A Pixel Art Doodle on a 35 Year Old Graphics Machine

A Pixel Art Doodle on a 35 Year Old Graphics Machine

I am now into the second week of teleworking (I prefer “working from home”) in response to the pandemic sweeping the world, presently. As such, when work winds down I try to find something to engage in down in the basement Byte Cellar (so named due to the associated blog).

Yesterday, after work, I decided to fire up my Amiga 1000, which I often use for BBSing these days, and started to play around a bit in Deluxe Paint III. I spent hundreds of hours drawing pixel art in DPaint III in the late ’80s, and an initial scribble turned into a couple of hours of working on a No Man’s Sky space theme piece. I posted it to Reddit and it was rather well received, so I thought I would share it here. It’s certainly not my strongest work (well, “strong” isn’t the word for anything I’ve done in this arena, to be sure) but it’s the first thing I’ve drawn on the Amiga in many years.

Closeup of Amiga 1000 screen showing No Man's Sky pixel art drawing

I did an earlier No Man’s Sky thing on this Amiga a year or so ago and it also was well received. Sean liked it, at any rate. 🙂

The Keyboard With “No Man’s Sky” on Its Mind

The Keyboard With “No Man’s Sky” on Its Mind

I started playing No Man’s Sky on launch day on the PS4, and a few weeks later I decided to build a gaming PC in order to play at a higher resolution and framerate. Among the parts I ordered for the build was a Corsair keyboard with Cherry MX Red linear keyswitches. Cherry Reds are ideal for gaming, but make any sort of actual typing a rather unpleasant affair. For quite a while I had been wanting to switch over to a board with a somewhat more tactile feel.

The other day, I ran across a reddit post showing a keyboard with an uncommon feature: a small OLED display. The display works in conjunction with driver software to provide status information from supported apps, but it also can be used to display a static image or animated GIF*. The user that made the post is an Elite:Dangerous fan and showed an animated GIF of the wireframe Cobra Mark III ship from the 1984 original Elite on his keyboard display. I quickly realized it would be fun to use that display for some sort of No Man’s Sky image or animation. So, I finally replaced the PC’s keyboard with a Steelseries Apex 7 TKL board with Brown switches, providing a subtle tactile feel. (I am something of a keyboard hound, actually.)

The new keyboard has quite a nice feel and its little 128×40-pixel OLED display is a fun little feature.

After the board arrived, I sat down and made a little pixel-art No Man’s Sky-inspired scrolling GIF and loaded it onto the keyboard. It’s definitely fun to glance down from the screen and see my ever-scrolling homage to the game, there on the board’s little display. I’ll soon put a few other graphics together for the display, in time, to add to what’s already out there.

I felt readers might enjoy this little exercise.

* GIF is pronounced with a soft “g”.

I’ve Seen Things…In the Living Ship Universe

I’ve Seen Things…In the Living Ship Universe

Since the Living Ship update landed a few weeks back, new living ships and the pulse-driving space encounters have been the hot topic in the No Man’s Sky community. As mentioned in my last post, I eagerly ran through the Starbirth mission and successfully hatched my own living ship. Since then, I’ve spent most of my in-game time warping through a great many different systems, exploring what’s out there in the way of space encounters, and upgrading my living ships as opportunity has permitted.

That’s “ships,” plural; after a few days I decided I wanted to seek out a living ship of a different design, so I purchased a second Void Egg from the Quicksilver merchant and, upon pulsing out of the Anomaly, was contacted by the alien Host who sent me coordinates to a spot on the surface of one of the system’s planets. Upon landing, I found my new living ship gently quivering at its crash site, waiting for me. (The entire Starbirth mission does not repeat when a new Void Egg is acquired, happily).

I passed up the first few ships presented to me, but in just the third or fourth, I found real keeper with which I am very pleased. I have been upgrading it and exploring with it, seeking out new, as yet unseen, phenomenon waiting to be discovered.

Some of these moments of discovery I have put together in a short video, presented here. But be warned — it will be a spoiler if you’ve not yet experienced some of the strange encounters shown within (and I’ve certainly not yet seen all that’s out there to be found in this update).

It’s an eerie place out there, travellers…

Community Event #17: Living Ship Edition

Community Event #17: Living Ship Edition

No Man’s Sky Community Event #17 was the first weekend event to follow the release of the Living Ships update and, as such, we saw some sights on the event planet that no previous event had delivered.

As Living Ships was released publicly on Wednesday the 23rd, most travellers were still working their way through the new Starbirth mission, which involves several timer blocks of around 24 hours (the time needed for various items gathered along the way to mature). As such, living ships on the event planet did not abound, but were present in small numbers (piloted by those of us who got creative with the system clock and network connection…).

My first living ship and I made our way to the afflicted Holo-Terminus and found that an offering of Pugneum was needed to stabilize the disturbance — and that meant Sentinel hunting. Angry sentinels were everywhere and things got rather intense once the walkers arrived. Happily, we made it out only mildly scathed.

Have a look at a short glimpse of the action which shows scenes from the main event (mid-morning Saturday, on PC), as well as a few of the player bases arrayed about the site.

