After the latest mildly-hyped upgrade, how is No Man’s Sky?
It’s an early beta of a half-decent $20 indie game, currently
marked down to $30 on sale for $60. With some mods (Faster Walk, Faster Scan, and
Reduced Launch Cost, at a minimum) and the save editor, you can
work around most of the remaining design flaws and bugs, making it
possible to see the originally-promised game off in the distance.
Still plenty of deliberate user-hostile design decisions, including some brand new ones (like stretching out the limited quest content by adding real-time delays between each step in a chain, ranging from 1 to 6 hours (!)).
Modding is still possible, in a fragile, clunky way, but one early mod that I liked hasn’t worked for a long time: changing the suit audio to Japanese.
With some hints from one of the forums and a copy of Sony’s PSARC tool, I was able to come up with a crude but functional method to generate a working mod for any of the supported languages. All of the other languages seem to be quieter than the English voice, but that’s actually a bonus, given how annoying the damn thing can be.
Edit to set the location of your game data and
psarc, choose your
standard language and what you want to replace it with, and
run the script. It will chug for about
5 10 minutes extracting the
language-specific audio from the right PAK file, then repack
them under the localized language patha. The resulting mod is about
4 8 megabytes.
Releasing it as a batch file not only avoids the copyright problem that helped sink the original mod, but also allows you to apply any of the 14 supplied localizations to any other, so someone playing the game in Korean could have a Polish space suit, for instance.
[Update: Oh, FFS, NMS! You changed the paths for all the audio files between 1.55 and 1.57? Are you all descended from the surviving deck-chair-rearrangers on the Titanic?
…and now replaced with a more robust version that will be easier to fix the next time they move everything around.]
No pause button.
No offline play.
No game at all when they decide to shut down the servers.
Thinking about it a little more, I think there’s going to be a much bigger problem than any of the above: nerfs.
Even if it’s not just a gankfest of foul-mouthed randos, the simple fact that it emphasizes PVP is going to produce frequent “game balance” updates that force you to change your play-style whenever someone comes up with a min-maxed buildout that lets them roflstomp your painstakingly-crafted homestead.
Clearly, the only way to play is in carefully-curated groups of
like-minded friends, so of course I expect them to make that
hard to do, and default to dumping you into public
I’ve been reworking the code behind my random word generator, to generalize the methods of modeling the source word sets and creating the output. The first fruit of that is one tuned for Pinnacle’s new Savage Worlds Of Flash Gordon RPG (slowly trickling out for Kickstarter supporters, and being vigorously edited on their forums).
For the source file, I took every Mongo-ish name/word I could find from the original comic strips, series, and movies (all hail the concept of wikis), and added everything Pinnacle has created in their new books. They’ve done a great job of mixing their own names with the originals, IMHO.
Unfortunately, it’s still a fairly small set (285 words at the moment) with wildly divergent phonetic patterns, making it unsuitable for either trigrams or n1grams, so I kept the lessons I learned and threw away most of the code, creating a brand-new digram-based generator that preserves more flavor than the obvious implementation.
As configured, mongowords can generate at least half a million distinct words, and even at the end of the list, a fair number of them are usable. With the new code, it will be easier to merge back the full feature set from the old one, while supporting a wider range of generation techniques.
Now that that’s out of the way, back to finding errors and tyops in the new rulebooks!
As far as I can tell, the Savage Worlds RPG has never been playtested against veteran rules lawyers. Fourteen years after the first release of the core rulebook, there are still significant ambiguities caused by flavor text, inconsistent wording, and poor organization. The FAQs and forums do not clear them all up.
I suspect that the only reason the system thrives is that it’s largely taught at cons rather than learned from the book.
Half the fun is figuring out which official downloads to ignore. The current version of the Test Drive rules is the one in the Lankhmar section of the site; the only sidebar link in the Savage Worlds section that’s current is the GM Screen Tables (and it oversimplifies some rules).
[note: Steam has a 60% off sale for Halloween. I think $24 is still a bit high, but a lot more reasonable than $60]
Out of the tiny number of people still playing No Man’s Sky on the PC, there exists an even-smaller number who have completed the main quest in Permadeath mode, and of those, a very small number of masochists who chose Raging Galaxy as their destination and ended up in Calypso.
So, for those dozen or so players, if you want to travel through a portal and visit someone’s base to either get the Steam achievement or pick up a decal, come to Pinky’s World:
Just watch out for the Bone-Stripping Acid Storms (not a euphemism).
Pinky’s World (PC, Permadeath Mode, Calypso Galaxy)
Portal Address 201103513B8C (
Base is 3:30 due East.
(I also left a Comm Station with these instructions at the de-facto message-board portal 111111111111)
After Shamus wrote up his one-year-later look at the ambitiously flawed No Man’s Sky, I decided to take another look myself. Before I’d even consider it, though, I made sure that I had workarounds for the most crippling of its misfeatures. The Pride of Euclid mod makes it possible to travel around planets at something other than a crawl, and nmssavetool allows editing save files to fix the ridiculous inventory limitations and reduce grinding by about 80%.
With the original nmssavetool, I had some canned
jq scripts to
do basic useful things: add cash, add an item to inventory, and report
or change the current ship/multitool seed (a purely cosmetic cheat
that changes their procedurally-generated appearance to something
The author has baked all those and much more into the new version, so that you can start a new game, save once, and then upgrade yourself to be capable of playing the parts of the game you like, whether that’s exploring new star systems, fighting pirates, or questing. There’s also a Java-based GUI save editor that makes it easier to do things like reorganize your technology in the inventory grid to maximize bonuses (a feature of the game that is still nearly impossible to use legitimately).
