15 votes

Sean Murray at GDC

19 comments

  1. [18]
    nothis Link
    Sorry for starting my post this way but I think here it's relevant: I get downvoted massively for suggesting this on reddit but I genuinely believe the No Man's Sky internet outrage was one of the...

    Sorry for starting my post this way but I think here it's relevant: I get downvoted massively for suggesting this on reddit but I genuinely believe the No Man's Sky internet outrage was one of the most embarrassing chapters of gaming history. A bizarre witchhunt.

    So Sean hinted at you being able to see other players in an interview (at one point, with a strong disclaimer of that not being the point of the game and likely never happening) and that didn't make it in by release. The fleets were smaller, the planet systems weren't simulated in as much detail and some customization features didn't show up in the final game. That's... it? And somehow it was turned into a huge scandal? There's always been a suspicious lack of genuine gameplay shown in previews, it was presented as a "70s sci-fi bookcover simulator" (literally), the "you can tag procedural species" part seemed shallow and I generally advised people against buying it at launch for this reason. But no, everyone bought it anyways and got mad.

    I remember this obsessive list of "things they lied to us about" and if you look close, it's ridiculous details like there being "no butterflies" and then a later correction "butterflies are in after all!". A lot is taking vague interpretations like "creatures affecting the landscape" from alpha trailers and interviews from literally 2 or 3 years before the game was released. It's mostly interpreting the prerelease material in the most enthusiastic way possible and then being pissed when it doesn't live up to those expectations.

    You can do this with nearly every major game that was promoted over multiple years before launch. I remember Half-Life 2 cutting about a third of what was shown in preview material, for example, no one was pissed because it was an actually good game despite of that. I'm sure there's more recent examples of this (in fact, I consider the uproar around Colonial Marines comparably stupid).

    Games change during development. Often things are scrapped last minute because they don't work, maybe for technical reasons or because during playtesting they frustrate players too much. That's why you don't buy games at launch. I don't think Sean Murray "lied" a single time during those interviews, he just cheerfully spilled his plans for what they wanted to implement and maybe didn't prefix it with enough disclaimers that these plans might change by release. That was his only crime. You could see the game being shallow from the first glimpse of gameplay, years before release. People just filled that with their hopes and dreams and then couldn't handle that it didn't turn out that way.

    10 votes
    1. [7]
      Nodja Link Parent
      And there's the crux of it. Other people in the industry also get shit on for lying during the "hype cycle". The other more egregious example is Peter Molyneux and his "everything you do has an...

      You can do this with nearly every major game that was promoted over multiple years before launch. I remember Half-Life 2 cutting about a third of what was shown in preview material, for example, no one was pissed because it was an actually good game despite of that.

      And there's the crux of it. Other people in the industry also get shit on for lying during the "hype cycle". The other more egregious example is Peter Molyneux and his "everything you do has an effect on the world" (paraphrasing) statements when talking about the Fable titles. He is known to overpromise his products.

      The main difference between Molyneux and Murray is that Molyneux, while failing to deliver on his promises, still gave us incredibly charming games. In contrast, No Man's Sky not only failed to deliver on it's promises, but also gave us a product that was but a shell of game, a tech demo that should've been released in early access at the best of cases, and definitely not for $60 retail.

      6 votes
      1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
        Heh, you clearly didn't play Curiosity or Godus. And regardless of what you think about Murray or No Man's Sky, I don't think you can deny the hate directed at them was incredibly overblown. Even...

        is that Molyneux, while failing to deliver on his promises, still gave us incredibly charming games

        Heh, you clearly didn't play Curiosity or Godus. And regardless of what you think about Murray or No Man's Sky, I don't think you can deny the hate directed at them was incredibly overblown. Even Spore, which arguably suffered from virtually the exact same issues as NMS (including the misleading prelaunch hype), didn't cause nearly the same response. Being disappointed and expressing that is one thing, but what was being directed at Murray, NMS and Hello Games went so ridiculously far beyond what is reasonable.

