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While I’m a fan of using the internet (an interneter, possibly), reddit itself is a part of it that I used to be really into but recently have found less interesting. The No Man’s Sky subreddit has been getting a lot of buzz and I was hoping it would bring something fresh to the table that would get me interested. Alas, while it has some fascinating features and high points, it’s not reinvented much.
Mechanically there isn’t much to offer. The control system used is disappointingly similar to almost every other website out there: mouse scroll up and down to view, with a keyboard extension to add custom levels in the form of posts if you want to (in fact, a startling amount of the content is made by players using the basic Reddit source engine). It’s boring, but then again it does make it easy to pick up, though the gameplay itself can become a frustrating grind to earn ‘upvotes’ and ‘karma’, an in-game currency that seems to have no identifiable value. A graphical comparison reveals that it’s not been optimised across all platforms: the No Man’s Sky subreddit won’t run natively on any consoles, and the quality will vary wildly depending not only on your PC build, but also your web browser and internet connection (unfortunately the No Man’s Sky Subreddit is not available for offline play). there is no soundtrack whatsoever, which can make the experience a very dry one. The plot of the game is similarly hit and miss.
The NMS fan community in general has a reputation for drama, but the subreddit is… well it seems pretty chill, to be honest, even at the release of No Man’s Sky. What this means is that the NMS subreddit fails to live up to the hype of being hyped (which is admittedly not their fault and probably better for everyone involved). There’s a recent thread which gives a glimpse of a potential conspiracy theory DLC in future, but this still seems to about the narrative of internal conflict rather than No Man’s Sky itself, and no doubt other people will be disappointed that it’s not providing what they expected, even if this was not specifically promised.
More worthy of note are the more human, emotional elements. One post sets out the user’s plan to hide a TeamSpeak IP address and password within the names of a planet and an animal species living on it, a vain hope to connect with another fragment of humanity out there in the void (a sentiment which, indeed, could summarise the entirety of all human existence). Another is a long poem in rhyming couplets to commemorate the release of the full game. Yet another is exhorting players to remember those who died waiting for the game to be released, the comments peppered with users posting the names of friends who they’d lost and others offering to name planets after them, but also jokes about Harambe the gorilla, a juxtaposition of ideas that is truly as thought provoking as it is raw. This variation is obviously the kind of thing you’ll see when the writing team is composed primarily of the players themselves, coupled with a small moderation team.
When searching the Reddit source engine there are a lot of similar subreddits that already exist r/nomanssky clones, if you will. Going to /r/nomanssky results in a screen saying ‘this subreddit has been temporarily retired’ and redirecting to the main NMS community (because of the use of ‘temporarily’ I like to think it was originally about something unrelated that was fed up with being linked to NMS, and it’s actual purpose is really obscure – like how the sub /r/marijuanaenthusiasts is about trees and /r/potatosalad is now for pictures of John Cena). There’s also /r/no_mans_sky, itself having a pinned post asking people to please subscribe, and may perhaps be thought of as an indie attempt to take on the same material.
It’s evident that while the NMS subreddit isn’t exactly an original idea, it’s doing things differently enough to get people interested (the next nearest competing subreddit has approximately 90k fewer subscribed users) which is itself laudable in an age where many interneters feel they’re experiencing the same thing over and over again. When you get down to the nitty gritty, however, there’s a reliance on similar themes being repeated even though the content is being refreshed all the time: there’s a continual flow of fan art, and a high percentage of the posts involve mentions of Sean Murray (photoshopping photos of him, the dev team, or both), especially since he recently did an AMA on the release of the game. It’s superficially entertaining but one hopes that over time new material will be generated.
In summation, the No Man’s Sky subreddit provides a unique experience, with highs as well as lows, but doesn’t add anything substantial to the idea of internet forums in general, and still uses a legacy interface. It would also get a better score if somebody hadn’t written some (admittedly more satirical than expecting) slash real-person fan fiction about Sean Murray and then done an AMA about themselves, which somehow includes a discussion about Kanye West’s musical back catalogue.
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