Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Exploring the Universe with No Man’s Sky

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Recently, a video game called No Man’s Sky has been hitting the news a lot, and not for good reasons. When it was released in August this year, Hello Games promised that their procedurally generated universe exploration game would feature an amazing array of extras – none of which appeared in release. Things were shown in promotional videos that aren’t in the game or look totally different. And since then, they’ve even said that they might release paid DLC to provide these promised features, which should have come with the base game.

As you can understand, players are furious. The game has now received overwhelmingly negative reviews on Steam, with anyone who bought it on release day for the full price of £39.99 feeling jilted. I was one of those fools.

Now, I’m not quite as angry as some of these people. The game promises to contain a universe with 18 quintillion planets, meaning you could never explore them all. Each one is procedurally generated, with a random atmosphere, climate, landscape and different levels of flora and fauna, as well as various hazards. If you like exploring in your games, it’s pretty good – but there’s really not much else to do apart from fly around and look at stuff.

However, I thought this could be a fun experiment for Sci-Fi Month – I’d pick some planets at random that I’d not yet visited, explore them, and document my travels. I’m hoping to do this over several posts. I’ve left all the planet and system names as the defaults, which is why some of them are unpronounceable… So here we go!

Planet #1 – Ibwayar Rolingi

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I landed on this planet, in the Ulhorinbodo system, during its night cycle, and the sky was a dark turquoise colour. It actually felt pretty creepy, as I could hear the shrieks of animals, but I couldn’t see anything. It was a grassy, humid planet, covered with bodies of water – which was actually the first one I’d found of its type in all thirty or so of the planets I’d explored before this.

Before long, the sun (or maybe suns?) came up, and the sky turned a bright yellow/orange. My surroundings were instantly a lot less creepy! The vegetation was lush, dense and colourful. I found evidence of some intelligent species having been on the planet in the form of storage pods, but I still hadn’t found any creatures.

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Finally I spotted something! A very shy, spiny creature that ran whenever I got near. After that, creatures seemed to appear everywhere and luckily they were all harmless… Even this one that looks sort of like a raptor with bunny ears. I also found an arch of rare metals, but it looked almost like there was lava flowing up through it and back down.

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Soon my HUD told me that there was an incoming storm, so I thought it might be an idea to find shelter. I’d seen something pop up earlier, so flew towards it – a base, where I was able to learn some new words of an alien language, Korvak, and pick up some new technology blueprints to help me on my travels. The storms in No Man’s Sky can be lethal – freezing, acid rain, fire – whatever they are, you do NOT want to be outside when they hit.

And with that, I decided it was time to move on. I warped to the next system to see what I could find…

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Planet #2 – Linjunguangkara

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If I thought the previous planet was creepy at night, it was nothing compared to this one. Located in the Euclid system, this planet was tropical and damp, dark and creepy, creepy, creepy! I immediately landed by a base – abandoned, and taken over by… something. Some sort of alien growth, like the red weed in The War of the Worlds. As I carefully navigated the base looking for resources, I had to keep an eye out for tentacles on the ceiling that would attack me. Ergh…

This planet also had water, typical after all those planets without. But was I going in that water? Nope. Nope. I did not trust the look of ANYTHING in that water. And there were caves everywhere. But the whole planet had me creeped out and too scared to even contemplate going anywhere risky. Who knew what could be lurking in there, waiting for me?

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Nearby, I found an alien monolith, which taught me a few words in the Korvak language. Sometimes you’ll find these scattered across the landscape, always imposing and unnatural, sometimes requiring some kind of sacrifice for a gain. It did nothing to settle my unease at this planet, so I decided it was time to leave.

I’ll be back with more intergalactic adventures soon!

Prose & Pixels

Prose & Pixels #15: My Video Game Wishlist

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Prose & Pixels is a feature that combines two of my loves: books and video games. Here I’ll discuss all sorts of things to do with the two, whether it’s recommendations, influences or just a good old chat.

Today I want to share my most wished for video games, and I’d love to hear yours too!

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  • Far Cry Primal – I really love Far Cry 3, I played it pretty much throughout my entire year in Leiden. It somehow ran pretty well on my laptop (and looks super amazing on my desktop), and was a great distraction/de-stressing tool. I love the open world, sneaking around and taking over bases without being spotted. I remember feeling super epic one time as I gunned my way through a camp, escaped a burning building, rescued someone, made it to safety and then… walked straight off a cliff and to my death. It has a way of surprising me (BAM LEOPARDS OUT OF NOWHERE) and perhaps making me shout a little more expletives than strictly necessary but it’s good fun. And Far Cry Primal promises all of this, but in a prehistoric setting. You can RIDE MAMMOTHS AND SABER TOOTHS. AND TAME BADGERS. Of course I need it!
  • Firewatch – This is one of those ‘walking simulator’ type games that seems to pop up, but it looks so gorgeous and if there’s a great story to match then I’m happy playing a game that is more of an interactive story than anything. The player takes on the role of a park ranger, and is the only person in game – apart from another ranger at the end of the walkie-talkie.
  • Stardew Valley – A Harvest Moon type game, this seems to offer so much more than the series it sprung from. It is massive on Steam, Markiplier played it and loved it, and quite a few friends are just as obsessed. I did find Harvest Moon to be a little repetitive, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will enjoy Stardew Valley a whole lot more.

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  • Ori and the Blind Forest – Not only does this game look beautiful (and seriously, the opening is super sad), but it has a gorgeous soundtrack as well. More of a platformer/side scroller than an open world game, which isn’t my typical style, but just about everything else about it makes me want to play it so much.
  • Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – An open world fantasy where you fight with a team of pawns – it looks so cool! You really have to think about how to take down enemies and finding their weak spots, for example setting a griffin on fire with a fire arrow to bring it down to the ground, where you can then attack.
  • No Man’s Sky – I am super excited for this! No Man’s Sky is a procedurally generated space exploration game. SPACE! EXPLORATION! And it just looks so super super beautiful. The game will have over 18 QUINTILLION planets, which is just absolutely insane and basically means that you can never run out of places to explore.

What video games are on your wishlist?