Author Topic: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....  (Read 19776 times)

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #90 on: August 26, 2016, 08:25:27 PM »
I cannot compare NMS because I don't have it but I can say these games are as simliar as is AI War with Starcraft. They both are RTS games but that's all.

Let's take aside teh fact that one is 2D or §3D but this is already a big difference for itself.
Minecraft is in my opinion now outdatesd. The reason why it was so popular is because it was the first. You can build really cool stuff with it if you are into that and soem people still do this but most people don't play Minecraft anymore because there are many better alternatives. but let's look at what Minecraft has to offer.
It has the ability to remove a block and build it at another place. It works liek Lego, take a brick, place it somewhere, take multiple bricks and build a house, a car, whatever you want. Minecraft also features a survival mode which changes the game towards an adventure-like approach. You have to eat food that you can collect, at the night monsters appear and attack you. You can plant seeds and farm wheat and other food. You collect minerals for new tools and so on and so on. Eventually you can enter anther dimension where stronger enemies live and in tthat dimension you can find a portal to another dimension that leads to the final boss fight. But a side from the final boss and an optional boss there aren't many epic battles in Minecraft, it's more do what you want, when you want". That alone is btw a big appeal for these types of games, the reason why tehy came into existence to begin with.

terraria on the other hand works differently. The same concept is the same, as if with any other genre, they share same core elements. In RTS games you control units and direct them through terrain to find enemies and kill enemies.
In terraria you collect stuff, craft tools and weapons. But terraria for example has NPcs, soemthign that Minecraft also had but scratched only the surface ont hat. Terraria has many different NPCs with their own purpose, they unlock new stuff for you, so you can progress further through the game. Terraria features also a lot of different bosses, each with its own attack pattern. A big difference of terraria is also that there is a lot of loot that you get only from enemies and cannot be found through digging or crafting (or you need loot for crafting). Terraria is more combat oriented as Minecraft, you don't have to fight all the different enemies of the game but you will loose all the cool items if you don't.

I don' know why you have included Stardew valley in your list because that's not a game of the same genre. Like, miles away, seriously. It's a farmign game. Not an open-world game, not a survival game, not even a sandbox game. It's simply a farming game.

Offline Misery

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #91 on: August 26, 2016, 08:56:56 PM »
Aye, it's a different appeal for each one, really.

Minecraft remains the biggest of all of them by far, and currently is the one considered to have "the most stuff to do".  When mods are added to it, it becomes.... anything.  But you don't need mods at all to have tons and tons of options.   It doesn't matter too much WHAT you want out of a game, you can get it in some form here.   For me, a huge part of the appeal is that the game's goals aren't just some arbitrary story crap decided beforehand.  *I* decide the goals when playing, and new goals may appear during the pursuing of those goals.  I think Notch called this idea "emergent gameplay".  The game is not at all linear, unless you want it to be (some of these games kinda are linear, but even then, you don't HAVE to follow it). 

Terraria is a lot more focused on combat, with sort of a Metroidvania feel to it.  It has the building elements, however it's WAY more linear than Minecraft (to me, it's easily the single most linear of the entire genre) and does not have an unlimited world.  But there's tons of content, lots of items to find, NPC shops (which is pretty much what NPCs do in Terraria, they mostly sell you stuff).... many things.  Lots of crazy weapons and equipment to find or forge, powerups to get....   my only real problem with Terraria is how absurdly spammy the combat is.  Minecraft used to have a hyper-spammy combat system (that got changed recently) but Terraria managed to be even more spammy.  Combat issues aside though, it's still a good game.

Starbound is by the same developer; it's slower and more "deliberate" than Terraria (you're not going to be wildly bouncing around the screen shooting deathrays out your ears), but is a lot wider in scope and has much more when it comes to NPCs, including quests and such that you can do.   It also has a full storyline to pursue, including a final boss (Minecraft and Terraria also have final bosses, but no story), but you don't have to do that stuff if you don't want to.  There's still a zillion things to find and do.


The appeal differs a little for any of these, but the overall idea remains the same.  They're NOT meant for players that need a big storyline and talky bits and whatever to hold them through a game.  They're the sort of things where you figure out what YOU want to do, and the game will, in a way, structure itself around that.  Hard to explain.   I know some people see these as games where you "just build" or whatever, but I get more action/adventure/excitement/challenge out of these than I do out of most things, to be honest.

