Tag Archives: exploration

In Memoriam: My First No Man’s Sky Game

Early last week, I signed in to No Man’s Sky only to discover that my saved game wouldn’t open. It started a new game on a new planet in a new system! I was quite disappointed. I was originally on a very colourful world, and I was going to take screenshots of the scenery on all the planets I discovered.

Has this soured my enjoyment of this game? Not really. I just started over again. The problem was a bug in the game that has been addressed by a patch recently, so it shouldn’t happen again. The game has been getting a lot of hate recently because it isn’t what was advertised. So many things that were said to be in the game actually aren’t. But I have expectations that some will appear in future patches. It seems more like they were pressured to release the game, and they released it unfinished. But what we get, I’m really enjoying.

My initial expectation of this game was to be able to explore planets and discover interesting landscapes, plants, and animals. That’s what I got. If you take this as a straightforward exploration game, then you should be satisfied. That’s what I love about this game. And so, I’m enjoying it a lot.

So, I’d like to share with you the Ariadne system. It was the first system I arrived in and I renamed it to Ariadne. Unfortunately, I didn’t get screenshots of one of the planets before the game reset. However, I have images of the first and third planets I played on. So, here is the first planet, Ariadne II:

The view of Ariadne II from space. It looks like it has water, but I didn't actually get to see it. It was mostly a rocky world.
The view of Ariadne II from space. It looks like it has water, but I didn’t actually get to see it. It was mostly a rocky world.
A night time view.
A night time view.
The sun is coming up, bathing it in a pink hue.
The sun is coming up, bathing it in a pink hue.
One of the local animals. Interesting looking, isn't it?
One of the local animals. Interesting looking, isn’t it?
Ruins in the foreground, big mountain in the background.
Ruins in the foreground, big mountain in the background.

The second planet I went to was pretty barren, and it had no animals at all. I didn’t get any images of it. The third planet was totally different. Very colourful and had abundant plant and animal life. No forests, but a pink “grass.”

A view of the pink planet, Ariadne III, from space.
A view of the pink planet, Ariadne III, from space.
So brightly coloured. Look at all that pink!
So brightly coloured. Look at all that pink!
At a trading post on Ariadne III.
At a trading post on Ariadne III.
More colours on display, with a pink sky matching the pink landscape. Sunset.
More colours on display, with a pink sky matching the pink landscape. Sunset.
What's this? A dinosaur? Kind of.
What’s this? A dinosaur? Kind of.
I loved this planet. The colour was amazing, and it seemed so comfortable and inviting.
I loved this planet. The colour was amazing, and it seemed so comfortable and inviting.

These planets have been saved on No Man’s Sky’s server, so someone way stumble upon it sometime in the future, although that’s extremely unlikely. I wish I could’ve seen the other planet in the system.

Despite the problems and issues people have had with the game, I find it beautiful to look at, and very inspirational. I love going into the game to just explore. That’s all that matters to me. I can’t wait to discover more.

In the future, I’ll have more posts about the worlds I’ve discovered in the game. I’m not sure if I’ll be doing animals, but I will certainly do landscapes. If you’d like to see animals, then let me know. I can still show you animals from these two planets, as I have the images saved.

Let me know which planet you like the most. Also, if you’ve played the game, did you enjoy it?

Continuing My No Man’s Sky Adventure

I played a bit more No Man’s Sky today, and made some pretty good progress. But let me show you the third planet I visited.

That is so pink! The first two planets were much more subdued in colour, but this one was so brightly coloured. It’s like the fluorescent planet with pink grass.

From where I left off yesterday, I managed to get my hyperdrive and a warp cell, so I can travel to another system. However, I haven’t explored all the planets in my home system. I’ve made it to my third planet, and still have a fourth planet to explore.

