A Few Words About “The Wipeout Ship” in No Man’s Sky

A Few Words About “The Wipeout Ship” in No Man’s Sky

Back in February, Hello Games released No Man’s Sky Omega (v4.5) which brought the Omega Expedition as well as a variety of new elements to the game, including the ability to defeat and claim a pirate dreadnaught, a new mechanism for starting expeditions from within an existing savegame, a rework of the Atlas Path mission, and the Atlas Sceptre staff Multi-Tool. But, of all the new gameplay elements, what stood out the most to me was the addition of a sleek new starship, rather different in appearance than others in the game.

Starborn Runner ship

Known as the Starborn Runner, this addition really brought a smile to my face, and to those of many other oldschool gamers out there. Featuring “a localized vector field allowing it to hover above solid planes,” this new ship is very clearly a nod from Hello Games to the Wipeout series ( or wipE′out″ ), so similar is it in visual and mechanical design to the ships in that acclaimed anti-gravity racing series.

Wipeout AG Systems

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, some history. Wipeout is a futuristic racing game developed by Psygnosis and released in 1995 as an original Playstation launch title. Set in the year 2052, the game sees players compete in races across various futuristic tracks and settings, piloting anti-gravity ships that are armed with various weapons to help eliminate the competition. Accompanying the gameplay is a pumping electronica soundtrack featuring music from well known artists in the scene at the time. A number of sequels followed on various platforms, such as Wipeout 2097, Wipeout 64, Wipeout 3, Wipeout Fusion, Wipeout Pulse, etc. Wipeout 2097 (a.k.a. Wipeout XL) was particularly popular, being considered one of the best games ever released for the Playstation.

Red Wipeout ship

I have long been an ardent fan of the series, the original impressing me to such a degree that after witnessing it for the first time on a friend’s Playstation back in 1996, I went out the very next day and purchased my own Playstation console along with the game. I have certainly put hundreds of hours into various installments in the series on a variety of platforms, including several Playstation models, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, and PC. The white-knuckle racing action on some absolutely insanely architected tracks (framed by exotic alien landscapes in the distance) — with heavy electronica beats pounding all the while — makes for a pretty frenetic and unique experience, I assure you.

Read More Read More

“The Rockbiter” from “The NeverEnding Story”: A Base Tour

“The Rockbiter” from “The NeverEnding Story”: A Base Tour

Here, I present a video tour of a rather untraditional base that I recently saw posted by its fantasy-loving creator, u/Antisocial_Gek, on the main No Man’s Sky subreddit with the title, “They look like big, good, strong hands, don’t they?”

A small percentage of readers will immediately remember those last, sad lines of lamentation spoken by the Rockbiter from the film The NeverEnding Story (1984). Based on the 1979 German novel by Michael Ende, The NeverEnding Story is set in Fantasia, a world of imagination filled with strange creatures big and small, and one of the first we meet is the gigantic Rockbiter who travels on a stone tricycle and is a true rock aficionado with a discerning palette.

A delicious looking limestone rock. Nice bouquet, must be a real vintage year.
. . .
Mmmm. That was limestone, with a dash of quartz. Very tasty. Where I come from in the North, we used to have exquisite gourmet rocks, only now…now they’re all gone.

The NeverEnding Story, which I saw in the theater as a kid and have watched hundreds of times since, is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I was immediately impressed by what a superb job u/Antisocial_Gek has done in recreating him in the No Man’s Sky universe — complete with glowing eyes, blinking and alive! Upon seeing the builder’s post, I had to visit this Euclid base myself, and have put together a small “walk through” video of my own.

Hats off, u/Antisocial_Gek, on a job well done and for providing me and a few others out there a very nice walk down nostalgia lane.


Touring Bases in VR and Talking “No Man’s Sky” as Guest on “NMS Wonders” Show

Touring Bases in VR and Talking “No Man’s Sky” as Guest on “NMS Wonders” Show

A few months back, Mehalaway of the YouTube channel VR Spaceman reached out to me asking if I would be interested in appearing as a guest on his weekly live VR show, No Man’s Sky Wonders, to walk through several of my recent base builds and just chat on about the game we all know and love so well. That sounded like a pretty good time to me!

