Diecast #163: No Man’s Sky, Dead Adventurers

By Shamus
on Aug 15, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

121 comments

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Direct link to this episode.

Thanks for the feedback last week. I know how I want to structure these posts so that the RSS feed works and is easy to find, and the built-in media player appears properly. I just need to get around to making the changes. This would be done already, but No Man’s Sky is out and its ability to fill space is matched only by its ability to eat time.

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster.

Episode edited by Mindie.

Show notes:
00:01:00: We talk about why we started this show and why that plan has failed.

But it must be fun, because we keep showing up every week anyway.

00:02:58: No Man’s Sky

This is the trick that doubled my framerate on the PC.


Link (YouTube)

A day after recording this, and my experience with the game continues to improve. People sometimes mock Final Fantasy games for having the problem of “It gets good after ten hours”, because ten hours of lousy gaming is still ten hours you’d rather spend on a fun game. When I say “It gets good later” it’s not because I’m trying to talk you into buying the game. I’m just sharing my experience.

It’s hard to recommend this game, because while it’s a very unique and novel experience, the price tag is kind of high. $60 is a big gamble on an unknown like this.

01:03:27: Rutskan Tries His Hand at Coding Text Adventure

He’s using Inklewriter to tell Dead Adventurer stories, which are part of his Patreon work.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:



A Hundred!201There are 121 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. Piflik says:

    FYI, the max inventory space for both suit and spaceship is 48.

    I agree that the space is really limited at the beginnning of the game and it is very tedious to get anything done. Which is really disappointing, because it might put people off playing the game who might enjoy it in the later stages of the game.

    That being said, I currently have a completely upgraded suit (as in all slots and nearly every possible tech) and I don’t mind sacrificing some of the inventory space for better survivability/mobility. To me this tradeoff makes it a bit more interesting. Same goes for my ship. It has not all available slots (40 out of 48), but I still upgraded it completely (mainly since it looks really good and I will not change ships anytime soon). I still like to carry as much loot as possible, but since I am about as upgraded as I ever will be, I don’t feel the urge to schlepp everything I see to the next trading post. I just carry the valuables (just like I stopped picking up anything but rares and uniques in Diablo). Also the upgraded ship makes the space combat at least bearable (but it is still really really bad, sadly)

  2. Pax says:

    My friends and I had a No Man’s Sky party on Friday night where we all gathered about the PS4 and periodically passed around the controller.

    The first indication of how the night would go was when we booted it up, watched the scrolling stars loading screen for a while, and instead of delivering us to our freshly generated random starting world, it instead delivered us to the console desktop menu via a crash.

  3. Ninety-Three says:

    You said you didn’t understand the scattershot complaints about “There’s nothing to do”, so let me try to explain. As you already covered, combat is complete garbage, so that’s off the table as a thing to do. In World of Warcraft you use hotbar-based combat to kill mobs to make your numbers bigger so you can kill more mobs. What you do in WoW is hotbar-based combat. In No Man’s Sky, you wave your mining tool at resource nodes to get resources, to fill your survival bars and craft/buy upgrades to make your numbers bigger. All you do is harvest nodes. When people say “There’s nothing to do in No Man’s Sky” they mean it in the way people say “There’s nothing to do in Cookie Clicker”. If the pure Skinner box of “make numbers bigger” doesn’t grab you, there’s no mechanic to engage with. And if you’re not enjoying the Skinner box, then resource gathering is just a chore, an obstacle that gets between you and the grand Galactic Walking Simulator.

    It feels like a tech demo, like they built the procedural planets and then someone said “Shit, we can’t sell this for $60, we need some mechanics. Quick, throw together a resource system and some combat!” Or as Campster said slightly more charitably, it’s an aesthetic in search of a game. No Man’s Sky is the latest casualty to the indie trend of ruining a perfectly interesting artistic endeavour with perfunctory mechanics that serve only to gate the player’s access to the real meat of the thing.

    • Matt Downie says:

      “All you do is harvest nodes”
      And explore alien worlds, and learn alien languages…

      • Ninety-Three says:

        The entire reason I set up the World of Warcraft comparison was that so people wouldn’t say “But there’s more than just that!” My point was this:

        If the pure Skinner box of “make numbers bigger” doesn’t grab you, there’s no mechanic to engage with.

        Emphasis added. The question “What do you do in [game]?” usually means “What is the core gameplay loop?” WoW has hotbar combat, Halo has shooting dudes, Civilization has throwing production into buildings and units. And No Man’s Sky has waving the mining tool. It’s about as deep as Cookie Clicker, you can’t bite down on it the way you can with a more detailed set of mechanics.

        If someone asks “What do you do in football?” it’s easy to answer with specific mechanics and desired outcomes. But if someone asks “What do you in hiking?” all you can really say is “Well you walk around, and look at things”, which will prompt the response “Everything involves walking and looking. So you don’t do anything?” Exploration as a structureless activity with nothing to really “do” doesn’t make No Man’s Sky inherently bad any more than it makes hiking inherently bad, but it does mean that it’s lacking the element sought after by the kind of person who asks “But what do you do?”

        • Retsam says:

          It seems like you’re rejecting valid answers to “what do you do in the game”, just because they don’t fit in your specific narrow definition of what a “game mechanic” means.

          If you need to make a semantic debate over the meaning of specific terms in order for a criticism like “there’s nothing to do” to be properly understood, maybe the criticism should be restated.

          • Falterfire says:

            I haven’t played No Man’s Sky specifically, so I can’t speak to how well this describes the game, but what I get from his complaint is this:

            Although there are other things you can do in No Man’s Sky, the vast bulk of time what you will be doing is harvesting nodes. The other things are either very short interludes between bouts of harvesting (like learning alien languages) or a description of what is going on in the background while you’re walking from resource node to resource node (like ‘exploring planets’).

            Basically: If you tracked what the average player is actually doing for any given two hour chunk of NMS, you’d see they spend 80%+ of it harvesting resources.