So, starting at the second planet, I was able to get my hyperdrive installed, and I went searching around for fuel. I needed antimatter. I found an installation that had a door sealed with steel. I tried destroying that, but I was then attacked by a couple sentinel drones, which I destroyed. Then they sent elite sentinels after me! I don’t have a weapon yet! I only have the mining laser. I ran for my ship and took off, going straight up into space. I went to the space station, did some trading, and decided to head to the third planet. But before I went, I got a transmission from the second planet to come back to an outpost I visited before. I actually got some antimatter at that outpost earlier on, and now they were asking me to come back. I went down, and the alien there asked me for some titanium. I went out searching for it, came back, and he changed his mind. He wanted carbon! I gave him carbon, and in exchange he gave me… carbon? What was the point of that?

Anyway, that’s when I decided to get off the planet and head to the third planet. I haven’t explored it much, but I did check out a beautiful cave filled with colourful minerals.

Some other things that happened included going swimming in a small pond on the second planet, which is about 30% water. I discovered many kinds of plants, animals, and minerals. I also renamed all the animals and planets. I haven’t done the plants yet, though. You see, when you discover something, you have the right to name them whatever you want (but don’t bypass censors), and you get money! And if you discover all animals on a planet, you get a lot of money. My first and third planets have eight or nine species to discover, but the second planet is totally devoid of animals. Only plants.

The first planet is considered balmy, but it’s actually quite hot, requiring me to use thermal shielding in my suit. Also, it has active volcanic vents. The second planet is also balmy, but it’s far more comfortable, and quite earth-like, except it has less water and only plants. The third planet is humid, nice temperature, and very colourful.

I’m thinking of keeping track of all the planets and showing you a picture of what I see. I’m not playing this game on my own computer, so no screenshots. Only photos. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

No Man’s Sky – First Impressions

No_Man's_SkyNo Man’s Sky, the game I’ve been waiting for my entire life to play. When I saw gameplay several months ago, I wanted this game so badly, I thought time would go by too slowly. Well, it came out last week. And this morning, I got to play it for myself for the first time.

What I’ve Done So Far

I started out on a rather hot planet with strange fan-like plants and active volcanic vents near my damaged ship. The fissure gave off a smoky gas once. The sky was often yellow with dark clouds. I searched the area to find resources and repair the ship. I walked to a shelter, found some new technology, gathered carbon, plutonium, and iron, then found I needed some zinc. It took me a long time to find that. I eventually got my ship repaired, and I could fly around.

During my exploration period, I discovered several shelters, a mining facility, and a few other things that weren’t manned. I was able to fly to space, but I didn’t have fuel for my pulse engine. Thamium9 was hard to find! I looked around, found a couple ruins where I learned some Gek words, classified a couple of animals, and noticed several ship going in one direction. I followed them, got lost for a few minutes, then found where they were going: a manufacturing facility. It was manned! And I finally had some new technology and access to the galactic trading system (can’t recall what it’s called at the moment). I bought some Thamium9, then found out that there’s a ruin nearby. I flew to the ruin, and learned several languages. I am in very good standing with the Gek. They have partner status now.

So, after that, I flew to space and went straight for a space station where I did some trading, and located a beacon on another planet. On my way to that other planet, I ran out of Thamium9. But, I discovered that the asteroids are made of Thamium9. Lucky! I eventually made it to this new world, which has a lot of water on the surface! Lakes! I landed, and that’s where my game ended.

I’ll be playing more this week. My next objective is to build a hyperdrive and be able to fly to other star systems. However, I’ll explore all of the planets in my home system first. I want to be thorough. And I’d like to discover all of the animals, too. I’m an explorer. I want to know everything there is to know in each system I visit.

My First Impressions

Be prepared for repetitive actions! The mining and searching for resources may bore some people, but I have no problems with that. I love exploring, and that’s what this allows me to do. Some of the landscapes are incredible. The first time that sentinels came flying around me after I mined some plutonium, it felt quite creepy.

