If caution going overboard with adding elements that don’t directly relate the the game’s original vision or lore.
Sean said that they turned down offers from astronomers and other scientists to serve as consultants when developing the game.
The aim was a Sci-fi game not a space sim, fight sim, or similar. They wanted a look that differed from that IRL.
I also don’t want to be trapped into multiple video card upgrades to handle a massive amount of changes. I’m already having to save up to replace my first video upgrade, which is now technically not supported.
Right now, the sun in NMS is not something you can ever get close to. It’s just a ball of light that exists beyond the surface of the bubble the system is in. So being able to interact with it would require something drastic…I will leave that for someone else to explain.
I have flown to the wall of this bubble. You will continue to look like you are moving but, by watching the sun, I realized I was just sliding along the curved surface of the bubble.
Yeah, I don’t expect them to put more emphasis on realism at this point, and I don’t think it would be a good idea either. Not because I don’t appreciate realism in a space game, but it will result in a certain feel of the game that is difficult to break, and it’s not a feel suited to NMS.
What I definitely would like to see would be populating systems with more interesting features, freelancer/rebel galaxy style. Both of those are entirely unrealistic, but both of those use their system maps to very good effect, though I have to admit that some of that effect is coupled to FTL travel being locked to jump points, which immediately gives the geography more meaning. Still, from a civilisation cut off from large-scale planetary exploitation, I would definitely expect more space stations and asteroid utilisation.
Which of course goes against NMS’ core, which is its planetary exploration, so while it sounds exciting, I’m not sure how good an idea it would really be… Improvements aiming more in the direction of E.C. Tubb-ish planetary romance might be a better fit, and should be mostly integrateable with existing lore…
No Man’s Sky moved beyond its “original vision and lore,” that which was released at launch. Hello Games did that 7 years ago. How? By continuing their process of development, as if the game had never even released. Nonetheless, they’ve been careful to give lots of settings and options so we can RPG however desired.
It became a “Games as a Service” game. It is as this screenshot from www.nomanssky.com says:
The latest update is the best proof of this. A new race was introduced into the plot, although it had not been mentioned even once for years.
It’s all about cleverly weaving new lore threads into the ones we already have and I think HG doing it in great way.
In NMS, instead of the planets revolving around the sun, the sun revolves around the planets.
But fixing that problem would involve adding ‘planet orbital physics.’
Would that unfortunately be just way too much to ask for?
Orbital physics is already demonstrated by the fact that the sun rotates around the planets. And we know that ‘planet orbital physics’ existed in the game at some point before release, because HG stated that it was removed due to it confusing the early playtesters. It was for a similar reason that snakes were removed before release, as they proved “totally overpowered to the player,” to the playtesters.
So who knows, maybe the developers can get it right, so that it’s no longer an issue, or maybe it never really was much of an issue, but the whiny playtesters made an issue of it, and so they could just bring it right back.
But no, chances are it was the developers, as they were just so hard-pressed for time back then. So I remain hopeful. But until then, we have to work around quirks like an orbital sun, which appears easy enough, but it’s just important to know about things like that, when developing the Sun.
The other thing important to know is that what we presently see as a sun is only the light itself, but close enough. The actual star is not present in-game. In other words, they never built the actual celestial body. Or you could say that it’s kinda there, it would appear as such well enough, and that’s all that matters.
Building the sun is like building any other planet, only the immense size and powerful visuals change.
Reaching the sun could be as simple as flying some distance to it, but no further at a risk of heat, radiation and ‘infinite insanity’ or “death by psychological incapacitance,” before even “death by extreme heat and extreme radiation,” and then harvesting some resource like Cosmic Energy as a purpose for going that far.
But it all boils down to one question…
@sheralmyst: What was it about the sun that indicated to you that you weren’t flying any further?
Do we know for an absolute certainty that our actual ‘star system playing area’ (or “radius,” or “bubble”) has been limited by the developers?
Can they expand it?
This is important, because the answer to that question determines how to proceed.
If limited, then one question would surface…
Why would they limit this playing area?