            (At least, that’s what I understand his argument to be given the comparison to WoW and my experience with similar games like Terraria, Minecraft, and Starbound – it may not apply to NMS at all)

          • Ninety-Three says:

            You’re missing my point about core gameplay. There are multiple valid answers to the literal question “What do you do in World of Warcraft?” but if you answer with “You buy crafting mats in the auction house in order to train smithing” then you’re being deliberately obtuse because everyone knows World of Warcraft is about hotbar-based combat. The only things to do in No Man’s Sky are harvest resources, convert harvested resources into upgrades, have terrible combat encounters, and go on hiking trips. The hiking is probably the best part, but just like real world hiking, you don’t really do anything in hiking the way you do something in football.

            It’s not just my specific definition, there’s half an internet full of disappointed people saying there’s nothing to do in NMS. Unless five million people found five million different reasons, there’s clearly some common definitions going on.

            EDIT: I thought of a much cleaner way to express this “Hiking isn’t gameplay” thing. In the Good Robot post-mortem, they talked about the problem that Good Robot’s formula didn’t really support a story: no matter how they did it, if the player was experiencing story content then they had stopped playing the game. You can go hiking in No Man’s Sky just like you can go hiking in World of Warcraft, and that can be a rewarding experience because the landscape is pretty and hiking is enjoyable. But when you do that, you’re no longer engaging with any of the game’s systems except “WASD to move”. Much like story in Good Robot, no matter how good it is, you have stopped playing the game, now you’re just wandering a 3D space and that’s not really a game for the same reason no one calls real-world hiking a game.

            If you don’t like the very Skinner boxy harvesting, and you don’t consider hiking to be gameplay, then what are you going to do in NMS? The godawful combat? You can’t spend all your time learning alien languages or being a space trader, because those systems are heavily dependent on harvesting. That’s where people are coming from when they say there’s nothing to do.

            • Matt Downie says:

              “Don’t consider hiking to be gameplay” is the crux here. A while back some gamers started using “walking sim” as an insult for low-intensity games where you wondered around looking at things and occasionally engaging in some mild interaction. Then another group started reclaiming the phrase as a valid genre identifier. No Man’s Sky is for the latter group.

              • MichaelGC says:

                I don’t think its especially relevant what other people said about a different game, though. Ninety-Three has carefully explained where Ninety-Three is coming from, without being insulting. Quite the opposite, at several points.

                Framing the discussion in terms of groups and previous insults hasn’t added anything to it, if you ask me. (And explaining at length where you’re coming from isn’t necessarily introducing a ‘semantic debate’.)

                Maybe that’s just me, though – I pretty much always reckon that thinking in terms of groups is a bad idea! :D

                • Ninety-Three says:

                  Thank you. The nature of posting a dissenting opinion like this is that I usually only get replies from people who object in some way, because they disagree or have misunderstood my point (the latter of which could well be my fault). It’s reassuring to know that someone at least understands what I’m doing, and there’s a point to hitting “Post” instead of just deleting the comment after typing it.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    I usually only get replies from people who object in some way

                    Thats because “I agree” and “This” arent really that constructive comments.Sometimes people will type that,but not often.Usually when they already wanted to say the same thing,or if you framed it better.More often,youll get a reply from someone who agrees with you and wants to add something to it,or someone who disagrees with you and wants to explain why.

                    But most often,therell be puns.

          • Sord says:

            To be more objective about core game play, think about what actions the game acknowledges you have done after you have done them. When you harvest a resource, you have a resource you can carry around. When you craft something, you have an upgrade to use. When you see a lovely landscape, or a fantastic creature, I don’t believe the game makes any particular note of it.

            At best you can give them names, but once you leave the planet, it is almost like it never happened. It doesn’t help you on the next planet, or increase your level, or make your ship better. It doesn’t even help with naming more creatures and planets. If they took all gathered resources and crafted upgrades away each time you left a planet, then gathering and crafting might also seem like not part of the core game play, but just something you can do if you want.

            I think the size of the game is working against it here. Naming planets and creatures is a form of acknowledgement. But if nobody else ever sees the names you gave them, it feels like a waste of time, rather than an accomplishment. Perhaps if there were some kind of hub where you could drop off your discoveries, then view and visit the locations that someone had discovered, then exploration would be an acknowledged part of the core game play, instead of a thing you can do that the game doesn’t really care about.

        • Mephane says:

          Exploration as a structureless activity with nothing to really “do” doesn’t make No Man’s Sky inherently bad any more than it makes hiking inherently bad, but it does mean that it’s lacking the element sought after by the kind of person who asks “But what do you do?”

          And this “structureless exploration” is exactly what I had hoped for NMS to provide. I’ve got plenty of games with lots of “stuff to do”, chasing the proverbial carrot on the stick* is a core element in far too many games already, NMS had the chance to set itself truly apart from that. Instead, it is just more of the same, only with a vast procedural backdrop.

          If there is a scale from Walking Simulator (nothing to do, just wander around and look at things) to Entropy Simulator (constantly busy just to maintain the status quo of your gear not falling apart), NMS is clearly near the latter end.

          Which means, ironically, that for my taste there is too much to do in NMS; I want to wander strange worlds for hours, discovering life forms. Frankly, the system where you can upload the discovered things to get rewarded with money, and where it tells you when you have found all the species on a planet sounds extremely intriguing to me. But the very thought of having to stop every few minutes to juggle my inventory to replenish my one of my suit’s or ships multiple decaying bars… is anyone else reminded of The Sims, and not in a good way?
          If it were just about repairing stuff that actually got damaged through action (combat; falling from a cliff), that would be fine. But instead it is just the sheer passage of time, which has the side effect that any moment spent not doing anything “productive” has to be paid for with harvesting more resources just to be allowed to keep going.

          (*And to make matters worse, the carrot in NMS is that the game will suck a bit less once you finally have two large inventories. So motivating!)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You are being overly reductionist again.You can avoid combat in wow for huge stretches of time,especially now,so its most definitely not the core gameplay loop of that game.

      You are also wrong about syphoning resources being the core of no man sky,since exploration is that.You search new things,name them,find uses for some of them,explore some of them further,etc.

