A Gamer’s Reflections as “No Man’s Sky” Turns One Year Old

Tomorrow, Hello Games’ space exploration and survival game No Man’s Sky will turn one year old. At 600 hours in, I have played the game most days of the past 365. As such, I could not let this birthday pass without comment.

After much anticipation No Man’s Sky launched on the Playstation 4 on August 9, 2016 with the PC version following three days later. And never have I seen a game generate such dramatic reactions from players. Some felt it didn’t live up to the (largely gaming media-fueled) hype. Others were under the impression that a true multiplayer game had been promised. But still others felt that No Man’s Sky was the game they had been waiting for their entire lives. Any of my regular readers are aware that I fall into the last category. Indeed, my deep connection with the game has prompted me on several occasions (such as this one) to use this vintage computing blog to talk about something completely unrelated to the subject, utilizing what soapbox is at my disposal to share my feelings about the singular experience that I find No Man’s Sky to be.

(A podcast that was recently recommended to me sums up the No Man’s Sky launch situation as well as the current state of things rather well.)

I have spent too many hours writing about the game to say it all again, here. For those who are interested, read my earlier write-ups about No Man’s Sky:

A Few Words About the Best Game I’ve Ever Played: No Man’s Sky (Sept. 2016)
My Skylake Gaming PC Build (Oct. 2016)
Procedural Planetary Exploration Across the Decades (Nov. 2016)
Did You Hear About That Nutter Who Dropped $4K $5K on No Man’s Sky?! (Jan. 2017)

Instead, I wanted to mark the occasion by sharing a small selection of photos from the larger online gallery (300 or so, of the ~3,000 I’ve taken in game so far) that I’ve assembled along the way on my No Man’s Sky journey — a journey that is very much ongoing.

I started playing the PS4 version on launch day and then built a high-end gaming PC in early September in order to play the PC version which offered the potential for higher framerate, higher screen resolution, and mods (which I ended up deciding not to use). Hello Games has released two major feature updates to the game (v1.1 “Foundation” and v1.2 “Path Finder”), along with a number of small fix / tweak updates. The switch to PC and the feature additions brought by Hello Games’ updates can be seen in the gallery below, which is arranged chronologically, starting off with a shot from my PS4 insertion moment at the top-left.

With last year’s v1.1 “Foundation” update, base building came to the game. I recently picked up and left an extreme ice-world base where I lived for six months (my fourth planetary base) in search of warmer climes. Before I pulled-up stakes, though, I filmed a quick and dirty walk-through of the place, so I could look back from time to time. That video follows.

Tomorrow marks one year. So, why not wait until the 9th to publish this post? The reason is that a mysterious No Man’s Sky ARG (Alternate Reality Game) called Waking Titan is underway and has been since the end of May. Right now we are in the third phase of the experiment and are just hours from its climax. The entire scenario will culminate with the release of the third major update to No Man’s Sky, one that will apparently activate the mysterious Portals that have been found on certain planets since day one, but which had no apparent purpose. Everything is unfolding in branches from here.

It started with certain Reddit sub moderators receiving numbered cassette tapes that concealed a code. This, connected with broadcasts on several internet radio stations around the world, got the ARG in full swing. It has involved the No Man’s Sky player community in puzzle solving, image processing, real-world information drops, etc. I have never seen such an involved community-tied promotion associated with any game launch, let alone the release of an update to an existing game.

As the loop16/Emily AI spreads globally a la Skynet (follow it all here, folks), the hours dwindle to what I believe will be the release of the No Man’s Sky 1.3 update on Wednesday, August 9th.

…and, so, I wanted to have this post out the door in order that my attention can be focused on the imminent (and surely glorious) expansion of the world that I have so enjoyed over the past year. Ever onward!

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4 Responses to A Gamer’s Reflections as “No Man’s Sky” Turns One Year Old

  1. Jindo Fox says:

    I like reading your updates about this, Blake. Both you and Jeff Minter, both retro-headed people whose opinions I respect, seem very into this.

    This was the only thing on my “must buy” list last year, but I confess I let it slip out of my mind … I really need to make some down time to try to get into it again.

    Great update!

  2. Terrific article. I share your amazement at No Man’s Sky and it definitely charms me in the same way. It’s like, the game I always dreamed about when I was a kid (and I was a kid in the 70s and 80s).
    It definitely appeals to gamers of a certain vintage…

  3. Der_kommissar says:

    I’d buy it if they made a mac or an Xbox one version.

    • Blake Patterson says:

      Sadly Apple hasn’t updated OpenGL in macOS for 5 years or so, and the version Mac users (I’m one) are stuck with does not support the compute shader capabilities that NMS requires. This is the same reason that the Mac version of Elite:Dangerous does not offer the Horizons expansion, making it basically not worth playing. And now that Apple is pushing Metal on both iOS and macOS, the odds of them addressing the issue are nill, at this point. I find it extremely disappointing.

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