On his channel, Mehalawy explores any and all space games that support VR across a variety of platforms and headset configurations. His weekly live show, NMS Wonders, he hosts and records from his perspective in PSVR2. As he describes,

This is a live talk show about No Mans Sky game In virtual reality, every Saturday We will tour some of the most wonderful bases in NMS while interviewing the base builder and listen to their NMS story, all this in virtual reality for a new & fresh experience.

On the show in questions, we were joined by co-hosts Kim and Max (@SparkleRain and @Maxamus88 on Discord) and toured three of my bases: The Lighthouse in the NMSCord Hub, Chimney Rock Overlook, and Blade Peak Chalet. Along the way, we had a nice, wide-ranging chat about life, the game, and even a dip into the topic of retro computing… It was a blast!

The motivation for me to finally sit down and write a post sharing this YouTube base(s) tour was that on the NMS Discord in the @nmscord-hub channel, my base The Lighthouse, which was visited in the video, was recently a featured base for the community. This brought many visitors to the base and quite a few comments sent my way. It’s always fun to have visitors!

Please have a look at NMS Wonders Ep. 25, “Journey to the Past,” as well as the VR Spaceman channel overall and the associated Discord. Thanks for the great time, Mehalawy and company!

Happy 4th of July to American Interlopers Out There Amongst the Stars!

Happy 4th of July to American Interlopers Out There Amongst the Stars!

A quick shout out to my fellow American Interlopers out there exploring the universe, travelling from system to system, galaxy to galaxy, here on the 4th of July, American Independence Day. To mark the occasion I’ve indulged in a modest fireworks display from my lighthouse base perched upon a craggy islet on planet Distira in the NMSCord Hub system (Euclid galaxy).

So, grab your space apron, get out in the yard, and fire up the Nutrient Processor for a good old-fashioned Hexungulatis barbecue. Have a great Fourth!

Enjoying “No Man’s Sky” on the Go, on the Mac

Enjoying “No Man’s Sky” on the Go, on the Mac

On June 1st, Hello Games released the Mac version of No Man’s Sky through Steam, which was first announced at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference last year. And, this is a release I had been quite eagerly awaiting.

For most of the past (nearly) seven years, I’ve been playing No Man’s Sky on the gaming PC which I built for that very purpose. I started out on PS4 and after two or three weeks I wanted to maximize the experience — 60+ FPS, higher resolution, mods — and built a high-end Windows PC to play it on. That PC, which has recently seen a notable parts upgrade, is still my main cockpit, but I do everything else on the Mac.

As soon as Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late ’90s and it was announced that his NeXTSTEP operating system (along with its UNIX underpinnings) would become the foundation of a forthcoming, new Mac OS, I jumped to the Mac and haven’t looked back.

As a full-stack web developer, I do most of my work (which is now nearly 100% remote) at home on my desktop Mac Studio (M1 Max), with an employer-issued MacBook Pro (M1 Pro) occasionally coming into the mix. For personal use around the house and on travel, I have a MacBook Air (M2).

I was using an M1-based MacBook Air when the forthcoming Mac version of No Man’s Sky was announced by Apple at WWDC 2022. Hearing this good news, I upgraded to the new M2-based Air and spec’ed it up in order to play NMS as well as it could, on the go. This was the Mac I would be exploring the universe on.

The 13-inch MacBook Air in question has an Apple M2 SoC running at 3.49GHz and featuring 8 CPU cores (4 performance, 4 efficiency), 10 GPU cores, 24GB of LPDDR5-6400 shared RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage (which on these Macs is about twice as fast as a PC NVMe unit).

When the Mac version appeared on Steam, I installed it (for free, having already purchased the Windows version), fired it up, and was very impressed by just how well it ran.

On the 13-inch MacBook Air, I am playing at the default resolution of 1470×956 and after tweaking around a little bit on the settings — most remaining at Ultra, including the hugely impactful Planet Quality setting — I am seeing framerates usually pinned at 60fps. Apple’s Metal 3 3D API and its new MetalFX upscaling framework (something like a cross between AMD’s FSR and Nvidia’s DLSS) helps with this; I’m using it on the Quality setting and am using Metal’s highest quality temporal anti-aliasing mode. The MacBook Air’s display runs at 60Hz max, so it’s hard to say how high above 60fps the game could be rendering on this M2. There are occasional dips into the mid 40s, mainly around complex bases. The overall visual quality is superb.

