Introduction (skip if you’d like)
Welcome back to Design Defense! You can read the previous Design Defense here. This week we’re continuing No Man’s Sky blabbing, this time talking about pros and cons for the current design choice of how multiplayer works.
This time, I’ll just be using the term “sandbox game” to refer to games such as Starforge, Terraria, Starmade, Minecraft, etc. (although Terraria is closer to being out of scope of comparison for the purpose of this article), as opposed to individual comparisons. Also note that sandbox as a genre covers a lot more than these games, but in this context I am using it for this context.
Rub that balloon for static, boy! (Groups are lazy)
So first, I like playing games with friends. A lot. Many games I would not have played near as long if I didn’t have friends to play them with. NMS isn’t designed in the normal means of doing this though. This is not to say that it is not possible to play with friends in No Man’s Sky, it’s just not probable.
Now, NMS is obviously about exploration. I mean, everything they’ve told us, shown us, put in our bath soap — has stated that exploration is what this game is about, dawg. The issue with conventional multiplayer is that — as shown from my experiences in your general sandbox games — when you get lots of people together, they generally do not explore things. Not to say that there aren’t groups that do, just the majority do not. Heck, just two-man groups, like you and a buddy, usually leads to exploring somewhat.
The thing here is that those sandbox games are usually designed for you to settle somewhere and build a base, after you’ve explored to find a place to settle it. NMS is designed for you to keep going, as one person who just has his small ship, and a massive galaxy, even universe. This is kinda badass the way I see it, it is like ye olden sci-fi of olde. There’s stuff out there, go find it.
When people get together, for various reasons it gets progressively more difficult to explore as a group the more are in the group, unless you’ve really designed it from the start to do that.
The other side
However, the other side is that playing with good friends is a ridiculous amount of fun. Playing with friends finding secrets and lootz in Borderlands (2), is a ton of fun. It’s fun in Portal, it’s fun in Minecraft, it’s fun in a lot of games. There’s lots of times we’ll even explore as a group, say in Minecraft, to go find minerals or whatever. Elite: Dangerous has a big universe with exploration as well, although currently it’s a lot different of a game because its focuses are different.
The other other side (the first side)
I can’t say that multiplayer like that wouldn’t be lots of fun, but a lot of people would use it to make static groups. Sure there are people who wouldn’t, but Sean Murray obviously has a focus, instead of just taking all mainstream ideas available. It’d actually be nice if more game development studios took this same approach. A lot of other games have the big co-op multiplayer thing going on, go play those games, essentially.
Also remember that traditional multiplayer wasn’t ruled out entirely, and that the game isn’t strictly singleplayer either, as it is possible to come across another player.
Bonus ideas I’m pulling out my butt
For traditional multiplayer, there could still be ways to get people to move around in an exploration game like this.
Just as an idea, maybe something like a dynamic event, say Defiance’s arkfalls, where a star system or set of systems is lit up on the map. These systems have some special events, designed for small groups to explore and complete. I compared this to Defiance as many times you’ll have a bunch of people (who don’t like to talk, so it’s already a good comparison… in a way… as you won’t be able to talk…) that come together, do a thing, get some things in return, and then go on their way.
Obviously the scale of the game is ridiculous though — just like the real one, pretty much — so even this would most likely be rarely doable unless really massive jump distances can be achieved. Maybe this is what the center of the galaxy is for, though, something where after a solitary journey, whatever few make it to the center get to do something really baws.
Oh nuuu it’s the end of the article
So yeah. This has been talking about things. Pretty, pretty cool. Like and subscribe and/or follow, if you want to see me talk about more things.