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hello Games Received Death Threats Over 'No Man's Sky' (theguardian.com) 195

The Guardian revisits the disastrous 2016 launch of the massive open-universe videogame No Man's Sky, in a new interview with company director Sean Murray: "I've never liked talking to the press. I didn't enjoy it when I had to do it, and when I did it, I was naive and overly excited about my game. There are a lot of things around launch that I regret, or that I would do differently." He is reluctant to relive the particulars of what happened in the weeks and months following No Man's Sky's release in August 2016 ("I find it really personal, and I don't have any advice for dealing with it," he says), but it involved death threats, bomb threats sent to the studio and harassment of people who worked at hello Games on a frightening scale. They were in regular contact with Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan police... "I remember getting a death threat about the fact that there were butterflies in our original trailer, and you could see them as you walked past them, but there weren't any butterflies in the launch game. I remember thinking to myself: 'Maybe when you're sending a death threat about butterflies in a game, you might be the bad guy....'"

Despite the controversy, No Man's Sky sold extremely well, and plenty of its players have stuck by it. A year after release, when hello Games released the Atlas Rises update, about a million people showed up to play, and the average playtime was 45 hours.... It is still recognisable as the lonely, abstractly beautiful space-exploration game I played in 2016, but three big updates have added a lot more. It is now definitely a better game, with much more to do and a clearer structure... Now you can also construct bases, drive around in vehicles and -- as of next week -- invite other players to explore with you, in groups of four. You can crew a freighter together, or colonise a planet with ever-expanding constructions.

"You are still a tiny speck in an infinite universe," writes the Guardian. "it's just that now, you have some company." Murray describes it as a "Star Trek away team vibe."

In another interview, Murray concedes that during the five years they'd spent in development, "We talked about the game way earlier than we should have talked about the game.... "

hello Games Received Death Threats Over 'No Man's Sky'

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  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday July 21, 2018 @11:44AM (#56985406) Homepage Journal

    Maybe when you're sending a death threat about butterflies in a game, you might be the bad guy....

    I assumed it was about the horridly racist & misogynistic title. And it would have been totally justified too!

    (AmiMoJo is up on blocks)

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday July 21, 2018 @12:09PM (#56985506)

      I'll say the same thing about this issue as I did about the recent ArenaNet controversy: there are two part to the No Man's Sky issue.

      The first part: No matter how you try to spin things, Murray out and out lied about what features would be in the game, and showed mocked-up videos that purported to show features of the game that, even today, fall, far far short of the promises. And there was no retraction about those missing features until people purchased the game and found they weren't there.

      The second part is some in the gaming public's stupid over-reaction to things like this. Just like with Jessica price, whatever the reason for the outrage, there's no excuse for the level of vitriol heaped on these people in the form of harassment and death threats. Complaining in a public forum is one thing, especially since it involved a non-trivial amount of a purchase price, but death threats? So, yes, this sort of harassment happens to men as well as women. Let's not forget that in future conversations.

      What really kills me is that No Man's Sky was not a terrible game. Not a great one, but it showed a lot of promise. But it was ridiculously over-hyped, over-priced, and over-promised. Nothing is going to live up to that.

      I'm an independent game developer myself, working for an eventual release of my own game, so I'm sort of sympathetic in some ways, but perhaps even less so in others. What Murray did was breach trust with the public. Once lost, it's going to be extremely difficult to win that trust back. I'd like to think I wouldn't need that lesson taught to me at this point in my life, but I thank Murray for emphatically re-inforcing those principles.

      • No matter how you try to spin things

        Whoops. That's supposed to say "No matter how HE tries to spin things." Obviously, I'm not blaming you for spinning this.

      • What really kills me is that No Man's Sky was not a terrible game.

        Nope. Just an incredibly boring one. You can't change a few details and then ask players to keep doing the exact same thing they were doing. If you're going to grind you need to introduce new variables or at least follow a story.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Just like with Jessica price, whatever the reason for the outrage, there's no excuse for the level of vitriol heaped on these people in the form of harassment and death threats. Complaining in a public forum is one thing, especially since it involved a non-trivial amount of a purchase price, but death threats? So, yes, this sort of harassment happens to men as well as women. Let's not forget that in future conversations.

        In the long history of stuff like this there's usually 4 groups of people. The ones pissed off and who want to bitch. The ones that rally around the person(s) being attacked, in this case it was fans rallying around Deroir(fans really didn't like price or her hostile attitude towards fans - she burnt bridges there). For those that don't know he's a huge name in the GW community. So much so that he has an NPC named after him, people look to him for early lore/content changes, and so on. He also gets intr

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Creators have used the internet to get closer to fans and involve them more directly in their work. Fans feeling some connection to or ownership of the game/movie/book helps sales.

