Why No Man’s Sky Was Almost Canceled and a Story About Kanye West

02-05-2016
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Appearing on IGN Unfiltered today, No Man’s Sky creator Sean Murray shared some interesting stories about the development of the ambitious-sounding space game. Among these is one about why the game was almost canceled and a tale about snubbing Kanye West (sort of).

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In the hour-long interview, Murray recalls how he nearly backed out of his commitment to show the first No Man’s Sky trailer at the VGX awards show in 2013. After showing the trailer to colleagues, feedback was not encouraging, Murray said, and he was hesitant to show it at the event. Organizer Geoff Keighley told Murray he had already built the trailer into the show, sold it to his bosses, and thought it was good enough to put out. Murray eventually consented, and the trailer ended up stealing the show, wowing many viewers.

Just a few weeks after the positive response to the No Man’s Sky trailer in December 2013, a flood severely damaged developer Hello Games’ office. Though the game was backed up, some work was lost. It was at this time that Murray thought about cancelling No Man’s Sky.

“I think if we hadn’t announced the game–I nearly backed out of it–I think if we had backed out of it, and then had been flooded, it’s hard to know…I think we might have canned No Man’s Sky,” he explained. “Because we would have been feeling reallyunsure of it. When we were trying to back out of it, we were like, ‘What have we been doing?'”

The flood turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however, because it helped rally the team to push forward in earnest on No Man’s Sky. Murray explains that Hello Games, a team of 10 people at the time, was divided into two units. One squad of six worked on No Man’s Sky in secret (not even telling the other members of the team, apparently), while the other four pushed ahead with the Joe Danger series. Murray says the two teams were drifting apart somewhat, and though there was never a “problem,” there existed a “slightly odd-feeling” dynamic. Things could have gone south had it not been for an event–the flood–that united the team. They all worked together to clean out the office after the flood damage and build new PCs, among other things. This helped instill a new sense of camaraderie.

“I remember saying to the team, ‘Yes, this is crappy but imagine what it’s going to be like when we walk out on stage at E3 and we show the game in its fullest.'”

Also in the interview, Murray talked about the celebrity interest in No Man’s Sky at E3 2015. He showed the game to inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk as well as director Steve Spielberg, but wasn’t able to connect with Kanye West. While West was walking the show floor seeing games, Hello Games did not have a booth on the floor itself. Because of this, and other commitments, West never got to see No Man’s Sky (though he did play Star Wars Battlefront and Uncharted 4, among others).

“We got a message that said [West] had wanted to see the game,” Murray said. “We weren’t actually on the show floor at E3. So we were like, ‘We’re not on the show floor.’ And he’s like on the show floor. And we’ve got Elon Musk and Steve Spielberg, so we can’t take that Kanye meeting [laughs].”

The full IGN Unfiltered episode is terrific. It’s filled with interesting insight about No Man’s Sky and Murray’s life before Hello Games. Go watch it here.

No Man’s Sky is due out for PS4 and PC on June 21 in North America, June 22 in Europe, and June 24 in the UK.

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