I play all three of them, though Minecraft remains my favorite.  I never recommed them to just absolutely everyone, I wouldn't say that any of these are "universal" games that everyone everywhere should try, but for those that can go along with the sorts of concepts here, they're bloody fantastic.  I absolutely will recommend them if I think the person might be even slightly into that sort of idea.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2016, 09:01:44 PM by Misery »

Offline Draco18s

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #92 on: August 27, 2016, 12:18:55 AM »
This is a criticism I don't understand. For me, ALL of these crafting games are like that. Where is the arbitrary line drawn in which a person decides which game has content and which game doesn't? Minecraft is better because you can build more things? But when it was released it was pretty damn basic too. Sure, it wasn't 60 bucks but NMS is on such a more massive scale, with graphics that don't look like they came out of a pre-schoolers imagination, of course it's going to be 4 times the price. I'm sure it took 4 times the work.

No, it's because you can build things:




Can you do that in NMS?

Offline Misery

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #93 on: August 27, 2016, 03:19:31 AM »
That's true, but you dont NEED to build things to enjoy those.  I'm not all that much of a builder myself... I'll build SOMETHING, and that element is still definitely important to me, but it ends up looking like a bizarre, distorted mess.   Functional though, my structures at least have that quality.

Of course, that's in those games; not all games in the survival genre have those elements.  Yet they're still lumped together.... odd, when I think about it.

The main point though is that something like Minecraft is pretty much whatever you make of it.  If you want to build, then do that.  If you want to go on adventures and explore dungeons and fight monsters, you can do that.   If you want to build a house IN the dungeon surrounded by monsters, then frankly you're missing a few screws, but you can do that too.  More "traditional" games dont do that sort of thing:  You approach them using only specific types of methods that the devs choose for you in advance, and you typically plod along some story-driven route instead of creating your own narrative.  The ability to NOT have those restraints can be a really big deal for some (including myself). 

Offline Draco18s

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #94 on: August 27, 2016, 11:29:46 AM »
Right, but when you have neither free-roam nor story driven?  What then?

Well, I think that's what NMS is sounding like.  A weak story without any sort of "do what you want."

I mean, I'm about to download one of the Captive Minecraft maps.  What's Captive Minecraft?  you, trapped inside a very tiny World Border.  Like 1x1 in size.  Every achievement you get increases that size by 1.  There's no way NMS could pull something like that off.  Or something like Skyblock or Skygrid with the absolute barest amount of resources necessary to survive.

Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #95 on: August 27, 2016, 11:56:48 AM »
Terraria at least has progression. The game gets progressively harder as you progress. NMS seem to start out in one way and then perpetually sit there no matter how much you "progress".
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Offline Misery

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #96 on: August 27, 2016, 07:46:01 PM »
Right, but when you have neither free-roam nor story driven?  What then?

Well, I think that's what NMS is sounding like.  A weak story without any sort of "do what you want."

I mean, I'm about to download one of the Captive Minecraft maps.  What's Captive Minecraft?  you, trapped inside a very tiny World Border.  Like 1x1 in size.  Every achievement you get increases that size by 1.  There's no way NMS could pull something like that off.  Or something like Skyblock or Skygrid with the absolute barest amount of resources necessary to survive.

I wasnt referring to NMS in any of that though.  NMS isnt like Minecraft.... and neither is half of the survival genre.

Remember, the genre also consists of games like Dont Starve, which typically lock you into one small area and then try to kill you over and over.  Or a variety of other games that have no real building.  Hell, as I said during an earlier part of this topic, even something like Dwarf Fortress's Adventure Mode fits in there.  And you cant build ANYTHING in that.  Unless lighting an extremely ineffective fire is "building".

I have no idea why the two types of games are lumped together always, but that's typically what the "survival" genre is, is either Minecraft games with building and stuff, or the others that are more "just survive against the odds, find a place to stay instead of build one". There's alot of both right now.   NMS is just a very lighthearted one, which seems to be part of the problem for many.   Not something I understand.

