Searching for Paradise in No Mans Sky

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So I’m searching for Paradise, the Perfect World. I haven’t found it yet.

No Man’s Sky has received much criticism since its release. Certainly some of it seems deserved but I myself have thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. As someone who grew up in the early ‘eighties playing the original Elite, enthralled by its wire-frame graphics, No Mans Sky is the fantastic realisation of the impossible game I dreamed of one day playing. Young gamers today seem to expect more- more focused gameplay, more goals, more complexity; as if they need being told what to do, where to go. Just travelling around enjoying the view isn’t enough for them. They need a purpose.

 

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Sometimes the journey is the thing. Or the incredible alien skyline that just has me caught trance-like for minutes at a time, leaving me cautious of moving on. Its daft- it’s a computer fantasy, a videogame fabrication, but sometimes I just stop and take in the view. Sometimes I’ve been ‘walking’ on an alien world, just wandering around and enjoying the vistas and the sounds and I’ve been reluctant to leave. As if it were a real place.

Mostly this because you can never really ever go back to it. When you leave a world behind you, you can’t really go back (or at least, it would be incredibly hard to find it again). Impossible alien worlds, procedurally generated in such a way that, while some may seem similar, all are really quite unique. Maybe nobody else in the world playing NMS has seen the things I have,  and the sights once left behind are lost forever. So I save screen-captures like these here, like postcards of my fantastic journey.And then I move on. There’s always another world, another incredible sky.

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So yeah, these are some of my postcards from my journey. Postcards from The Future. From cosmic realms in reality forbidden me by where I am, and the epoch I am living in. Maybe one day humans will be able to explore the deepest reaches of space and see the sights that I can only dream of. This is the nearest I will ever get, other than watching some Hollywood space epic. Of course NMS is inspired by the sci-fi art of 1950s/1970s sci-fi paperback covers, its images full of impossibly saturated colours and fanciful alien creatures and spaceships and outposts. Things I dreamed of when I was a kid. The real thing won’t look like this stuff, but it’s no less valid for that.

 

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As for all those  frustrated gamers who have dropped this game like a stone.  Well, it’s clearly not the game they were hoping for (or hyped up to be). Whats wrong with just exploring, just enjoying the view? Imagine if someone did this kind of game set in the Star Wars universe, just so you could fly around and ‘look’ at Bespin, Yavin etc. Just explore around, not having to do anything (I did that with the Nostromo bonus pack in the Alien: Isolation game; I just walked around those rooms and corridors, swept up in the feeling of being ‘inside’ that virtual space so familiar from the film).

I guess many gamers would argue that wouldn’t be a ‘game’ at all, without having anything to do. I suppose they are right but to me just looking is the doing, just seeing something new. Of course some worlds are more interesting and visually rewarding than others. Its surprising how even the most strange vision could be mundane compared to others.

No Man's Sky_20160903105505.jpgSo I expect I’m one of the few who are playing the game just for the experience of it (if you are to believe the internet, I’m one of the few actually still playing it at all, if the stats are to be believed). I’m not racing to the galactic core or grinding for cash to buy a bigger spaceship. I’m just travelling around, looking for the Perfect World. I don’t know what it will look like, but I think I will know it when I’ve found it. It may not be the end of my journey, but it will be so visually arresting that I may well spend a few days or weeks just walking around it, or flying around it.

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So I’m searching for Paradise, the Perfect World. I haven’t found it yet.Maybe I never will. But it’s fun looking. And if I do find it, well, it’ll be posted here.

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