No Man's Sky header
Feature

The greatest technical feats in No Man’s Sky

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. A veteran explorer, low on supplies, lands on an uncharted alien planet with a cyan ocean and ruby-red grass. Enormous, dinosaur-like creatures with horns graze nearby, but at least there doesn’t appear to be any acid rain, unlike the last place. After some scavenging, the explorer hops back onto her spaceship to tackle another one of the 18 quintillion planets ahead. The space exploration game No Man’s Sky, released in August 2016, is already famous for its singularly beautiful digital world. But it’s also an unprecedented technical marvel, one…

No Man's Sky
News

No Man’s Sky and the trickiness of advertising a procedurally generated game

No Man’s Sky has been knocked by players since its release for false promises—advertisements featuring fighting factions, developer interviews that discuss rare occasions where players can meet on distant planets (which has seemingly been disproven), and more. As a result, Sean Murray—the public face of Hello Games—has become a Molyneux-esque icon, a figurehead for what some perceive as the perpetuation of misleading advertising in videogames. These grievances were realized in a series of complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) over the past couple of months. But nothing came of them until now. Last week, those complaints were answered by the UK-based organization,…

SS1
Feature

Against Crafting

Some videogames exist solely to allow us to make things: Minecraft (2009), LittleBigPlanet (2008), Super Mario Maker (2015). Many more games—too many more games—ask us to make things for no good reason. Crafting systems were once grafted-on additions to games already engorged with an excess of “features.” They have evolved; they have expanded; they have become sentient. They need to be stopped. This is a manifesto against them. I. Crafting is boring, because it’s never more than a form of waiting Crafting is spreadsheet management, data entry, Dilbert on a Monday as he looks for ways to use a stapler…

No Man's Sky (3)
Feature

No Man’s Sky and the Naming of God

In Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 film Pi, a mathematician is doomed by a recitation of the divine name. Young Max Cohen, the Icarus of New York City, is a socially anxious shut-in who devotes his time and his ultra-sophisticated computer technology to finding a predictable pattern in the stock market. Cohen names his computer Euclid; both the name of a Greek geometrist and the starting galaxy in No Man’s Sky. His conviction, expressed as a tidy syllogism in a recurring voiceover fragment, is that since nature is made of patterns, and math is the language of nature, everything in nature has a…

biggo
News

Every creature in No Man’s Sky is a dog

You drift slowly into the unnamed planet’s atmosphere, eager to set your spacecraft down and explore the endless possibilities put forward by the procedurally generated landscape. The ship begins to shake gently as you make your descent, the view outside reduced to a motion blur of saturated colors as the stars and sky blend seamlessly together. After breaking through the clouds and surveying the area, you pick a safe patch of ground to steer your ship toward. Perhaps this planet is full of water or giant rock formations. Is the fauna abundant here, or nonexistent? The ship has landed safely—it’s…

Space Engine
News

Disappointed by No Man’s Sky? Here are 10 cheap alternates

Given the mixed reaction to No Man’s Sky—we love it, others not so much—plus the fact that you have to lay down $60 on it in one go (not to mention the troubles with the PC version), perhaps you’re hesitant to buy in. Or, perhaps you’ve played it and have been disappointed by it. That’s fine. But there’s still probably some part of you looking to salve that itch for free-willed space exploration, to lumber across alien landscapes and discover sights that, in all likeliness, no one else will ever see. Well, that itch doesn’t need to go without a…

No Man's Sky
Review

No Man’s Sky is a theater of processes

I remember making a mental note when I read that Sean Murray’s “favorite thing” in No Man’s Sky were the space station windows. On two separate occasions, he even went so far as to take people directly to the same window, as if it was one of the prime features of the game. “I’m going to show you the stupidest thing,” explained Murray to IGN, “A videogame window,” quickly adding “but it’s super-cool.” It seemed like a particularly odd thing for him to say. Here was Murray, the face of a game with 18 quintillion planets, a game whose selling…

No Man's Sky
News

How to understand No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is out. You’ll have to forgive me, but that feels like something worth saying. Not because the game is the second coming, or because it is “the last game” we’ll ever need, but because, even after all this time, it remains a game built in service of a tantalizing idea. When Sean Murray spoke to Kill Screen’s Jamin Warren earlier this year he put it simply: “the emotion that we wanted to get from people is that emotion of, ‘I have travelled to a place and discovered it.’” That idea, of true discovery in a digital world,…

feature02
Feature

The new mundanity of space games

The conference floor was full of astronauts, engineers, and students. Bodies quickly filed past each other to find an open seat. My team of 4th graders waited impatiently to sit. Before I could join my fellow classmates, a hand reached out to guide me to a new seat, away from the others. Instead of sitting a few rows back, I was ushered toward the front. Next to me was John Glenn. Former astronaut. The first American to orbit the Earth. Fifth man to travel to space. I stared up at him in awe. He’s been to outer space. I want…