As for the "do anything bit", you can do what you want in that game.  You dont HAVE to follow the Atlas thing or whatever.   Hell, I've spent most of my time with it getting randomly distracted by shiny things and zooming in all directions because I can, which is pretty much how I play anything really.    If you want to take your ship with your warp drive and just explore in a random direction, you're allowed tondo that.   Nobody ever said you were forced into doing specific things in that game.  The ONLY thing it makes you do is fix your ship initially, and learn how to get warp cells.   After that, you can either follow Atlas, or go do whatever. 


Terraria at least has progression. The game gets progressively harder as you progress. NMS seem to start out in one way and then perpetually sit there no matter how much you "progress".


Far as I'm concerned, this is how most games are.

Hell, it's how Minecraft is, unless I alter it.  That's just me, though.

Considering the nature of NMS, I cant imagine why anyone would go into it expecting this big challenge.  The game was about exploring to begin with, not explosions.   Though perhaps that's part of the problem:  the side of the survival genre that NMS is on (non-building) is usually a tough one.  So then you get one that doesnt fit that. 


Though, again, none of this has anything really to do with what I was getting at about Minecraft/Terraria/Starbound specifically.  Someone brought up the question of the appeal of games like those.

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #97 on: August 28, 2016, 07:28:35 PM »
Okay, time to make it clear: Is NMS a surv ival game or not?

Because what makes a survival game actually survival? what does it differentiate from an exploration game?
Of course the survival aspect. And a lot of "claimed" survival games simply don't get this right. Let's take a look at Don't Starve, probably the best example for a survival game.
A typical aspect of such games is that you need soemthing to sustain yourself over a longer time. If you don't have it, you will eventually die, therefor "survival". In most most games like this it is hunger because hunger is obviously the best choice. People have to eat. However, there can be addional sources of sustainment. Don't Starve has also sanity, if it gets too low it affects your world and makes it harder to survive. In other games there are often stats for sleep, thirst and the most prominent "health" which is affected by all other stats but also by other sources like attacks.
Having all this is the fundation of every survival game. NMS has this (at least what've seen from LP videos). However, the foudnation is not sufficient enough, you also need walls and a roof.
You need of course a reason to survive. Or in other words: Why should I try my best NOT to die?
Don't Starve makes it easy: if you die, you die for good. You cannot continue your game, you will have to start from the beginning. There are some types of "extra life" mechanics int he game but these have to be discovered first and are not giving, they also last only the first time and cannot be replenished.
Minecraft has also its punishment. If you die, you loose your inventory. You can now either try to retrive it (with the chance to die again to whatever killed you) or rebuild what you've lost. Either way, the player is forced to play safe otherwise he gets a deep cut in his resources and time.
It looks like No Mans Sky has  a simliar system like Minecraft but at the same time makes it trivial to retrieve your stuff since it is shown in the map or something like that.

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #98 on: August 28, 2016, 10:19:54 PM »
I would argue NMS is not a survival game because the only time you are in danger of anything is if you deactivate your brain ;p Tangentially there is the threat of resource loss, but that is it. You can never be stranded anywhere, you can never "lose" anything of value. Neither your ship, nor your upgrades, nor your multi-tool. In fact I would argue the only real danger is when say, a wormhole jump damages something that you *really* can't repair in this sector (but even then, it's not a game over) just a ton of grind to get back the resources you need for repairs, via trading.

So as you say, the game has the basic foundation of a survival game, but the walls and roof are an open sandbox with no higher threat. The sky is just pointless populated procedural irrelevance. If we go by the old game definition and seeing the ending of NMS I would have to go far and say it isn't even a game. It's more akin to an walking simulator, even though you CAN die, but that does not make it any less a walking simulator, the only reason for you to grind is to "keep walking". And this is why I brought that term up before.

Still, I think it would be best described as a procedural sandbox exploration game

And seeing as the ending is
Spoiler for Hidden:
basically just "new game+"
I also have to argue that the game has no real end or goal, and as such no purpose. It really is the perfect game to make you think "Why am I playing this when I could be playing XXXXXXX" ;p
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Offline Misery

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #99 on: August 28, 2016, 11:58:26 PM »
To be fair, though, that sort of argument as relates to the genre could be applied to LOTS of games like these.