      As for “theres nothing to do”,not everyone likes exploring.For them,exploration is just finding the next thing they can do something meaningful with.And if they somehow ended up buying this game without knowing that its all about exploration(which is pretty hard to miss and Im baffled how so many people missed it),of course theyll complain that theres nothing to do.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        Look, when Dear Esther came out, a lot of people said some variation of “You don’t do anything”. Whether or not you think their complaint is accurate or well-stated, surely we all have some understanding of what they mean, right? They want a gamey-game where you push buttons to interact with the world, and a walking simulator ain’t that.

        What do you do in No Man’s Sky? Well you wave your tool at things for resources. You have terrible combat. You convert harvested resources into fuel and upgrades. One of those systems is as engaging as Cookie Clicker, one of those systems is terrible, and one is dependent on the outputs of the others. People are saying there’s nothing to do because they don’t consider the walking simulator part of NMS to being “doing something”, and the mechanics, the prescribed Things To Do, are either terrible or Cookie Clicker.

        • ehlijen says:

          I think a big part of the issue is the procedural generation in No Man’s Sky.

          In other walking simulators, the player knows this world was deliberately made to be explored. The implicit promise is therefore that there is something to discover.

          In NMS, the player is told that everything is procedurally generated. There is no implicit promise that there are any secrets to unveil. You go places, you look at them, and the game doesn’t care(?).

          Is there an ingame university that accepts data you collect? Can you sell mining rights to space stations? Can you make a scrap book out of in game photos? (I haven’t played it so I don’t know, but from all I hear these aren’t the case)

          Instead, if what Chris says is true, you can’t even catalogue the galaxy for just your own curiosity because you will never find something you’ve seen, and then left, again.

          If you could go back to previous discoveries, they would at least have meaning to you. But as it is, ‘you can go anywhere’ too quickly becomes ‘because it basically doesn’t matter, it’s all the same in the end’.

          It’s an exploration game, you need to like exploration to like this game (a distinctly possible thing to do). But from what I hear, it could be a better exploration game as well.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Again,you are ignoring a huge chunk of the game:Exploration.And no,its not like dear esther,as people have already pointed out to you.Exploration consists of many things you get to do,from examining and naming new things,to finding out the languages so you can converse with the natives.The fact that you dont care for it does not mean its non existent,terrible,or non engaging.

          • Deadpool says:

            He’s not ignoring exploration, he’s saying there’s nothing to FIND.

            Exploring in No Man’s Sky is like exploring the same room over and over again while changing the wall paper periodically.

            In theory, procedurally generating planets would create a near infinite number of unique locations to explore. In practice we end with a near infinitely receptive set of locations…

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              He’s not ignoring exploration, he’s saying there’s nothing to FIND.

              Where?You said that,and thats a valid complaint.But all I see from Ninety-Three is that “this game is about harvesting resources”.I accept his complaint about combat and harvesting,but combat and harvesting never were the draw of this game.Exploration is.

      • Mephane says:

        NMS has placed itself into a bad situation where it tries to market itself to those who actually want to explore, but is designed from the core for those who care just about the numbers on their gear and working against entropy, and would rather not explore and just harvest and upgrade on the spot. It’s this chimera that wants to cater to both, but ends up infuriating either. Of course there is some overlap between the two types of players, those that fall into both groups probably have a blast in the game as we speak, but for many people on either end of the spectrum (pure exploration vs pure skinner box) the game is rather disappointing

        Also: “base building” has already been mentioned as a planned future feature, which is a code word for “harvest even more to construct a house so you may harvest more to do the maintenance on the house, also it provides some kind of numerical bonus because otherwise why bother”. Why would I want to build a house in NMS? I want to stay on the move to new places.
        In more general terms, I think base building as a concept is overrated. Most of the time in games there is nothing that a base provides that expressly requires the existence of said base, and could be just as well accomplished without (e.g. a stash for storing items – just give me a bigger inventory instead).

    • Christopher says:

      Rather than this explanation for “what do you do?”, the reason I asked myself that question for three years was because the marketing was very unhelpful. Never mind all the crap with evasive answers to questions(which makes a lot of sense to Shamus as a developer, but which is pretty annoying to me as a customer). Maybe from the get-go, it was obvious what kind of game it was if you went to their website. But personally I wasn’t aware that it was a survival game until Brad Shoemaker over at Giant Bomb wrote a preview last March.

      For those first two E3s, they never showed the resource gathering, upgrades and crafting. Rather, they walked around animals and flew through space, shooting at other ships and debris. The first time I saw it was their gameplay demo at E3 2015, when they blasted apart a cliff with the sentence “Every planet in every solar system is fully destructible”.

      I’m not gonna speak for anyone else, but personally I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Cool, you’ve done a lot of walky demos. Now, what’s the actual gameplay loop? When that turned out to be the survival game thing, of course only the people who are either into that, the setting or the exploration are gonna be happy. At least I can stop asking myself “what do you do in it?”.


      E3 2013.


      E3 2014.


      E3 2015.

  4. GloatingSwine says:

    As far as I can tell what you do in NMS is wander around looking for inventory slots.

    It’s not a super engaging game, it’s what you do when you don’t want a super engaging game and you just want to chill out with some undemanding kinesthetic stimulation. And when you get bored of the colour scheme of the place you’re currently aimlessly ambling about you roll the dice for a new one.

    That said, if you’re playing it on a PC you’re probably doing it wrong, because of the aforementioned low engagement factor it wants to be played slouched on a sofa, possibly with a beer. Or a hangover. Or both.

  5. WILL says:

    The fact No Man’s Sky can’t really generate any planet that doesn’t have some sort of life on it is a massive disappointment. Everything is acid coloured and covered in plants and animals, but really 50% of the planets should be different types of coloured rocks with craters and no atmosphere – and that would be fine. Is there even a difference in gravity between planets?

    • DanMan says:

      They do generate planets without life. When you discover a new planet, it will pop up with a little info box telling you the density of fauna and flora. The second planet I landed on was lifeless and you could only discover different kinds of rocks that would still break down into the basic elements of iron, plutonium, carbon, etc.

