Friday, September 2, 2016

No Man's Pie In The Sky

It has been 2 weeks since No Man's Sky came out, so let's look at the state of play in this particular part of the nerdspace. According to Steam, it was the top seller before it came out, and player count topped 212,000 before it dropped to it's current 3,000 player count. I expect that type of drop on a game like Evolve or Star Wars: Battlefront, because both those games were multiplayer only, had only 10 maps, maybe, and not a lot of content to keep the player's interest. But this is No Man's Sky. It has 18 quintillion planets and procedurally generated wildlife (you can name the planets & wildlife), crafting mechanics, and a story that takes you to the center of the universe. These sound amazing.

That is, until you found out that the names you give the planets and wildlife disappear after a while, the crafting mechanics are a little weird (you can feed iron to animals & you have an extremely limited inventory), and the story is dependent upon you keeping Atlas Stones that you may mistakenly sell to free up inventory. And new problems keep cropping up , such as preorder bonuses breaking the game. 

Add to all of this the fact that Hello Games, the developers of No Man's Sky, at the least were communicating their overreach in their goals for the game or at most outright lied about what was in their game during the hype that preceded the launch of the game.

Everybody has had their say about this game, but I don't see my viewpoint being communicated, which is why I'm posting this. My view is that this whole thing has been a disappointment. In fact, I warned about this very situation in my facebook post from May 27th:

And surprise, here we are. 

Do I believe that Hello Games' reach exceeded their grasp? Yes. That's not a bad thing. But do I believe they lied about what the game would contain? Also yes. And that is a bad thing. Certainly the features the game has now was not worth $60. Minecraft had just as many features as No Man's Sky (possibly even less) but sold for $27 (the same price it is now). That's another problem right there. If the game had sold for $30, no one would have felt ripped off. 

And let's not leave the fans off the hook. As I warned in my post, we as gamers must remain vigilant, and part of that vigilance was not buying too much into the hype that accompanies any potentially good game. Fans did not heed that lesson, and we had groups on both sides arguing loudly about whether the game was good or bad. I didn't even know about this game until it almost came out, and even as the fervor reached a fever pitch I never bought into the hype. I've been burned by too many bad games, and I don't have the money/time to do it. 

The sad part about all this is that there are people who have enjoyed, and still enjoy, this game (warts and all). And I applaud them. And I now join my voice to those who enjoy the game. This game actually has potential. If this gets frequent updates like Minecraft did as it went alpha, No Man's Sky may potentially be just as enjoyable and just as awesome as Minecraft. And on that day, I will buy it, and reward Hello Games for their hard work with my money. 

But for now, this game feels like Star Trek without anything interesting, like the characters, the aliens (humanoid or not), story, plot, or anything else for that matter, though it does look pretty.

[For the record, yes, I know it has aliens and a story. But the key word in that last statement was interesting. Felt the need to point that out, sorry.]