        The problem is that some fans take it too far, and start to feel entitled. They get upset when decisions are made that they don't like, or when things fail to live up to their expectations. See the harassment of Star Wars actors as an example, and not just the new bunch either - Carrie Fisher got it too.

        Back in the day guys like P

        • Yep, I think that's largely true. The modern internet + social media also makes it easier for the whackjobs to do their harassing instantly and anonymously, and so I think they tend to show up a bit a bit more prominently than they used to. It's a lot more work to actually send a death threat via a physical letter, and then you have to worry about fingerprints, etc...

          I think we as a society haven't yet come to terms with the way an anonymous mob can form and go on the attack via social media platforms, so

        • Back in the day guys like Peter Molyneux were just the same, massively over-promising and under-delivering.

          There's a difference.
          Black and White was received very well at release. it was, indeed, an excellent game. It won a Guiness World Record - that's gotta account for something.
          Black and White 2 was a bit worse but still a nice game, full of feature.
          Fable 3 was an excellent game as well, albeit its PC port was a bit crappy (most PC ports are like that).

          While it's true that Molyneaux overpromised, if I'd make an analogy it would be:

          Peter Molyneaux promised a rocket ship and delivered a Ferrari;
          Sean Murray promi

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        I agree to all of that. Personally, I had a pre-order on this game. When the first few reviews were bad, I asked Steam for a refund and received it with no questions asked.

        The over-reactions are pretty bad though and completely irrational. This is a game, they did not promise you salvation and a place in heaven. (The people that do that have a clever delivery policy that makes complaints pretty difficult...)

        These hate-mobs have no place in civilized society and just demonstrate that there is a group of peop

      • Also people need to take previews with a grain of salt. Anyone familiar with games knows that they have rarely measured up to the hype. This is because what the developers or producers have to give an announcement or update before the game is finished, and they often genuinely want to deliver more than they actually can in the time allotted.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      (AmiMoJo is up on blocks)

      Meh.

    • Okay, misogynistic I get ("No *Man's* Sky"), but why is it racist?

      • If you need to ask that, you're part of the problem.

  • Not cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Just because they lied and stole at such a massive scale does not give anyone the right to make death threats. They should be threating them with legal action not violence. I canâ(TM)t believe however, that this author thinks that just because people used the crap they purchased that things are ok. The game still isnâ(TM)t at the point where they promised. Thatâ(TM)s the developers fault. These people used Amazon, Walmart and Target as a kickstarter platform. Talk about death threats, but don

    • Legal action over false game advertising, heh, good luck with that.
      Of course, death threats are retarded but legal action doesn't work either.

      I was one of the suckers who preordered it at full price months before it was released. gog.com refunded me in wallet money even though I had played it for 27 hours, on an exception basis, because of the scandal around the game. I thanked them for that and spent more on their platform.
      Steam wouldn't do that, Sony wouldn't do that. But gog, man, they rule.

      (personal op

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        GOG is indeed awesome. And I can only hope you learned your lesson about pre-ordering games. Or did you turn right around and crowd-fund Star Citizen?

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          Pre-ordering on Steam is no problem. Just make sure to read some current review by people playing before playing more than 1h (or was it 2h?). Although I did get something refunded recently where I had 4h on record with the justification from my side "the game is not fun".

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            It is certainly a problem, because it encourages the abuse of gamers by publishers. Don't be part of the problem.

        • Yes, I stopped pre-ordering. As a matter of fact, I stopped buying AAA games at full price. I give them time to mature now :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I bought digitally and Sony wouldn't allow me to return the game based on false advertising. A chargeback would've gotten my account suspended. I just pirate everything now.

  • ... formulaic shit.

  • Judging by the sudden uptick in No Man's Sky articles here and elsewhere (such as the Amiga-rendered graphics which I won't link to, because I don't want to give additional publicity), I'm guessing that two years later, NMS is starting to become somewhat close to the game which was advertised, instead of the widely documented, I guess can you call it a "bait and switch" catastrophe which was shipped? Not really, a bait and switch in the traditional sense, but it's clear they didn't deliver what they adver
    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      , I'm guessing that two years later, NMS is starting to become somewhat close to the game which was advertised

      NMS is about to release the "Next" expansion, which looks to bring the game up to something close to what was promised at release. Not everything, but close enough for the ordinary level of games marketing.

      It's a real credit to the actual devs at hello Games that they kept working for years to finally ship a full game. Lets not tar and feather the working engineers for the sins of Sean Murry. Sadly, they're still charging $60 for it, but I might pick it up on a Steam sale if the expansion gets good revie

      • Sadly, they're still charging $60 for it, but I might pick it up on a Steam sale if the expansion gets good reviews.