Hell, Terraria.  All you have is HP to worry about.... and even then, only some of the time.   Die in Terraria on it's default mode, and all that happens is.... nothing.   You'll lose some money.  And even THAT is only going to matter if you were bloody stupid enough to keep all of your money with you (and there's no conceivable reason to do this, ever).  Yet, Terraria, despite it's near total lack of true threat (despite all the monsters, most of which are on the weak side), is still considered a "survival" game.  When really it's closest to being a randomly-generated Metroid-vania game.

As for Minecraft... that I already went into.  If you want actual danger in that game, you either have to A: summon the Wither, or B: go to the bottom of the ocean, literally, as the Monuments are the one and only dangerous place in the game. Sort of.  There's no point in summoning the Wither (the Nether Star has no purpose now, not after the 1.9 update), and the Monuments are just sort of... there.  They don't have all that much function, unless you're after the sponges, of course. Or Prismarine, and even that's just decorative.  So it's kinda like what you say with NMS:  you're really only in danger of your own stupidity.  Yet, many consider the game the king of the genre (including myself).   Despite the existence of something like Don't Starve, and the only thing the two really share is "you have to eat".   

I dunno.  Genre definition frankly confuses me these days.   I just stick a damn label on them and then try not to think about it too hard.  I kinda miss the days where something was either trying to be Space Invaders or it was a clone of Pac-Man, and it was nice and simple.  Even though I'm not really old enough to have quite experienced that specific time period.  Damn well miss it anyway.



As for NMS's ending, the going theory (that I hear about) is that it actually isn't the ending.  It's merely what's at the core.  Apparently there's *a lot* of hints in the game's lore text that the actual end is elsewhere, which wouldn't surprise me in a game like this.  Or so I hear (could be wrong); as always I don't really care about any of that myself, so I only pay attention to the bits that lead me to stuff I want; I know the Atlas thingie eventually hits the core, which is the extent of the knowledge I need for now.   The core being "new game +" means... a whole lot of squat to me.   LOTS of games do that.  It's just as bloody stupid in those as it is in this.... always has been, always will be, at least by my view.  PARTICULARLY in RPGs.   I despise that genre with a blazing hatred to begin with, and that just makes those even more baffling to me.  Someone I know tried to explain it once, I'm pretty sure I threw something at him.

Though, to be honest, my own view on something like this is that if you NEED the game to have some sort of satisfying STORY ending to suffice for you, and if that's the reason why you're playing said game... it's not actually that good of a game (IE, in games like Final Fantasy or whatever, where you "play it for the story" which again baffles me to no end) since it's not actually the gameplay that's pulling you into it. Which means that the gameplay probably isn't very good (and which means that this probably applies to LOTS of games right now, as I cant count the sheer number of times I've heard "play it for the story" in recent years).  I'm fine with games that have no ending... there's TONS of those.  I've been playing that sort since I was 3.  Or games where the "ending" is "YOU FOUND THE AMULET OF THINGIE, YOU WIN, KTHXBAI!!!".  Or games where there is one, and ONLY one end:  "Game Over".  Quite familiar with those sorts, and I don't mean shmups.   As I always infuriate friends by saying:  "If I want a story, I'll go read a book.  I play games to play the damn games, not read or watch them".    I get the feeling the NMS guys kinda had similar ideas.  There's lore stuff, but the game never shoves this into your face and you have to actually look hard enough to even find it.  The way I've heard it phrased by others is that the "point" of the game is just the experience it gives.  Not some end goal, not some amazing story whatever.  Some people like games that let them go around, explore, look at things, maybe occaisionally explode some stuff, and that makes up the experience for them.    Even something like Elite: Dangerous is like this.  There's no real "story" or anything to follow (unless you consider non-stop trading to be a "story"), and much of that game is a HUGE grind (way more grindy than NMS, if you play far enough in).  You're not after some "end point".  The point of Elite, though, is that sense of flying a ship through space, and doing the sorts of things you would think you'd do in space, with an emphasis on ship physics and stuff like space battles or whatever.  It's not some big story moment that pushes players forward into keeping playing the game.  Perhaps it was different with the original Elite though, heck if I know.  Never played the original.

Really, I'll just never understand that idea of story goals or some specific "end" being the focus whatsoever.   Don't really want to, either...



