Hello Games wants to make it clear that No Man’s Sky is not an MMO.
“People [don’t] fully realize what it means to be that far away from somebody else who’s playing. And I know that that’s a bit weird for people, but it’s what’s different about our game. And we want to embrace that. We don’t want people just scouting off beside their friends. I actually want people to boot up the game and just think, ‘Isn’t the universe huge? Who are we? What are we all doing here?’
“People keep saying to us, ‘Yeah, but what if I knew where they were? Would I go there?'” That’s possible, says Sean, “but they are going to have to stay there for quite a while, while you get over there. And then once you get over there you might land on the same planet and then you will say, ‘I’m on a planet the size of Earth and I am on a mountain. Where are you?’ Which is, I know, a weird thing and it’s a daunting thing.”
Although players will be able to see their friends on a map, getting together in-game would be an incredibly daunting task. Don’t even try it, suggests Sean. You will be disappointed.
The developers might include a player lobby, specific places in the universe where players can congregate, if push comes to shove, but they seem unsure how well it would work.
While players won’t be able to socialize in-game (on purpose, anyway) they will be able to leave messages for each other. Sean was vague about what this will entail—”Let’s not get into loads of detail”—but did clarify that they would be written messages.
Hello Games will provide for some kind of modding, because otherwise players will just do it themselves, and “if they get in there and they just start disassembling it they will end up creating parallel universes; like genuinely that’s what would happen. They would change the numbers and then someone else would be playing in a different universe, but still posting to our servers.” However, the tools won’t be on such a scale that players will be able to create entire planets.
Originally, players could land their ship, walk somewhere, and with a press of a button summon the ship to their new location. However, the developers found that people would just “walk, summon, walk, summon […] They would walk and see something that was on the other side of this room and summon their ship and fly over there. It just amazed us how lazy people were. So we can’t have this. It just looks silly.”
Ships can’t be stolen, but people keep asking about it, so that may change. “I just don’t like it,” says Sean. “We’re trying to keep the game not too destructive. I think as soon as you do that it becomes the game about stealing ships. We’ll see.”
Because the development team is small and the game is “super ambitious”, they want to concentrate on getting it out rather than adding functionality. However, the developers have hacked together VR functionality for the game, and liked it, so they’re probably going to try to get it in at some point.
“I think it’s a really good fit from the experiments that we’ve had,” says Sean. “It’ll be interesting. I don’t think anyone knows how the plan for Oculus or Morpheus is gonna work over the next few years. I don’t think Sony knows that. I don’t think Oculus knows that. And we definitely don’t. But I can tell you that I’ve had a VR headset working in a very rudimentary way and walked around a planet.”
No Man’s Sky has no NPCs. “I feel like games just don’t do NPCs very well. I don’t know how much it adds.” They’ve discussed the idea of adding NPCs, but no player feedback has ever even asked for it. “And I feel like we don’t need it. I don’t feel it would add anything.”
Twin stars exist in the game, but they’re “really rare”, and they’re probably going to work on making them a bit more common.
Gaseous planets don’t exist in the universe of No Man’s Sky. “You are always able to walk around a planet [because] there’s no point in a planet that you can’t land your ship on. And we felt like it would be frustrating for the players to see this planet [that they’d try to land on and] would be like, ‘Oh, I get out and fall?’ It’s just a weird concept for people”.
Although planets don’t have weather as such, the game does “use temperature and humidity to make sure, like, if you see rain, you’re probably on a rainy planet and it probably rains there pretty much all the time.” They decided to limit what was available on each planet in order to encourage interplanetary exploration.
If you want to know more about about No Man’s Sky, we did a mega post with all the information available about the game a while back, too.