      As far as I have seen, gravity is the same everywhere. However, you don’t “jump” as much as rocket pack around. There are different atmospheres, but you don’t really notice it. Essentially, a bar appears on your screen telling you what it is about this planet that is draining your life support system. Is it too cold? Too hot? Too close to the sun, causing radiation damage? These things you can hide in a cave and get “better” (your life support stops going down). However, I landed on a planet with little atmosphere and I had to actually go inside a little outpost for it to stop draining my life support.

      • WILL says:

        Maybe not life, but when a moon has an atmosphere I feel triggered – it’s ok to make giant lifeless rocks.

        There’s a severe lack of mountain ranges and other typical geological features. It just doesn’t feel like a very good procedural planet generator but the technology behind loading those planets and streaming all that terrain is actually really good. Just feels like they didn’t let the system create anything that wasn’t a beautiful ideal planet.

        • Silfir says:

          I’ve spent something like an hour on a pretty damn featureless rock with no animal life and what looked and felt very much like mountains all over the place.

          No Man’s Sky was never shooting for realism anyway – its art direction is based on old science fiction magazine or pulp novel covers. Varied, visually interesting plant and alien life and magnificent sunsets on the planets you walk on is what it’s trying to provide. It’s very clearly soft sci fi.

        • Lanthanide says:

          Ahh, I think that’s hit on it, for me. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet.

          All of the planets have way too much land, and it’s all very much in the same sort of height range, and all very complex. You don’t get featureless plains that stretch for 100km with nary a hill or depression. Every planet has got undulating land masses, sometimes with some cliffs and lots of them have caves as well. But there is just a big lack of wide flat spaces – obviously they decided they weren’t fun, but it also means the planets all have a weird sameness about them. There’s also never any real mountains.

          Similarly what water there is, is never in massive hemisphere-covering oceans like we have on earth (2/3rds ocean). I’d guess that the highest water coverage I’ve seen on a planet so far is about 15%.

  6. Bloodsquirrel says:

    While the likelihood of randomly meeting someone might have been negligible, giving players the tools to *intentionally* meet each other and have some kind of coop experience would have been nice.

    It makes me wonder why they even bothered with the multiplayer features at all.

    It reminds me a little of Elite: Dangerous, a game which is theoretically multiplayer but which is so fundamentally single-player in design that there’s no reason to every play it with another person.

    • Tom says:

      By all reports they didn’t bother with the multiplayer features outside of making sure to promise them in marketing.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      There aren’t really “multiplayer features” anyway.

      There’s asynchronous communication of things people have named, which you are unlikely to find, but custom naming things gets old p. fast especially when you know you’ll never see them again.

      That said, one day someone will be bitten up the bum by a critter and think “Yep, I can tell why that’s called an Arsebeetle”.

    • Deadpool says:

      Two players managed on the first day of release… And found out the game is in separate instances and there is really a zero chance of meeting anyone despite being told otherwise… Quite frustrating…

  7. Groboclown says:

    I used to be into the interactive fiction scene back in the late 90s when Inform was the primary language, but that interest tapered off in the early 2000s.

    I’ve had a few fleeting glimpses into it lately, and the general style seems to have shifted to a slightly interactive novel. The good ones seem to be in the vein of making decisions that influence the “who” of your character, rather than the traditional puzzle solving.

    I might just make a small dive back to see how the tools have evolved.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      My experience with the modern IF community is that “Interactive Fiction” has come to mean “Choose your own adventure novel”, with a lot more “Weird artsy stuff”. And I don’t mind the weird artsy people making their weird artsy things, but the fact that they’re existing in the same space that used to churn out Zork-alikes always makes me vaguely resentful of the way new IF has seemingly crowded out the old ways.

      The tools have gotten friendlier to people with no programming experience or mindset, and I think that’s what’s largely responsible for IF changing directions: it got way easier for way more people to write choose your own adventure games. There might be as many people as ever making deeper Zork-style puzzlers, but like Steam Greenlight a few years ago, lowering the barriers to entry naturally flooded the market with lower-effort (I’m being careful not to say “bad”) projects.

      • Matt Downie says:

        Very few people have the patience for old-school text adventure puzzles these days.

        They’re an odd kind of gameplay, where:
        (1) If the answer is something that comes to you immediately, then it’s barely a puzzle.
        (2) If the answer is one you can’t figure out no matter how long you sit there, because it relies on a word combination you wouldn’t use or a bit of knowledge you don’t have or because it’s too idiotic to even try (see “Who Killed Adventure Games”), then you’re just stuck going nowhere until you give up and cheat or abandon the game.
        (3) If it’s an answer you would eventually get if you kept working at it, you don’t know that for sure and could easily give up prematurely and cheat or abandon the game.

        Back in the eighties where we didn’t have unlimited entertainment on tap, we’d persist because we didn’t have anything better to do.

    • MichaelGC says:

      How funny! Just found this whilst digging up a couple of old procedural generation articles:

      Informless
      Aug 17, 2006
      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=566

      10 years old tomorrow! :D

  8. False Lord Zalzabar says:

    Honestly, No Man’s Sky (I haven’t played it, so I’m basing this mostly off of the Diecast) sounds like a first person, bigger budget version of Out There.
    Procedural planets, mining for resources, not nearly enough inventory, a vague quest to get “over there”, strange aliens that have strange languages that you can learn one word at a time.

    • Narkis says:

      Yeah, it’s like they decided to just staple Out There’s gameplay on their galaxy generator. The inventory, the crafting system, the upgrades, even smaller details like the adjacency bonus for same type upgrades, or the way you find new ships lying about and exchange your old one, all these work and look the exact same way.

      • False Lord Zalzabar says:

        That’s weird, but sounds fun. I liked Out There.
        But at the same time, doesn’t make me want to spend $60 on NMS. This makes it sound like it’s a $30 Steam Sale kind of thing.

    • Sunshine says:

      That’s the impression I get, making me think “Sounds like fun, once they patch it into stability.” The tight inventory shared with ship functions and lack of a way to leave markers on planets with good stuff were also my gripes about Out There.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So what Shamus is trying to say is that no mans sky is the dark souls of sandbox exploration games.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,you can find plutonium in no mans sky?In mineral form.Just laying on the surface of the planet.Thats….thats….

