• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Opinion Game Dev Hello Games’ Sean Murray on the studio’s next No Man’s Sky-sized game

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
26,851
27,986
1,335
ibiza

Hello Games, best known for the controversial-but-eventually-beloved No Man’s Sky, has been working on a few other games. Just last week, the developer released The Last Campfire, an adorable adventure/puzzle game in the style of The Legend of Zelda (but without the combat). But that’s not the only project Hello Games has been working on. Last week, Sean Murray, the studio’s founder, spoke with Polygon about the team’s desire to keep making new, non-sequelized projects, including a title Murray describes as “a huge, ambitious game like No Man’s Sky.”

Hello Games’ shift to a smaller project like The Last Campfire (now released on all consoles, PC, and Apple Arcade) may seem surprising given the success of No Man’s Sky. It’d be predictable for the team to pivot into exclusively making larger titles that promise the world. But Murray said that when he founded the studio, it was just him and three other guys making the game they always wanted to make.

“I had worked at EA before I started Hello Games, and we’d just done lots of sequels,” Murray told Polygon. “Everything that I worked on was the sequel to something. I found that a bit of a depressing thing in some ways. It was part of the reason for moving.”

Upon leaving EA, the studio’s first project was Joe Danger, a unique arcade game about a stunt racer, created by a team of four people. It ended up being so successful that, ironically, they went ahead and made a sequel: Joe Danger 2.

“I had a little bit of a midlife crisis [after Joe Danger 2],” said Murray. “That’s what started No Man’s Sky, you know, I felt a panic. I knew as a studio I wanted to do the game that No Man’s Sky became eventually, but I was like, what if I never get to make that and what if we just keep doing the next thing and the next thing and life moves on. I was starting to think about having kids and stuff, but I was just like, maybe this is it? Maybe I just find myself on this treadmill forever?”

And so Hello Games decided to make something big and weird and ambitious that could still work within its small studio structure. For much of No Man’s Sky’s development, the team was just six people, expanding to 15 by the time it shipped. Still, it was a tiny team considering the buzz around that game.

Hello Games is now 26 people. Just three of them made up the team behind The Last Campfire. The rest of the team is split. One chunk of the remaining 23 is continuing to support No Man’s Sky with updates. The other chunk is working on Hello Games’ next “big” project.


Murray isn’t offering up much in the way of specifics, preferring to keep the next project under wraps for now. He does, however, have thoughts about lessons learned after the chaos of No Man’s Sky’s launch and whether he’d do anything differently for this new project.


“There is this poison chalice or deal with the devil that I think any indie game developer would find actually a very difficult choice, right? The choice that we had with No Man’s Sky where if I was to go back again, I would find it very difficult to know what the right path was. Where you will have incredible interest in your game, you will have a huge amount of excitement for it. But you will be in a rocket ship, launching towards the sun, and you will be building that rocket on the way up.
“And there is an excitement and a craziness to that. Where we’ve ended up with the game, where we have hundreds of millions of hours played and a really happy community and all of that kind of thing, you know, I’m OK with that deal that we did, right?”

But Murray admits that there was definitely a toll taken on his team in terms of their mental health after the blowback of the launch. “That was a very, very hard process and I wouldn’t want to put anyone through that again,” he said.


Thanks to the success of No Man’s Sky, Murray says the team can be a little more chilled with smaller releases like The Last Campfire. “We’re in a lucky position that this has been mostly a creative endeavor … It’s very different if you’re an indie studio who is so reliant on how people will perceive your game in the first 30 seconds.”


So would Murray prefer to follow that same, chill tempo for the team’s next big No Man’s Sky-sized project? Would it be better to just shock everyone with a surprise launch out of nowhere? He’s not so sure.


“I think about it a lot and I don’t know where I come down on it. There is a really positive thing about talking about your game a lot. Where you get people interested in it who wouldn’t have played it otherwise. We see that with No Man’s Sky. We appealed to a huge amount of people, a lot of whom wouldn’t have known about the game otherwise, right? If we’d stealth-launched it or whatever, some of our biggest fans would never have heard about it.
“So it’s very difficult. But I look back, having done a lot of different press opportunities and things like that. And I reckon about half of what we did — and a lot of where we had problems, I think, where we were naive — we didn’t really need to do and we would have had the same level of success, you know? And that’s my own personal take. Right? A lot of opportunities were put in front of us, and we were told that they were the right things to do and I look back and I’m not sure that they were super, super important to the overall outcome kind of thing.”
 

