Many have found No Man’s Sky fell short of expectations, and one high profile person has come forth to voice his concerns: Geoff Keighley.

The longtime games journalist and Game Awards producer had many revealing anecdotes about No Man’s Sky and its figurehead Sean Murray in a recent video he made titled “LIVE with YouTube Gaming: Titanfall 2, No Man’s Sky, Dear Bosman”. In it, he says a great many things about the game. Most catchy amongst them: “I don’t think No Man’s Sky is a bad game. It’s just unfinished and repetitive because let’s face it, games are crafted by skilled story-tellers and big teams. Math can’t always create meaning.”

Some other important quotes:

“The last time I saw [Sean Murray] was back in March and he told me then that he really didn’t want to be around me that much anymore because he thought I was being a little too negative about the game and my assessment of where the team was at. They were under an incredible amount of pressure … The fact that a small 15 person team built and shipped a game like No Man’s Sky is a stunning achievement.

“We all wanted to believe in No Man’s Sky and Sean did too – so much that he was never able to build up the gumption to rip off that band-aid and reveal what was and wasn’t in the game … maybe the platform we gave him to launch the game was too big and created this black hole that he couldn’t pull himself out of.

“But no matter what, you have to be honest with you fans. You can’t lie. And Sean wanted to preserve the promise and mystery of the game so much, he started to disrespect his audience. Those of you who paid for it have every right to be disappointed if you felt misled.

“I always held out hope that they’d finally come together and pull it together or they’d change their strategy, but what’s happened has happened and the big question is ‘where does No Man’s Sky go now?'”

Keighley also referenced recent contact with Murray, and that Murray may come on a later edition of “LIVE with YouTube Gaming” to discuss what happened. Keighley’s words also reflect concerns voiced by Sony’s President— although the latter was more hopeful.

  • lump1

    I’ve long since uninstalled the game – after doing everything there is to do in 20 hours of play – and now that I’m a little less sore about my violated expectations, I will focus on the positive thing that Hello has accomplished: The procedural landscape generation.

    They still have that code, and if they stick an expanded version inside an *actual* game (not simply a tech demo like NMS), it could be really magical. They’re not far from being able to procedurally generate dungeons and castles as good those in Skyrim (which – let’s face it – were also not that diverse).

    And if they can procedurally generate beautiful landscape, I see no reason why they couldn’t also generate backstory, quests, and epic plotlines. Folklorists are have discovered that human stories follow only a limited number of plotline patterns, and even the elements inside those plotlines are fairly predictable. As soon as somebody writes an effective evaluation function of what makes a good story, procedural generation will actually be able to churn out game content that is *good*. The landscape part is already almost there. The ecology in NMS sucks – the conditions on a planet have no effect on the sort of lifeforms you see – but that won’t take long to fix. Future versions need to start with initial conditions and a seeded set of lifeforms, and then run evolution simulation on fast-forward and show players the result.

    For settlements with intelligent creatures, imagine starting with AI from SimCity and Civ, let it run on fast-forward for a few simulated centuries, and then let the players interact with the result. Everything they find would be where it is for some reason, and the setting might actually make *more* sense than anything a human could write. I think this is the future of AAA games, and Hello devs are clearly in the lead. Now they need to bring in writers, folklorists, historians and economists – not to write their next game, but to train the AI that will generate their next game.

    • Derek Dashiell

      I completely agree with this assessment. I actually still enjoy running around No Man’s Sky, especially for the vibe, and I think if they find some way to create a multiplayer– a base-system whereby you could visit each other’s bases, maybe keep some pets, would be a good example– I would come back. But for now it’s just sitting in its case collecting dust.

      A while back, some friends and I also talked about how this procedural generation would be incredible to make a city, because it could do INTERIORS. Imagine the main city of GTAV, but with fully-explorable interiors. I think once that happens, games will have reached a new level. And the folklore ideas you discussed above are really interesting to consider– I hope people in the industry are looking at these games the same way you are.

