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Ambitious developers have long promised the moon, fueling hype cycles that, in turn, drive pre-order sales. Occasionally these projects vanish unceremoniously, devolving into faint echoes of what could’ve been. Still, countless others riding high on impossible promises stumble out the door, far removed from what publishers marketed during previews, trade shows, and TV ads. The likes of Aliens: Colonial Marines and Anthem serve as but two examples of eagerly-anticipated adventures that appeared dead on arrival and failed to correct course. Redemption arcs, in this case, aren’t unheard of, though. And, interestingly, an indie title from a team of 15 developers laid the framework for how to redeem the irredeemable.
A passion project that snowballed into an industry-wide phenomenon, No Man’s Sky’s very premise as a space-exploration game vowed to deliver so much more than the moon. Developer Hello Games established the parameters for an interactive universe replete with star systems, unique lifeforms, and 18 quintillion planets, all made possible through the power of procedural generation. Optimists bought into the fanfare; skeptics thought it too good to be true. Ultimately, Hello Games would have the final say.
No Man’s Sky’s rocky launch incited backlash from every corner of the internet, the bulk of it geared towards Programmer and Managing Director Sean Murray. Players scoured pre-release interviews for signs of deceit, any evidence proving Murray misled the public with false hopes regarding features that didn’t exist. As a result, the studio went quiet, shutting off contact from the world to focus on reinventing a title that many critics and players wrote off as a soon-to-be-forgotten blunder.
This is the fall and rise of No Man’s Sky.
Space Cadet 3:34
One Man’s Lies? 6:23
A New Foundation 10:12
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