“No Man’s Sky Living Ship” Brings Organic Ships…And Oddities…To the Universe

“No Man’s Sky Living Ship” Brings Organic Ships…And Oddities…To the Universe

Yesterday, Hello Games unexpectedly released a significant update to No Man’s Sky in the form of “Experimental Branch Update 18/02,” the details of which they posted to the Steam community discussion forum, as per usual with updates on the PC Experimental branch of the game. The list of changes was long, bringing significant quality-of-life improvements as well as performance optimizations for both standard and VR display modes. (Some players have observed changes in certain flora rendering, as well as several worlds that have changed color.) It didn’t take long, however, for the community to realize just how significant an update Hello Games quietly dropped, here…

Bizarre Living Ship in space

As PC Experimental branch players (such as myself) began to land in the Anomaly, they encountered extremely unusual, heretofore unseen organic crafts landing on the pads. What’s more, flying through space, we began being contacted by these strange “living ships” which broadcast to us pure music, to which our void eggs resonated in response, translating the melodies into navigation coordinates… And, so began the update’s new quest line.

It was quite clear that Hello Games, with “Update 18/02,” had stealthily deployed an enormous update to No Man’s Sky. As we began tracking the tonally-conveyed galactic coordinates and following the new quest line, we encountered strange and enormous crafts and structures drifting through space as we flew planet to planet and system to system. The first that I happened to encounter, in a lovely pink-hued system (above), was identified as a “Living Metalloid.” What was the nature of these extraordinary objects? None of these things were mentioned in the patch notes posted to Steam… Just how much was waiting unannounced out there? We continued to explore and share findings on the Discord. It made for a surreal sort of evening.

Things became rather more clear when today, announced in a tweet by Sean Murray, Hello Games officially released No Man’s Sky Living Ship, update v2.3 (presently available on all supported platforms).

Explore space from a different perspective with the Living Ship update. Introducing a new class of biological ship, a new story mission, mysterious space encounters, space NPCs and more.

Like all major updates of the game, Living Ship has a highly-visual release page on the No Man’s Sky website, detailing and illustrating much of what has been added to the game, along with a fascinating trailer video with a Rutger Hauer / Blade Runner-inspired voice over. [ Update: It turns out the voice over is Rutger Hauer, and it was created by him for No Man’s Sky before his passing. ] And “much” is indeed the word.

After following a new series of missions, “Starbirth,” players will be introduced these new procedurally-generated, sentient starships, of which there are dozens. The “Call of the Void Egg” quest line will allow players to grow and, ultimately, fly their own living ships. Traveling through local space will now bring chance encounters with the aforementioned strange, new objects as well as space NPCs hailing for a trade…or possibly something less desirable.

The No Man’s Sky Living Ship page goes into detail on these and many other new aspects of this major update. Hello Games’ chief, Sean Murray, discusses the thoughts behind the Living Ship upgrade and what lies ahead in a recent GamesRadar+ interview.

Community Event #16: A Bean-Feast to Allay the Anomaly

Community Event #16: A Bean-Feast to Allay the Anomaly

The 16th No Man’s Sky Community Event brought us to a lush, mountainous world and sent us on a quest to allay the anomaly by feeding its hunger for materials of the planet, in this case, Impulse Beans. As is always the case for me, seeing the player bases and multiplayer commotion on the event planet’s surface was the real fun of the event.

Here’s a short video highlighting my running of the event on Saturday afternoon.

( Update:

Bean-feast [ been-feest ] noun. Chiefly British slang.
  1. (formerly) an annual dinner or party given by an employer for its employees.
  2. a celebration or festive occasion, especially when a meal is provided.

)

Community Event #15: The Culling of the Blobs And…A Mysterious Code

Community Event #15: The Culling of the Blobs And…A Mysterious Code

This weekend’s No Man’s Sky Community Event #15 brought us by portal to an exotic world with gigantic purple spires rising high into the purple-hewn sky. Upon locating the Anomaly some short distance from the portal, I saw that it had taken the form of a traveller’s grave. Interacting with the grave marker brought forth the following message.

Davene, Generation RL0/A12/W80 is unquestionably dead, yet an echo of their unique signature still exists in this place. More than just a memory, it is as though the essence of them is still here… A static field cradles the grave in long crackling fingers. In the noise, a message: bring materials from this world. Sacrifice them here. Stabilise this anomaly.

This is a rather interesting message, what with the code-like component attached to the name. Davene. It’s a female name that means “beloved”, “little deer” and is the Hebrew form of “David.” The code is mysterious. Was Davene a child? Age 12, weight 80 lbs, perhaps? The “RL” of “RL0” does’t speak to me, unfortunately.

A Google search of the code leads to many things, one near the top being a PDF scan of a document dated 1846 from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England, entitled Transits as Observed and Computations of Apparent Right Ascension [ PDF ] and on page A12, the tracking information of several celestial bodies is presented. What it might mean, were it even possibly relevant, I cannot say. And maybe it means nothing… It did remind me, to a degree, of the mysteries presented in the Waking Titan ARG leading up to the release of the Atlas Rises update.

