I'm currently working on a full review of No Man's Sky, but this isn't it. It's a hard game to review, for many reasons, but one thing that's hard to ignore is people's disappointment in things that were missing. I decided to only focus my review on the game as it is (as much as I can), but I felt the need to address this a bit.

The battle cry of people on various gaming forums is "Sean Murray lied!" or "No Man's Lie" or some other variation on that. But were we lied to? People are using the words "promise" and "lie" quite a bit when talking about this game, but those words carry a lot of weight.

There are features missing from the game that were shown or discussed before launch. I chose the video above because it shows portals, something that people were looking forward to, but didn't make the cut. You can find portals in the game, but they don't do anything at all. People have pored over the game files, and there are still references to what might have happened, but as it currently stands they don't function. This, along with many other features, were cut for some reason, including but not limited to: true ship class differentiation (instead of just a bit of a speed/health difference), different resources and climates depending on the distance from the sun, highly varied alien structures, and of course, multiplayer.

For some reason, multiplayer is the one people focus on the most, so I'll go more in depth. Yes, Sean Murray said multiple times in multiple interviews that you could run into other players, but the chances of it were incredibly low because of the size of the galaxy, and in one instance said that if you saw someone you wouldn't know if they were an NPC or another player. But as we know now, two people who happened to be streaming on Twitch ended up in the same place at the same time, and couldn't see each other. An examination of the game files shows no capability for that kind of thing at all-- the only network communications are for uploading your discoveries and seeing other people's discoveries.

Now, I don't understand the hate over this one specifically. Maybe it's just my taste in games. But if you would have no way of knowing if it was another player or an NPC then I don't see it as being a huge issue that it was cut. (However, the current state of NPCs wouldn't allow that either, because they're always behind a desk or manning a trading post, so that's another thing that was cut back.)

So yes, plenty of things were discussed that didn't make the cut. But that happens regularly in game development. We've had years of build-up, so things are expected to change. The question is, what was promised, and were we lied to?

If I make plans to come over to your house for dinner, is that a promise? If I have to cancel because of a flat tire or something unavoidable came up, did I lie about those plans to begin with? I would answer no to both. Planning something isn't a promise, and breaking those plans isn't retroactively lying. It's not a lie if you believe it to be true. However, I would definitely give you a heads up that I wasn't coming so you wouldn't expect me and I never show up.

I think that's the big failing of Hello Games here. It's not that things were cut, it's just that there wasn't enough notification about the changes. Sean Murray dialed back multiplayer expectations in more recent interviews, but didn't come out and say that running into other players was cut. There are still videos on Steam's page for No Man's Sky that at least exaggerate the scale of the game.

I imagine what happened is that they were against a wall. They lost a ton of work in a flood that took out their offices, and that alone may have led to some things getting cut. Even after announcing a release date, they had to push it back some, and in order to prevent another major delay things had to be scaled back in some places. Multiplayer (such as it was) was a great candidate for that because it would require a lot of work to implement something that would barely be seen. Portal functionality may or may not have been replaced with black holes. Some features may have just been time sinks that they could scale back and implement later, after the launch. They had a flood over a year ago that set them back, Sony was probably putting pressure on them to get the game out (Murray has said there are things about that agreement that he wasn't allowed to talk about) so they took a calculated approach to what they could dial back. The game was also originally going to be a PC exclusive, but the deal with Sony involved a PS4 version, so some cuts may have been necessary for that as well (though console limitations are becoming less of an issue). I imagine at least some of these things will be added later on.

And as I said in the last Roundtable, I think Sean Murray was as much of a fanboy in interviews as players can be. I think he was super excited about some things that weren't finalized and may have spoken about things when he shouldn't have.

I used the phrases "I imagine" and "I think" a few times in the two paragraphs above, because I can't know for sure. However, if we got some info about this stuff pre-release, I wouldn't have to imagine.

Ultimately, I like what we have (more on that in the full review). It's missing some things that people were expecting, but I don't think we were lied to at all. Plans had to change for whatever reason, and that happens in game development, but when the game is as much of a media darling as No Man's Sky (even a Stephen Colbert interview), they could have mitigated the backlash by managing expectations better.

EDIT: The full review: http://cheerfulghost.com/Travis/posts/3100/no-man-s-sky-review-procedurally-generated-everything

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 09/06/2016 at 07:27pm

Maybe the reason that I am loving it so much is that I didn't have much in terms of expectations. From what I saw you explored planets and navigated the stars with a space ship. Aww, how ignorance is bliss! :)

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/06/2016 at 07:32pm

I have had loads of fun with No Man's Sky and I was always up to date on anything new about it, so that's not the only reason! :)

AdamPFarnsworth wrote on 09/06/2016 at 07:37pm

"If I make plans to come over to your house for dinner, is that a promise? If I have to cancel because of a flat tire or something unavoidable came up, did I lie about those plans to begin with? I would answer no to both. Planning something isn't a promise, and breaking those plans isn't retroactively lying. It's not a lie if you believe it to be true. However, I would definitely give you a heads up that I wasn't coming so you wouldn't expect me and I never show up."