It’s a beautiful game, and I’d love to play it in a full VR environment. That would be incredible! The chance to discover new worlds and animals, as well as aliens is so fascinating. I’ve only scratched the surface of this game, but I’m loving it. The time I played passed so quickly, I didn’t realise how long I’d actually played. It’s addictive.

I can see myself spending hours on this game. It’s too easy to get immersed in it. I have to watch the time I spend on it. I could live in it all day. If I were to give it a star rating for the limited time I’ve played, I’d give it full 5 stars. It’s that good (at least for me).

How About You?

Have you played it yet? What have you done so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Top Ten Space Probes that Need to Happen

Continuing on with an astronomical theme this month, in celebration of the planetary alignment, I bring to you another list involving the Solar System. This list is entirely my opinion. I studied astronomy in university, and my main interest was in planetary sciences. We have made some incredible discoveries over the past few years with numerous space probes visiting several worlds in our Solar System. New Horizons was an amazing success at Pluto, Cassini has provided incredible information from Saturn, Dawn brought us wonderful images and information from Vesta and Ceres, and the small army of probes at Mars continue to surprise us. But there’s still so much more to discover. This is what I would like to see in the future in terms of space probes.

Top Ten Space Probes that Need to Happen

10. Eris flyby

Eris_and_dysnomia2With the success of New Horizons at Pluto, the next largest unexplored world in the Solar System is the dwarf planet Eris. It’s more massive than Pluto, but slightly smaller. With a higher density, what does that mean? Why is a world so much farther from the Sun than Pluto denser? Studying this world could help us understand more about the evolution of the Solar System. It’s completely unknown what Eris may look like, but we can take educated guesses. Pluto completely surprised us, and I suspect that Eris will, too. Unfortunately, it may take around thirty years for a probe to reach Eris, so I’d wait on this until we have better propulsion technology.

9. Pluto orbiter

Nh-pluto-in-true-color_2x_JPEG-edit-frameYou’re probably wondering why I would recommend Pluto so soon after the New Horizons mission. Well, Pluto has turned out to be such an intriguing world, one that is active and unique. It and Charon form a remarkable pair of worlds that need to be studied more. With such a variety of landscapes on one side of each world, what surprises do the other sides have? The possibility of a subsurface water ocean means that Pluto has a chance at supporting life. It appears there may be cryovolcanoes that were active relatively recently, as well. The difficulty with this mission is inserting the probe into orbit. Pluto has such a small mass that the probe can’t be traveling at such a high speed when it approaches the world.

8. Venus lander

240px-Venus_globeVenus has been landed on before by the Soviet Venera series of probes, but they only lasted a few minutes to a bit over an hour due to the hot, acidic, and dense atmosphere. A robust lander would need to be developed, preferably a rover. Venus is described as Earth’s failed twin. It had a runaway greenhouse effect that made the surface uninhabitable. While Magellan has mapped the surface and discovered many Earth-like features, a surface probe may help to answer many questions, such as whether Venus is still geologically active, whether volcanoes still erupt, and so on. It would be fascinating to study the geology of the world. Both NASA and Russia have proposals for landers on Venus.

7. Uranus orbiter

240px-Uranus2It’s been thirty years since Uranus was visited by Voyager 2. The sideways ice giant has only been flown by, so no intense study of the world and its moons has been conducted. Uranus is intriguing because of its nearly ninety degree tilt to the plane of the Solar System. We haven’t been able to study an ice giant up close, and Uranus is the closer of the two. It has an interesting group of moons, as well, four of which are larger and appear to feature scarps and canyons. But Miranda has my interest, as it seems to be a small moon that has been broken apart and reassembled. It has a huge cliff, as well. I want to see more of this moon.

