I am writing this at 7AM after being awake for nearly twenty-four hours. Here’s to hoping it makes sense! I want to start with the fact that before I took up smut writing, I used to work for a school. Hard to believe? Well, it gets weirder. I was the testing administrator for a high school and its continuation schools. This meant that I was in contact with many important agencies, such as ETS and the State Department of Education. It was the most stressful challenge of my life, and obviously I failed if I am here trying to sell sex writings. However, I don’t regret it because it allowed me to gain insight into a little thing known as “Proof of Concept.”
The idea is you take a product or formula or mechanism and release it into the real world on the hope that – even if flaws exist – the product will stand on its own merits and warrant successive generations. For example, in education we had Smarter Balanced. Before taking the administration position, I served as an ESL tutor and thus got to witness the state’s first generation of SBAC deployment. I got to observe firsthand the struggles that students were having with the trial, and I used that memory to dictate my course of action when setting up the following year’s implementation.
Though I left the position right before the next year’s testing was to begin, I had already managed to configure everything in a way I felt would be optimal, and I even left significant reference material for the person who would eventually replace me. If my replacement took the same course of action as I did, then the experience should continue to improve with each generation of testing. Even if other schools may struggle, these schools should be okay. That is proof of concept.
Many industries rely on this when marketing their products, though the tech sector is the most famous for this. LED bulbs used to be cost-prohibitive, yet they gained traction when the cost of the circuitry was said to plummet. Tesla’s stock saw a substantial boom out of the gate despite a widespread concern that every first generation model would somehow burst into flames. Microsoft faced nightmare after nightmare with Windows Vista, only for Windows 7 to become one of the best selling computer products of all time. You get the idea.
There is only one tech industry I know of that tries to get around or away from this phenomenon, and that is the gaming industry. Yes, I am referring to the controversy surrounding “No Man’s Sky.” Apparently the developers have spent several years touting it as being a revolution in procedurally-generated environments (PGEs). What this means is that when you load the game for the first time, the galaxy you start with is created at random, filled to the brim with diverse planets inside even more diverse star systems. This is certainly a bold claim, but how did they do in reality?
For the record, I do not own the game. I have been watching the Let’s Play videos created by Markiplier and Jacksepticeye. I will not speak about the hardware utilization or the controls or the physics because I have no authority to. What I will speak about is the game’s overall aesthetic.
When you begin the game, you will come across relics and artifacts pertaining to whichever ancient race happened to live on that first planet. As you travel to other planets and other systems, you will meet a host of different alien races. Meeting them initially, you will have no damned idea what they are saying as they are speaking in their native language.
Fortunately, the relics provide you with translations for some of the languages. Your goal as a space traveler is to acquire as many of these words as you can, so that the game will translate the language into your native language (English for US players). That allows you to proceed much more easily through the game. While you could technically muddle through on your own, the fact that the developers provided an incentive was really fascinating to me. I feel that this could be expanded on by giving players a cipher to discover words without having to trek to the outposts. I mean, that’s how the ancient scholars would’ve done it.
The second thing which caught my eye was the variance of resource concentrations from planet to planet. I wouldn’t say that it’s difficult for a developer to do; “Minecraft” was another game boasting PGEs, and its rather simplistic resource algorithms were really only dependent on your Y-axis value (elevation as meters above the bedrock layer). Where NMS shines is that you are generally required to explore at least two of a system’s planets in order to advance to the next system. This may force you into hostile conditions such as toxic atmospheres, areas of radioactivity, temperatures below any found on Earth, or deep underwater.
You are required to stop and plan your explorations. You have to decide whether the cost of upgrading your space suit or multi-tool or even your space ship will be worth the increase in resource-gathering efficiency. If a system is too hostile, you might instead decide to return to a safer star system and farm up from there. The game boasts a realtime component as well. Even if you travel at near-light-speed, it could still take several minutes to move from planet to planet. The logistical measures you are required to take give the game a serious degree of micromanagement, a blessing for some players though a curse for others.
There are other praises which could be attributed to this game, but these two were the ones I felt stood out. Now let’s talk about why people seem to loathe this game. Coincidentally, many of them are comparisons to the aforementioned Minecraft. Reddit is currently hosting a thread on all of the things NMS lacks (not linking it; this is a smut blog, go use your Google Fu), but I’ll just talk about the biggest ones.
Resource collection, trading and crafting are all compared to Minecraft. Minecraft is listed as having magnitudes more resources and crafting recipes; however, that really only applies to later releases and modified versions of the game (Tekkit, for example). As I mentioned earlier, the Minecraft distribution algorithm is deceptively simple. It would be a stretch to say NMS is behind the curve.
That said, when talking about NMS, interactions between sentient life (both animal and non-player character) tend to come up as well. This is the idea that carnivorous animals will attack other animals (or the player), and that non-player characters would be more combative both in space and on the planets. This is a legitimate claim. In Minecraft, monsters come out at night and the game becomes progressively difficult. Currently, there appear to be very few hostiles in NMS. If the only roadblock is the setting, then bypassing the setting entirely removes all difficulty from the game.
Now, the most common and perhaps most glaring complaint has to be the absence of any multiplayer interactions despite it being advertised as a massively multiplayer game. Minecraft thrived because a player could create a server in as little as five minutes and have anywhere from two to over sixty players working alongside him. Thus far, the players of NMS have all been suffering a case of communal loneliness. Failure to implement a multiplayer function would be the final, damning blow to this game and any game which might theoretically follow it.
What should the developers have done?
In all honesty, keeping their mouths shut was the best thing they could have done. Had they come out and said, “We cannot meet our release goals,” it would have come off as a bad investment and crippled their ability to provide long-term support. Long-term support is the only way this game will ever have a chance at being anywhere close to its original vision.
What should the players have done?
The players should have been patient, and I mean very patient. In 2007, Criterion Games announced “Burnout Paradise” with a release date in January of 2008. Despite showing clear signs of being unfinished, it received above average reviews across the board. The first patch adding promised content to the game arrived more than six months later. It took two years for the game to be considered finished. By that time, Criterion had released “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit,” moved on to another NFS title, and ceased all Burnout support. It turns out one of Criterion’s staff was on the design team for NMS. Go figure.
Changes will not be made in a week. Firing up the internet hate machine in order to topple what you think is a corrupt, money-grubbing institution will only serve to destroy what little has been brought to life. Developers should have time to appeal, to plead their case to the public. There needs to be an implicit social contract between the producer and the consumer, as is already the case with every other industry on the planet today.
And you know what? If we make it to February 2017 and nothing has changed, then by all means take action. I’ll even pass out the pitchforks. Until then, take a page from the business world and chill the fuck out.
(Alright, alright. Some of you are probably wondering what the hell is going on. When I uploaded “The Water’s Reflection,” I absolutely hated how it turned out. Reading it back, I felt as if the characters were merely playing parts rather than living the experience. Therefore, I went back and spent about two hours overhauling it before re-submitting it on the same post. That got me to thinking.
I may decide to cut back from 3-4 posts per week to a solid 2 posts per week. There are serious downsides to me doing this; it may make it harder for this blog to grow. However, I want to have the proper time to ensure I’m putting as much conveyance into the scenes as possible. As they say, quality over quantity.
I also spent last night working on a new audio transcript. I hope to have it and the recording up tonight or tomorrow. There will be a few short stories here and there, and then I will see about starting a new multi-part story. According to the poll, it is very likely the story will be BDSM/Chastity related. Look forward to it!)