I 100% agree. I am disappointed, but am not angry. I don't think we were lied to. I enjoyed the game, but have gotten busy lately and have put the game down. I probably won't pick it up for a while, and hope that in that time, perhaps more has been added to the game :)

Azurephile   Super Member wrote on 09/06/2016 at 09:59pm

I joined the NMS hype train very late. I didn't really know anything about it before it was released. It was only then that I decided to see what it was all about, so I checked out the CG Event, read some stuff, and watched some videos. I didn't really have many expectations of it. I mean I expected what I saw and it looked like a cool game that I'd be interested in, so I got involved in the CG Event and bought the game. I played it for 148 hours according to Steam and I've enjoyed it. There's still much for me to do.

I understand that others had been following the game's development announcements much longer than I had. I understand that some people had expectations that weren't met. I do remember seeing Sean mention the very small chance of seeing another player, but it seems that's actually not something that can happen (like the Twitch example). I think I read somewhere that there really is no character model for the player. I also understand that the development team may have had more planned for the game than they initially released. I've also heard (from the CG Roundtable I believe) that they still have plans for features to implement in the game that were not there initially. Jon did give a good example of how software development works, where you have to ship a product and the time table might force a developer to be unable to complete some features on time. I can understand that as well.

Again (birthing a cross-post), no matter what a developer does someone isn't going to be happy about something. The Internet is full of people and full of negativity, too, but there are going to be those of us who feel positively towards a game and still be able to enjoy it even if it didn't meet all of our expectations.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 09/07/2016 at 04:52pm

"There are still videos on Steam's page for No Man's Sky that at least exaggerate the scale of the game."

There are two videos on the store page. Other than the giant dinosaur (which everyone is focusing on), what in those videos exaggerates the scale of the game?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/07/2016 at 05:20pm

Dinosaurs not withstanding, both videos represent the scale of everything turned up to 11. I've seen one or two space battles where there were more than a handful of ships, but I've never seen giant fleets of freighters like the videos show. In one video it shows multiple large-ish fleets in the same system, and in the other it shows a massive fleet of freighters. The activity of everything is dialed up-- more activity in space, more animal activity, more varied alien structures (and larger ones at that). I have even installed a mod to increase the animal activity on planets tenfold and I'm still not seeing anywhere near as much animal activity.

The graphics look like a newer version of the engine than the one we're on too, in terms of graphics mostly. The NPC ships landing are where I notice this the most. I'm playing with everything maxed and it doesn't look this nice.

Basically, in both videos, everything just feels more alive and active than even the most alive and active systems/planets you can find in game.

It's not the scale of exaggeration that you'd see in something from Ubisoft, not even close, but it's noticeable.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/07/2016 at 05:45pm

By animal activity I don't necessarily mean the number of animals. That's only a small part of it. I mean the interaction, the AI. They don't really act that way, running in herds, etc.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 09/07/2016 at 06:22pm

I must be having a different experience. I've been involved in a couple space battle where I had to fight off more than 10 ships, with a fleet of 6-8 freighters looming in the distance. Space battles can vary, going from 1 on 1 situations, to engaging large quantities of attackers (especially when answering distress signals). Animal activity is also varied. I've been on planets that are swarming with life, on land, sea, and in the air (those planets cause a bit of a dip in frame rate when I'm flying around). Fish move in schools, some of the smaller animals will move together, though maybe not specifically in herds (though they will react to my presence concordantly, or from a shot from my multi-tool). I've seen carnivorous animals attack other animals.

Personally, I prefer the graphics in the game as they are, as opposed to some of the stuff I've seen in earlier videos (those Steam video's included). The lower frame rate is the only thing that I notice that's a detriment. I felt like some of the things in the early trailers looked a little cartoon-ish (I guess that's how you could say it). The lighting and shaders look much more realistic, or at least more appealing to me.

Pathfinding for the AI ship landings is a bit wonky, especially when you see them approach after circling a platform, but that's negligible. I don't know if you mean the graphics, or the animations, but anyone arguing that ships land better in older videos as opposed to how they land in the game, to me, is really picking nits.

It's a huge game. More than huge. There are bugs, maybe even a lot of bugs. It really blows my mind that the overall score for No Man's Sky in the Steam store is "Mostly Negative." That confuses the hell out of me. I see problems with the game as it was released, and up to almost a month later. I see differences in early promotional material than what was released in the game. Every game does this. Every game. Why do people have such a hard-on for ripping this game (early PC problems aside)? That's a general question, not specific to this article ;).

