The Last No Man’s Thursday for a while

One of my “gaming goals” for January was to keep up my weekly Fairy Fencer F and No Man’s Sky sessions. Thursday night was No Man’s Sky night and since last night was the last Thursday in January I’ve hit that goal.

But I think I’m now done for a while. I felt like the Foundation Update really injected some nice new gameplay into No Man’s Sky and it kept me entertained for a while but now I’m growing frustrated. There’s one particular material (Rigogen) that I’ve been searching for during my last 3 sessions and no luck. I know it’s an underwater plant. So step 1 is to find a planet with oceans. I feel like maybe one in 5 planets I discover has oceans. Then the ocean has to be deep, I think. I’ve only found 2 planets (since I started looking for Rigogen) with deep oceans. And of course there has to be plant life underwater, and both the deep oceans I’ve found have been devoid of plant life. Nor have I ever seen Rigogen on the galactic trade system.

Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that I’m only playing once a week so “3 sessions” is 3 weeks for me. Basically I’ve spent most of January looking for this stuff. 🙂

I have a few other goals; I wanted to upgrade my warp engine and spiff up my ship. I have a list of materials I need to do that but I haven’t found any of them either. In fact I feel like my last few sessions have mostly been finding the same planet over and over. Different climate sure. But same materials. If you want Emeril or Iridium, I know of a dozen planets full of the stuff.

So time to push No Man’s Sky to the back burner again. I’ll revisit it either when the next big update comes out, or after enough time that the thrill of entering a planet’s atmosphere for the first time returns again. It’s all become too routine for me right now and is feeling more like a chore than fun. That’s a clear sign it’s time for a break.

No Man’s Thursday: Space Poop

Once again nerdy noodling cut into my gaming time last night. This time it was creating a bootable USB stick with a Linux distro on it. Seems like it should be easy but it turns out there’s a lot of trial and error involved. Depending on the computer, the thumbdrive type and the distro you’re trying to use, I guess. All I know is I’ve created 4 different supposedly bootable thumbdrives so far. I don’t think any one of them works on all the systems I’ve tried it on.

I did feel pretty good about finally getting a “Live” Ubuntu thumbdrive to boot and using the included disk partitioning software (GpartEd) to resize the linux partition on my dev server. When I set that system up a few years ago I was just playing around with linux so only devoted 100 GBs of space to it. (Did I really just say “only” 100 GBs?) Now that I have clones of 7 or 8 of our sites running on it, plus lots of backups, I was out of space. Didn’t really want to wipe the drive so I was happy this worked out.

Yesterday I installed Ubuntu with the Unity desktop on my old Lenovo laptop. I don’t really like Unity and I thought I could just install whatever desktop I wanted, but after Googling around I’m getting mixed signals. Some people say its fine to replace the desktop (I was looking at Mate) and others say you’re better off re-installing after finding a distro that has the desktop you want baked in.

So I’m considering Option C, which is to just install Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop instead of Ubuntu. I run Mint on my dev server and it feels pretty comfortable to me, but some things work slightly differently than they do on standard Ubuntu. Since all our websites run on Ubuntu I feel like it would behoove me to get more used to the Ubuntu way of doing things. So we’ll see.

Anyway on to gaming.

I might be almost done blogging about No Man’s Sky. I’m still enjoying the game a lot but I’m not sure how to talk about what I’m working on without it sounding boring and NMS is such a magnet for haters…I don’t want to give them any ammo to attack the game with.

I started off last night talking to my employees. The armorer says he’s done everything he can do for me, which is a little disappointing, but the others are keeping me busy.

I need to find something called Rigogen in order to make Copper Wiring, which in turn I need to make Circuit Boards, which is something my Construction Expert is waiting for. I Googled Rigogen and apparently it is found underwater. Since I started searching for it I’ve only found one planet with water and it was pretty shallow. No Rigogen there. Huge ‘bubbles’ of Emeril filled with water though. I almost drowned in one of them!

What’s a little annoying is that I stumbled upon a moon with ample deposits of copper (and gold) but I can’t use that copper to make copper wiring. Silly videogame logic.

I need to go in search of more Condensium for non-ferrous plating, also for circuit boards. I know where to get that, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I need Coryzagen to make glass with. Haven’t really started looking for that yet.

My farm is coming along. I have a few ‘crops’ growing and two more I’m working on. One requires Albumen Pearls which are always fun to collect because whenever you take one, the local sentinels freak right out. Probably because these pearls are actually some kind of chrysalis for some kind of life form.