6. Ganymede probe

Ganymede_g1_true-edit1Ganymede is the largest moon in the Solar System, and has the attention of scientists because of its likely subsurface ocean. Larger than Mercury, its surface is a mishmash of various features, including craters and grooved terrain. Galileo studied Ganymede when it was at Jupiter, but a closer look would be warranted. I’d like to suggest a surface lander or rover, but an orbiter may be better. The ice crust is so thick that it’s unlikely that the ocean could be examined from the surface. And besides, the surface of Ganymede is quite old. Thankfully, both may be coming true! ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) will be launched in 2022, and will orbit Ganymede, while a Russian proposal to land on Ganymede could be launched in 2024.

5. Venus aircraft

Venus-real_colorVenus appears twice in this list for a very good reason. While the surface needs to be explored, so does the upper atmosphere. The temperature, air pressure, and chemical composition of this layer of the planet may be able to support life. That alone makes Venus’ atmosphere a very good destination. Already, there’s a NASA proposal called VAMP (Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform) that would be an inflatable aircraft driven by propellers. I guess NASA is already thinking about this.

4. Neptune orbiter and Triton lander

244px-NeptuneWith the Cassini/Huygens pair being successful, why not at Neptune? Neptune is the other ice giant planet, and eighth in the Solar System. It has its own large collection of moons, dynamic atmosphere with large storms, and ring system. I’d like to see an orbiter for the planet that explores it and its moons, while a lander is deployed to the surface of Triton. Triton is very interesting and active. It has geysers, a thin nitrogen atmosphere, and possible subsurface ocean. That needs to be checked out.

3. Enceladus probe

PIA17202_-_Approaching_EnceladusThis little world has proven to be a complete surprise. Although small, it is active due to tidal interactions with Saturn. At the southern pole of the moon, there are ‘tiger stripes,’ which have geysers that have been observed venting water vapour into space and back to the surface as a kind of snow. Further study has shown that Enceladus has a global subsurface ocean of water, which makes this tiny world a very important place to look for life. An orbiter might be difficult with its low gravity, but a surface probe sent to the southern region would be very interesting. Both NASA and ESA are considering missions to Enceladus that would ultimately involve Titan.

2. Titan lander and flier

PIA20016-SaturnMoon-Titan-20151113Titan is a high priority for further studies, in my opinion. It’s so Earth-like in appearance and is the only other world in the Solar System with long-term surface liquids. A lander, preferably a rover, could examine the icy surface, possibly near the seas or riverbeds. A flier would fly through the thick atmosphere observing the land below it and sampling the air. It would be nice if both could be done in the same mission, though unlikely. It’s also a candidate for the study of possible life. There are proposals under consideration by both NASA and ESA for landers, balloons, airplanes, boats, and even a submarine.

1. Europa lander

Europa-moonThis is an obvious choice. Europa has the greatest chance of life, according to many people. It has a subsurface saline ocean that could be examined by a lander that drills through the thick ice crust. The implications of finding life there would have a big effect on many people back on Earth. The good news is that JUICE is going to fly by Europa, and NASA has been directed by Congress to develop a mission to land on Europa and do it soon. They want this mission to happen. So, it looks like we’re going to get it.

What do you think? Which of these missions would you be interested in? Do you have others you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments below. Maybe we can come up with some great ideas we haven’t thought of before.

So Excited About No Man’s Sky, I Have to Mention it Again

I’ve talked about this game before. No Man’s Sky is a massive game consisting of billions of unique planets with billions of unique plants and animals, and you can travel all around the galaxy discovering and exploring. There’s piracy, battles, trading, or just plain exploring. Here’s a video I saw on Cobra TV’s YouTube channel.

There are more videos on their channel about No Man’s Sky.

What we didn’t know about last time I talked about this game is that there’s now a release date. It’ll be available in June 2016 for Sony Playstation 4 and PC. I think I may be exploring a galaxy next summer. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about a game before. I’ll probably post about it again sometime next year.

Anyone interested in this game?

