Why I (Probably) Won’t Play No Man’s Sky Anymore

September 2nd, 2016

I don’t like writing a bad review. In fact, I don’t like writing reviews. But I just can’t let this go. No Man’s Sky is just broke. It’s a fine idea for a game and it looks pretty good on my PC. It’s even quite fun. But it’s also just wrong. I get the impression that the developers are not people with a high level of attention to detail. Or more accurately, they don’t seem to feel a need to be accurate. I will only list a few things that I find wrong with the game – things like the lack of multi-player interactions has been beat to death as a topic. These are in order of most serious to least:

Space Physics

In space where there is no drag on your ship, or insignificant drag, using the engine continuously will result in continuous acceleration. But not in this game. There is a speed limit in space for the standard thrusters and it makes absolutely no sense. It’s like physics for 3-year-olds. In fact, the whole flying style of the game lacks depth and precision and feels like a 90’s arcade flying game. This is the one problem with the game that pisses me off every single time I play it. If I hold down the thrust button, the damn ship should just keep accelerating.

I can ignore orbital physics, uniform gravity everywhere, and stuff like that. But dang, that speed limit sucks.

Weird Goods Pricing

Ok, this is one I just noticed because I tried to do some trading. If you look at the purchase price of something like a plasma coil, it might says that it is 22,000 units and is 5% above average. But if you then look at the sell price, it might show 1,000 units and is 2% below average. WTF is that average? There is no such thing as an average sell price that is different from an average buy price; there is just the price! I bought something at 4% above average and sold it at 100% above average and I took an enormous loss. WTF? I had to actually look at the prices and write them ON A PIEC E OF PAPER. A [modern] game should not make you write on a piece of paper – it should assume that you would do that and do it for you. Maybe if this were a Nancy Drew game with puzzles, paper would be important. But really, the average should be the average and not some nonsense number that is anything but helpful. This is now the main reason that I hate the game.

On a side note, I turned 200,000 into 1,000,000 in an hour by just waiting for ships selling some sort of night crystals for 35,000 each that I could sell back to the galactic store for 55,000. I wanted to buy and sell other stuff but I got tired of looking at my sheet of paper to find out if a price was good or not. Galactic average my ass!

Can’t Stop!

And another space physics complaint I have? It’s that in space, I cannot stop my ship. The game seems to think that I want to move forward at 40U, or whatever number it was, or move backwards (-40U). But there is no f-ing way to go zero. So we are back to this being a dumb kids game that does not attempt to have any realism at all. The speed limit might be necessary because time is needed to load new data for rendered objects as they get closer to you. But not letting me get to zero is just dumb. How do the developers decide on something like that…

“Hey Sean, should we let the players use the thrusters to stop their ship in space?”

”No, why would they do that? And it would make it far too easy to sit and mine those big ‘roids anyhow.”

”But Sean, if they can’t stop, isn’t that weird? There’s no reason for it. It seems arbitrary and certainly doesn’t work like a real spaceship would work.”

”Yep. But then none of this is supposed to be a space simulation. Why even try to get closer to that kind of game when we have that multiplayer thing to worry about.”

”Uh, were we supposed to be working on a multi-player version of this game. Uh oh.”

Space Distances

The developers decided that it would be best to make all of the planets clearly visible from any point in space near them. But it’s weird. It’s also kind of cool because it gives the game a Sci-Fi look, but it’s weird. I would have pushed the planets further apart to give a better sense of how much emptiness is out there is space.

Galaxy Map

The galaxy map is useless to do anything but pick a star system closer to the center of the galaxy. I would love to have been able to revisit a previous system with my bigger better ship, but the game seems to not want that. In fact, the galaxy map works in the most strange way possible for a PC with a mouse. I suspect that making a better map is hard to do on a console with a controller in hand.

Clouds and Rocks

I dislike that space is filled with rocks and clouds. I would have preferred emptiness and blackness. Again, it’s just not a good space simulation at all. I can see why they did the whole colored space and rocks thing, but it’s just a tiny bit weird. I would have liked a black dark lonely game where landing was a refreshing change to the blackness of space.

Boring Planets

I don’t mind that I may find a desert planet or that I might find a planet of caves and spires. But it is a little weird that an entire planet will have the exact same features across its entire surface. Having flat desert regions for large areas and then mountains and lakes, or anything that varies from one region to another, would have been great. It would have made it cool to explore a planet. The only reason to not stay in one spot is to seek out various alien installations. There doesn’t really need to be scenery because having it all the same is like having no scenery at all.

Summary

So I get that the game has some very difficult-to-build features. But the game systems outside of the large galaxy of systems, is pretty pedestrian feeling. It feels far too much like a kids game with all of the functions dumbed down. Here’s a list of things I would do if I were developing such a game (something that I probably can’t do):

Move the planets further apart. Heck, make them tiny dots and require a short burst of FTL to get from one to the other. The HUD can mark the system planets to keep them from being confused with distant starts. Did you know that at the speed of light, it would take about 35 minutes to get from Earth to Jupiter!
Fix the engines so if I keep the thrust on, I keep accelerating. I suspect that the speed limit of the thrusters is to give the terrain time to be generated. But still, there’s got to be a way to make this a bit more realistic.
Let the damn ship stop in space. Make the thrust control more like real thrust control (with computer aided stabilization of course).
Make space black and empty.
Show the actual average PRICE of goods so that I can see that someone will buy my item at 100% above average and actually make a profit, not a loss.
Let me the user pick what shows on the HUD. Turn asteroid marking on or off (including showing asteroid belts if the belt is too far off to see individual asteroids). Show details about stuff if I want it, not just details about things that are pointed to. Get rid of the lines to the space station. Let me mark places on a planet so I can go back to them after selling off some expensive minerals that I found in just that one spot.
Make ships with more storage actually look bigger than ships with less storage. I think that the current inventory system is fine since I have nothing to compare it to. but I’d like to see a ship with 2x the space for goods be 2x the size.

That’s just a bit of what I would change. I really just want to have the game fixed so I can stop in space and to have trading values that make any sense on any Earthly accounting system. Again, how can the average selling price not be the same as the average buying price?

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