But what I spent a lot of time on last night was gathering Coprite. You get that from “overfed animals.” Yeah it’s space poop more or less. Pre-Foundation Update feeding an animal just resulted in it digging up small deposits of random materials. It was hardly worth it once the novelty of having a short-term animal friend wore off. But now if you feed them they make Coprite, which I basically needed as fertilizer for some crop the farmer wants. The other material I need for this crop comes from carcasses. Since I’m not a MONSTER I wasn’t about to start shooting the animals I’d just been feeding so I decided I’d collect this stuff from aggro animals.

I finished the night on a moon that had both aggressive sentinels and aggressive animals; I was attacked as soon as I jumped out of my ship. So next time I play I should finish gathering all that up.

Other than that it was business as usual. Learning new words, fighting pirates, scavenging. I found a derelict ship but since it only had one more ‘slot’ than my current ship I decided to skip it.

See? It all sounds really boring, but actually my gaming time flew by and I was sad when it was time to quit for the night. I do think one night a week is a nice frequency for NMS though; it feels fresh and fun every time I log in (and it gives Hello Games time to get the next update out before I leave the game behind).

No Man’s Thursday: Keeping the troops happy

It has been a crappy week here at Dragonchasers HQ. One of those weeks where every piece of tech you touch decides to go belly up. My main PC is down, my laptop is acting weird and my Linux box suddenly started crashing. Ergo no blog posts for the last few days.

By yesterday evening I decided it was time to step away from it all and enjoy No Man’s Sky since I skipped No Man’s Thursday last week. Of course the first order of business was remembering what I was in the middle of. Now that I have a base and some employees that’s easier than it used to be. I just ask them what it was they wanted.

You could certainly call these tasks fetch quests but in a game as open as NMS I actually appreciate having some specific things I need to do. Each of my employees needs a different exotic element, and none of them was available in my home system. So off I went in search of.

I wound up in a system that had been discovered by someone else back in August but ~gasp~ that person had discovered the system but not the planets inside it. Must’ve been one of those people determined to ‘finish’ NMS as soon as possible. His or her loss, I’ll be happy to collect the credits from discovering these planets and better yet one of them was a snow biome (I named it Christmas Village) that had the Coryzagen my armorer needed to cure a disease he’d contracted.

Of course before I went to collect that I had to save a Freighter that was under attack, then docked and drank rum with the captain and got some flush rewards (well ok, pretty minor rewards). I don’t know why these pirates keep picking fights with me. I guess they can’t see the 100 hash marks on the side of my ship until it is too late.

Christmas Village was a lovely little planet and gathering up the Coryzagen was a pleasant enough task. Next I needed Candensium and that, I’d been told, I could find on radiated planets. Luckily enough there was one of those in this same system and I’d already crafted the Haz-Mat Gloves I’d need to collect it. Still this was a tough challenge as my exo-suit was not set up well to fend off radiation. I had to recharge pretty frequently, and then a radiation storm hit and things just got ridiculous. I nearly died. I can’t recall the last time I died in No Man’s Sky, but it’s been a while. In the end I got back to my ship and hung out until the storm blew itself out. Then I quickly gathered the materials I needed and hit the skies again.

There were a few more planets to visit in this system; I couldn’t just leave any undiscovered. A few more space battles, a few gathering excursions and it was getting late. I zipped off to the system’s space station and teleported back home. I LOVE teleporting home since the galactic map is so damned confusing. Knowing I can just jump back to base from any space station means I can just roam around star systems without worrying about getting lost.

The end result of my trouble was a new ship weapon blueprint, and I learned to make non-ferrous plates which I need for circuit boards. Circuit boards I need in order to make automated mining systems. Of course getting the blueprints is one thing; now I have to gather materials again. That’ll be next week’s goal.

No Man’s Thursday: Working on my base

I’ve declared Thursday nights to be No Man’s Sky night at Pete’s Gaming Imperium, at least until I get bored of it. So far the Foundation Update is keeping me entertained.

I’m still working on my base. Last night I added a farm and a couple of storage lockers. The lockers are pretty small. Only 5 slots per. Hmph.

To do farming, first you build a console, then you find a Gek to run it. I was in a Vykeen system so had to go in search of a Gek employee. Fortunately for me, the next system was Gek. Of course while I was there I had to scope things out. It was a smallish system but it intrigued me. The first planet had toxic rain, so bleh. It did have a “base starter” on it though. The second planet was a low atmosphere planet which (for reasons only Sean Murray understands) means it has a lot of mineral resources. There was plutonium everywhere, there were clumps of those ‘flowers’ that give up isotopes, and huge chunks of iridium and other minerals. Just to cap things off, Sentinel presence was low. A nice place to gather resources but who wants to warp between systems for that? Well the third planet was a desert-style planet with lots of succulents, so-far non-threatening wildlife and pretty chill sentinels. Not the perfect planet but it was next door to that “mining planet.”

