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A Look Back at Some Early Features Now Absent from “No Man’s Sky”

A Look Back at Some Early Features Now Absent from “No Man’s Sky”

Being a fan of all-things-No Man’s Sky, I keep up with several NMS-related channels on YouTube. The most recent YouTuber that I’ve started watching regularly is Kanaju. In his videos, he covers quite a few aspects of No Man’s Sky that I find to be of particular interest.

A couple of Kanaju’s recent videos cover features present in early version of the game that have been removed or evolved into something new and that current players may not be aware of. As someone particularly fond of the early versions of No Man’s Sky — to the point that I’ve become something of a Time Traveller, occasionally going back to enjoy those rather more rough-hewn worlds — I wanted to share these videos with readers who might just be surprised at the way things were.

The first video is entitled “5 Killed Features Worth Bringing Back.” I well recall all of these now-absent features, and it certainly is a walk down memory lane for this day-one player. I may not fully share the author’s desire for a return of all of these features, but it’s interesting to look back and to see where some of the current features and mechanics in the game got their start.

The second video, entitled “5 Lost Interiors You Can’t Explore Today,” takes a look at early iterations of player bases, space stations, The Anomaly, and the like. Pieces of the past can certainly be seen in the in-game present, and this one really shows the degree to which much of No Man’s Sky has vastly increased in scale.

As Kanaju acknowledges in several of his videos, 2018’s massive update NEXT (v1.5) marks a sort of before-and-after point for many aspects of No Man’s Sky. Hello Games chief Sean Murray, in a video interview about 2020’s Origins (v3.0) update, made mention of the notable changes that took place earlier.

The fundamental thing is that we have this universe that we built, like, four years ago and we released it and we said that thing of, “even we don’t know what’s out there.” But it was true to an extent, right? We didn’t know the kind of planets people were going to start up on and — and then actually that hasn’t been true for the last four years for us. We have a ever evolving game but that universe has been reasonably static, right? The same terrains and biomes and worlds out there to explore. We’ve kind-of calmed them down, actually. We’ve removed some of the craziness [in Atlas Rises and, to a much larger extent, NEXT]

While there is certainly more going on now in No Man’s Sky than ever before, thanks to the over 20 major (and free) updates Hello Games has given us, it’s interesting to look back — even for those who were not entranced by that feeling of simple solitude and limitless possibilities that many of us (well, some of us) so cherished.

WWDC Surprise: “No Man’s Sky” Is Coming to the Mac and iPad

WWDC Surprise: “No Man’s Sky” Is Coming to the Mac and iPad

Today, Apple live-streamed the keynote that kicked off its annual World Wide Developers Conference. Occurring every spring, WWDC serves as an opportunity for Apple to announce product updates to consumers, show off new software and OS features that are on the way, and put its latest development tools in the hands of the dev community.

During today’s keynote, Apple announced the new M2 processor, successor to the extremely performant / low power Apple M1 that kicked off the Mac’s transition from Intel-based processors to Apple Silicon. Apple showcased the M2’s performance in the first machines that will be receiving the chip, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops. The coming, yearly update to the Mac’s operating system, called macOS Ventura, was also demonstrated. As is always the case, the new OS brings with it a variety of new technologies that were detailed during the keynote. One of those technologies is Metal 3.

Metal is a low-level, low-overhead hardware-accelerated 3D graphic and compute shader API created by Apple. It debuted in iOS 8 during WWDC 2014 and combines functions similar to OpenGL and OpenCL in a single API. Apple moved away from OpenGL as its core 3D API and created Metal in order to improve performance by allowing low-level access to the system GPU. It is comparable to other APIs such as Vulcan and DirectX 12 and is currently utilized by Apple’s macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS. WWDC 2017 saw the release of Metal 2 which brought various enhancements and optimizations. Today’s announcement of Metal 3 brings more features and improvements still, and Apple Senior Director of GPU Software Jeremy Sandmel took the stage today to demonstrate some of these new features.

And that’s when things got interesting. (The keynote video presented herein is cued up to the moment in question.)

The first first new feature of Metal 3 that Jeremy pointed to is MetalFX Upscaling which, it was revealed, is as a scaling technology akin to Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (both of which are supported by the PC version of No Man’s Sky). While he began to speak, saying the following (quote below) about this feature, the keynote stream highlighted a MacBook Pro laptop running a game that looked so familiar to me that, in this completely unexpected context, I had trouble recognizing it.

We continue to improve Metal. It’s the software that powers hardware accelerated graphics on all our platforms, and now Metal 3 brings new features that will unleash the full potential of Apple Silicon for years to come.