The quick-and-dirty chart, below, shows the performance of the M2 MacBook Air described here as compared to various systems I’ve used of late, including the aforementioned gaming PC in its original and upgraded configuration, by way of Geekbench 5 CPU and GPU compute benchmarks.

I still do most of my NMS exploring on the more powerful gaming PC with its large, 144Hz display, but it’s great to be able to have a full, no compromise excursion into the No Man’s Sky universe whenever I want, wherever I want. And with cross-save support between the Windows and macOS versions via the Steam Cloud, I can pick up right where I left off. In fact, I completed the last milestones of Expedition 10 Singularity at 25,000 feet on my flight from Boston back to DC this past weekend. Good times!

A Tweet of Two Apples: “No Man’s Sky” to Land on Mac and Apple AR/VR Headset

A Tweet of Two Apples: “No Man’s Sky” to Land on Mac and Apple AR/VR Headset

When something new is about to land in the world of No Man’s Sky, Hello Games’ chief Sean Murray, tweets a teaser emoji to start people speculating wildly. On Monday morning he posted a simple red apple emoji, which started the hype-train rolling and then several hours later, followed with another tweet — this time a green apple emoji, which switched the train into overdrive. Given that I have been keeping my eyes wide open for any more news of the long-known, impending Mac port of No Man’s Sky, I am quite certain that this is Sean’s indication that the Mac version of NMS is imminent. And the timing makes perfect sense, what with Apple’s yearly World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) being set to kick off with Monday’s (June 5th) keynote event.

A year ago, at WWDC 2022, Apple highlighted the coming Mac port of the game as a platform utilizing it’s new Metal 3 3D API, which offers close-to-the-metal performance, along with a feature known as MetalFX Scaling which is something of a mix between AMD’s FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution) and Nvidia’s DLSS. Apple featured No Man’s Sky as a sort of poster child for this tech during that keynote. They indicated that the game would be landing by year’s end (which it didn’t) and later that day in a press release indicated that not only a Mac version but also an iPad version of the game was forthcoming.

At 2022’s end, No Man’s Sky had not landed on any Apple hardware, though Apple did again shine the spotlight on No Man’s Sky in their January M2 Silicon event. Some speculated that Hello Games decided to coincide the release of the Mac version with the PS5 update to support the new PSVR2 in February, but that didn’t happen either, though the No Man’s Sky Fractal (v4.1) update that brought said support also delivered a nice array of other things for players, including the Utopia Expedition.

Where's the Mac version?

Interestingly, on May 5th a new development branch of No Man’s Sky appeared on SteamDB (for the first time ever) named “bejryy”. On the NMS Discord, it was soon discovered that a Caesar cypher decodes this string to “Orwell.” The original Macintosh was announced in January 1984 by way of the highly famous “1984 commercial,” depicting the Orwellian dystopia presented in the book 1984. It seems likely this branch is or pertains to the imminent Mac release.

Now, one of the main expected announcements out of WWDC 2023 is Apple’s long-rumored AR/VR headset (possibly to be called the “Reality Pro”), which the company is taking very seriously. It is rumored to be a standalone unit (that can also connect to a Mac and serve as its display) which will feature not one but two Apple M2 SoCs, which would give it the considerable computing and graphics power needed to drive its expected two 4K micro-OLED displays (at up to 3,000 pixels per inch) to deliver an 8K headset gaming experience. The headset is reportedly the most complicated product that the Cupertino-based giant has ever engineered.

Read More Read More

100 Knowledge Stones in 30 Minutes on a Stone-Dense World

100 Knowledge Stones in 30 Minutes on a Stone-Dense World

Recently, a kind Traveller “gave me a ride” to the Budullangr galaxy. I had traveled there several years back by…a different means, but was not fond of the bleak harshness of the place way back when, so I got out pretty fast. A lot has changed in the game since then, so I wanted to give it another look and am now enjoying exploring the galaxy and it’s strange worlds.