Would it be due to hardware limitations? (Example:)
Would it take too long, or too much RAM, to load in?
I don’t think ‘hardware limitations’ or RAM are the main issue here, because we know how NMS works with procedural generation, everything we see loads in as we progress, except basic functions and a few other details, which load in when we load up the game, further loading in when we enter a star system, meaning as we proceed forward, loading in only as far out (at any given moment) as our hardware and RAM can support, and our quality settings are set to allow. This is an intense process, but with the right optimizations, “Voilà!”
If limited, I’m led to believe that perhaps…
Our actual ‘star system playing area’ (or “radius,” or “bubble”) has been limited by the developers to prevent us from reaching the actual sun, the ‘representation of our sun’ (or “lightbox,” or “ball of light”), because it’s nothing more than ‘light itself’ (or ‘a source of light’) with no actual ‘playing surface’ (or ‘visual surface’), as they never developed the sun for up-close encounters.
IF our actual ‘star system playing area’ (or “radius,” or “bubble”) has NOT been limited by the developers… And/Or IF there is no need for them to do so, such as hardware limitations or RAM… Then…
Developing the sun could be as simple as building another planet, this time well oversized than usual, and with a particularly powerful display of visuals, such as with the potential of massive solar flares, graceful eruptions of solar material, and even enormous sunspots, raging with a great ferocity and immense hunger.
Reaching the sun could be as simple as flying some distance to it.
So we man our telescope at the local space station or our freighter observatory and observe the beauty and immense power of an absolute eternity on the verge of collapse into a “Black Hole Sun” that we call life.
Yes, this has been experimentally proven. The concept is called a “skybox” in game design, you can go look it up. It’s how almost every game ever fakes things like sunrises, moons etc.
Adding an actual sun wouldn’t be that difficult, indeed. In fact, you don’t need “orbital mechanics”. You could just let the planets move in simple circle at a fixed angular velocity. It would effectively be an animation vector.
But the planets would then be moving on the map, and that makes a lot of things a lot more complicated. And… for what, exactly? I do appreciate realism, and I play orbiter, so am pretty at home when it comes to orbital mechanics, but that also lets me realise that as long as you can’t make anything out of them that actually fits into a game, having everything in motion just makes everything needlessly complicated. And for NMS, I do in fact think it would be quite needlessly, since “planets not orbiting around the sun” is about the least problem NMS has when it comes to realism…
It’s been limited to prevent us from flying through the skybox, for sure. That said, make the area too large and planets too far appart, and you start running into floating-point precision decay. You know, the thing that set Star Citizen back by about a year and a half of development time when they realised that a 32-bit float is woefully inadequate for representing a solar system at realistic scale in a resolution useful to a human being. Hell, Orbiter used a 64-bit coordinate system from the start back in the early 2000s, and we still can’t really land on pluto because the floating point resolution decays to something like 10 meters at those distances.
The only way to represent something of this scale without ugly positioning artifacts is to center the coordinate system on the player and make the world move around them rather than the other way around. This, again, makes things a lot more complicated, so you need a good reason to do it. That’s for a single-player engine. Add multiplayer to that mix, and you just just increased the complexity of your engine exponentially. And I mean that. you need months to solve problems that you wouldn’t even ever have had had you just put your planets a bit closer together. Unless realism is one of the killer features you absolutely can’t do without, this isn’t even a choice.
Thanks, good explanation with the sky box. I would not say “I want orbital mechanics”, but if I can get “interesting gameplay with orbital mechanics” then heck yeah.
In Space Engineers, players kept asking for liquid water and the devs said no. Modders added a “water-coloured” sphere to the planet but it only became interesting when they also modded the movement and survival rules to affect everything below the water surface. If the developers had added the same, everyone would have complained about the lack of rivers and waterfalls and why the water cannot be bucketed, etc. … But for a free optional mod, the new ocean scenario provided satisfactory entertainment for some players.
My points is, the painstakingly coded new rules provided the entertainment, not the water, that was just a sphere with rendering effects.