Gaming at maximum resolution and quality looks awesome. And, to help game developers increase the performance of realistic and immersive graphics, we’re introducing MetalFX Upscaling which enables developers to render rich, visually complex scenes even faster. It works by rendering smaller, less compute intensive frames and then applies high quality spacial upscaling and temporal antialiasing — and it’s so cool.

No Man’s Sky, coming to Mac later this year, will be one of the first games to use MetalFX Upscaling. The framerate increases give you that responsive feel — and it looks beautiful.

There was … a Traveller … jetpacking up the hill of … a paradise planet… It took a few moments for my mind to take in what I was seeing, and it was at about that time that he stated that No Man’s Sky would be coming to the Mac later this year and that it will be one of the first games to utilize Apple’s new upscaling technology.

This is amazing news of which no one had heard even a hint. Hello Games’ front man Sean Murray didn’t even tweet a teasing emoji leading up to it. This came as a complete surprise to the entire No Man’s Sky community.

MetalFX Upscaling demo clip from the Apple keynote

And, what comes as a further surprise to those who watched the keynote is Apple’s announcement, in their own press release, that No Man’s Sky will also be coming to the iPad later this year. Nowhere during the keynote video was an iPadOS port of the game mentioned, which is a little surprising considering that in 2021, the iPad generated over 90% the revenue of the Mac.

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“No Man’s Sky Outlaws” and the Wonderful New Solar Ships

“No Man’s Sky Outlaws” and the Wonderful New Solar Ships

Last week, Hello Games released No Man’s Sky Outlaws, a major update to the game that might just have you singing “Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate’s life for me!” Outlaws v3.85, Hello Games’ twenty-first major (and free) update to No Man’s Sky, greatly expands gameplay and mission mechanics for would-be pirates, including a new class of starships called Solar Ships, improved space battles, in-atmosphere ship combat, wingmen, pirate-controlled systems and space stations, visual enhancements, the sixth Expedition: The Blight, and much more, all detailed on Hello Games’ Outlaws release page.

Hello Games has a habit of releasing major updates when I am on an extended vacation with my family — and that was the case with Outlaws. As such, I was a bit late to the party in giving it a go (if only the upcoming Switch release were here already!). Having now spent a number of hours exploring the update, I am much impressed, and most so with the new Solar Ships. I can’t get over the look and feel of them, dramatically transforming as they take off, leave and reenter atmosphere, and land. Their solar sails, procedurally-generated variation, and “feel” — both on screen and VR is amazing to me.

I have been so impressed with these new ships that I put together a short video to share with readers, showing my first-acquired Solar Ship doing its thing, as well as a bit of the craziness involving both these new ships and ships of olde in a pirate attack on a planetary Trading Post.

While I am still feeling out the various new pirate mechanics and am only early-on in Expedition Six, the No Man’s Sky Outlaws update has added a whole new dimension to gameplay that I can already feel and much appreciate.

How are you liking it?

A Lengthy Session of “No Man’s Sky” Running on the Steam Deck

A Lengthy Session of “No Man’s Sky” Running on the Steam Deck

Last month I made a post featuring a short video by YouTuber PC-Gaming.it that contains a clip of No Man’s Sky running on the Steam Deck. It was our first glimpse of the performance of our favorite infinite universe, procedurally generated space survival / exploration game running on Valve’s new mobile console.

A much more lengthy look at No Man’s Sky on the Steam Deck was recently posted by YouTuber Gaming On Linux. The nearly 40 minute video shows gameplay across various biomes and gives a much better feel for the NMS Steam Deck experience. The on-screen performance meter shows that the game, capped at 60fps, plays fluidly and rarely drops below the capped rate. Also notable is the fact that it is running with AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) turned off, which raises the question of just how much higher a framerate could be achieved on the Steam Deck with the FPS cap off and FSR enabled.

Regarding the game’s performance on the Steam Deck, at the beginning of the video the reviewer states,

I’ve had a lot of people ask to do No Man’s Sky on the Steam Deck, so here we are. Truly I have to say though, I’m somewhat impressed by how far it’s come along. Before the release, while I was reviewing the Steam Deck itself, the game did not perform well — but now it’s perfectly playable. My save is quite early on but I’ve covered a number of different areas that you’ll find in the game in the video. Hopefully it gives you a reasonable idea of what some of the performance will be like.

The performance improvements spoken of by the reviewer are certainly due to the frequent and numerous updates to the Steam Deck software that have come, surrounding its launch. The Proton compatibility layer / translation software under which No Man’s Sky runs on the Steam Deck, in particular, may have seen ongoing optimizations for the console’s custom Zen 2 + RDNA 2-based APU.

