"Shoot for the moon. Even if you fail you'll land among the stars..."
This might be the motto Sean Murray used when he first set out to work on No Man's Sky over three years ago. When it was officially announced we were promised limitless exploration, 100's of hours of gameplay, intense space battles, and tons of stuff to do. Or were we?
That seems to be the question no one is asking as Hello Games has been in damage control after reports the game's "Center of the Universe" could be reached in 30 hours time rather easily. Now today we learn that several gaming publications are being refused review copies ahead of the game's release.
Did we expect too much, or did creator Sean Murray or someone else lead us to that?
2013 VGX a game made by 4 guys in secret at Criterion rocks the show. Everyone is talking about the little footage that was shown and speculation is already abound. There's lots of talk from blogs about PvP space battles, limitless opportunity, and the fact that 4 guys just won the show with a short trailer.
Then a flood completely destroys Hello Games studio along with No Man's Sky. This event ultimately brings more people onto the team and the game is recovered and people assume this new team will only make the game greater.
Who wouldn't think that, industry or otherwise? Those in the business would see No Man's Sky be the first independent game ever to be showcased in a Sony center stage E3 event. Those who witnessed the footage saw a limitless world with limitless opportunity to do whatever they want.
Hello Games wasn't stopping this speculation either. It seems suspicious now, but they were just quietly demoing footage for the next couple years and saying about as vague as things as one could about the game.
"Trading, fighting, exploring, survival...and it's a huge game."
That's about as general of an explanation as you can get. Hype further builds as the fanboys start to harp about console exclusivity and others get jealous they won't get to play the game that's about to break all the rules.
Now only in the months prior to release we start to get some REAL information about what this game will offer.
Why, in 3 years, did it take until 2016 to confirm that PvP battles were not actually a feature in the game? Looking at the footage from across the years, that seems like a mechanic that's pretty solid throughout the years. Maybe it's something they thought they could do and failed, but it's still strange they said nothing up until this year about it.
My opinion? Sony and Hello were far more concerned with marketing than addressing players questions and concerns with the game. While the game was appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and festivals for The New Yorker, there were still fans confused as to what features would and wouldn't be in the game.
So Who's At Fault?
I'll be honest Sean Murray was pretty solid in his description of the game from beginning to end of development. He's vague sure, but he's consistent in telling people exactly what No Man's Sky is, and will be. What's more important is what he and Hello games didn't say in their marketing. In hindsight, it almost seems intentionally deceptive to continue to leave players in the dark on features when you're literally showing all the game can do for the past 3 years.
Instead,, they continued to let speculation run wild and hype grow to promote sales and a following. Now they are forced to sleep in the bed they made when they could've been upfront about what this game REALLY was from the start and still had an incredible game.
I think that's what we are all forgetting in all this. Even if No Man's Sky doesn't offer 100's of hours of limitless gameplay should we condemn it because it takes 30 hours to rush to the center of the universe? You don't find too many single player games with 30 hours of gameplay anymore PERIOD.
Sure exploring planet after planet could get boring...you really knew that when you first saw the footage way back when. The sooner you throw out the notion this game will be a "world beater" in next gen gaming the sooner you'll be able to appreciate it for what it really is. A good game.