No Man’s Sky – What’s Next?

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)

As noted due to my interest with No Man’s Sky I’m blogging about it as it fits my interests in computers, media, and of course procedural generation!

I’m looking forward to No Man’s Sky. I expect it to be a hit. I expect it to be huge. I’ve also wondered that after that “huge hitness” what’s next for i?

This is worth asking because if NMS is a hit, what happens afterwards may be a model for other, similar properties. NMS’ broad scope and procedural content make it stand out – but as there’s many procedural games with broad scope out there and/or coming.

Or in short, I assume what happens to NMS may provide a template for future games and concurrent ones.  I want to try and guess now.

Here’s a few things I see:

* GO LONG TERM: It sounds like NMS is going to be around for awhile, and with a galaxy to explore there’s certainly many places to go. We’ve seen long-term games with broad content have endurance (Minecraft, Terraria) and others with similar ambitions (Starbound). NMS is something I can see people playing obsessively, though . . .
* NEEDS MORE: Even hough I’m jazzed for it, I’m not sure the current content set would keep me playing regularly beyond 3-6 months. I think NMS will need to add more content and features over time to maintain interest, else it’ll be for dedicated explorers (which may be the goal).  Dedicated explorers would probably play this for 1-3 years.
* MAY ENTER PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS: NMS has been on Colbert, been in the news, it’s got the kind of buzz that could make it become “A thing” like Minecraft – something everyone hears about and many try. If successful, it will inspire others to try the same thing (much as Minecraft did), and may give it a longer life.  That will also inspire imitators (I imagine at some point procedural games will become comparatively common).  That gives it more life.
* WILL LIKELY GO TO ALL PLATFORMS: If NMS is the big hit that I suspect it is, I think there will be an obvious effort to get it to other platforms (I’m at least sure Microsoft will want it on X-Box, but I think the X_box will become a sealed PC next iteration so it might not be an issue). There’s no reason not to extend it, and I imagine there’s demand.  (The fact Starbound is on X-Box intrigues me)
* HOW FAR CAN IT GO? The limit of NMS is that its own limits work against it. Hard/impossible to find people. No/little building or influence. As big a booster as I am I’m not sure how far NMS will go before it seems that there’s not as much interest. People do like interaction and exploring and pimping out equipment isn’t like building castles.  I also wonder how much they can add on to a game with so much procedurally balanced content.

My prediction on NMS is that it’s got up to 5 years of life in it, but I can’t see it bearing large expansions.

However, an interesting question is how it could not be expanded on, but retrofitted.  With all that code and all that work, it might be better if Hello Games focused on No Man’s Sky II and made it truly long-term.

– Steve