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ah,good old scunthorpe problem,the bane of all the stupid censor filters.

  12. Nyctef says:

    We can hope that Mass Effect: Andromeda is basically going to be Star Trek in space, right? Guys? … guys?

    (I really want that game to be good)

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    I’m curious, how does No Mans Sky stack up against Starbound? Seems like a lot of the problems in NMS have already been solved there.

    • acronix says:

      Uh…No Man’s Sky has a better graphic artistic direction, you can actually go fly in space, and you have a jetpack, I’d say.

      But Starbound has actual base building (though that might change in NMS later), the combat is more interesting once you get far enough (which isn’t too far, mind), there are many more planet landmarks; finding those landmarks is a bit more straigthforward thanks to the ‘gamey’ way in which they are distributed (by planet and star type, which is basically difficulty gating); progression is better delined (because there are quests leading you which you can happily ignore forever); your inventory is static and fairly big (but not big enough for the ammount of crap the game throws at you) and, finally, it does have multiplayer that isn’t watered down into a cheap artistic gimmick.

      On the other hand, in Starbound your starting tool sucks until you improve it to the max, which might take a while. But that seems to be a problem with all the Minecraft-likes.

  14. MichaelGC says:

    Philippa Warr I think is British, so it’s very likely to be Fil-ipper (the first way Chris said it), as opposed to Fil-eepah.

    Also – and I don’t think this is a regional thing, although I’ll no doubt be corrected – you’d normally say it: ‘vir-oo-lent’.

    I ran the numbers

    (We found out) Yes we know!
    (We found out) Bless his soul!
    (We found out) That Shamus runs the numbers

    Sorry! Way too much Fo4.

  15. Tizzy Turtlebear says:

    I really don’t see why procedural generation always tempts devs to build exceedingly large game worlds. A phenomenon I’d like to call the Daggerfall problem.

    More world doesn’t make a better game. In this case, with a smaller world it would make sense to develop robust multiplayer interactions. If you do this well (not easy, I know) then your game becomes automatically entertaining at no cost to you. The player base will undertake all the hard work of making the world feel lived in.

    • Falterfire says:

      Well, if you’re going to be investing in a big fancy procedural generation engine, why not get the most possible use out of it? Once you have a way of procedurally generating planets, you may as well ‘include’ all of them. Even in games that don’t explicitly include them, even the games that use procedural generation well include a vast expanse of game-space, just packaged differently. Spelunky has tons and tons of first levels. Minecraft contains an obscene amount of surface area. Civilization contains an infinity of worlds to conquer.

      The problem is the lack of a carefully designed experience that makes good use of the procedural generation, but that is mostly unconnected to the large size of the game world – there’s nothing stopping the creators from having a few specifically designed planets you’re guaranteed to encounter in addition to the limitless expanse of unknowns, or from adding characters with interesting writing that accompany you or any number of other things.

      • Tizzy Turtlebear says:

        I agree with your point about the presence or absence of a crafted experience being more impactful than the size of the world. But I do get the feeling that in some devs minds, the size of the world can be used as an argument that you have a game. For me, this is where the Daggerfall comparison comes in. Whatever you may think of subsequent games, the Elder Scrolls series clearly reached the right conclusion when it never attempted to recreate such a vast bland world as Daggerfall.

        • jawlz says:

          On the other hand, I really loved the scale of Daggerfall. I liked that I could make a character take up residence in a small town in some off-the-beaten-path province, and just do odd jobs for the residents of that town. The scale is there if you want it, but if you want to just focus on the main quest and only visit a few cities, you can do that as well. I do appreciate the detail in post-Daggerfall TES games, but they all feel smaller and more diorama-esque than Daggerfall, which felt more ‘here is another world to explore.’

          I will grant that that world wasn’t always interesting. I still liked it, though.

        • Syal says:

          I think it’s a bit different when the game is about Space. Most of the appeal of Space is that it’s incomprehensibly large.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      I think you’ve got the cart before the horse.

      Devs want to make a super huge world so they use procedural generation. The point of procedural generation is to be able to generate a lot of stuff without having to put in infinite man hours of development time.

      • Tizzy Turtlebear says:

        I know that the point is to create either a vast world or many worlds (same difference) for cheap. My question is: why do we have, every so often, games that appear to be marketed *solely* on the basis of “it’s super big” rather than on the merits of what the world has to offer?

  16. MichaelGC says:

    Wait. If the Sun’s centre of mass is outside its surface area then that means the Earth doesn’t orbit the Sun at all! This changes everything!!

    *runs out the room*

    *walks slowly back into the room*

    This … this changes nothing, does it? Oh well. Fascinating, though! I had no idea.

    • Sunshine says:

      I thought Shamus left the comments off deliberately, to avoid internet people throwing their toys out of the pram about multiplayer in NMS.

      (Sorry, MichaelGC, that shouldn’t be a reply. On your topic, I always thought the Sun’s centre of gravity was deep within.)

  17. TMC_Sherpa says:

    Mincraft
    I build Venice. On a molecular level. I used iron for top quarks!
    Dwarf Fortress
    LAVA! OH GOD RUN! NO RUN AWAY FROM THE LAVA!
    EVE
    I made the greatest spreadsheet ever to have been spread!
    Or sheeted? I’m not sure how to describe an awesome spreadsheet[1].
    Skyrim
    I did 101 things on the way to do a quest, finally remembered why I was in that area in the first place and then it bugged!
    [any Ubisoft game in the last nine years]
    I climbed all the towers!
    KSP
    …and then I sent another rescue mission to help the refueling mission I sent to the rescue mission that…..
    No Man’s Sky
    ???

    Hopefully someone can fill in the blank for me? It doesn’t look like my kinda jam but I’m curious what the conversation between players looks like. I don’t really care about the mechanical aspects, they can be patched, added or removed. The “This one time” stories the community develops while playing, this… shared universal experience is what I’m after.

    [1] It’s a joke. I’ve played off and on for ten years.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      That one time I encountered the race of Butt aliens?

