August 9, 2016: the date I woke up next to a ship I had never seen, on a planet that I had no memory of stepping foot on. This was the day everything changed forever. I took the ship and began to explore the planet. Plants and animals that my barley working scanner found, told me they were all undiscovered. Everything, even the planet had no name. So I named it all. I don’t know why, but at the time it seemed important.
After several hours of wandering the planet, my suit and ship were full of minerals that I had mined. I needed to sell them, but where? I took my ship and headed towards the stars. I didn’t know what I would find, but I knew whatever was out there had to give more answers than the planet I had just spent the day exploring. As I broke through the planet’s atmosphere and entered into the emptiness of space, I saw a large structure off into the distance: a space station.
As I landed inside the station, I could see a ramp leading to a door. Approaching the door caused it to slide open. Inside, a small lizard like creature wearing a space suit. I would come to learn this alien race as the Gek. It tried speaking to me but I didn’t know what it was saying. After a long and frustrating gibberish filled conversation, I realize that if I was to ever get answers about what was going on, I would need to be able to communicate with the aliens.
After finding a device inside the station that let me sell the minerals I no longer needed, I got back in my ship and headed out. I knew what I needed to do. Finding out the answers to who I am would take baby steps. Language, a better ship, and better tools to mine were all things I would need if I was to find out what was going on. To my surprise, of all the things I would need, language was the easiest to come across. Scattered across nearly every planet were monuments and by interacting with them, my mind became flooded with the language of the creatures that called that system home. Some of these monuments didn’t just give me language though. Some gave me the history of the different alien races I came across. As of right now though, the information, while interesting, is relatively worthless.
It was while I was looking for more of these monuments, I came across a planet that I would name, “Nothing here.” On this planets were fields of Vortex Cubes. A red cube hovering above the ground that drew me in with it’s hypnotic twirl in the air. I reached out and took the nearest one. An alarm rang through the sky and I suddenly found myself being hunted by the machines that I often saw flying around the planets. I always assumed they were historians updating some larger database. It was this day I realized that there was more to these Sentinels than I realized. As I ran from the firing drone, a large laser beam hit me in the back, stunning me. I turned to see where it came from. Off in the distance was a machine that shared the same colors as the flying drones I had seen countless times, but this one was different. Instead of a flying ball that scanned everything it saw, what aimed it’s weapon at me was something in the shape of animal on four legs. I fired my gun at it’s direction but it wasn’t strong enough. I ran into the nearest cave and and hid until they finally stopped searching for me. I didn’t know what this cube did or why there was a giant field of them on this random planet but I knew I needed all of them. Those red cubes were my way of getting closer to the answers I needed.
It took all day, but I left that field bare. The only thing left in the field that even came close to the color of the cube were the destroyed drones that littered the ground. The dog-like Sentinels remained however. They stared up at me as I flew away. I can only assume they’re still there to this day waiting for my return. I quickly took the cubes to the closest station and sold them all. For the first time since I had woken up, I felt as if I had made progress. 3 Million credits sat in my account and it was time to upgrade. A better gun and a new ship were in order and once I came across worthy models that deserved my hard earned money, it all began again.
I travelled through the stars with my new ship and gun and I wondered, why I am doing this? What continued to push me? Why do I keep giving names to planets that no one will ever see? Discovering animal species that no one will ever interact with? I still didn’t know who I was… what if I was just some new model of Sentinel? What if my memory core was damaged on that very first planet and that’s why I don’t remember? All I did was scan and mine after all…
After this existential crisis, I got in my ship and flew to the nearest space station. I stood next to my ship and thought about everything. Most importantly, were there others like me out there? Were they doing the same thing I was doing or did they choose differently? Instead of getting trapped in a loop of mining and selling, did they choose to travel out into the deep unknown. The center of the galaxy always stared at me every time I got into my ship but I never dared stare back. As I thought about everything, my eyelids grew heavy, a blanket of warmth wrapped itself around me and what I thought was exhaustion became something more than I could have ever expected.
August 12 2017: The date I woke up next to a ship I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Even to this day, I don’t understand what happened. I laid unconscious in that space station in some sort of hyper sleep for nearly a year. It wasn’t until a noise that I never thought I would hear filled my helmet that my eyes finally opened. It was a transmission… from people I knew. They were waking up on their own planets just as I had done. As they acquired what they needed to get their busted ships off of their planets, (I guess I was lucky to wake up to an already working ship) we discussed how we would find one another. On our galactic maps, it gives the the distance that we are to the center of the galaxy. We would use that number to find another. Yes, to whomever is reading this, I understand that my friends and I are the equivalent of needles and the galaxy a haystack, but we have to try. An eternity spent out in space alone, that is a punishment I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
After the transmission ended, I looked around the space station and saw a door that was originally never open. Inside, an alien offering jobs for a reward. I didn’t have time to look into this though. I knew where I needed to go. The nearest planet was the only thing I was concerned about. Leaving the space station though, my ears that were previous filled with sounds of my friends’ voices now rang with the sound of battle. Outside my craft were several ships chasing after one another involved combat. Sure I had my run-ins with pirates but never an actual conflict like this. They were out for blood and I knew my cargo ship wouldn’t survive the battle. Besides, I desperately needed to get out of space. I had to be on solid ground again. I put every ounce of recourse that my ship had into flying away from that battle, and boy was it was worth it. When I landed… well, maybe it was because my eyes were still trying to adjust to being awake but everything just seemed different. More colorful, more alive. The colors of this planet popped in a way I had never experienced before.
As I walked around the planet, I saw a creature that I had never seen. I instinctually scanned it and what caught me off guard the most wasn’t the creature caught in the cross hairs of my scanner but the information that the actual device was putting out. My scanner had improved greatly. I don’t understand how but it did. So much had changed while I slept for that year. Doors had opened, the galaxy brightened, and somehow my own tech had improved. My friends who are just now waking will never fully understand what it was like when I first woke up, but I’m glad they’ll get to enjoy the sudden evolution that everything seems to have taken on.
So, why am writing this? Was it just to describe my journey? A fun tale to tell around the campfire? No. I’m writing this because I’m sitting here in my ship with no life support and no way to fill it, wondering how long it will take my friends to find me. If I step out of my ship, I will die. I have come too far for this to be my end, but if this needle hoping to be found in an infinite haystack remains lost forever… Well, I just hope this story finds someone. I hope they learn what it was like for a no named man like me, that travelled the vanilla skies of an ever changing galaxy.
[…] I actually wrote a piece on the update when it first came out, so if you’re interested please check it out. Ultimately though, what developer HelloGames has done with No Man’s Sky should be praised. […]