Have a look and share what you think in the comments. Are you about to take exploration on the go with a shiny new Steam Deck?

My Community Base Tour and a Look at 40 More

My Community Base Tour and a Look at 40 More

On New Year’s Eve, as we said “Goodbye” to 2021 and “Hello” to 2022 (this has gotta be a better year, right folks?), another community base-building event was on-deck for the Quicksilver weekend mission (worth 1,200 QS) in No Man’s Sky.

I love it when base-building weekends come along, as I indicated in my recent post covering the shenanigans going on during the last such mission back at the beginning of October. They are great opportunities to get creative and build a base on the mission planet, chat with other Travellers that drop in while you’re doing your thing, and visit the huge number of other player bases that inevitably pop up all over the system in question. These are highly social weekends and are, at the moment, my favorite recurring event in the game.

On this New Year’s weekend I warped out to the Rulandt V system in the Euclid galaxy and set down on planet Petonia X which, by the time I arrived, was already covered in bases. I flew about, exploring the terrain from the air and found a tiny little rock island floating in a deep canyon and decided to build a cozy stone dwelling with a view and — I hope — a decent splash of character.

The video seen here includes bits and pieces I captured of my build process, along with a short tour of the finished base (which unexpectedly included a visitor checking out my handiwork) followed by fly-bys and quick on-foot exploration of 40 other bases made by fellow Travellers as part of the weekend event. There are some impressive constructions, out there, including a sprawling cave construction by u/E-Slick-73 that is extremely impressive (see video).

I hope you enjoy the video and please portal in for a visit to my base, as well as the many other great player constructions that await.

A Traveller Explores Worlds of Olde in a Moving “No Man’s Sky Foundation” Livestream

A Traveller Explores Worlds of Olde in a Moving “No Man’s Sky Foundation” Livestream

As regular readers are aware, I spend a considerable amount of time exploring the early No Man’s Sky universe. And it seems I’m not alone.

I recently ran across a video captured by YouTuber Unholy_Mr_Brown during his live-streamed session of exploring several worlds in the Foundation (v1.1, circa 2016) version of the game, which happens to be my go-to for “time travelling” / historical exploration. During the hour and a half livestream, the fellow traveller explains the reasoning behind his preference for the older versions of No Man’s Sky to the new. His sentiments, full of emotion, echo many of my own and I found watching him explore and listening to his commentary very much to my liking, and so I share it here with readers. (His channel is full of other exploration videos of past versions of No Man’s Sky, for those wanting to see more.)

While on the topic of video explorations of worlds of olde, I will take the opportunity to share another video that I spotted a while back on Reddit in the NMS_Foundations sub (the focus of which is “to share the old-school sci-fi vibes of No Man’s Sky“). It’s called This is No Man’s Sky and was created in late 2019 by YouTuber J. Twittenhoff using the Press Kit version 1.0 of the game on a PS4 Pro. It’s something of a fan trailer of the early game with a lovely ’80s synthwave vibe. (The creator posted part II of his project a short while later.) Thanks to u/jenga67 , author of the lovely Back to Foundations game mod, for submitting the video to the subreddit.

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Exploring an Early World That Exemplifies the Meaning of Solitude

Exploring an Early World That Exemplifies the Meaning of Solitude

The previous post made to this blog covers my exploration of a mountainous desert world from No Man’s Sky Foundation v1.1 (circa 2016), with photos and a somewhat lengthy video. Soon after exploring that planet, I set down on another world in the same system that turned out to be one of the most desolate I have ever encountered in my four years in the game.

The world is devoid of all flora and fauna and is nearly silent but for a subtle and woeful drone sung by the wind. It is a striking, high-contrast pink-purple world with a dark and purple sky. The landscape is full of rocky crags with stone arches and water lakes here and there. It is rather unlike anything one might encounter in more recent versions of the game.

Here I present several photos and a short video account of a portion of my exploration of this desolate place. I have rarely felt more solitude on a world in the No Man’s Sky universe than that which this planet presents.

Those interested in this No Man’s Sky “time traveling” may enjoy my previous forays back in time.

Taking a Stroll Back Through Time: A Long Walk on a Desert Planet

Taking a Stroll Back Through Time: A Long Walk on a Desert Planet

As regular readers of this blog and my NMS-focused followers on Twitter are likely aware, I am currently enjoying No Man’s Sky Foundation 1.1 (circa 2016) alongside the current version of the game, which at the time of this writing, is Next Generation. I got this setup on my PC early last year and have had a lot of fun being able to go back and explore the universe of olde, harboring worlds with wilder and more chaotic terrain generation. In a recent session in Foundation, I decided to record my exploration of a mountainous desert world and share it, here, with readers.