Or for example in Elite Dangerous, their suns are huge spheres painted yellow with cool effects. That’s because scooping suns (or duly avoiding the star) is part of regular gameplay. And when you open the E:D map, you see planets’ orbits, and that’s also where you see them against the skybox.
Flying to an orbiting planet is simplified like entering an MMORPG dungeon: you point in that direction and watch a load screen animation. You can play a piloting minigame that determines whether you will come out at the optimal position or overshoot. Then that planet just pops up in front of you and the sun and all other bodies turn into pin sized skybox decorations. So E:D calculates orbits, but (unless you record a timelapse) players can’t see them… They put effort into this but without associated gameplay nobody sees it.
So this a good thread to brainstorm, any specific gameplay ideas that go beyond “I want orbits”?
I was thinking that you could maybe aim a navigational computer in your ship at planetary bodies and it would calculate a flight path. Depending on how you aim the ship (at the center of a planet or its edge or slightly beside or near a black hole) you are shown different curve segments to choose from. And the gameplay would be to re-aim smartly (= make small course corrections) to find a faster path. If you just hit the button, it would simply fly there like we have it now.
(Catch with my idea is that flying is a load screen and they can’t actually reward your piloting with making it load faster… And making the default flight slower would be annoying as well.)
That’s exactly the point. Unless a new system provides engaging mechanics, it’s usually not worth the effort. I mean, that was kind of the core criticism of NMS at launch. That they had a mindblowing procedural engine but not many mechanics really making use of that.
And in that department, there’s still a lot of (relatively) low hanging fruit to pick that is much easier than refactoring your entire engine to get a feature with questionable mechanical benefits.
For example, when it comes to refuelling, it would be much easier to add more engaging mechanics to asteroid fields (which service the need for inflight refuelling quite well mechanically) rather than putting a sun in there. Making asteroid fields kind of their own environment with their own mechanics and encounters would be less effort and benefit the game more than a more realistic stellar system model.
The problem is of course that this kind of rubbs up against the core of NMS gameplay. The core feature of the game are clearly its planets, and the whole space part was mostly designed to let you get from one to the other with as little hassle as possible. If you want to put in in a more nvolved space environment, it has to compete with the planetary gameplay. If it’s not at least nearly as engaging, it just feels like annoying busywork that makes it harder to get to the interesting parts of the game.
I believe the rotating starry sphere gives us the illusion of planetary rotation and that is the closest we will ever come to it. For me, this works fine. One thing that did change and I would love to see return, is the beautiful arc of entry we had when locking onto a waypoint from space. When first introduced, it was beautiful. Now, our ships take a nose dive to the surface. It is not pretty and it can make for some weird landings. Technically, we should burn up in most atmospheres.
Not the really nice arcs we had before.
The arc seems to be worse the smaller a planet is. Really small ones result in a sudden nosedive. Really large ones are better but when originally introduced, the arc followed the curvature of the planet while drawing your ship slowly down. It was beautiful
This is YOU standing on your starship before the Sun in deep space.
Can you not see yourself? — (Exactly. That is the magnitude of what we’re creating.)
If our ‘star system playing area’ or “skybox” has been limited and ‘planet orbital physics’ removed due to…
Building the Sun
Building the sun was never the issue, as it would be like building any other planet. Building the sun would be essential if desiring to provide gameplay around the experience of up-close encounters with the sun.
How can you have an interesting, meaningful and impactful up-close encounter with a bright ball of light that simply gets bigger and brighter as you get closer, but offers no other visual changes or change to gameplay?
I think a large part of what excites someone around the thought of having an up-close encounter with the sun, is most particularly to experience the intense visuals and to do so at a great risk of danger, even death.
Should all suns be hot and fiery suns? What about cold and frozen suns? Or toxic and poisonous suns? Or the electromagnetic and particulate of radiation suns? Maybe suns in NMS present hazard types based on the types of suns they are. Should some suns present dual hazards and even anomalous hazards?
This adds a whole new depth, danger and dynamic to star system types.