I've totally lost track of where I was going with this.  I apologize if this was even more incoherent than usual.  I just finished a long drive and haven't really had my caffeine yet.  Which I suppose brings up the question of why I'm on the forum at the moment.  Hmm. 

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #100 on: August 29, 2016, 02:23:18 AM »
Haha don't worry ;) And I agree with you, to me these sandboxes including minecraft, and even X series and Civ/4x games are always just measured in terms of "how long do I accept this gameplay till I think I could playing something way more challenging and fun"

Like Anno, Factorio.. or Open TTD.. I could be playing these for months and never get bored, because there are always problems based on map/terrain/things with solutions that take effort and thought. And when you are done with solving a problem, it also tens to just plain look neat and the mere act  of watching a solution "just work" in those games is pretty addicting.

And I have to admit that my list of "games I love beyond finishing them once" is in the low teens. NMS is a perfect game to play a few hours and then uninstall, well, it would be if I had fallen for the hype.

In some sense to me, the only value a game has is during the "exploration" phase, ie. when I am exploring the gameplay and to what depth it offers fun and challenges... once I beat a puzzle for example, I would NEVER go back to do it again. That is just not me ;)

And btw, just look at Factorio, that is MY factory.. nobody else would ever build anything even remotely similar and this is the "pool of fun" for me. When I solve a problem in factorio without looking at a wiki, then that is MY solution. This is, so to say, my world I created and in some sense this has infinite more source of gameplay fun than NMS could ever have. While I could explore in NMS, nothing I find there would ever truly be shaped by me.

« Last Edit: August 29, 2016, 02:28:17 AM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #101 on: August 29, 2016, 02:36:25 AM »
NMS is just a very lighthearted one, which seems to be part of the problem for many.   Not something I understand.
I think, aside from the obvious "betrayal" of the overhype, that this right here is the key problem. People expect some kind of challenge and deep mechanics from survival games. At least I do, but I freely admit I'm not very into the survival genre because I find the games too simple. I want something like Zomboid, even though that's not even near finished. NMS doesn't really seem to have many "survival" aspects to it beyond managing your life support now and then.
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Offline Misery

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #102 on: August 29, 2016, 05:25:10 AM »
Haha don't worry ;) And I agree with you, to me these sandboxes including minecraft, and even X series and Civ/4x games are always just measured in terms of "how long do I accept this gameplay till I think I could playing something way more challenging and fun"

Like Anno, Factorio.. or Open TTD.. I could be playing these for months and never get bored, because there are always problems based on map/terrain/things with solutions that take effort and thought. And when you are done with solving a problem, it also tens to just plain look neat and the mere act  of watching a solution "just work" in those games is pretty addicting.

And I have to admit that my list of "games I love beyond finishing them once" is in the low teens. NMS is a perfect game to play a few hours and then uninstall, well, it would be if I had fallen for the hype.

In some sense to me, the only value a game has is during the "exploration" phase, ie. when I am exploring the gameplay and to what depth it offers fun and challenges... once I beat a puzzle for example, I would NEVER go back to do it again. That is just not me ;)

And btw, just look at Factorio, that is MY factory.. nobody else would ever build anything even remotely similar and this is the "pool of fun" for me. When I solve a problem in factorio without looking at a wiki, then that is MY solution. This is, so to say, my world I created and in some sense this has infinite more source of gameplay fun than NMS could ever have. While I could explore in NMS, nothing I find there would ever truly be shaped by me.

Ah yes, don't even get me started on Anno.  2070 is the main one I've played, bloody fantastic game.  One of those that I don't get tired of.  City builders are nice and all but that just adds so much more to the mix... it's a good series.

Except for the most recent one that is.  Ugh.  I try not to talk too much about that one.  Terrible!  I can understand a series that STARTS kinda simple, but taking something that's already complex and interesting and dumbing it down really just irks me a bit too much.  Way too much.  Like the whole SimCity debacle... will never forgive EA for that disaster.  And it's not like they didn't already have tons of excellent material to be inspired by, and to show them what people loved about the series.  Which, now, is probably a dead series.  What a shame.