        This is the really hilarious part. Who in hell is paying $60 for this unpolished turd? Just people who like doing the same thing over and over and over and over and...

  • by inking ( 2869053 ) on Saturday July 21, 2018 @12:55PM (#56985714)
    Despite the controversy, No Man's Sky sold extremely well, and plenty of its players have stuck by it.

    That is a cute, Guardian. Are you sure it is not that there was a controversy BECAUSE No Man’s Sky sold extremely well (on preorders based upon the lies that this piece of human garbage perpetrated for years before the release). Also, “stuck buy it”, as seen by the glowing reviews it received upon release. I don’t know who is more full of crap at this point, Sean or the author.
  • They are going to hide behind a few idiots who threatened, playing the victim in order to divert accusations made against their game.

  • For a procedurally generated open world game which is new through every playthrough people abandoned it incredibly quickly. The Atlas Rises saw a sudden uptick in gamers followed by an even sharper drop. Only a few months after launch the number of players ranged between the hundreds and very low thousands. It was a colossal bomb.

  • Idiots give each other death threats for all sorts of low level irrelevant bullshit. It's usually juvenile venting. But given what was promised and what was shipped I'm surprised that he didn't actually receive a pipebomb in the mail.

    • But given what was promised and what was shipped

      Maybe it's a cultural thing, since from what I see it's the UK gamer contingent that is most hostile to Sean Murray and hello games, but I didn't see many promises.

      I pretty much got the EXACT game I was expecting. I wasn't expecting ANY multiplayer or the stuff that was in the early trailers since the trailers that I saw had "early build" in the corner of the screen. I even saw Sean Murray say "this is in our current in house build" which does NOT imply that whatever is in it will make it into the final b

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        I'm curious, on what are you basing your differentiation between the UK and non-UK gamer responses to the game?

        I've seen nothing that would indicate a locality based difference in opinion regarding the game.

      • I pretty much got the EXACT game I was expecting. I wasn't expecting ANY multiplayer

        So what you basically did was not read any marketing material, watch any interviews, and do any research about the game beforehand. With zero expectations it's not surprising you got what you wanted.

        The studio wasn't criticised about the early trailer differing from the game, it was criticised about the repeated lies on the record from their developers about the game and its features. Not even some early build related things, we're talking about just a few short months before the *adjusted* release date. Ev

    • In other words, fuck threats, shit or get off the pot.

  • by whiplashx ( 837931 ) on Saturday July 21, 2018 @04:09PM (#56986644)

    The fan boys are just that... boys. NMS is for men and women who love the idea of space exploration.

    As an adult (35 year-old) AAA developer who has worked on some of the best rated space games of all time... Let me tell you, No Man's Sky is a treasure. It's a game-making achievement. I am a game dev, and I studied NMS deeply. These tools and tricks have existed for only about 15 years and never in the same product before to such a high quality.

    There's not very much that hits my quality bar, but I put at least 40 hours in. That means, it's an immense accomplishment for hello games.

    The juvenile can cry all day about 'promises'. It doesn't make a difference. What was delivered is pure gold.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday July 21, 2018 @05:25PM (#56986956)

      You're looking at it from a different angle than most gamers. You enjoy it as a developer achievement, something few other people really care about. Let me explain.

      I develop hardware on the side. It's a bit of a pet project of mine and from time to time I watch what others develop. And someone came up with a really nifty design for a tiny web server in hardware. It was a beauty. Great craftsmanship, well designed, tweaked and perfected, hardware and firmware extremely optimized, hand crafted assembler code to get it to speed on what should have been a too weak IC to run it.

      I showed it to a friend and his only comment was "Could be done on a RasPi, and cheaper". I tried to explain the amazing work behind it, he didn't care. He cared about the result. Nothing else.

      Same here. Yes, it may be a great development achievement. But people playing it don't care. They want a game. As far as they're concerned, it could be oompa-loompas drawing 50 pictures per second.

    • You got that 100% backwards. Adults judge the quality of an experience. Juveniles are the ones who get fascinated by space, specs, and technical development.

      NMS was the single most boring thing ever released and no amount of technology, graphics or idea of awesome space exploration can compensate for that. Now as a 35 year old adult, put your inner child back in the box and look at the game objectively for what it was: something you experienced for an hour and then wasted 39 hours of your life on.

  • I stopped a long time ago. I've been burned one too many times. You want to sell me a game, you better have reviews (from actual reviewers rather than paid mouthpieces) to convince me. Yes, that means I play the game a week or two later, but I avoid duds like that.

    Frankly, far too often we've seen games, even from formerly reputable studios, fall short of their promises. Franchises that used to be a guaranteed feast were turned into bland and boring cheap shots. No thanks. Prove that you delivered, and then

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