      • TMC_Sherpa says:

        Maybe? I dunno.
        I not trying to be judgemental about what the answer is I’m just curious about the hook.

        I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe is perfectly acceptable.
        I have screenshots of places no one else has ever been and no one else will ever see
        I’ve named, like, 50 things since breakfast
        I’ve seen six different planets today
        The journey is its own reward
        ????

        Once the camaraderie shifts from “Yeah, it doesn’t run well on my machine either” what does the community get behind.

    • Fists says:

      1 Hey look, an [adjective] [noun]!
      2 Go To 1

  18. allfreight says:

    There was an interesting episode of Remaster (the podcast) where they essentially interviewed Shahid Ahmad about how No Man Sky was signed up to PS4. If you are interested in the story of how this tiny indie title got the triple-A level backing from Sony, it is worth a listen.

  19. 4th Dimension says:

    Re starting banter that is not recorded and is often interesting. It’s fine if you include the initial banter. Most of us are here precisely because of that and don’t mind longer episodes. It’s completely normal for the first 20 minutes be spent catching up on things before moving on to actual toppics. Just look at the CoOptional podcast. That thing is hours long, the beginning is often stuffed with people bouncing off each other simply to get it out of their system and I don’t think anyone is complaining about including that. So my advice is to try recording the session on the entirety and see what you get. Most of us I think don’w listen DieCast because we NEED your input on the ISSUES. If you have opinions we would like to know them, but most of the time we listen for the banter.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye – personally I agree with all of that! However, I think those opening comments were more just about them and their own logistics than they are about the type of podcast they’re hoping to produce for the audience. (Plus I reckon they’ve worked out that most of us will listen to any old rubbish!) :D

      Without quite knowing all the ins & outs I gather they try to keep the length down so that the editing doesn’t get out of control. Whilst Shamus doesn’t edit them himself these days, a while ago he mentioned:

      An hour long show will cost me 3 hours of editing time, while a 1.5 hour show will cost me in excess of 5 hours.

      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=26779

      So, we when get those extra-long ones sometimes that means someone’s been hard at work!…

  20. Geebs says:

    Re: the hype around No Man’s Sky, Hello Games’ “responsibility” and the marketing approach to the game:

    What you can see and do in No Man’s Sky is exactly what was in the first trailer. Seriously, go back and take a look. It’s more representative of the actual final game than any trailer I’ve seen in ages. Even the pop-in is the same! Hello Games deserve a lot of credit for hitting their own target.

    So, the vagueness about what you do in NMS caused a bunch of stupid fanboy nonsense, but what Hello showed was exactly what we got. If I was in their position and fielding all of that madness, I’d be going “wait, why are you still asking me what this game is? I’ve just shown you!”

    • Christopher says:

      Take a look at that trailer yourself, man. I made this point in a comment that has to be moderated by Shamus on account of like four links, but the first trailers for No Man’s Sky(Assuming it’s the E3 trailers and not some other event I forgot) didn’t show the resource gathering or crafting at all(or for that matter, the alien language stuff). No Man’s Sky has been hyped since three years ago and I didn’t know it was a survival game until last March. Credit where credit is due, those trailers are all in-engine, presumably gameplay footage. But they left out most of the bits that you actually do besides the concept of walking on procedurally generated planets and flying through space.

  21. Austin Currier says:

    (Just a note, there’s only one guy running dwarf fortress)

    • MichaelGC says:

      (I thought it was one guy plus his brother? Not exactly a triple-AAA operation, still! But still 100% extra guy?)

      • Ninety-Three says:

        I’ve never been terribly clear on the brother’s role in things, but based largely on the fact that the dev log is entirely first person, I’ve always assumed the one guy does most of the work.

  22. Ninety-Three says:

    Re: No Man’s Sky wants you to go the center of the galaxy: It’s interesting to consider that in light of what’s actually at the center. Spoilers, I guess, but it’s both minor and disappointing. When you reach the center, you warp to a whole new galaxy and start New Game+ mode. All there is is endless moving forward to see new planets.

  23. Ninety-Three says:

    Could you add to the show notes an explanation of where we should skip to if we want to avoid Rutskarn’s spoilers around 1:15:45?

  24. Victor says:

    I would love to run into a planet with mountain ranges, and I haven’t yet. To be fair, I’m only in my third system after 16 hours of play, because I have psychological problems.

    Does anyone know, are there mountain planets? Moderately tall mountains, I mean?

  25. Star Wars: Battlefront and the Art of Photogrammetry
    Really amazing, they managed to create the Endor forrest using only like a handful of texture and objects.

  26. Echo Tango says:

    Re: Inklewriter and incrementing numbers.

    If Inklewriter lets you check more than one flag on each condition, you’d only need ceiling(log_2(N)) instead of 2^N, where N is the number of states you want. :)

    BTW, for anyone who doesn’t want to rewind: Twine is the software Campster referenced that’s slightly more complicated than Inklewriter.

    • Quest is more advanced than Twine. http://textadventures.co.uk/quest
      The developer is moving towards a fully HTML5 based interpreter too.

      • Echo Tango says:

        I like that Quest is MIT-licenced; I do not know how GPL relates to non-software bits of a game you make with GPL software, and do not have the money to afford lawyers. I assume that even the non-software bits of a game made with GPL source used become GPL’d. ^^;

        Also, yay HTML interpreter! :)

        • “I assume that even the non-software bits of a game made with GPL source used become GPL’d”

          This is why I dislike the GPL (or even LGPL) license, it’s too confusing and in some ways very restrictive when compared to truly liberal licenses.

          If you are creating a game or program using a GPLed software, normally the answer is “no” to your assumtion. a GPLed compiler does not make the compiled software GPL.
          Usually it is (or should be) pointed out that a standards library is exempt (if compiled into the finished product), or in some cases if it is a separate file then that file is LGPL or even under a more liberal license.

          If it is unclear what you can do with your own creations then avoid that software like the plague, as simple as that.

          MIT, Two clause BSD or zlib license are the ones I prefer myself.
          Personally I try to use the zlib license as much as possible just for the reason it’s not in ALL CAPS, the all caps crap is pointless and there is no legal requirement to have it be such.