        7 votes
      2. [4]
        krg Link Parent
        I always thought the intent of "No Man's Sky" was to be an exploration-driven game with no goals for the player other than to get to the center of the universe and no real gameplay other than...

        I always thought the intent of "No Man's Sky" was to be an exploration-driven game with no goals for the player other than to get to the center of the universe and no real gameplay other than wandering about and maybe getting into a fight here or there. At least, I remember that's how it was being marketed. Seems like people wanted much more out of it, though, and they've added enough for it to be a "real" game, now.

        4 votes
        1. [3]
          Crespyl Link Parent
          That's about what I'd got out of the pre release material as well, that it was basically a more modern take on Noctis (which I loved), and a more modern Noctis is pretty much what I got on release.

          That's about what I'd got out of the pre release material as well, that it was basically a more modern take on Noctis (which I loved), and a more modern Noctis is pretty much what I got on release.

          1 vote
          1. krg Link Parent
            Yea, all the additions actually turned me off to the game. I'm more into the no-goal exploration thing. Especially when "lore" isn't laid out for you and you kind of have to build it yourself in...

            Yea, all the additions actually turned me off to the game. I'm more into the no-goal exploration thing. Especially when "lore" isn't laid out for you and you kind of have to build it yourself in your head. "Tail of the Sun" was an odd purchase for me when I was a kid at some second-hand video game store (called "FuncoLand", I think) and it came in a simple CD sleeve with no manual. I had no idea what I was doing in the game or what the goals were, but I had so much fun just running around the world and trying to figure it out on my own.

            This series of "Tail of the Sun" gameplay is a blast to watch, by the way.

            2 votes
          2. nothis Link Parent
            Noctis was wild! I remember playing that back in the day and having to stop because the framerate or some flicker effect gave me horrible headaches or something. The premise was ahead of its time,...

            Noctis was wild! I remember playing that back in the day and having to stop because the framerate or some flicker effect gave me horrible headaches or something. The premise was ahead of its time, though, it's amazing what's possible if you sacrifice AAA graphics in favor of trying interesting simulations.

            1 vote
      3. nothis Link Parent
        Right! I forgot about Molyneux, as pretty much the personified example of this. And I agree that it kinda sucks and naivete on the consumers' side should not be exploited, the only thing that...

        Right! I forgot about Molyneux, as pretty much the personified example of this. And I agree that it kinda sucks and naivete on the consumers' side should not be exploited, the only thing that bothers me is that people essentially picked a single, fairly innocent game and unloaded all their hatred on a single guy.

        I think even if you want to criticize the larger trend of over-promising and over-hype, if you focus this narrowly on one game it makes it look more like an isolated example when in fact it's pretty much the norm. Maybe it achieved that indie devs are now more careful about communicating their plans to consumers pre-release but you could also argue that this just reduces the information we get. I'd rather see some beta footage than cut-scenes and teasers only.

        1 vote
    2. [6]
      Rocket_Man Link Parent
      I think you're right that things were overblown. But I think there actually was malicious behavior from Murray. He said vague things and people got carried away with their expectations. After that...

      I think you're right that things were overblown. But I think there actually was malicious behavior from Murray. He said vague things and people got carried away with their expectations. After that however, Murray made almost no effort to correct the community. They saw people over-reacting for months about features and never addressed peoples questions or speculation.

      It got so bad people literally couldn't determine if multiplayer was in the game at launch or not. Murray was never clear enough on that point and when asked directly about multiplayer talked about server load. In my opinion he was lying by omission and not correcting anything.

      5 votes
      1. [5]
        ggfurasta Link Parent
        I don't think his intentions were malicious. I think he genuinely was too hopeful and had plans that were too ambitious. Every game developer wants a game to have hype and attention before it's...

        But I think there actually was malicious behavior from Murray. He said vague things and people got carried away with their expectations.

