At long last, Hello Games has broken their long silence on No Man’s Sky, the most controversial game of 2016.
They’ve done so by announcing a new patch which lays the foundation for some form of base-building as well as other changes. The developer assures us that they’ve heard both praise and criticism alike and are working to make the game better.
Normally, I would say this is a good thing. Despite the weeks and months of almost total silence, and one of the most bizarre and self-destructive reactions to a controversial video game launch, at least the team appears to still be working on improving the game.
This is not what I would describe as ‘normal’ circumstances, however.
Let’s just say that after the mysterious “hack” of Hello Games’ Twitter account (and emails, maybe) I have very little faith in the developer’s ability to be truthful or transparent. There was enough misleading or downright false information leading up to the release of No Man’s Sky. Compounding that with some of the most bizarre behavior I’ve ever witnessed from a game developer didn’t help matters.
You can read about that instance in great detail in this much-updated post. I’ll summarize the TL;DR version below.
Late this past October, a Tweet showed up on the Hello Games Twitter account (which isn’t the same as No Man’s Sky Twitter account, the latter also doubling as Hello Games chief Sean Murray’s personal account) saying simply “No Man’s Sky was a mistake.”
This was quickly taken down, and speculation began. Was it a hacked account? An employee? Journalists, myself included, began reaching out to Hello Games. Some were told that Sean Murray himself had made the tweet. I was told that it was a “disgruntled employee.”
A while later, Sean Murray’s Twitter account announced that the whole thing was a hack. The emails and tweets—all fake. But since nobody actually got on the phone or posted a video, nobody had any way of knowing whether Murray’s tweets were fake themselves.
At one point the Sean Murray account was tweeting at the Hello Games account publicly, asking if they were still hacked which, in all fairness, is incredibly strange given that the two are essentially the same organization.
The whole thing was so surreal that the No Man’s Sky subreddit actually transformed into a Mr. Robot subreddit, spoofing one of Murray’s strange tweets.
To be quite honest, for all we know that was all a hack and so is this update at the No Man’s Sky blog. That seems highly unlikely, of course, but then so does the entire hacking event in the first place. Suffice to say, I have my doubts and Hello Games did nothing whatsoever to assuage them in spite of multiple entreaties.
Like everyone else, I’d be thrilled if Hello Games could save No Man’s Sky from the wreckage its found itself in, and transform the game into something closer to what was promised. Or at least into something more fun and less of a slog.
But after that hacking incident, after the long and perplexing silence, and after all the broken promises, I have no faith whatsoever in the company’s ability to do so. I do think they wanted to create an amazing game and that, in spite of it all, their hearts were likely in the right place. I simply don’t have any reason to trust them, and neither should you.
Meanwhile, I can’t say I’m at all hopeful about base-building as a new feature. Every planet in the game is littered with bases already and they’re all virtually the same with very little to do. Even space-bases are empty and lifeless. Hopefully, as the post says, this is merely the beginning of something much bigger and more drastic.