Design Defense: No Man’s Sky Part 1: Progression

Introduction (Skip if you’d like)

I had an idea a while back to show the other side of design decisions in games. You know, many times people won’t like a design decision, but I wanted to give a wider scope of reasons you should or shouldn’t like those designs.

To pilot this new series, I feel I should do something that has bothered me for a while, and is also a largely watched topic: No Man’s Sky and its progression.

See, I’ve seen so many people who just don’t get the idea of how progression works in NMS. “What do you do? You just fly around and see pretty things? I think that would get boring quickly.” Now, I can understand this; I’ve played a lot of sandbox or very open games, and a large amount of people have not. And I’m here to explain it.

Drawn-out comparisons

As much as I don’t want to compare this game to Minecraft, even though many other people do, good ol’ MC does show a good way of how open-world progress works. Yeah, it’s open, and you do go see and find pretty things and cool things, but you are also trying to get better stuffs. Better weapons, better armor, better potions, better skillz, get to the Nether, get to the hither, get to the Ender’s Game, etc. Same with a Terraria or Starforge or whatever.

NMS is similar in that way; sure, you’re trying to get to the center of the galaxy, but you’re also going down to planets to find things that are useful, not just pretty all the time. There are challenges, things want to kill you, other things don’t want to kill you, then there’s the Atlas, whatever that’s about (it probably also wants to kill you, I mean it has a HAL eye thing), and you need to get things that help you against that. Minerals, weapons, ships, wingmen.

To put it straight: you are trying to get more powerful. You’ve probably played a game where you progress in power. Skyrim, your average modern FPS, TF2 (hats are power), GW2 (the princess doll mini is power), X3 (the discoverer is power) or Minecraft (the diamond hoe is power).

More drawn-out comparisons and some reflections

Now, I’d like to say that the best games don’t just give power in numerical terms (the reason I don’t like many MMOs), but give you them in raw knowledge. To use the dang Minecraft comparison some more, you learn that creepers do bad stuff to your face. Skeletons are annoying no matter what gear you have. Enderman scare the !@#$ out of your kerbonkins sometimes. You play Skyrim without mods, you know that trolls are the most powerful beings in the universe next to mammoths (you casual, install some DD and DCO broseph) and that Dwemer shiz is cool.

Maybe even the best comparisons ever I can do for someone who’s played these games, is Spelunky and even FTL. You progress not only because you get better useful items, but because you get better useful brain matter and you know how to deal with things.

So, how does this work in good ‘ol unreleased-as-of-yet-but-I-called-it-“good-ol'” No Man’s Sky? Well, to be redundant (I usually am) you get spaceships, you get further into the galaxy where it’s harder, you get whatever upgrades like wingmen, you get minerals, and you get knowledge and you find cool shiz. You help out the local economy, or whatever the meta-mission for you will be in each system you encounter. There’s already lots of goals for you, and people who like to make up their own will get even more out of the game.

But even if this is not for you, remember that there are people that this game is for. Contrary to much of the internet, just because one person doesn’t “get” something, doesn’t mean another one won’t.

Leaving you for dead (it’s the ending of the article)

Next time I’ll share reasons for and against multiplayer in the traditional terms. After that, X Rebirth, that way everyone can get legit pissed on each other’s opinions ;D

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3 responses to “Design Defense: No Man’s Sky Part 1: Progression

  1. Pingback: Design Defense: No Man’s Sky Part 2: Multiplayer | Dog House Gaming Blog

  2. Pingback: Happy New Year’s! Here’s What Dog is Planning! | Dog House Gaming Blog

  3. Pingback: Dog House Gaming Blog – End of Year Index | Dog House Gaming Blog

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