In a recent statement, Sean Murray from Hello Games has detailed the first-day patch/update for No Man’s Sky. It’s considerably lengthy too.
In a statement titled “Update 1.03”, Murray and the Hello Games team set out the changes that gamers will experience this week when No Man’s Sky launches. There’s a lot to be expected. Murray notes that when the game went gold five or six weeks ago, they did not take any time off to enjoy it. Instead they have been spending the following days developing and preparing the huge update to the game that gamers will experience on launch.
From overhauling the auto-aim and general feel of the shooting mechanics to added visual flair, it seems that Hello Games are taking a fluid approach to the experience of No Man’s Sky seriously. The update includes serious content changes to the game, some of which may alter the experience that gamers who played the game early had.
The update is too large to include everything but here’s a slimmed down version of its most highlighted features:
“The Three Paths – there are now new, unique ‘paths’ you can follow throughout the game. You must start the game on a fresh save, with the patch, as early choices have significant impact on what you see later in the game, and the overall experience.
The Universe – we changed the rules of the universe generation algorithm. Planets have moved. Environments have changed biomes. Galaxies have altered shape. All to create greater variety earlier. Galaxies are now up to 10x larger
Diversity – Creatures are now more diverse in terms of ecology and densities on planets.
Planets – we’ve added dead moons, low atmosphere and extreme hazardous planets. Extreme hazards include blizzards and dust storms.
Atmosphere – space, night time and day skies are now 4x more varied due to new atmospheric system, which refracts light more accurately to allow for more intense sunsets.
Inventory – ship inventories now store 5 times more resources per slot. Suit inventories now store 2.5 times more per slot. This encourages exploration and gives freedom from the beginning. We’re probably going to increase this even further in the next update, for people in the latter game phases, and will allow greater trading potential.
Writing – The Atlas path has been rewritten by James Swallow (writer on Deus Ex) and me. I think it speaks to the over-arching theme of player freedom more clearly now. Early mission text has been rewritten to allow for multiple endings.”
Murray and the team note they are under an “intense spotlight” just days before launch. The road to release has been far from pretty; a flooded office on Christmas Eve, the death threats from certain “fans” after the announcement of the games delayed release date. It’s fair to say that the game is hyped to the universe and back (heh, heh), but it’s not been a straight-forward excitement.
Arguably, the implications of this update are deeper than just simply updating the experience of the game. One worrying thing that the update may suggest is that Hello Games somewhat rushed the game to arrive at that gold disc milestone six weeks ago.
Why? Fan pressure, perhaps. Which is even more worrying. Will game developers feel the need to push themselves – and indeed rush themselves – to meet a deadline early just so people don’t threaten to kill them? Speaking for the sanity of the dev team and to the gaming community at large, it’s probably best if we stop with the death threats. Death threats over a video game. Seriously, stop. You can wait.
On the other hand, it’s possible that they were simply unhappy with the game once it had turned gold. We know that Hello Games are a small “indie” team. So quality assurance and testing is most likely carried out on a much smaller scale than big, triple-A producing companies such as Ubisoft or EA. It may just be the case that after weeks of testing the game Murray and the team did not feel like it truly represented their vision for the players experience. Murray does note in the update that part of its ethos is to increase the freedom that the player feels. So Hello Games may have felt that the pre-launch gameplay felt too restrictive.
Murray concludes that No Man’s Sky is a canvas in which Hello Games will be constantly uploading ideas on to. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the game is unfinished or unrealised, but more that Hello Games are clearly ardently passionate about the game. They are perfectionists because this has been their golden child for over five years. They want to give players the experience that has been hyped so much since the announcement of the game.
It’s rare to see a development team try so hard to capture a vision for a game that they have been following for so long. Hopefully when No Man’s Sky launches this week it will be received well and Murray and company can breathe for the first time in six weeks. Go find a beach somewhere and drink a fruity beverage – you deserve it.