On the eve of its release, Hello Games released a massive update to No Man’s Sky and reiterated their idea of what you “do” in their procedurally-generated universe.
No Man’s Sky went “gold” — in layman’s terms, that means it’s reached a final version ready for production — several weeks ago, bringing to fruition years of quiet development on what looks to be the biggest indie game ever created.
It's happened. No Man's Sky just went gold. I'm so incredibly proud of this tiny team. 4 years of emotions pic.twitter.com/YJoI6JVgxq
— Sean Murray (@NoMansSky) July 7, 2016
But even before the release made its way onto the hard drives of players around the world, Hello Games has put some significant finishing touches on the experience. And by finishing touches, I mean universe-altering changes.
Sean Murray speaks to the “intense spotlight” on his team of 15 developers and explains that some have been unable to “switch off” and create some distance between them and a project that has become one of the most talked-about launches in gaming history.
Rather than shipping and running for shelter from the virtual avalanche of reactions, Murray and his team dug into the first major changes to the 1.0 version of No Man’s Sky. The 1.03 release will cancel out any progress made from those who managed to get early access to the game, for reasons that will become immediately obvious.
Changes include the implementation of three narrative “pathways” that will have “significant impact” on your experience with the game. Planets, their atmosphere, and the creatures that inhabit them have all received drastic expansions in generated diversity. Even things like planet rotations and erosion have been further explored to create more interesting possible environs for exploration. Ships, upgrades, items, and trade have all received substantial rebalancing and expansion. Even the universe itself has been essentially reshuffled to accommodate.
But they’re not even close to done with their infant galaxies:
Next up we’re adding the ability to build bases and own giant space freighters. Temporal AA and my new cloud rendering tech should be coming soon too. It will really change the game again, and enhance it visually.
This universe we’ve built is a pretty large canvas, we’ve got a lot of ideas. This is the type of game we want to be.
But despite those obscene numbers and almost fanatical fandom, important questions about the game itself have lingered. Most of those have been borne of the intense hype surrounding the game. It’s important to step back and remember exactly what the developers themselves have envisioned.
In a post that looks back across the development of their magnum opus, Sean Murray strips away the hype to the core of the No Man’s Sky experience:
Sitting down to write the first lines of code five years ago, I had such a clear picture in my mind of an emotion I wanted you to feel. To wander around an alien planet, and to feel you had discovered it.
According to Murray, No Man’s Sky “definitely is” the opportunity to explore “a universe of pretty procedurally generated worlds, with beautiful creatures,” trade with Non-Player Characters, fight “robots/mechs” and participate in “cool space battles,” survive and craft in a universe-sized sandbox, to a procedural soundtrack. “For one small moment, you might feel like you’ve stepped into a sci-fi book cover.”
That means this maybe isn’t the game you *imagined* from those trailers. If you hoped for things like PVP multiplayer or city building, piloting freighters, or building civilizations… that isn’t what NMS is. Over time it might become some of those things through updates.
It’s an essential clarification, meant to separate the game from the wild speculation surrounding its existence. In his own words, “it’s a weird game, it’s a niche game and it’s a very very chill game.” [emphasis theirs] Murray admits that it “might not be for everyone,” and he fully expects it to be “super divisive.”
We’ll have our own verdict for you in the coming days.
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