No Man's Sky as a Commodore Amiga slideshow

No Man's Sky is a beautiful game of interstellar exploration: something about its epic psychedelic wonder stays with you even after you've internalized its procedural patterns. Blake Patterson wanted to see how well a classic Amiga 1000 would render some of its scenery. Granted, an Amiga isn't going to counting frames by the second, but it was the first machine to offer thousands of colors on-screen at once and its peculiar pallete trickery gives NMS an even weirder look.

Investigating a reasonable way to convert the images, I discovered a fairly amazing Java-based application known, colorfully, as “ham_converter” which uses extremely optimized algorithms to get the most out of the Amiga’s bizarre HAM mode. The results, rendered in a 320×400 pixel interlace (and a 4:3 aspect ratio), are well beyond the quality that I recall seeing my Amiga 2000 generate with early, basic HAM converter programs, rendering MCGA images to the screen in HAM mode back in the early ’90s. In fact, they are so good that their shockingly high quality takes a bit of the “retro” out of this post; the images look a little too good! And, just to let you know this wasn’t just a click-and-drag process, the systems involved in the conversion were: a gaming PC [specs] able to run the Java app, an iMac [specs] not able to run the Java app (apparently) but also running an FTP server, an accelerated Amiga 2000 [specs] with a LAN connection and a floppy drive (and an FTP client), and the Amiga 1000 [specs] with a floppy drive, SCSI hard drives, and no LAN connection.

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Review: No Man's Sky

Overtaking the sunset, I glide into the mesosphere hours ahead of darkness. Scattered islands beckon under shifting banks of white stratus. I veer toward one but lose sight of it in the clouds, emerging over an isthmus broad and gray in the oceans of Lahellt II. Knuckertail soars down and I land her upon a grass-topped arch, coiled slender and ominous over the shallows like an immense fossil.

After visiting a hundred vicious worlds, frozen or burning, gassing me with oxides or crackling with radioactive menace, I think I've found home. Dropping from the canopy to make footfall, I look at the glittering sea. A world warm and quiet and mine declares itself to the exosuit's sensors.

Something's not right.

No Man's Sky is a spectacular toy for exploring 18 quintillion uncannily similar worlds. Released a year ago to astronomical hype and sour reviews, it's since become a decent (and improving) game as its creators bolt on base-building, factions, planetside vehicles, narrative threads and evocative if slight multiplayer elements.

As of the Atlas Rising update, it's widely hailed as a much more involving journey. But for me, it's neither one thing nor the other. The procedurally-generated worlds still lack depth and intrigue, limiting the appeal of exploration, while the gamery additions call for endless self-directed fetchquesting to make progress. Tweet-length nibbles of story string one instantly-forgotten Mr. Potato Head alien to the next, all immobile but for their looping busywork animations.

But the weird dream at the heart of it — jumping to distant solar systems, visiting fabulous unchartered worlds, coasting over psychedelic meadows where bizarre and ungainly alien fauna swarm — sticks with me. Read the rest

No Man's Sky: the promise of procedural generation vs. the reality

No Man's Sky is a new game featuring quintillions of worlds, all created by procedural generation to create a vast illusion of design. LeiluMultipass hilariously sums up the epic promise of this type of game content against the all-too-common reality. Read the rest

No Man's Sky: culture or cult?

Forthcoming game No Mans Sky promises players the experience of exploring a nigh-infinite universe of beautiful, dreamlike worlds. But its fans are far from serene. When a journalist reported a development delay, he was sent death threats--a black hole of rage that expanded to the game's creators when they confirmed the news. Read the rest

The 10 coolest things from E3 that weren't video game sequels

A lot of exciting things happened at E3 that weren't big-budget sequels. Like yarn, robot dinosaurs, and a giant, awesome dog.

Could this beautiful game signal the end of our dystopia fetish?

Over the past decade or so, gritty, apocalyptic worlds were the favored setting of popular video games, and machinelike cyber-dystopias were a reliable aesthetic before that. But No Man's Sky, a highly-anticipated upcoming world, is infinite and hopeful. Read the rest