No Man’s Sky: What Went Wrong?

Bizarre creatures are abound in No Man's Sky. Explore exotic worlds.

Bizarre creatures are abound in No Man’s Sky. Explore exotic worlds.

The highly anticipated game, “No Man’s Sky”, was eagerly awaited by the gaming community. The game was touted as a destined hit that would lead to massive positive feedback and reviews.

The true outcome was much more disappointing than these optimistic predictions could have foreseen. The game was released in August of 2016, and met with mixed reviews.

Many tried to defend the game and its gameplay decisions. Others pointed out the numerous problems faced by the game, and its repetitive nature. The idea seems good in theory, however in practice, it turned out to be monotonous and repetitive.

The idea behind the gameplay sounded good in theory. The player could play in single player or with others online in a shared universe.

The game would have nearly limitless worlds to explore, all computer generated to be somewhat different from each other to provide a game that would go on and on, and would never be fully explored.

Fans thought the idea would be amazing for gameplay, and eagerly awaited the release. The studio took this enthusiasm, and ran with it. They developed the game they and everyone else thought would be the game of 2016.

The actual events fell far short of these expectations, with technical issues and monotone gameplay weighing the game down.

What brought this reversal of fortune for the anticipated game? Much of it can be attributed to the idea that made it so anticipated in the first place.

The concept of endless exploration seems amazing, but while actual space seems to go on forever, the gameplay did not.

With only so many details and designs for the game, planets can look almost the same, no matter where you go. With only slight variations in the landscape and things around you, the gameplay begins to blur together and seem repetitive.

This angered many fans, who believed they would receive far more varied planets and landscapes prior to the release.

The promotional images and teasers for the game showed wildly colorful and different planets for the player to explore. This turned out to only represent a few special planets, rather than full thing.

It seems the real problem lays in the fact that the game clearly tried to focus on vast amounts of quantity over quality of gameplay. They expected the massive amount of endless exploration and gameplay to suffice for gaming experience, and it failed terribly.

Creating a large game is not the issue, but creating a large game for the sake of a large game is usually a bad idea, especially when the gameplay is so static and repetitive.

Doing something for its own sake is usually a bad move in any creative medium, whether it be a movie, book, or video game.

Hindsight is often 20/20, and many reviews and commentary about the game have been quick to point out the numerous flaws and missed opportunities. One of these is the obvious lack of focus on different environments.

A sharper focus on fewer planets with wildly differing landscapes and gameplay would likely have made the game much more enjoyable.

A good overview of the game, plus its issues with expectations can be found here. It definitely offers some good insight to a person considering the game.

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While No Man’s Sky lacks engaging gameplay, it does have some impressive worlds and landscapes.

Technically Speaking

Obvious issues with gameplay aside, there were also complaints about technical issues with the game and server.

The reports painted a picture of why a game must ensure its playability is optimized for the market before release, otherwise what you get in the end is a messy series of updates and patches to improve the game.

Waiting to bring the game to a decent level of playability after the release, is obviously a bad move, yet one we see time and again from numerous other titles.

The developers are pressured to get a game ready for a release date, and do not always have time to solve all the bugs and issues associated with the new game. This is a bitter pill many gaming enthusiasts have been forced to swallow over the years.

One would think that the companies would see that preparation for an optimal experience upon release should be prioritized more so than a release date.

However, companies are likely to continue the practice of releasing buggy and unfinished games as long as people keep buying the titles and giving them more money.

Numerous updates and improvements have been made to “No Man’s Sky”, and these have addressed many of the technical side of the issues plaguing the game. With these improvements, the gaming experience is not as bogged down by bugs and other issues.

While the technical issues can be fixed, you cannot fix what a game is, and what it consists of. This idea that vast amounts of quantity were better than a focus on quality, is what led the game to where it is today.

False Promises?

Another possibly overlooked aspect of the game’s less than stellar response, is the promotions for it. The promotions for the game were meant to showcase a game with space travel to numerous exotic worlds.

The player would be to interact with numerous species and fauna, as well as the landscape. All of this would present unique challenges.

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If only the exploration of the many amazing worlds wasn’t so tedious, No Man’s Sky may have performed better.

What players got instead, was a game that used many of the same models for its planets, with only a few actually being largely different from the rest.

This seemed like somewhat false advertising on the part of the developers. Many fans felt a false image of gameplay was provided to them.

All video games do this to some degree, with teasers and trailers highlighting the best aspects of a game to entice players.

While this is usually accepted, it is a practice that needs to be done away with. Marketing does not need to be a deceptive practice. The true game can be shown to players with all the aspects.

While it certainly missed its intended mark, lessons can be learned from this. In order to create a successful game, deception is never the way to go. A good game will possess honest marketing, as well as varied gameplay focusing on the user experience, instead of focusing purely on money and hype.

Kyle Aken

Kyle Aken

I grew up in the inner city of Chicago, and have spent the majority of my time on this planet with my head buried in a notebook. Since I was 6, I have been doing everything from scribbling comics, to writing screenplays, and novels. I have a passion for the written word, so much so that it seems that writing chose me more than the other way around.

Sometimes I'm not really even sure if it's me doing the writing, or I am just a channel for the stories themselves. Either way, I hope you enjoy both this work, and the many works to come, and remember, yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift, that's why we call it the present.
Kyle Aken

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