Reaching the Sun
If unable to reach the sun in the most literal sense of flying there, then we go with the next best option. We go with what’s proven to work, what’s already in the game, how we hyperdrive lightyear travel between star systems. Except this time we only travel within a star system, or rather provide the illusion of doing so.
We travel to the Sun via a ‘Warp Tunnel.’
Of course, this is normally not very realistic. However, there are a few things that we might could try that could make this appear so unbelievably realistic that you’d never realize that you’re going nowhere fast.
When entering a warp tunnel…
Could everything in the skybox disappear except the sky itself?
Specifically, could the space station, planets, asteroids, other players, markers, etc. disappear?
Could the warp tunnel be transparent so that we can see the star system though it?
Could the sun’s orbital rotation stop and the sun(s) be positioned directly in front of our starship?
This would allow us to feel like we’re still traveling within the same star system most naturally. It would feel as though we were travelling so fast and going so far that we left the space station and planets behind.
The rest of the illusion of traveling fast (although actually sitting in one place) could be achieved with the same streams of light and stardust we see whizzing past us when flying our starship’s pulse jet engines.
Maybe in order to play up the illusion of travelling faster than our starship’s pulse jet engines, we could experience extra streams of light and stardust whizzing past, further out than usual, even flames in front.
This would also allow us to stop flight at any given moment, where the asteroids could then return for refueling and the sun could then resume its orbital rotation, exit the warp tunnel, fly our starship around, shoot asteroids, refuel, etc., and then reenter the warp tunnel, where the asteroids then disappear and the sun then stops its orbital rotation and recenters in front of our starship…
Off we gooooooo…
Some things that could occur when we stop flight and exist the warp tunnel to begin mining asteroids is powerful deep space storms could surface and even quick and nimble (but not “too overpowering to the player,” within reason,) deep space megafaunas, where we have to survive the storms and megafaunas.
I’m trying to achieve the old feature requests of long-distance flight, flying to the sun, more purpose for frigates, ability to go on at least some frigate expeditions, deep space storms, deep space megafaunas, and surprisingly even distant planets (or hidden planets) of multi-biome planets and perhaps even geometric planets. I’ll talk more about the concept of distant planets (or hidden planets) later. Off to the sun…
Although we could fly to the sun with our regular or smaller sized starships, I’d like to achieve greater purpose for our frigate starships (our middle or in-between sized starships) than them just sitting there, trailing behind our freighters, and being sent out on expeditions that we ourselves can’t even embark on.
By using frigates for the purpose of long-distance flight, we also achieve that other feature request of bigger starships with walk-in interiors, as our frigates are quite large in NMS, yet smaller than freighters, and long-distance flight gives us a reason for walk-in interiors with various internal cabins serving various purposes as maintained by ourselves and our various alien NPC cabinmates. We can also then play up cabin life RPG.
I mean, I guess we could also provide players with the option of a 1 month non-stop flight to the sun via starship, for those that want that kind of experience, but good mercy. So we give them 30 mins by frigate. It would be 1 hour to the sun, but we’d never make it that far, death by insanity at 31 min, and death by extreme heat and extreme radiation any closer or even at any moment our shields get too low. Our shields getting lower faster the closer we get to the sun and depleting very fast upon arrival. Upon arrival, part of the gameplay is that we must slow down to a stop between 30 min and 31 min, and as close to 31 min as we have the “med kits” and “resources” to handle by maintaining our health and our starship’s shields.
This is intended to be an extreme experience, so we have to play up all the risks and all the dangers. Which means that we have to play up all the rewards and the benefits outweighing all the risks and all the dangers. So we had better got a good reason for obtaining various types of Cosmic Energy and high value data packets of useful information to those interested and perhaps for our own particular uses.
(I’ve already discussed Cosmic Energy in a prior post above, but I do encourage expanding upon that concept more with other concepts, and I will discuss the concept of data packets a bit further below.)
