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Development of the Game
The founder of Hello Games, Sean Murray, had wanted to create a game that captured the sense of exploration and optimism of science fiction writings and art of the 1970s and 1980s with No Man's Sky. The game was developed over three years by a small team at Hello Games with promotional and publishing help from Sony Interactive Entertainment. The game was seen as an ambitious project for a small team by the gaming media, and Murray and Hello Games drew significant attention leading to its release.
Development of the game was repeatedly slowed down by circumstance, such as the HelloGames offices flooding twice. HelloGames were under immense pressure from Sony to complete & release the game. After one extension, Sony were not willing to provide a second, well needed three month extension. The game released in 9th August 2016; three months before the game was considered ready by HelloGames.
No Man's Sky received mixed reviews at its 2016 launch, with some critics praising the technical achievements of the procedurally generated universe, while others considered the game-play lackluster and repetitive. However, the critical response was marred by the lack of several features that had been presumed to be in the game, particularly multiplayer capabilities, though Murray had tried to downplay expectations prior to release. The game was further criticized due to Hello Games' lack of communication in the months following the launch, creating a hostile backlash from some of its player base. Murray stated later that Hello Games had failed to control the exaggerated expectations of the game from the media and the larger-than-expected player count at launch, and since have taken an approach of remaining quiet about updates to No Man's Sky until they are nearly ready to ship, to avoid miscommunication. The promotion and marketing for No Man's Sky became a subject of debate, and the video game industry has used No Man's Sky as an example of missteps to avoid in marketing; as well as an example of how gaming companies can and should continue to develop their games after launch.
Since the game's initial release, Hello Games has continued to improve and expand No Man's Sky to achieve the vision of the experience they wanted to build. The game has received multiple major content updates that have introduced several previously missing features, such as multiplayer components, while adding new features like surface vehicles, base-building, space fleet management, cross-platform play, and virtual reality support, all of which have substantially improved its overall reception.
The first of these updates was the 'Foundation' update, coming on the 26th November, the date HelloGames wanted to release the game originally. This update reset the universe & changed almost everything about the game; turning it into a full-fledged game from what had essentially been a beta-test. This update alone made most players happy, though some still remained unimpressed. The internet was still vocal at this point, with many people who had never played any version of the game, taking to trash-talking it online.
With the first three updates, the game managed to tick off almost all of the features that had been listed as being 'promised' (many of which were never actually mentioned, but purely the hype-train and people's imaginations getting out of hand).
With the release of 'Atlas Rises', the online hate-train did a u-turn, with most people admitting that they could no longer fault the game & that everything that had been 'promised' was now in-game.
All iterations of the game starting with 'Next', have been adding features that have been thought up since the foundation update hit and were not mentioned pre-launch. HelloGames continues to develop this game; with more content already planned for throughout 2020 and 2021.