Friday, June 01, 2018

It was fun while it lasted No Man's Sky

Well, I uninstalled No Man's Sky from my computer. I played it off and on for a few months and finally had enough.

I wasn't interested in the missions. I wasn't interested in finding the centre of the galaxy, which is the ultimate goal of the game. I just wanted to explore. And I did. A lot. I'd zoom into a planetary system, swoop down onto a planet or moon, mine some minerals, etc., discover some plants and wildlife. I'd pillage old settlements and investigate any artifact I found. Then I'd take the stuff I'd mined and sell it at the nearest space station. If I saw a better spaceship, I'd buy it. If I found a better weapon / mining tool, I'd get it. I killed any animals that attacked me. I talked to anyone I ran into at the space station. Of course, they all want the same things, but I won't spoil it for you. Then I moved on to another system, having no idea where I was going. Repeat. Repeat. Again and again.

So, as you can see, the main issue I have with this ground-breaking, gorgeous, self-generating virtual universe is that I got bored. Every system had pretty much the same things to mine. They all had identical space stations with virtually identical characters. The worlds all had animals that were weird and either looked harmless or like they could eat you. You could blast off and explore a different planet, or leave the system and move on to the next one, but you'd find that after a while, they all start to look the same.

I even tried to fight the boredom by building a home base and having a place to come home to. But when you don't have any unexpected guests coming over, it becomes a lonely place. If all you're doing in this game is roaming without purpose, it's going to get tedious sooner or later.

So as good as this game is, as amazing as it is to explore a virtual, contextually generated universe, unless the creators throw in some unexpected curve balls, there's only so much you can do. Which I think is hilarious. Because you'd think that having the ability to explore space, even if it's not real, would be the most exciting thing ever. It is. But only for a while. What would make the experience more complete is risk and unexpected variation. Your ship needs to malfunction. The animals need to kill you. Maybe if you mine the wrong thing, it should pollute the planet and kill all the wildlife. Then the wildlife police arrest you and you die in space prison. Maybe the planet needs to swallow you up in a tsunami or space-quake. You need to run into aliens everywhere, in space, planet-side, not just in a space station. And they need to present you with risk. Aliens need to either want to be buddies, or mortal enemies, or something in between. When you try to sell your stuff, there needs to be times when they're not interested. And the totally unexpected needs to happen. Maybe you get kidnapped and have to find your way out. Maybe an alien military shows up in your current system and starts blasting everything in sight, you caught in the cross-hairs of a galactic war. Maybe that fleet of ships docked just beside the space station is a luxury resort fleet and you can go inside and eat uncooked space oysters and die.

So thanks No Man's Sky, for giving me a glimpse of what's possible in a virtual universe where I get free access to anything that exists. But I've seen enough for now and I'm too bored to stick around. I'm going back to real life, where we haven't really been to space and the world presents me with a new adventure every day.

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