    • ctrl-z

      Combine that with a virtual reality interface that maps the game world onto your surroundings (PokeMon Go on steroids) and we can get lost in created realities – if we aren’t already (as Elon Musk contends).

      I really like the way you expanded the idea of auto-generated worlds to auto-generated stories – while really disliking the implications. As a writer, it makes me feel the way upper level chess players must have felt when computers started beating them.

      • Derek Dashiell

        Just going to take a moment to admire the chess metaphor.

  • Cary Altman

    I am one of those who remains hopeful that NMS will one day be a completed game. I have been longing for such a game as this since the early days of Everquest… a new game, where I could be on the edge of discovery and involved since the beginning of the game. I still have every hope that Hello Games can pull this thing together… it may take some time, but time I have, and I am a patient gamer. I tend to trust people when they say something, especially to the whole gaming world, and I have every confidence that Sean Murray and his team will over the next year or so, armed with the initial funding that we first intrepid players have given them to continue the project, will turn it into what we all want the game to become. Being able to build bases, form guilds and interact with the other players through trading or raids or whatever… all this can happen in NMS eventually, but give them time. Many of us have followed closely the saga that HG has had to endure just to get to this point, even having to fight a legal battle over the words of the games title. Then came the secret formula stink, and again, Sean had to deal with that distraction. Imagine the pressure at HG after the Colbert show, to get the product out on the market quickly.
    I am happy with the game so far. Yes, the Atlas quest is a bit lame, but it shows promise. Imagine a day when we have intergalactic quests to fulfill, and the ability to build bases. Imagine an intergalactic threat (borg?) that forces multiplayer raids, or any number of things that can and will make this game better over time. I have imagined things that we have seen in other games coming to the practically infinite world of NMS, and it boggles my mind. Imagine when some day in a more refined game, friends will call other friends, to have them join in their guild, just to participate in something big… just as happened in the early days of Everquest. There never has been a game since EQ1 that felt as it did. Remember the sand giants in the Deserts of Ro, and the spectors? OMG those things were scary… and people spontaneously joined together to battle them. Remember trading in the “tunnel?” The potential is here for NMS to achieve that same feel, in time…. the game is simply that big. Remember how big EQ seemed to us back in the day? As NMS matures, I think it has the potential to be something new… a gaming experience that we have never seen before, and something very exciting. No, its not there yet, but if we all stop bitching at this remarkable 15 person team for what they haven’t done yet, and offer our suggestions as to where we want to see the game go… I truly believe they will do it. The vision that Sean and the others have shown developing this game is remarkable… let’s please give them a chance to make it even greater. Keep in mind too, they are doing all of this on this on the initial $60 buy in to the game too…and with no monthly… Already it has EQ1, 2 and WOW beat in my opinion, just on this alone.
    Even though I am still having some problems with the game on my PC, I keep sending in my comments to the support team, continue to be positive and hopeful, and most of all, supportive. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will NMS be, but the potential for this game is endless. As long as Sean and the team continue to listen to comments such as these, and keep the faith, and keep working to make the game better, they will have my support. Thank you Hello Games, I see what we have now as a great start. As you continue to tweak the game, and things become a bit more random, and a bit more scary and with more variety as to things to accomplish and do in the game, I think this game will become one of the greats. Give them a break people… repeat this to yourself a few times… a 15 person team….
    How in the world do you expect them to even read all the emails, while they are working on fixing this first release? Lets all chill, and see what a few months will do.

    • Derek Dashiell

      I’m hopeful for all of that, as well. I even believe it’s possible they deliver on some of what you contend. And I enjoy the game. But I can’t pretend I’m not upset that a lot of the things they said were in the game weren’t. Yes, we all set our expectations way too high, but we were also told a lot of things that turned out not to be true. In fact, the ASA is investigating them now, we have a writeup on it: http://www.gamespresso.com/2016/10/no-mans-sky-investigated-false-advertising/
      It’s not a good sign that official groups are as suspicious as overzealous fans.

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