        I don't think his intentions were malicious. I think he genuinely was too hopeful and had plans that were too ambitious. Every game developer wants a game to have hype and attention before it's released, and ambiguity is a good way to achieve that. The speculations and conspiracies on what would be in the game and not in the game happen a lot in all popular game releases, and it was unexpected that no multiplayer caused such an uproar if you just looked at before launch. I imagine it would be extremely difficult for the really small indie dev team to know what was and was not going to be in the game as they were working on features up until launch.

        After that however, Murray made almost no effort to correct the community.

        It got so bad people literally couldn't determine if multiplayer was in the game at launch or not.

        Right after the launch for the Gold version of the game, not even the base game, he clarified his statements (mind you, before the two players meeting thing happened). He said, "No Man's Sky is not a multiplayer game. Please don't go in looking for that experience".

        They did have server load. They expected numbers in lower than 10 thousand to be playing their game but ended up getting 500 thousand at one point. There are multiplayer features in the game that don't involve players seeing each other like discoveries.

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          zptc Link Parent
          But in his very next tweet he says Which makes it sound like you can cross paths - and therefore interact with - other players. It's still misleading, intentionally or otherwise. He made it sound...

          But in his very next tweet he says

          The chances of two players ever crossing paths in a universe this large is pretty much zero.

          Which makes it sound like you can cross paths - and therefore interact with - other players. It's still misleading, intentionally or otherwise. He made it sound like the game wasn't MP because it'd be hard to find other players, not because it was literally impossible to interact directly with, or even see, other players.

          6 votes
          1. [3]
            ggfurasta Link Parent
            I agree that part is misleading. My best guess is that he was intentionally lying about that because Hello Games had much more features to work on for the singleplayer game and working on a...

            I agree that part is misleading. My best guess is that he was intentionally lying about that because Hello Games had much more features to work on for the singleplayer game and working on a trivial multiplayer feature with low chances of ever happening would be a bad use of time. The point is that he told people that you'll never meet another player and to not get the game for multiplayer. That's hardly malicious as virtually no one was going into the game thinking they will meet another player, and if they did, then they were misconstrued by another source that Sean Murray could not control.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              vektor Link Parent
              It absolutely is malicious. Of course meeting another player randomly is unlikely as can be, but the fact that you couldn't even meet if you tried (which is how their lie was found out...

              It absolutely is malicious. Of course meeting another player randomly is unlikely as can be, but the fact that you couldn't even meet if you tried (which is how their lie was found out post-release) is very important for people looking for a co-op experience.

              and if they did, then they were misconstrued by another source that Sean Murray could not control.

              Well, he implied (arguably, but he certainly didn't imply the opposite) that there was multiplayer. And after everyone went hog wild with that news, he never bothered to correct that perception. Lying by omission, maybe? I don't quite remember anymore, but I know that I was on the hype train for a bit, but thought better of it, waiting for reviews. I also can't think of any other indie game that managed press quite that badly; many indies in fact are very transparent about their development process. Also, multiplayer being what it is on the technical side, it's not a feature you just can slap on after the fact like most other things. For example NMS only received a co-op upgrade 2 years after release, and it is... well, last I checked it was on shaky ground. MP is just such a big deal you don't lie about it, and you also should be careful not to mislead about it either.

              3 votes
              1. ggfurasta Link Parent
                It's very flawed to look at it from the black-and-white perspective of "welp, there's no multiplayer so he lied about the game". Absolutely no one was looking for a co-op experience in this game...

                Of course meeting another player randomly is unlikely as can be, but the fact that you couldn't even meet if you tried (which is how their lie was found out post-release) is very important for people looking for a co-op experience.

