No Man's Sky and I; A Brief History

I wanted to put down my experiences before the release of No Man's Sky before I started to write about my experiences after the release.


#Table of Contents

#Beginnings

The story starts in late 2013. I was in the library, talking with friends about games. (The library had an area where people could talk. It was often used for chess, debate team preparation, book clubs, etc.) One of them had heard about this ambitious universe generator which would be a really great game. At that time I thought "meh", and moved on.

Fast forward a couple of years to E3 2015. There were a couple of things inbetween, but they're not as important as this event. Watching the gameplay happen was amazing. I loved it, and jumped aboard the hype train, which was just about to leave the station.

I started visiting the /r/NoMansSkyTheGame subreddit (I'll just call it /r/nmstg from now on) every day, learning more from the subreddit's wiki, which was the largest collection of information on the game. Over my time there, I saw opportunities to help the community by using my basic web development skills. It would also help me learn more, and be better at making web things.


#Projects

#Report Generator

My first submission to /r/nmstg was the planet report generator. It came about due to a comment I made, which was a description of the planet that had been shown off in the E3 demo. That had taken me a couple of hours to write down and format, so I decided to make a quick generator so the formatting would be done for me.

About 4 hours of work later, and I had a page with text boxes and buttons. A bit more time, and I decided to release it.

Report Generator
Source Code

#Comment Generator

One of the running gags on the subreddit were the "Every x procedural" comments, based off the text that appeared on the earlier trailers. The comment generator was a very quickly made Chrome extention that added a button that made a comment of the form "Every x procedural", replacing the "x" with one of a few options.

Chrome Store
Source Code

#Countdown

Forward a little more in time; this time to July 2015.

IGN had started a months worth of articles and interviews on No Man's Sky. They came out at about the same time each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so some people started using countdown websites to build hype.

These websites were pretty plain, so I decided to make a No Man's Sky themed one.

I cover the story of the countdown in more detail in another post.

More information
View the countdown
Source Code

#secret_bot

secret_bot is not a No Man's Sky related project. It started as an IRC bot in the #nomanssky channel on Snoonet. I thought I'd mention it here, since it was a project I worked on over this time.

More information
Source Code (first)
Source Code (second)
Source Code (latest)

#Information Repository

As mentioned in the very first section of this post, I was using the subreddit's wiki to learn more information about the game. By this stage, I knew most of what there was to know at the time, and was passing on that knowledge by answering questions people had in the subreddit.

The only problem was citing sources. It wasn't that easy to link to a specific bit of information, and there was information that didn't have a reference to the article/interview it came from.

I was getting pretty tired of haivng to search my way trhough the wiki, so I decided to do something about it.

Like the countdown, I wrote a lot more on this previously in another post.

More information
View the Repository
Source Code (old)
Source Code (new)


#Moderation

#Joining

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but one day late July 2016 I received a message in my inbox asking if I wanted to join the moderation team for /r/nmstg. I accepted, and was added.

This period is a real mixed bag. It was a little after a delay in the game was announced, so the community had come to the attention of trolls who were saying "the game will never come out", and related comments. The existing moderators had been around for a while, and were starting to look for a way out. I had figured this out when I accepted the role of moderator. For two months I was really the only moderator of the subreddit, doing more work than AutoMod. Luckily, they came back just as things really started to ramp up.

A few things happened over this time. Related to me, I helped create the subreddit's Discord server, which took over from IRC. I also rewrote the Information Repository, making it better and more mobile friendly than it was.

A few things also happened to the subreddit. It grew larger. Much much larger. We didn't have enough moderators to deal with it all, especially as most were taking a break from moderation. This led to me going down a bit of a downwards spiral. The subreddit was now brimming with negativity about the game, and there wasn't much I could do. I could have gone through and removed all of it, but that would be censorship. There were discussions there that were genuine, and I wasn't going to stop that.

As a side note, I stopped being on the hype train around this time. That was a good decision.

A couple of new mods were recruited just before the release. I'm glad that was done.

#Leaving

The game released.

It wasn't good.

I'm sure you know the story of the game's release by now. Big over-hyped game came out, many features were missing. The reason we know so many were missing was because I had written an Information Repository with all the information with sources. The subreddit turned from negativity to even more negativity.

I had exams coming up. I couldn't moderate and study, the moderation just made me sad. So I left. I sent a modmail saying "I will remove myself from the list of moderators on the subreddit in one day", giving my reasons. There was no retaliation. Everyone else knew exactly how I felt. After 24 hours, I left. No post, no announcement. Only two people asked me about it, and I explained. Nothing more followed that.

Well, except for the fact I still ran the Discord server. I kept in contact with the mods through there for quite a while, up until...


#The Aftermath

It would only be appropriate to include this section. I know this post was meant to only contain up to the release of the game, but I feel this needs to be said.

Oer the next while, some of the older mods left the team as well. Left at the top of the list was R0ugeW0lf (I'll just say Rouge from now on). Rouge had been a mod since day 1, he was the co-creator of the subreddit. He didn't like the change the community had made, from a constructive one to being destructive.

Rouge approached everyone in the #mod-chat channel of Discord and announced he was going to shut the subreddit down. Very quickly, everyone said that it was a bad idea. We organised a meeting, and talked for 2 hours on it. There was a strawpoll for 5 different solutions we had come up with. The result was tied between shutting down and one other. I had to go partway through, so wasn't there for the rest of the conversation.

While I was gone, no actual decision was made. Instead, Rouge had gone off to make the final decision. It was pretty clear what that was going to be.

When the subreddit shut down, it was chaos. If I wasn't trying to keep Discord safe (people were hacking in, setting everyone as admin, and purging members), I would have found the entire thing funny. That night, Rouge was contacted by one of the reddit admins to work out a solution.

A solution was reached. The subreddit was handed over to new moderators, ones who hadn't been a big part of the community, but they were moderators of other large communities on reddit. At first I was reluctant to hand over the Discord server, but I realised it was the best thing to do. No more did I have to feel the stresses of trying to keep the peace. It was done, I was done.

The subreddit had a massive change. I suspect a large part of that was due to the fact the moderators changed. I highly doubt that there's a large difference in the way the old moderators managed the place and the new. Gone were the highly negative hate posts, and in ushered a wave of humourous and satirical "shitposts".

Me? I stayed out of it. I had played enough of the game, I had enough of moderation. It was time to move on, and focus on things in the real world.


That was probably a bit longer than I expected, I tried to keep it short, but informative. Where the story goes from here, I'm not sure. I enjoyed making the projects for the community, and they helped me learn to be a better programmer. I enjoyed the earlier days of the community, when you could recognise most of the usernames. I made friends that I talk/type with most days. The game may have been a massive flop, but it brought people together. For that, at least, I am thankful.