We always think about what the potential of a game was whenever there’s a hype train that inevitably comes crashing down. Below I’ll present some fixes that would have made the game meet or beat some of the hype train expectations that people had for it. Note these are things that I think would have dramatically improved the game, but would likely have added a year or more to the development time of the game, unlike my previous post where the majority of fixes are relatively simple.
This is the critical thing that I think would have made everyone happy overall. We all want to leave our mark on the world, and in NMS, you literally can’t. You can name it, and you can name the system, but it doesn’t remember what you name animals or anything else. Just fixing that would have made people a lot more tolerant of the game, especially when they ran into a world with named creatures that someone spent some time with. But one step further would have made the game an instant classic in everyone’s book: The persistence of your marks on the world. If you mined out a resource, leave it mined out, if you wiped out a species, note that the species was slain and who killed it. As new players enter the game, and over the course of time, you’d see the devastation that people can cause across a variety of planets. Especially as you get close to the galactic core and find worlds completely ravaged by multiple players desperate to scrap out more resources to finish the journey. THAT, would have been amazing to see.
Clearly there were some early plans for the 3 alien races to be at war in some fashion. The Vykeen have no love for the Gek, while the Korvax seem to have been gutted by the Gek early on in history, and only the Korvax seem to be at peace with the Sentinels. Since these aliens are basically on every damn planet from the outer rim to the galactic core, they really should have done some sort of factional alignment system. Side with the Gek, lose out with the Vykeen. Attack too many sentinels and the Korvax get upset. They literally did nothing with them. Heck, aliens can’t even remember that you just talked to them 2 seconds ago. There are a number of faction quests where you can turn them in to the authorities for stealing or desertion, and then talk to them again as though nothing had happened. Persistence here, along with daily routines for some of these aliens could have gone a long way towards creating interesting interactions. Imagine that the space station is run by 2 aliens, 1 of them goes down to the planet where he has a shack and mines minerals periodically. Perhaps he gives you a quest to act as his bodyguard? Perhaps you did something nice for him at the space station and then you get attacked by pirates on your way out and he comes out in his ship to help you fight them. Anything that gave these guys some life would have been immensely helpful towards rounding out the game, and would have made their language learning so much more critical to the game (though I did enjoy the novel aspect of it despite it not going far enough). Just the fact that traders seem to spawn out of thin air, complete with new sets of things to buy/sell pulls you right out of any hope of immersion with the aliens. Make them all persistent, and responsive to threats and other things, and you could have a pretty impressive war going on all the time. Maybe they put bounties on players that attack their ships? Who knows, the possibilities are endless, sadly none of the most obvious possibilities were used.
Moving Things Around/Affecting Biodomes
In my previous fixes I mentioned a subspace home where you could store creatures and plants you found to put them on display for your friends. Let’s take that one step further though, and allow players to move plants and animals from one system to the next. You could be like Noah taking 2 each of your favorite animals and then trying to find a habitable planet where you can breed them all. Effectively a Pokemon farmer simulation at this point, add in the ability to cross breed (if there’s genetic compatibility) and thus breed more animals with crazier traits and… well I know a few people who would spend the rest of their lives in the game at that point.
The last part, and the one that felt like it was missing, was the ability to simply cook and eat foods or create chemical mixes using the plants and wildlife. When parallels were drawn between this game and Minecraft, this was the first thing that came to mind. I totally could see myself planting seeds on a planet and creating cornfields or whatever crazy alien version of it I could find in order to make fuel, or even drugs that lets me survive longer in certain environments. Such a horribly missed opportunity here, and one that effectively made almost every plant in the game utterly boring. Other than Zinc and Platinum flowers (haha, we get it, stop and smell the flowers, so clever), there isn’t a single plant in the game that anyone cares about. Except that damn whip plant they put in every infested building… Annoying because you can’t shoot it in there… That’s just bad design.
I think all of these things could be addressed in future updates. It’s literally a few weeks of design work and spreadsheet creation. I just wonder if it can work with how they’ve created their overall system. Because there’s no persistence, and because even the naming of plants and animals seemed to be too much for them to track, I think it’s entirely possible that any sort of changes that affect persistence are beyond the scope of this game. Which makes me a very sad panda.