          Also as to GPLed software. Making something (written text, audio, video) using software places that content under your copyright and whatever license you wish to apply to it (I’d suggest a Creative Commons license if possible).

          PS! For those about to comment on the all caps thing, do some research. The only legal requirement for a disclaimer is that it is obvious and easily noticed by the consumer.
          If you look at the zlib license you will see that the first paragraph is the disclaimer. This meets the legal requirement. If a consumer ignores the first paragraph of a license then the fault lies with them.
          As a bonus, since it’s not all caps a consumer may actually bother reading it too.

          • Echo Tango says:

            Yeah, GPL is pretty clear for the non-game case; i.e. If I make a comic book with some GPL image software, that comic is completely under my ownership.

            The tricky bit, is that you can’t make a game without combining your art assets with somebody else’s software. I think if a game engine was made so that you just plonked your art into a zip file, which could be distributed completely separately from the engine, and that engine could run without a game zip (just display a box that says, “no game zips found!”, or came with a demo game), then maybe that might not make your zip/art assets fall under GPL.

            My stance is, as you also suggested, to just avoid GPL like the plague for making games. :)

            • Very good point the art assets though.
              But, a art asset is not a derivative work of the GPL source code (you did not create them wit the GPL source code as the basis, nor did you include the GPL source code into the gfx/sounds/music).
              So legally speaking the art (music, sound, images) could be under another license.

              This is why the Creative Commons license exists as the GPL does not cover art assets/data files, just the source code for the binary (and the binary that is a derivative of the source).

              So all the .exe and .dll and .lib files (assuming windows) would be under GPL.

              But the .level . png .wav .ogg .snd .txt .whatever would be under Creative Commons for example (but can be under some other custom license if you wanted).

              That way you could release a “open” engine with source, but keep the reins on the art assets so that they would have to ask you for permission to use your assets (or be required to credit you as with CC BY) but could go wild with the source.

              iD Software has done that with their old engines, I can’t recall if they GPLed it or if it was under another license. But the art assets still remained copyrighted by iD Software.
              I think Doom 3 is GPLed now, so you could go wild with that, replace all art assets with your own for example but your art assets would not be GPLed.

  27. Given the cast’s mentioning of the hazards of letting players name things, how could you have not mentioned “The Horrible Truth about No Man’s Sky”?

  28. Aitch says:

    I didn’t pay any attention to this game before it came out. No expectations, nothing. So when it came out I watched a few streams for a while. Some starting out, some pretty far in.

    So what is there to do in No Man’s Sky? Explore worlds, discover alien animals and plants, explore outposts and mysterious monoliths, learn alien languages, meet the aliens that speak those languages, mine resources to upgrade gear and upgrade your ship, fly around a planet, fly around space, go to space stations, and on, and on.

    But it’s not a Planet to visit. It’s a biome, and maybe an ocean. And good luck exploring the ocean, because you’re tied to your ship which cant fly through water, and your space suit runs out of air. The gravity is always the same. So much is the same. It’s a palate swap and random effects to drain resources. There are more varied and interesting planets in our own solar system.

    So whatever, you’re there to mine resources. Except you can’t dig. All the minerals are sitting on the surface in big chunks. Chunks that float in midair when you harvest the bottom out. And then your inventory is full, go back to the ship. But the ship’s inventory is full and there’s nothing to do with it yet.

    Okay then, let’s explore. Except more than half the time is spent staring at a console interface inventory screen. Alright, whatever. Let’s explore some alien settlements. Except there aren’t any. There’s no sign of civilization whatsoever. No cities, no towns, no houses, no roads, no one else walking around. No mining operations, no industry of any sort. Alright then, we’ll enjoy the nature of it all.

    But the animals and plants aren’t alien, they’re just janky Earth life run through a Spore engine. Spore 2 : Electric Snorealoo Nothing interacts. What is the food chain? How about small creatures like insects? Or bacteria? Is there anything even as mundane as a Zerg Overlord type of creature? Any imagination at all? So let’s fly away and explore space.

    Oh god, trying to navigate between star systems… but apart from that.

    Every planet has the same asteroid field right above it. Asteroids that sit there motionless, even when you shoot them. Nothing rotates, nothing orbits. The planets barely have a day night cycle. They’re packed together closer than moons. There’s no unique phenomena, just planets and asteroids. Ok, so then let’s check out some aliens.

    Every outpost you visit is the same thing. Every time it’s the same defense system with the same few robots. Every monolith is practically the same. An entire construction, and it teaches you one single word. The same few prefabricated buildings over and over with the same few results every time.

    One word of a couple languages out of how many sapient species? And those few sapient species are just cartoonish Star Trek humanoids. And what conversations are there to have once you learn the language after visiting how many monoliths? You get a description, literally telling instead of showing the interaction, and a choice prompt. It’s not like every alien isn’t built on the exact same frame, why would animation be so difficult? What does faction rep even do? Is there a meter to check for it?

    Every space station is exactly the same. One guy sitting there at a desk. No one walks around or leaves their ships. You can’t choose what ship you’d like to buy, you have to wait for a random one to show up as they come and land, and sit there, and leave. No paint jobs, no customization. You can’t own more than one. Be a space trader, or a pirate? With what inventory space? With what other ships flying around? Those few freighters that pop in sometimes?

    And on. And on. But it was a tiny dev team! It’s indie! Except it’s Sony, and it’s $60.

    It’s the same thing over and over and over. Yes, there’s a lot of random terrain and a lot of Spore creatures. That’s not a game, that’s a tech demo. And black holes are teleporters? Get the hell out of here with that garbage.

    What does the player even look like? What is this piece of software at all? “Well I guess you just don’t get it, you have to make your own fun. And if you weren’t so lowbrow you’d understand what a crowning achievement of a once in a generation wonder this all is.” Right.

    Oh but don’t worry, they’re gonna be including Building. In a game where the point is to keep moving. Wow, really? Thanks guys.

    I’m sorry, I guess I’m just too stupid to appreciate all the grandeur.