Craggy desert worlds of this sort appeal to me, and I could see from high above the surface that it would be enjoyable to explore. After setting down beside a small lake as the sun was setting, I set out on foot to see what I might find. After, perhaps, 10 minutes of walking it occurred to me to start recording my screen as I explored.

The ability to be anywhere on a planet and summon your starship from afar had (happily) not yet been added to the game in the 1.1 release. Several types of Habitable Structures feature landing pads or ship summoning terminals that can be access by way of a Bypass Chip (dropped from the game in NEXT) in order to call your ship to those limited locations. As a driver for my exploration in Foundation, I often land and set out in a certain direction and not stop going forth — no turning back — until I locate such a facility from which I can summon my ship. On this adventure, it took 3 hours and 30 minutes to locate such a building, and it was a glorious little walk.

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A Glimpse of a Traveller’s First Encounters in the No Man’s Sky Origins Universe

A Glimpse of a Traveller’s First Encounters in the No Man’s Sky Origins Universe

On September 23rd, No Man’s Sky Origins (v3.0) was released to much fanfare. This year’s biggest update to Hello Games’ space exploration / survival tile originally released in 2016, Origins is on the scale of previous major updates such as Beyond, NEXT, and Atlas Rises. And, as has been the case with every No Man’s Sky update (13 major updates in all), the Origins update is available to players free of charge.

What I, and many other players that have been in the game’s universe since day one, wanted most from Hello Games was an update to the game’s variation and diversity. With Origins, this is what we received.

In an IGN interview video, Hello Games chief Sean Murray explains what Origins is all about, and what it means to the studio.

The fundamental thing is that we have this universe that we built, like, four years ago and we released it and we said that thing of, “even we don’t know what’s out there.” But it was true to an extent, right? We didn’t know the kind of planets people were going to start up on and — and then actually that hasn’t been true for the last four years for us. We have a ever evolving game but that universe has been reasonably static, right? The same terrains and biomes and worlds out there to explore. We’ve kind-of calmed them down, actually. We’ve removed some of the craziness [in Atlas Rises and, to a much larger extent, NEXT]. And Origins is kind-of — yes it’s another update — but it’s kind-of a new start for us in some ways. And we wanted to get that across. That this isn’t just — this isn’t an end, it isn’t just, “here is an update with some more content in.” It’s something quite fundamental for us.

We’re adding more diversity, more variation to that universe, which is something we haven’t really done that much. But also, we’re adding, like, literal new planets and bursting them into the universe…

Technically what’s possible now, kind-of wasn’t possible for us before before. So you have really tall mountains, multiple-kilometer tall mountains, chasms, deeper oceans, deeper caves, crazier terrain — things that we wanted people to have that feeling of freshness in the universe.

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A New Traveller Describes His Enchantment With the “No Man’s Sky” Universe

A New Traveller Describes His Enchantment With the “No Man’s Sky” Universe

YouTuber Ben Is Bread recently posted a video entitled Why I Needed No Man’s Sky, in which he shares his experiences playing the game after downloading it for the first time several weeks ago. Being a gamer who has run an active YouTube game channel for several years, Ben was well aware of No Man’s Sky and the travails of its launch, but had never stepped into its universe until recently. (And it’s worth noting that the video was published a week before the Origins v3.0 update landed, notably enhancing variation within the game.)

I don’t feel like I’m just playing or going through No Man’s Sky, I feel like I’m actively engaging and experiencing it … At the end of the day I feel something playing this game.

The video spoke deeply to me and certainly resonated with my own feelings surrounding the game. That you are reading this post on my No Man’s Sky blog, you probably have some idea of the regard I have for the game.

And, so, I wanted to share this video with those who feel likewise, as well as those who have not yet had the chance to see how they feel about No Man’s Sky.

What kept me constantly fascinated with this game was the joy and satisfaction I found in discovering and exploring the crazy hostile and beautiful worlds this game creates… There were just so many points in my journey where I would stop exploring, stop mining, stop looking for materials and — just take in the experience. No one else had ever been here. No one else had ever stepped on this planet and seen what I’d seen.

For right now, in a stressful and confusing time, where so often we can feel trapped and helpless, it’s incredible to be able to explore, to discover, to have curiosity and wonder what lies just over the horizon…

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