                It's very flawed to look at it from the black-and-white perspective of "welp, there's no multiplayer so he lied about the game". Absolutely no one was looking for a co-op experience in this game if they weren't misconstrued by another source. Every time he talked about it he said there's virtually no chance players will ever meet. I was full board on the hype train and watched a lot of the interview, press, and speculation videos like many others did. Everyone was enticed by the exploration aspect like exactly how it was marketed. I know it's a bit anecdotal here, but to understand what people were excited for, you needed to actually be in the community. It was the idea that you were in a huge, vast universe with other players that he was going for, even if you could never meet them. For me, to find out that idea was false was a little disheartening, but didn't affect the actual gameplay at all, just my state of mind.

                And after everyone went hog wild with that news, he never bothered to correct that perception. Lying by omission, maybe?

                Lying by not being super public about the actual features would be pointless since everyone knew it didn't have multiplayer after the news. It would be plausible before the game had released since he didn't correct some misconceptions. It could be he was lying by omission to get a couple of extra pre-orders, or it could be a small 6 man team with little PR experience and millions of people waiting for this game and formulating ideas on what the game could be.

                MP is just such a big deal you don't lie about it, and you also should be careful not to mislead about it either.

                My point is multiplayer was not a big deal, small deal, or any sort of deal at all for people purchasing this game. He should have been more careful to not mislead but I don't think there was any harmful intentions there, just bad PR.

                1 vote
    3. [4]
      Loire Link Parent
      The fact of the matter is this: The game that was released to stores was an incomplete shell with virtually nothing to do after the first planet or two. And it charged full price for this...

      The fact of the matter is this: The game that was released to stores was an incomplete shell with virtually nothing to do after the first planet or two. And it charged full price for this experience.

      Since then Murray and his team have spent the years fully fleshing out NMS's features and turning it into what was promised, however when the game was first released, there was no knowledge that this would happen. People bought the game based on an inordinate amount of hype and they paid 60$ for 4 hours of fun.

      People were right to be disappointed. Was the outrage overblown? Sure. But "the most embarassing moment in gaming history" this was not.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        asoftbird Link Parent
        Releasing games unfinished seems to be an industry standard by now. That or it's in early access for years on end which is okay if it's still being developed but not if it's sold for full price at...

        Releasing games unfinished seems to be an industry standard by now. That or it's in early access for years on end which is okay if it's still being developed but not if it's sold for full price at that point, in my opinion.

        There's just too many games that don't seem to be tested/fully operational on release, it's as if they save money on testing that way.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          Loire Link Parent
          I'm not an expert in the field by any means, but to me the issue seems to be graphics development. The standard for graphics in a AAA game have continued to increase year after year, but the...

          I'm not an expert in the field by any means, but to me the issue seems to be graphics development. The standard for graphics in a AAA game have continued to increase year after year, but the "efficiency" (I suppose) to produce those graphics hasn't increased. For example you can't tell me the Final Fantasy series has improved from a gameplay standard. They were putting out a game almost every year from FFI through FF10 and I would argue 6-10 had as much content, if not more than FFXV. However it takes them almost a decade per game now. What happened?

          Something has to give in the industry. At some point someone will need to develop a way to exponentially increase the productivity or efficiency of graphics development. How that would happen? I don't know.

          2 votes
          1. hhh Link Parent
            Hopefully RTX helps in that regard by cutting down the time needed to fake lighting by a significant factor. Unfortunately, it’s still pretty expensive, not very widespread, and it’s unclear...

            Hopefully RTX helps in that regard by cutting down the time needed to fake lighting by a significant factor. Unfortunately, it’s still pretty expensive, not very widespread, and it’s unclear whether the next generation of consoles will support it.

  2. Levantus Link
    This was a really interesting and frankly inspiring talk from Sean Murray of Hello Games (No Man's Sky) about the state of the industry and his team's journey. Feels like a TED talk at times.

    This was a really interesting and frankly inspiring talk from Sean Murray of Hello Games (No Man's Sky) about the state of the industry and his team's journey. Feels like a TED talk at times.

    3 votes