No Man’s Sky is the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf. If you’ve literally been on a different planet and haven’t heard about No Man’s Sky, it was the most anticipated game the last several years. It promised space exploration that even Captain Kirk wouldn’t have promised. Procedurally-generated worlds to discover, claim, exploit, and kill other players over. Yep, serious testosterone infusion.
The developer, Hello Games, kept hyping and then delaying, until it couldn’t hype nor delay anymore. It had to happen, and it happened, and it was a huge bust of Ryan Leaf proportions. But unlike Ryan Leaf with all his ESPN-worthy antics, the game’s biggest problem is that it’s boring.
Worlds are more or less the same. Space exploration takes time and then when you find something interesting, it turns out to be déjà vu all over again. Yep, same rocks, same plants, lame creatures, same, same, same.
And of course the biggest hype within the biggest hype was the promise of something awesome at the center of the galaxy. So after hours of grinding you get there, and what do you find?
At the end, there is nothing. Atheists would love this. But no one else.
After several minutes of travel, the game turns white, and then resets to essentially the beginning, stranded on some weird planet with broken gear.
Come on, Hello Games! Be creative. Reward your players after all the foreplay.
At the very least have some fun with it and give us the Star Child from 2001.
So, what have we learned from the No Man’s Sky debacle?
1) Procedural generation still needs work.
Remember Age of Empires or Civilization from the ‘90s? Generate a new world but essentially it’s the same world with resources here instead of there, or a door or window in different places. No Man’s Sky is prettier, but essentially the same tech from the 1990s.
2) Under-promise, over-deliver.
Anyone selling anything would know this. Hello Games needed to hype less, launch small, build slow.
3) Reward your fans.
Put all your powerful brains together and come up with something really awesome to put in the Center of the Universe. Here’s an idea: have it change with every player depending on what they do. For example, if they’re religious, have them meet their god of choice. Or some other pleasant surprise, like the Star Child, or Captain Kirk, or Starship Voyager, or Battlestar Galactica. Something! Anything!
Without the hype, the game is what you’d expect from real space exploration. Searching for the Fountain of Youth may sound exciting, but what you’d really end up finding his miles and miles of jungle after jungle. Same repetitive crap. That’s probably the same with space exploration. In fact, you’d probably find nothing more than anything.
So the main thing we’ve learned is…the Fountain of Youth doesn’t exist!