Having set our coordinates in the direction of the sun, the entire experience is autopilot and only interrupted by possible events along the expedition. (We will need to expand upon what those events could be. It could just be occasional deep space storms and deep space megafauna when we stop to mine asteroids and refuel. But other events are possible, too.) Ahead, we see the sun coming closer into view. But this too is an illusion, as the ball of white light is merely growing in size. It appears as if coming closer into view. But we will only make it halfway to the sun, for fear that we will die, as we can’t get too close to the sun. But the sun will appear tremendously huge in the sky, even at such great distance because it is so much larger than anything ever imaginable. Because its shear magnitude will appear so very large, as large as the entire “skybox” of the entire star system itself, (with the sun no doubt being located just outside the “skybox”), it is possible that the sun could slowly fade from a bright white into a burning red, orange and yellow display of the raging flames of fires of nuclear fusion reactions and superabundant hot plasma that is the burning sun. Or, it could be that we have to wear special solar helmets, or visors, or goggles, etc. in order to not see more than a complete whiteout. And/or, perhaps we have to wear such a solar exosuit and helmet in order to even stand before the sun. Perhaps some suns emit extreme solar winds, that could very well blow us right off the frigate deck, while other suns could very well suck us right off the deck, where we would then trail off into our solar doom…
So we have to be extra careful in the presence of the sun, this is intended to be an extreme experience.
I think even this experience alone will provide enough incentive to reach the sun for most players, but we could reward this experience in all various ways, and doing so could maintain a long-term desire to keep returning to the sun. One option being to harvest something from the sun, something useful that can’t be obtained through any other means, or not in such quantity, such as something like Cosmic Energy, and perhaps there are different types, unique per star system, based on their specific star types, and/or etc. But once there, it will be important not to linger long, due to the sun’s effect on our health and our starship shields draining faster and faster upon our approach to the sun, and especially once we have made it there and are as close as possible, standing before the sun. Caution: Solar flares, solar storms, and much more.
Get any closer or linger too much longer, and death will follow quickly.
Now… put all this in VR and play it in Permadeath mode.
“Nobody can hear you scream in space!”
“It was then that a ‘solar storm’ occurred while I was standing before the sun. Half the crew died -//kzt//-”
Viewing the Sun
So I came up with this idea for how we could safely view it from a distance. Sometimes perhaps we’d just like to know we can safely see it up close without actually going to it and risking our lives over the matter, maybe gather some useful data that could benefit us on our travels. Other times, we may want that epic experience. I mean, imagine experiencing that in VR. But not always do we want to reach the sun…
Benefits & Rewards
Perhaps we could gather data packets in the form of items that could have some use and/or value, less use and/or value if gathered via telescope, more use and/or value if gathered through an up-close encounter.
Perhaps we could obtain and install an optional technology upgrade to our exosuit analysis visor binoculars, that darkens our view (much like a welder’s helmet does) and allows us to see the sun as the red, orange and yellow flames of hot plasma that it is, and in a greater depth and quality than simply a white ball of light, and from any planetary location, but we would see it as a small or only somewhat magnified orb, and not in as good of quality as when compared against the results of a high powered telescope, or especially the experience of an in person up-close encounter. So it would be fitting then that our binoculars would gather the least amount of data, and thus data packets with the least amount of use and/or value.
What other information and/or item(s) could we gather from up-close encounters with the sun, or from viewing it from long-distances? What use and/or value, rewards and/or benefits, could these provide?
Should the sun benefit us by boosting our health or some technology or stats in some way? Should we add humor? Hold a stake before the sun and it cooks it for you? Offer it before the sun, dropping it into its solar winds, it belches loudly and gives back extra Cosmic Energy? “Only in NMS do suns pass wind.”
Reaching Distant Planets
Some of our present planets could be hidden to serve as distant planets.
Alternatively, it is my understanding that star systems already have hidden planets, that not all planets are even used in-game. I understand that this is how they added new planet types during the Origins Update. If this is true, HG could turn these on at any moment.
These could serve as extra special planets, such as multi-biome planets.
‘Multi-Biome Planets’ could serve as a reward for those willing to engage in long-distance flight.
However, it could also be that not all distant planets are multi-biome planets, but have a chance to occur. And/or there could also be other strange planets to be found out that far, such as non-spherical planets that take on all sorts of weird geometric shapes, (as I discussed in a prior post above), Geometric Planets.