Thanks to Aywren I knew it was possible to build a base on this planet but at first I missed one key step. I built a signal array but every time I asked it to search for a habitable base, it pointed to the one on the first planet I’d visited. Finally I realized what I was doing wrong. I had never actually gone to that base. So I jump in my ship, fly across the system (stopping to kill some pirates on the way), find the base on the other planet, step inside to trigger that I’d found it. Then back in the ship, back across the system…fight more pirates along the way…and back to the desert planet. Then I built another signal array (way easier than trying to find the first one) and I searched for a habitable base and bam, one is found about a half hour away. Just a few seconds via ship.

So I head there and claim my new home and start rebuilding. Of course I lost some materials — you only get ‘most’ of the materials back when you move your base. I had enough to build the rooms I needed and re-position all the terminals (at which point my employees suddenly re-appeared, not that I’m complaining) but could only build one vault. *grumble*

Oh so I was talking about farming (I’m actually writing this at 1 am which maybe isn’t the best time for blogging). To do farming you build the console and hire a Gek to run it. Then you build hydroponic stations and from there you can plant things that the Gek gives you ‘seeds’ for. The seeds are basically blueprints. You still need materials to place the plants. I only had materials for two hydroponic stations and one plant. I have to go caving to find that exotic material you find in caves… Terium maybe? Again, 1 am. Anyway there’s an exotic material that I’ve always found in caves so I need to go get more of that. I find a smallish cave near my base and scored enough terium to make the Voltaic Cells I needed to build a second storage vault, but not enough to plant another plant. And that was all for the night so I never even got to see how long it takes for a plant to produce results!

In the meantime my construction guy is to the point where he’s giving me things like blueprints for decals, so I guess I have all the main building bits done. My armorer needs me to get him some medicine from a snowy biome and the scientist is always sending me off to check out radio signals and such. I feel like I’m probably pretty close to the end of the ‘how to build a base’ quest line, but we’ll see.

Here’s a view of my base from a nearby cliff. It’s still pretty sparse on the outside. I have schematics for all kinds of decorative flourishes but I’m still working on the functional stuff and I’m not sure I want to decorate until I know I’m settled in. This is my third base location so far.

Anyway, I’m real happy with the Foundation Update. I’m not one of the No Man’s Sky haters. I had a lot of fun when it came out, until something new and shiny distracted me. Now the Foundation Update has sucked me in again. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

A mountain of pure Iridium!!
A mountain of pure Iridium!!

No Man’s Sky starting positions

nomansskycoverSometimes my brain gets stuck on weird things.

Today the No Man’s Sky launch date was revealed (June 21st) and it got me thinking about the game again. In case you’ve not bought a ticket for this particular hype train, No Man’s Sky is a space exploration/combat game (for PS4 & PC, at least initially) that features a huge procedurally generated universe. In theory it is multiplayer but the devs have said that the universe is so large that it’s unlikely you’ll run into other players accidentally until far into the game.

The goal, as far as I can tell, is to reach the core of the universe. I think it’s a pretty ‘loose’ goal and the game is all quite sandbox-y. As you discover planets they will be tagged as being discovered by you, so there is at least some vague perk to finding a planet first.

In order to make reaching the core at least somewhat plausible, your initial spawn has to be a finite distance from that core, right? So we can imagine a kind of fuzzy sphere with the core in the center and that is, generally speaking, the play-space of the universe. Players will start somewhere on the surface of this sphere.

The radius of this sphere will determine how many unique starting positions there are, right? As a sphere expands its surface area increases and we’re all going to start on the ‘surface’ of this conceptualized sphere so that we’re all starting on more or less equal terms, with regard to how long our trip to the core is going to take.

So here is my concern (and to be clear, it’s not a major concern, just something to muse about). A Day 1 player gets his/her starting spot and heads core-ward and every planet s/he encounters is a discovery for him/her. This is the pioneer player.

Six months after launch it’s Christmas and a gamer gets a PS4 and a copy of No Man’s Sky. When this new player starts, will there be a ‘fresh lane’ for him to follow to the core? Or will he wind up following in the footsteps of a gamer who started the game earlier? This player is more like a settler, following in the footsteps of those who came before.

I need a math whiz. We need to estimate the sales numbers of No Man’s Sky, calculate the desired amount of time it takes to reach the core, and the average velocity core-ward of a typical player. From there we can calculate the radius of the play-field and from that, the total ‘starting area’ available. Once we know sales estimates and the area of the surface of the play-sphere we can finally know if this is a concern or not. It may be that the No Man’s Sky universe is so large that every player, no matter when they start, will have a fresh, unexplored path towards the core. But if that is the case, I wonder how feasible it’ll be to actually reach the core? Alternatively the universe may be restricted in starting positions which would make playing early desirable so you have a ‘fresh playing field’ to explore.

I told you my mind gets stuck on weird things…