  29. At 51.40 minutes Josh outlines the next game from the superduo Shamus and Rutskarn, a “Trek” game. ;)

  30. topazwolf says:

    Hey Chris,

    I think you want the game to be stargate. Which would be awesome btw. I would totally play it.

    EDIT: To elaborate. You seem to want a game about exploring planets and new locations where you can set up shop and know where things are. Having a game where you randomly dial up planets (and are able to save their phonenumber) seems to be up your alley. It gets rid of the bad space combat and avoids silly spacial mechanics nonsense.

    • I sorta joked in a comment about but it was also half serious.
      I have no idea how busy the SW gang is but Shamus (main game system) and Chris (support libraries) doing some coding (helped by Pyrodactyl?) and Rutskarn (doing writing) and Josh (breaking stuff) could end up making an interesting text only dialog exploration game that is a mix of Star Trek, Stargate, Star Wars.

      Stuff to take from Star Trek (and to some extent Stargate) is exploration, and from Star Trek diplomacy.
      From Stargate survival. From Star Wars an epic plot and “gritty” feel.

      You could probably put Star Wars, Star Trek and Stargate into three “ways” similar how Obsidian did it with Alpha Protocol.

      A graphical artist (or artists?) would be needed though. Each world would need at least one image for use as a background. And each race would need a image too.

      If anyone have ever played a old school text adventure with images but with dialog options instead then that is what I’m talking about.

      Shamus might have to come out of his comfort zone and make music more akin to Stargate or Star Trek style though.

      Here’s the thing though. World images and alien images could be crowdsourced. Basically asking for people to “donate” their work under a Creative Commons (CC-BY) license.
      So what do these folks get in return? Listed in the credits on a game published on steam I guess. No idea how many would be satisfied with just that though, but the number may be higher than one might assume at first.
      Maybe the game could have a tiny developer commentary button players could press to get info on the image/art and maybe a link to the artist? Maybe link to a artist website where players can get a wallpaper version and buy/donate for it?)

  31. Has anyone heard if No Man’s Sky will be easily moddable? I believe I’ve heard tell that updates are coming that adds more to the game world to make it a little less samey, but if this game gets a community behind it like Bethesda has, it could be worth the money.

  32. @Rutskarn here’s a quick intro to Quest by the developer behind Quest https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vIi0U4rSX4

    He’s demoing the online Quest, there is also a offline (Windows) one which can do a few more advanced things than the online one.

    You can publish the game on the website, or publish it as a game file (people need quest to play it in that case). If published to that website people can play it online as well.

    Here is an example of a RPG http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/em15b32xd0o-y-ysvgrtcg/deeper

    Do note that not all the games on http://textadventures.co.uk/ are created with Quest, many are though.

    PS! If Quest seems to complex then http://textadventures.co.uk/squiffy might be more interesting it’s sorta in the same camp as Twine and Inklewriter etc.

    You can set attributes and get them again http://docs.textadventures.co.uk/squiffy/attributes.html
    Which should reduce the “if” nightmare as told on the diecast.

  33. AJax says:

    Still haven’t listened to the podcast and I’m interested in hearing your opinions about NMS.

    That said, after playing the game and watching streamers play through it, NMS is one of the few games I’ve actually refunded from my steam library. What a dull, monotonous pile of crap of a survival game. And I came into the game with no expectations and haven’t followed any of the pre-release hype and I still came away disappointed.

  34. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You know,I think the problem is that many people think that procedural generation = game.So Shamus,that procedural city you made?You shouldve just stuck one guy in there that walks around,and sold that for $$.You shouldnt have bothered with trying to tweak good robot,you shouldve just released your initial level generating algorithm with some random enemies for you to fight.Thats all it takes for a procedural game.

  35. SilentStatic says:

    Rutskan If you ever feel that Inklewriter is too restrictive and you feel you can handle a little more complexity, Inkle Studios has released their Ink scripting language (alongside a lovely editor that can export the game to the web) they use for their own games.

  36. Mephane says:

    I am listening to the diecast right now and at about the 1 hour mark someone says how they want an space game where you explore and it is primarily about staying in the ship, seeing how all these systems are made up (to quote “look at the way this moon system around this gas giant is formed”, “or this is a star system with 4 fucking stars”) – that is essentially exploration in Elite Dangerous, and a lot of people have been doing nothing but that, plus if you want to, the flight mechanics and space combat are actually very good.

  37. AR+ says:

    Limited inventory space seems like something that people do out of habit. Why not just have unlimited inventory space? If the limit isn’t meant to achieve some particular gameplay objective, just do like Dig or Die! and have unlimited space.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      NMS’s inventory is way, way too small, but putting aside the problem of its precise size, it does serve a valuable function. If you had infinite inventory space, you could strip mine a couple planets in one solar system, convert them into a million warp cells, and cross a third of the galaxy without stopping. The inventory forces you to visit a variety of planets if you’re headed to the center.

  38. Aaron says:

    So, has anyone heard of Noctis?

    Because the non-mining parts of No Man’s Sky seem to be doing the same things Noctis did.

    • O.o wow. That sound very similar but without the boring mining stuff.
      If the devs did any research at all they should have been aware of this title (and learned from it).

      Being able to refuel in space from certain stars just seems so damn obvious.

      • MichaelGC says:

        You could do that in the original Elite if you bought a fuel scoop! :D It was very easy to barbecue yourself and everything you owned whilst attempting to do so, though.

  39. Wolf says:

    I recently reset my phone and switched to pocket casts in the process, but now I noticed that the diecast RSS feed only contains the 11 newest episodes. I had some older episodes on the backburner because of story spoilers (I even wrote down the numbers on a piece of paper like a caveman) and I seem unable to get them from the feed.

    Is there a more complete feed or archive page in the feed that I could point my app at to get these old episodes into it?

    Kinda want to avoid downloading mp3s from twentysided one by one to shove them into the phone. It sounds like there is a way to keep the initial RSS feed light and then on expansion offer the entire archive on a second rss page. There is a “show more episodes” button at the end, but it does nothing. Depending on why the RSS cuts off so quickly this might be a worthwhile addition.

  40. Tiepilot says:

    Josh you were literally describing Elite: Dangerous.

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