Using the same method as described above…
We travel to distant planets via a ‘Warp Tunnel.’
After a certain length of time, we exit the warp tunnel and find a distant planet in the system. All the other planets and the space station remain hidden, so as to play up your new location deep within the system.
Again, this could be another purpose for long-distance flight and another purpose for frigates in NMS.
You can learn more about the concept of hidden planets in NMS by expanding this Multiverse Concept thread and just reading the portion at the top about Origins 3.0 and how HG added new planet types…
Speaking about space, yesterday I learned that there’s a random space encounter with a damaged sentinel fighter. If you offer assistance it will warp out, you can trace the signal in the galaxy map, go to the system and salvage the crashed ship. That felt very organically integrated (also, I have an A class sentinel fighter now… neat!).
More little stuff like this that send you on small tangential adventures even if you hadn’t planned for it would indeed be welcome and would make space more exciting simply due to the possibilities that could happen.
Unless this creature and these clouds were manmade synthetic robots, we expect nature not to feel manufactured, but to display fluidity. And by fluidity, I mean imperfections, to be perfectly imperfect.
Or to be as intended, but as unique as a thumbprint, a snowflake, to be raw and as a piece of nature.
If executed most effectively, these are the gifts of procedural generation.
Random Space Encounters
What lacks realism is when a random space encounter suddenly, “pops into view.” Had it faded into view and from some distance, or if I could turn my ship and find it, then it would appear as if, “coming into view.”
This act of popping into view feels very “arcade-like,” and for me personally, immersion-breaking. You see, I do not simply “play” NMS, I “live” in the universe. NMS is not simply a “game” for me, it’s an “experience.”
So, when it comes to NMS, I do not simply play a game, I live the experience of life. To me, “NMS is the game of life.” Thus, I like random space encounters, I just think their delivery could be better executed.
Oh, and just one more thing…
‘Increased Interactions’ with space encounters would also be nice.
Gets out of starship and jetpacks over to ‘thingamajobberbob’ in space. What could you find in the mangled remains of a derelict freighter so destroyed it’s merely shrapnel and fragments of rooms in space?
This would add so much more purpose, dynamics and gameplay to random space encounters, and to space in general. Why? Because this is the very one thing that we can do on planets, that we can’t do in space. This is in fact why there is so much more to do on planets, and yet so little to do in space. You can only do so much from a starship, but you can do so much more in person, once you ditch that starship.
I mean, imagine being able to jetpack around the outside exterior of a space station. Walks down runway, jetpacks off into space, “Have jetpack, will travel!” Does that replace a starship? Of course not!
How do you add purpose to jetpacking around in space? Give us things to do outside our starship that can’t be done while sitting inside a starship. This leads to other types of missions, ‘SPACE MISSIONS.’
Search and find things, locate and fix things, outside space stations, the space anomaly, atlas stations, freighters, frigates, random space encounters, and etc., including the ability to land on asteroids, drop a base computer and claim asteroids, build a base, and even mine resources from asteroids that are far too delicate to mine by starship, such as diamonds and other precious gemstones, etc., and much more.
Perhaps gemstones are found in the rough and refined into varying levels of clarity, selling in unusual currencies, and can be refined and crafted into pieces of fine jewelry, thus increasing their total value.
“What’s this?” Reaches hand into a back compartment of an utterly destroyed derelict freighter in space. “Ouch!” Gets bitten by a small snake, a ‘space snake,’ a species native to asteroids. Only, “No antivenom!”
Since we now have 3 different types of derelect freighter scenerios…
Cashed on a planet
Abandon but not destroyed (in space)
Destroyed and in pieces (in space)
Why not now add derelict starships (regular-sized), derelict frigates, and derelict exocraft, on planets and in space? We’d also do well to add procedural exocraft, so we can find other variations.
“What’s this?” DEAD. “Since I cant revive them, I guess I’ll loot them…”
“Oh wait, they still have a pulse, this is a rescue mission. Quick, I must revive them, or get them to help…”