Epic Journey Fantasy Novels

When I was in junior high school, I read The Hobbit, and I was absolutely fascinated by the map. The map aided in the journey that Bilbo went through, and it made it quite exciting. I kept thinking about all the places I would be able to see through the eyes of the characters. That is when epic journeys became one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with fantasy.

Since then, I’ve read many fantasy novels with maps, such as Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, and the rest of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, The Lord of the Rings. Some others, such as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels didn’t really do much in the way of travel, opting to stay put in many of them.

What are some great epic journey fantasy novels you’ve read and would recommend? Maps are essential! Let me know in the comments.

Space Exploration Novels

I’m a big fan of space exploration, whether it’s the solar system or outside the solar system. The idea of discovering new things is very attractive to me.

I always enjoyed watching Star Trek, and have enjoyed reading discovery-related novels like Ringworld and the Hyperion Cantos where we could see many different worlds. It was very interesting.  Even the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is filled with exploration.

I’d like to know about science fiction novels that focus on space exploration and discovering new worlds. If you know any, please leave a comment. Let’s make a good list of them.

The Most Perfect Space Game Ever – No Man’s Sky

Go to YouTube and search for “no man’s sky ign” and watch the videos. There are several of them. You won’t be sorry.  Here’s one of them.

This game looks amazing. It’s a space explorer’s dream come true. The worlds are randomly generated when discovered for the first time, and then they’re part of a vast universe. The discoverer gets to name them, including any animals they find. As time goes on, more planets are discovered, more animals are catalogued, and a vast encyclopedia is compiled. You can travel between planets and stars, upgrade your ship, become an explorer, trader, or just join with pirates and shoot at anything you like. There are so many potential planet that it’ll take billions of years to explore them all. And these are planets. They are full-scale. They have regular length days. So 24 hours of real life is also 24 hours on a planet in the game. You’ll see one sunset and one sunrise. It’s meant to be as realistic as possible.

Here are five worlds to check out.

Does this look interesting? As soon as I can, when it’s available to the public, I really want to play it. In the meantime, check out their homepage.

So, who wants to play?

A Remote Adventure

One reason I love reading fantasy and science fiction is the possibility of exploration in remote or unknown places. So the thought of being in a remote place is appealing.

I haven’t really been anywhere remote. Maybe the most remote is North Dakota. The towns and cities are small, and the nearest large city is quite a distance away. But that’s not exactly remote, is it?

Or how about the top of Mt Fuji? It’s too near Tokyo to be remote, but on the top of the mountain, the feeling of being on the frontier was there. Except it was crowded. And I was next to three cell phone antennas.

How about you? What’s the most remote place you’ve been? A place where few people live, and signs of civilisation are limited. Let me know in the comments.

The Skies of Mars Are Getting Busy

Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Mars Odyssey are being joined by a pair of probes this week.  There will be five active orbiters around Mars.  That’s certainly a new record.

MAVEN concept art, NASA.
MAVEN concept art, NASA.

Already arrived is NASA’s MAVEN, short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution. It arrived at Mars on September 22nd, and has assumed orbit.  It will study the atmosphere and try to determine where the water had gone.  What’s interesting is that it’ll study how quickly the atmosphere is being stripped away by solar winds, so they may be able to extrapolate the thickness of the atmosphere billions of years ago, as well as see how much water there was.

Mars Orbiter Mission artist concept, by Nesnad for Wikipedia.
Mars Orbiter Mission artist concept, by Nesnad for Wikipedia.

The second probe arriving at Mars is the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), or Mangalyaan. It arrives at Mars today! This mission is exciting not because of what it will do, as much of it is pretty simple compared to what NASA and ESA orbiters have done, but it is the first time India has sent a probe to another planet.  Seeing other countries with successful interplanetary missions is very encouraging.  Apart from testing the technology, which is the primary mission, it also has scientific secondary objectives, including studying the mineralogy, morphology, and atmosphere.  This should be interesting.

Pretty busy at Mars now, isn’t it?  Which mission are you interested in?