No Man's Sky Switch Interview: the impossible made possible
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Featured Image Credit: Hello Games
In the grandiloquence of the gaming end of year accolades, an issue arises. The things that made the most noise come to the fore, or, the recency of achievements transpose over others. Enough has been said about No Man's Sky's journey from a much maligned game to one of the giants of the genre, and so, we land at the question of what's next? The answer was, naturally, put it on the Switch.
Within the theme of space, there is continually the terrifying concept of scale. Being a teeny tiny speck in an inconceivably infinite universe is either concerning or comforting, depending on who you ask. With the challenge of porting the entirety of No Man's Sky, which has become bigger and bigger with every sequential update, to the dinky Nintendo Switch, we spoke to Hello Games' Sean Murray earlier this year about this Herculean feat of game development.
"It's been a little bit of madness," explained Murray in October. "When some folks on the team were like, 'I think we could do a Switch version,' I will be honest and say I didn't really believe them."
Check out the gameplay of the sci-fi giant running on the Nintendo Switch here!
"To port it to this little device, like the Switch Lite is so little, and the idea of generating everything you see... I'd assumed we wouldn't support the kind of full feature set of No Man's Sky," continued Murray. "I didn't think we'd managed to cram on the six series of updates, and I didn't think that it would be the same universe."
No Man's Sky is missing multiplayer on the console, however, in the grand scheme of the original game, that's one small omission. Mechs, underwater environments, pets, living ships, and perhaps most pertinently, that continuous procedural universe are here from the get-go. Ergo, the team has made an impossible dream possible. Even if you're not someone that plays No Man's Sky, I'm sure the fact that there is a Switch version in the first instance is something worth toasting to.
"It's the first step, you know, and it's a longer journey," he said. "We will take plenty more steps on Switch beyond that. I'm really excited for people to play it and see what people do, what they like or don't like on the Switch, and we'll try and improve from there."
While there is an update waiting in the wings, it isn't the earth-shattering ones that have marked No Man's Sky's progress over the years. "This one is focused on the design and balance and some of the long term things that we've been really dying to sort of get to grips with," explained Murray, adding that this is intended to ensure a "cohesive" experience for new players as well as weathered space nomads. In fact, the sheer range of ways to play - not only the platforms but the game modes too - is something that Hello Games is waiting to see on the Switch with baited breath.
"For people who say to me, 'I wanted to love No Man's Sky, but I bounced off it a little bit because it was maybe a little bit grindy or I was dying too much,' we've tried to address a lot of that," he said. The data itself reflects the diversity in No Man's Sky, with players who love to build bases, or people who are set on exploring all that they can see, or those who are cataloging the strange creatures on their planets.
"We love that people play [No Man's Sky] for a really long time. Every update we do, we see our average play time go up across the board, which is really nice," continued Murray. So we're double- nearly triple how long people play the game for, now, compared to the average player." Indeed, the Steam Deck version is showing a similar trend, as the game is in the top ten or even the top five games played on the portable platform - a surprise for the team, but a welcome one.
"For us to have the same universe is really exciting. That means things that we can do in the future are quite exciting," he concluded. "When we launch, pretty much, it's going to be day and date with the content that you're seeing on PC and console. I always thought throughout development, as we hit hurdles, like I said, people would think of ways around them. I was always the voice saying, 'Oh, we can just cut it back.' It's really lovely. I'm super proud of the team for managing to achieve that and it's exciting for things we do in the future."