On that note, there are now two quest chains, and they’re not nearly as fragile as they were before (although one of them is broken in 1.38…); the new mission generator gives you some short-term goals, as long as you work around its bugs. They even turned the useless portal-ish items into a direct clone of Stargate’s stargates, complete with whoosh.
I can honestly say that, with mods and save tools, it’s now a decent $15 game. Unfortunately they still charge $60 for it, so unless you see a big sale, don’t buy it. And if you buy it, get some mods and a save tool, or you’ll find the fun parts separated by tall grindy mountains; Shamus’ articles cover a lot of that, and I agree with pretty much everything he said.
I’ve played through all the story content of the free, open source game Endless Sky, much of it more than once. It’s a fun little time-waster whose replay value lies largely in non-story content. Instead of worrying about the fate of the Free Worlds, the secrets of the Alphas, or the future of the Wanderers, you can just go off and become a pirate hunter. Or a pirate king. Or a merchant prince.
Or, in my latest run, a bus driver.
Step one was buying a Shuttle and paying off the mortgage as fast as possible. I paid it down at every opportunity, and didn’t worry about trashing my credit rating with missed payments.
Step two was making enough cash to buy a Bounder outright (1.6 million credits), using the profit from the used Shuttle to finance its renovation (ditch the useless turrets, convert the cargo space to bunks, and add a fuel pod).
Step three was heading into Hai space to make enough cash to sell off the Bounder and buy a Blackbird, outfitting it as the nimblest, leggiest bus in Human space (total cost ~6 million):
Expected payment from a single mission is between 250,000 and 1.25 million credits, with total expenses under 3,000 credits (200 credits/jump). I’ve yet to jump into a system where I couldn’t outrun pirates long enough to jump back out before they took my shields down.
If you have room for 21+ passengers, you get offered Strike Breaker missions occasionally. They’re lucrative, but only offered 10% of the time, and often at sizes you can’t fit into a Bounder, so transporting families in Hai space is more practical in step two. In the Paradise Worlds, there’s a 10% chance of finding rich tourists, but usually heading to places where there’s not much chance of a decent return mission.
The real money is in Colonists, who show up in certain systems 20-30% of the time, but only if your ship has room for 31+ passengers. The 65-passenger capacity of the Blackbird is large enough for most of these, but some are so large (with a payout of over 2 million credits…) that I needed a second ship. Not a problem with 30 million in the bank.
Now, if I had Jump Drives, I’d build a fleet of Blackbirds and take them into Coalition space, where the passenger transport jobs get ridiculously large and profitable (400+ for some jobs, thanks to the long tail of negative binomial distributions).
Amusing random mission:
Bring 22 wealthy tourists on a fabulous journey to the wild and exotic world of Freedom in the Almaaz system. Payment is 416,000 credits.
Freedom is a pirate world. I think I just sold them all into slavery. 😄
For fun, I hacked in a Jump Drive and did enough Coalition and Wanderers missions to gain access to their ships and outfits. Sad thing is, the Blackbird config above is still the winner. There just aren’t any better low-crew, long-distance people-movers out there, and the Hai outfits I bought for it are better than the gear offered by the higher-tech civs.
Some of the ships you unlock through the story missions might be an improvement, but right now I’d rather have a fleet of Blackbirds than anything else.
Over the weekend, I made a second run through Sakura Dungeon to try to unlock a few achievements and screenshots I’d missed. This included increasing the difficulty level, but that didn’t make the fights more difficult, just more tedious, so I soon started using console cheats to buff my characters, and skipped through most fights (press “S”, then “A”) and all the dialog I’d seen in my first run (“S” again). I couldn’t bypass the puzzles, but most of them can be navigated quickly with maps; level 12/13 and level 15 are still really annoying, though.
Once the console is enabled, you can do all sorts of cheating, but the method that has the least risk of breaking the game is to use just two commands, repeated as necessary:
for i in party: i.xp=99 player.items.append(elixir)
xp=99 means that everyone in your party will level-up during
the next fight (eliminating a lot of tedious grinding), and adding an
elixir to your inventory will revive and heal anyone who’s down after
a fight (allowing you to only return to the surface when you find a
teleporter, eliminating a lot of tedious navigation through cleared
Basically, even on normal mode you need to grind wandering monsters to get your level high enough to handle bosses (who will one-shot party members ~5 levels below them), so any enjoyment I got out of the simple combat system was gone well before I beat the main campaign, and I had no interest in grinding even more on “hard”, so I made sure my party was always a level or so ahead of the monsters.
I now have 34 of 37 achievements, and I’m not going to bother with the other three, because they are: grind more monsters, go through the main campaign on really-hard mode, and grind even more monsters.
The Steam global achievement page for the game says a lot about how much people liked the dungeon-crawling:
That is, they didn’t. Basically, half of the people who played at all stopped around ¼ into the main campaign, and half of the remaining players dropped out by the ¾ mark. Obviously this is skewed a bit by recent purchases, but the game’s over a year old, so it should be in the ballpark.
(note that the “Burning Soul” achievement is rare not because it’s difficult, but because it’s broken unless you’re playing the 1.05 “beta”, which has never been made the official version because of Winged Cloud’s breakup with their former publishers. If you play, play 1.05)