A couple of weeks in, I randomly spotted a star system with an Atlas Interface on the Galactic Map, and so I warped in. I began exploring the various planets in the system and found some of them to be rather unique. The first I set down on was a rather unusual, blinding neon green rocky world; the next was a Sporal Planet with weather described as “Lost Clouds,” featuring an intense duo-tone 80’s synthwave sort-of vibe at night (shown above); and the third was a lush planet more densely littered with Knowledge Stones than any world I’d previously encountered.

On that third planet, after zipping around and, in short-order, collecting 25 new Gek terms from the many Knowledge Stones, it occurred to me to record a bit of my gameplay as I went from Stone to Stone learning new words. And so here, I present a sped-up, time-lapse video of me collecting knowledge from 100 Stones in just 30 minute’s of play time (time lapsed it’s just over 10 mins). I thought a few Travellers out there might enjoy a look.

Come have a look, why don’t you?

Speed Tip: The Melee + Reload Jump Trick

Speed Tip: The Melee + Reload Jump Trick

Everyone who’s played No Man’s Sky for any amount of time knows about the “melee jump” or “boost jump,” achieved by executing a melee lunge and triggering your jetpack in the middle of it, transferring the forward force of your melee lunge into your flight. This is a quicker way to get around than simply lifting off with your jetpack.

But…do you know about the melee + reload jump trick?

I was hanging out on the Discord sometime in late 2019 or so when someone was explaining the old reliable melee jump to a new player. In response, someone piped up, making mention of a many-times-faster jump trick that will let you cover a span of terrain about as fast as as a starship. No one in the channel had heard of this one, and the guy (I wish I could remember the handle) explained precisely how it is done. It took me a few tries, but I got the hang of it and have been using this trick to travel long distances across a planet surfaces ever since.

How to do it: Fire off a few rounds with a projectile weapon (Boltcaster, Pulse Spitter, etc.) and then, while walking forward (not running), press and hold down the melee button. While it’s still held down, tap fast and frequent on the weapon reload button (square on PS4/5, X on Xbox, ‘r’ on keyboard) — tap it over and over fast and you will sporadically gain ground speed, though the direction is erratic. When you’re moving at a good clip, light up your jetpack and away you go! Note: You must have spare Projectile Ammunition in your suit inventory for this to work.

I made a short, not-great video demonstrating the trick way back when and have shown it a number of times over the years to Travellers unaware. It seems like this is not a widely known technique. When this issue came up again this morning in the Discord, I decided to make a much better video and post the technique here to the blog.

God…speed, Traveller.

Lush Infestation Lodge: A “Tiny Home” Base on an Overgrown World

Lush Infestation Lodge: A “Tiny Home” Base on an Overgrown World

It’s been a while since I last shared a base build here on the blog, and I have several works in progress, but I wanted to share my most recent build which is another example of my favorite sort of base, a “tiny home” base. This outpost, the “Lush Infestation Lodge” is built on New Ammy in the Imitil X system in the Eissentam galaxy, which is an “Infected Paradise” world with no sentinels and calm, stormless weather that is described as a “Refreshing Breeze.”

The main base is a single-room affair (a single floor unit) that is accompanied by an outdoor kitchen and a dais with table for meals. A teleporter sits out back.

I discovered the world while seeking out worlds with highly complex ground features in order to try out the performance of my newly upgraded No Man’s Sky gaming PC, which was originally put together back in 2016 shortly after the game’s launch to allow gameplay at higher resolutions and framerates than the base Playstation 4 upon which I started my NMS adventure.

New Ammy is a lovely world, and the base is nice and cozy. Come have a visit if you’re up for it. But a word of advice — watch out for the worms…

Upgrading the Gaming PC

Upgrading the Gaming PC

Back on launch-day in August 2016 I began playing No Man’s Sky on the PS4. I fell so wildly in love with the game that a few weeks later I ordered parts and put together a gaming PC so that I could play No Man’s Sky at 60+ FPS with higher resolution options and also have the ability to adjust the player’s field of view (which one could not, on console back then). I detailed the system build in a post from way-back-when, but in a nutshell, the system consisted of:

  • Intel i7-6700K (4 core, 8 thread) @ 4GHz (4.2GHz boost)
  • Gigabyte Nvidia GTX-1080 Xtreme Gaming
  • 16GB Corsair DDR4 RAM-3200
  • 32-inch Samsung CF391 curved 60Hz 1920×1080 (16:9) LCD

As I’d hoped, this setup ran the game incredibly well. I started using it back in “the early days” and I played on this PC a little over six years, for what’s now 3,800 hours in the game, all settings on “Ultra.” In that time, I doubled the system RAM and in order to move up from 1080p to 1440p, the GPU and display were upgraded to:

  • EVGA FTW3 GTX-1080Ti (11GB, factory overclocked)
  • Samsung C32HG70 curved 32-inch 144Hz 2560×1440 (16:9) LCD

This worked out very well for quite a while but…those pesky (frequent and free) updates Hello Games keeps releasing began to take a toll on performance. (At the time of this post, HG has released 161 updates, 30 of them major.) As certain updates brought richer worlds with more details — Origins and Next Generation in particular — I noticed that framerates started to dip here and there. And, whereas a few years ago on my Freesync-linked GPU and display I had been mostly in the 80-95 fps range with very rarely a dip below 60 fps, recently when walking on worlds with particularly dense ground features, I began to see brief dips into the low 40s and occasional stuttering, even when framerates were up in the 70s and 80s. I have a little 7-inch secondary display constantly running on the PC, displaying system monitoring information from the app HWiNFO64, and I noted that the GPU was often not fully loaded, which showed me that I was CPU limited in terms of performance; the Skylake CPU was not able to keep the GPU fully fed. And so, I decided to finally upgrade the PC.

After bringing myself up to speed on the PC CPU landscape out there, and acknowledging that I don’t use this Windows PC for anything but gaming (the performance / efficiency cores proposition offered by Intel therefore not being of interest to me), I decided to upgrade the CPU to a Ryzen 7 7700X, which also meant upgrading the motherboard and system RAM to the DDR5 required by the Zen 4 architecture. I would also stay with Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. (Incidentally, this is the third AMD-based system I have built. The first was a 5×86 160MHz system from 1996, which I rebuilt not all that long ago, and the second was a K6 225MHz system from 1997.)

I posted on the Ars Technica forums asking for advice on making this upgrade and was given much helpful advice and told that if there were a MicroCenter near me (there was) I could get a number of in-store discounts, including a free 32GB DDR5 RAM kit, among others. And, so, I headed to the Fairfax, VA MicroCenter and purchased the aforementioned CPU along with an ASUS B650-A motherboard, a heatsink/fan combo, and a few other odds and ends. All of that in hand (including the free 32GB of DDR5 RAM), I headed home and opened up the gaming PC, swapping in the new parts for the old, reusing the GTX-1080Ti, the Fractal Design R5 case, the EVGA PSU, the optical drive, and my SATA SSDs. I took advantage of a $60 MicroCenter discount and purchased a WD_BLACK NVMe 2TB SSD for just $20 over the price of the 1TB unit to further increase loading speeds in the game. The core component build-out of this upgraded PC presently looks like:

  • Ryzen 7 7700X (8 core, 16 thread) @ 4.5GHz (5.4GHz boost)
  • ASUS B650-A ROG Strix motherboard (with WiFi, Bluetooth)
  • EVGA FTW3 GTX-1080Ti (11GB, factory overclocked)
  • 32GB G.SKILL DDR5-6000 RAM
  • Noctua NH-D15 CPU cooler

If you have a local MicroCenter — by all means use it.

Here, I will note that the GTX-1080Ti is a GPU that was “too good.” Nvidia released it to the market — only shortly — based on AMD’s performance claims about their upcoming Vega architecture … that ended up being exaggerated. Real-time raytracing hardware aside (the GTX has none), the GTX-1080Ti with its 11GB of RAM is approximately equal in performance (chart from Maximum PC magazine, June 2022) to the RTX-2070 Super and the RTX-3060 (but with more RAM), especially with older games — I would not trade it for either. The RTX-2080 is only ~10% faster in most cases. It seemed a foolish idea to consider upgrading the GPU at this time, not to mention — I didn’t have the budget for it.

Read More Read More