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 09/07/2016 at 06:36pm

It's also very easy for me to believe that a majority of the people aren't playing much of the game. Around half or less (between 45-51%) of players have reached Nomad status, which is 30,000 u traveled on foot. It's one of the easier achievements to get, and half the people don't have it. This means that most people aren't doing much on-foot exploration. They are probably just hopping from fixture to fixture on planets, and then jumping to another system (made more evident by the most commonly popped achievements). A lot of a planets nuances are more visible on foot, particularly given the way the world renders around you. The experience will differ greatly from the ground than it would from the air.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/07/2016 at 07:21pm

The biggest space battle I've seen was bigger than that-- 24 pirate ships attacking a fleet of about 10 freighters (and of course I made a bad shot and hit a freighter so the sentinel ships also showed up), but that still pales in comparison to the massive fleet in one of those videos.

I think it's likely that, like the dinosaurs, they made some scripted scenarios to play through for the videos and for whatever reason couldn't pull off that scale.

I do agree with you about the graphics, actually, I was just pointing it out as another way in which those videos aren't exactly representative. I prefer them the way they are in the game vs. how they are in the videos. It's a little more separated from reality. If the theory about it being a simulation is accurate (no spoilers, that's only a fan theory at this point) then it makes sense to alter the graphics to make it look less real. Of course we seem to agree that the graphics look better now, but not which one was more realistic! :D

I should point out that the mention of the videos on Steam was a very minor thing. I have literally never taken a video as gospel because even when they say they were captured in-game, it never looks that way in the final cut. At least they're usually closer to the truth than Ubisoft. (Seriously that's the second time I've mentioned Ubisoft because they're so bad about that. Soooo bad)

As for that Nomad achievement, I got one on my third day playing. Walking around on the planets and seeing everything was my favorite thing about the game. But I definitely agree with you that people aren't seeing as much as they could. Some of the lists of things removed from the game came from that.


Just look at how many of those were redacted because they were confirmed to be in the game after people had already rallied behind them NOT being there.

Also most of those really, seriously don't matter to me.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/07/2016 at 07:26pm

Also in terms of the mostly negative, yeah I'm with you entirely. It tanked on release, and I thought that was just because of the launch issues, but it actually went DOWN as more people were able to play it. There are some problems with the game but I'm shocked it's that low of an approval rating.

Azurephile   Super Member wrote on 09/07/2016 at 07:26pm

After playing the game and then watching the Steam videos, I can see some differences, too. In one part, it looks like a couple of ships are following you through a space battle, but don't take any "friendly fire." There are some ships and animals in the videos that I haven't seen.

I also agree that I'm not sure why the game has a "Mostly Negative" review on Steam. Yeah, I get that it had some initial issues where some players couldn't get it going. I didn't experience all of them, but the game did stop crashing for me after an update or two.

I'm pretty sure I surpassed the Nomad status as I spent most of my time travelling on foot.

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 09/07/2016 at 07:46pm

I think the negative reviews come from this being a slow game. This isn't a game for people looking for a lot of action.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 09/07/2016 at 07:46pm

Back to the graphics, I think we might be agreeing further still. What I meant is that the lighting and textures look more dynamic or real, not necessarily the models of flora, fauna, or environments. Things definitely look more exotic/alien than the earlier trailers, and I love that.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/07/2016 at 08:28pm

Ah, right you are scrypt: total agreement there.

Will, good point. I don't think that's all of it but I'd wager it's a chunk of it. I share some of the complaints with the negative reviews but it doesn't kill the game for me.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/07/2016 at 08:49pm
Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/20/2016 at 03:02am

@scrypt: This is not the right place to ask this exactly but this is the post about NMS where you've commented most recently.

I've heard you mention ASMR before, I don't remember where exactly, but I saw a discussion a few minutes ago about how No Man's Sky is a great ASMR game. Any thoughts about that?

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 09/20/2016 at 03:46am

I suppose it could be, but no more than any other game that has a minimalist score with good sound design :). The fact that you can control the volume of the music and effects in No Man's Sky might be another reason. ASMR is all about quiet, mellow environments, interlaced with sounds that are intended to trigger some kind of neural "tingling." Sounds like fingernails gently tapping on a variety of surfaces, distant crinkling cellophane, hair being brushed... that kind of thing. There are sounds in NMS that could serve this purpose, however with constant interjections from your suit AI, rogue carnivorous animals, and impending death, it might be hard to keep that zen moment going.

It might be cool to record a section of video/audio, and then loop it to get that ASMR-like effect. That would be really cool, actually!

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 09/20/2016 at 04:31pm

I should note, I'm not an ASMR expert, just a dabbler, and an appreciator of such things :D!

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/21/2016 at 04:46pm

I've never gotten the effects from those things people say you get so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage, but that description helps to understand why it might work!

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