting - just new world after new world to explore. The whole alien story overlay was far fuller than I expected form the original descriptions and does give some sense of an aim, but otherwise I'm quite content to just wander round these worlds - I've only done1 jump so far, but am doing pretty well on my wanderer's badge!

My starting point, poisonous atmosphere, yuck!

Yes the worlds do seem a bit samey after a while, partly the colour palette, partly the "library" of bits, and my most recent planet which actually has trees and flowers is the first one that felt significantly (if not radially) different. Although my first one with a coast-line was a neat experience.

The game certainly has a survival feel. My first trek across a planet to some Heridium and then back to my ship felt quite epic (before I realised how easy it was to recharge life support). Likewise my first dive down to a sunken base - working out how to maximise air and use my jet pack to just keep lifting me out the water on a free boost) had the adrenaline going.

Coasts and islands on the hot water planet

The idea of naming things was great to begin with, but you soon find that with the "always moving on" imperative there is always too much to name! I had a whole list of Vilani names ready to go, but have hardly named anything. In many ways you almost want less worlds and more time and variation on each - and something faster to name them than a console speed keyboard (even on PC).

I suppose I'm now at a bit of a cross-roads. Holiday's are over and time to get back to some serious evening coding, so far less time on No Mans Sky. But I still want to explore, but every time I land on a world I just always want to see what's over the horizon, so it takes me days to get bored with a planet, weeks to get bored with a system. But you do begin to want something a bit less samey.

Big mushrooms appear to be everywhere. Lovely planet backdrops though

One angle for me of course is how this plays out against a Traveller type backdrop - what would it me like to use No Mans Sky as a setting for Traveller adventures, if ever we get multi-user (and thinking of it what would it be like to use our own Fieldscapes for Traveller - and already thinking about recreating the core No Mans Sky loop in Fieldscapes).

First ruin, more alien than the carbon-copy bases

So what changes would I ideally want in No Mans Sky in the ideal world?

- More real variety from planet to planet
- Variation on a planet from place to place (eg polar caps to tropical desert)
- Quicker naming (eg Name Now when discovered)
- Compass or other waypoints to aid planetary travel
- "You are here" on a planetary map, linked to your own waypoints and places you've been to
- True multi-user once I start bumping into people
- The NPC experience is minimal but a nice sense of ships coming and going, you do feel like there are other people there. They alien stuck at a ground station as he needed some fuel was the nicest touch so far. Would be nice to have more of that rather than the cookie-cutter aliens-with-ipads in the bases. And maybe even meet aliens while trekking across.
- Far fewer small cargo containers with isotopes and gek charms. You always feel like you ought to click on them but its rarely worth it.

Just some early thoughts, partly to pull the game in the direction I'd like it to go of course, your mileage my vary. But overall the game IS what I expected, it was money well spent and I'll continue to keep playing it. But it could have some serious competition once Star Citizen and Dual Universe are out.

My first flower! (I didn't destroy it!)

For those interested my album of No mans Sky screenshots is at

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