And yeah, I can understand what you mean about the exploration bit.  For anyone that doesn't focus much on the actual exploration aspect in a generated world, NMS isn't the way to go.  At least not yet anyway; that may come later.  Frankly neither is Minecraft, sort of (when it comes to providing challenge anyway). There's a million things to do but yeah, not much difficulty.   Though, that does change when mods are added, so that's good.  It's hard NOT to change when you add 110 mods at the same time, heh.  Hell, IndustrialCraft and it's endless machinery will keep some people busy for a hundred hours just on it's own, let alone with tons of other stuff included.  I'm glad the game is so moddable.  Going to take a stab at making one myself, which may or may not be a disastrous mess.

As for Factorio, you know, I keep meaning to try that one.  I keep not doing so.   Keep forgetting it's there.  Not for like, anything resembling a reason.  Just... because I'm too damn spacey.  But it does look good.  The whole nature of it kinda reminds me of setting up supply chains and all of that in Anno.


Quote
I think, aside from the obvious "betrayal" of the overhype, that this right here is the key problem. People expect some kind of challenge and deep mechanics from survival games. At least I do, but I freely admit I'm not very into the survival genre because I find the games too simple. I want something like Zomboid, even though that's not even near finished. NMS doesn't really seem to have many "survival" aspects to it beyond managing your life support now and then.

So... Zomboid still isn't out?  Hmm.  That one always looks really interesting to me but at the same time it looks so very unfinished.  They seem to be taking about 10 million billion years with it.

If you've not played them, look up Cataclysm DDA and Rogue Survivor.  Both are zombie-filled survival games, though they're turn-based, not action.  Cataclysm in particular is complicated as all hell, nasty learning curve on that one.  Well, so is the other, but not quite as much.  Very difficult.  Cataclysm in particular.  Tends to encourage you to run from the zombies (and other nasty things) as they get super dangerous really fast.  I kinda like that "only fight when you really need to" aspect, too many zombie games just throw a billionty slow-moving undead jerks and expect you to clobber most of them.  Been done a bit too much, that.

That being said, yes, a lot of the genre isn't very complicated.  Granted, it depends on one's definition of "complicated", for some of these.  Since it's a new genre, only really appearing in the last few years, this isn't really surprising though. 

Offline Mánagarmr

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #103 on: August 29, 2016, 09:53:27 AM »
Rogue survivor is a good one. It reminds me a lot of Zomboid, only looking worse and being turn based rather than real time.
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: After all this time, No Man's Sky finally releases....
« Reply #104 on: August 29, 2016, 11:51:20 AM »
Right, but when you have neither free-roam nor story driven?  What then?

Well, I think that's what NMS is sounding like.  A weak story without any sort of "do what you want."
I wasnt referring to NMS in any of that though.  NMS isnt like Minecraft.... and neither is half of the survival genre.

The point I was trying to make was that NMS has no player driven alternate rules set.  It's a free-exploration game with no boundaries and no place to put any boundaries.

Minecraft maps like Skyblock and Captive enforce extreme restrictions on the player as a form of minimalism: how little can you get away with having and still be able to play.  There's dozens of maps like this, some use command blocks (Captive), some don't (Skyblock), some require that the player use the honor system (e.g. "never breed animals" would be a variant that would impact how you approach food).

Name one thing you could do with NMS rules that would change the experience.
NMS has neither boundaries nor story.
It fails to be a game.
Chris Crawford's definition of a "game":
  • Creative expression is art if made for its own beauty, and entertainment if made for money.
  • A piece of entertainment is a plaything if it is interactive. Movies and books are cited as examples of non-interactive entertainment.
  • If no goals are associated with a plaything, it is a toy. (Crawford notes that by his definition, (a) a toy can become a game element if the player makes up rules, and (b) The Sims and SimCity are toys, not games.) If it has goals, a plaything is a challenge.
  • If a challenge has no "active agent against whom you compete," it is a puzzle; if there is one, it is a conflict. (Crawford admits that this is a subjective test. Video games with noticeably algorithmic artificial intelligence can be played as puzzles; these include the patterns used to evade ghosts in Pac-Man.)
  • Finally, if the player can only outperform the opponent, but not attack them to interfere with their performance, the conflict is a competition. (Competitions include racing and figure skating.) However, if attacks are allowed, then the conflict qualifies as a game.