What perhaps makes this even more mysterious is a message conveyed during Community Event #13, a few weeks back. Iteration: Mercury on the Anomaly, to whom Hello Games instructed us to speak in setting out on the mission, as part of their Beyond Development Update 6 notes, stated the following.

The voice of the static is…intoxicating. Staring into that rift is like a window into a dream. I see Soleth Prime. I see how I once was. An earlier version. And I feel raw, like the dream is looking directly back at me.

Those who had their eye on No Man’s Sky prior to its release may recall that Soleth Prime is the name of the planet shown in the famed, 2014 E3 preview video leading up to release.

YouTuber Procedural Traveller pointed all of this out in a video he posted a few days back discussing this enigmatic message and its reference to the early planet — the first planet in the No Man’s Sky universe, really — and the possibility that in the future we might be seeing worlds akin to Soleth Prime (or, perhaps, some worlds with the vibes of earlier versions of the game, I might suggest). Speculation, speculation… In the end, time will tell.

Arriving through the portal on Friday night to the event planet, I saw many ships arrayed about the place. I wandered about, visiting a few player-made bases, and then made my way to the Anomaly. Up the sheer cliff bordering the site I found a base someone had constructed that periodically dropped a series of balls down into the Anomaly area, making interacting with it a mild challenge. After the task was done, many of us were making a game of blasting the balls up the cliff face with our multitools. It was a crowded bit of fun rounding out the weekend event.

A Base Tour from the Last Days of Atlas Rises

A Base Tour from the Last Days of Atlas Rises

When No Man’s Sky NEXT landed back in July of 2018, the universe was “reset.” To incorporate the dramatic changes to the types of planets and their terrain generation, Hello Games rebooted the NMS universe. Leading up to the release of NEXT, we (the player community) saw this coming — it was not a surprise.

Not long before the release of NEXT, I had put the finishing touches on the base I was most proud of up to that point, an orange, multi-level base situated on a mild and picturesque desert planet in the Eissentam galaxy. It was, I think, the seventh base I had created since Foundation v1.1 introduced base building to the game. (Before NEXT, players could have only one base at a time, and they had to be situated at the one-room starter bases randomly speckling the surface of viable planets (which are now the base computers you may have stumbled upon, oddly just sitting in the middle of a field.)) Since I knew that this lovely base may end up at the bottom of an ocean ( [Narrator]: “It did…” ), I decided to make a brief video tour of the place, to remember it by.

A while back I posted a (very) quick and (rather) dirty tour of my third base, located on an extremely harsh ice world. Here I share the desert base that was a casualty of the NEXT update.

Incidentally, when NEXT landed, I restarted the game anew back in the Euclid galaxy, wanting to stay “closer to the action,” what with the multiplayer component having been notably extended. Just a few weeks ago, I dusted off this Eissentam save and have been playing in that galaxy primarily, working to upgrade everything with the new hardware and systems brought by NEXT, Beyond, and the other upgrades. After sitting dormant for a year and a half, I have relocated this base to a current planet (a base capability that came with NEXT) and am exploring outwards from there. Seeing this base reappear in the current game was quite a moment of nostalgia, I can tell you.

I hope you enjoy the little tour of my base in the last days of the Atlas Rises era.

Butterflies (Thirty Different Ones)

Butterflies (Thirty Different Ones)

I am just under 2,100 hours into the game and of all the flora and fauna that I encounter along the way in my explorations, it is the “butterflies” that strike me the most. Not long after starting off back in 2016, I began documenting each sort of butterfly I encountered with photo screenshots. So far I have documented 30 different clusters of them and they are presented, above. See the full-size image, with greater detail.

I have encountered a wide variety, with some fairly close repeats. A particular sort I have only encountered two or three times, and they are so small as to be invisible from any distance and require real work in capturing. The second specimen in the second row of the photo above is an example. This particular sort moves only when I, too, am moving and appears as a scanner dot only, until careful photo mode zooming reveals their bizarre shape. I recall it took about 20 minutes to capture that one image.

In the above photo, starting at the top-left with the most recent specimen and moving to the right and down, one can see butterflies I have encountered in every major version of the game dating all the way back, at the end, to version 1.0. I continue to record those that I encounter and will present more compilations in the future. (Pardon the nod to Pink Floyd.)

Exploring a Golden, Lush World from Times Past

Exploring a Golden, Lush World from Times Past

As mentioned in earlier posts, I am presently exploring the historical universe of No Man’s Sky Foundation (v1.1, circa 2016) alongside the current universe of No Man’s Sky Beyond. In so doing, I regularly encounter a great many striking worlds — bizarre and spectacular, both — in my travels. I have shared a number of these in earlier posts and in my Back to Foundations photo gallery.

Recently, while exploring the Foundations universe, I set down upon a lush, golden planet that was truly breathtaking. A planet part ocean, the land is covered in vibrant grasses and trees and rises in places to great, craggy heights. I was so struck by the beauty of the world that I wanted to share it with readers, and have captured a bit of footage while just wandering the hillsides. I hope you enjoy.

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