GHG

Member
Nov 9, 2006
24,471
30,708
1,845
 

-Arcadia-

Banned
Aug 20, 2019
9,661
33,470
910
Talking about your game is fine. Lying about it, or promising things you couldn’t deliver, was always the issue.

For all the ways he’s made up for it since then, I get the feeling from collected statements that he doesn’t understand that.

I’m looking forward to whatever they do next, though. I kind of figured they’d just keep adding to NMS (and maybe that will happen) forever.
 

Gods&Monsters

Member
May 11, 2018
678
1,108
495
They clearly learned and gained my trust back with this biggest turn around story in gaming history that No man's sky is.

I downloaded the game on Gamepass. It's supposed to be the most recent version with all the updates and after playing for about 2 hours I'm still wondering what's the point of this game. Going around aimlessly gathering ressources or whatever. Feels pointless. I can't imagine what it was like at release.

Absolute boredom. I don't even the energy to start it again.
 
  • Like
Reactions: recursive

sublimit

Member
Aug 28, 2009
20,961
9,775
1,310
I feel sorry about his teamates for the period after NMS's launch. Especially since he doesn't seem to want to admit how much he fucked up regardless of the game's success.
They did manage to turn around public perception but like he also said that took a heavy toil on the team's mental health. Personally i would never want to work under his leadership ever again especially since he still doesn't want to admit how wrong his approach was.
 

genesisblock

Member
Jun 9, 2020
207
192
230
At the time of the announcement, it immediately triggered all my synapases or adventure, of awe, but a very tiny part of me said "wait, this sounds too good to be true". And sure enough the game was launched barebones - it became my most anticipated game to leaving it entirely. I've never played the game nor do I have any incentive to buy it even with all these updates.

I hate being right about my cynicism, and I really want to believe he can pull it off for his next venture.
 

DJ Shalad

Formerly 'King Harkinian'
Dec 10, 2018
2,745
6,851
700
i had my fun with NMS for like a day or two. it got boring really fast, as with all sandbox type of games (sea of thieves, nms, star shitizen). the vanilla game was missing literally everything, a joke.

i don't care if they supported the game for a few years, free of charge. he is a pathological liar, one that lied like 3 years straight on Sony stages, during interviews etc.
 

newtypepilot

Member
Aug 19, 2015
2,799
1,098
525
I guess he still hasn't learned from his lesson of not shutting up. Have someone else do the promotions, unless he wants to overhype his game with lies again...
 

Kokoloko85

Member
Sep 26, 2019
2,985
3,652
395
Ill be buying his next game. No Man Sky’s is one of the best turn arounds in gaming history.

Plus if anyone actually paid attention, he said a million times theres no multiplayer at launch. And thats its meant to feel like an empty solo Sci fi movie.... its gonna launch unfinished and that they are gonna build it up like Minecraft did throughout the years.
He said this many times.

I watched all the developer videos and you can tell from his body language in the last on stage trailer and behind the scenes, they were being rushed and constantly asked about multiplayer.
Im pretty sure they didnt want to release at that price either.

Anyway, with the crappy start, I feel they did the right thing and carried on with there plan of releasing content for the game. Its amazing in VR
 

Harry Tung

Member
Jun 1, 2018
4,098
8,511
515
Sweden
I'm waiting for Hello Games to announce that next-generation update for NMS. It's a fun game, but it's bogged down by horrible performance and shitty draw distance. Breaks immersion and immersion is key in this game. It's also glitchy and prone to crashes.
 

GymWolf

Member
Jun 11, 2019
15,742
23,052
615
i had my fun with NMS for like a day or two. it got boring really fast, as with all sandbox type of games (sea of thieves, nms, star shitizen). the vanilla game was missing literally everything, a joke.

i don't care if they supported the game for a few years, free of charge. he is a pathological liar, one that lied like 3 years straight on Sony stages, during interviews etc.
Yeah i have zero sympathy for this prick.
 

Hunnybun

Member
Jun 3, 2020
974
1,120
335
He's a millionaire now. I'm sure he couldn't give less of a shit about anything he did.

You can look at their accounts for free on Companies House.

The year the game launched its insane, I think they had sales of £45m or something. It was virtually all profit.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Punished Miku

LeftThumbstick

Gold Member ~ I love GOOOLD!
Jun 21, 2020
996
2,613
575
They managed to pull back what was a disasterous launch and garner some goodwill and faith in their talent. Hopefully they learned not to botch a launch and overpromise like last time. The internet historian video on him shed some light on why what happened, happened. It was a good watch and those who are unsure of Hello Games should check it out.

There is hope they could land a really succesful title.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kadayi

MHubert

Member
Dec 22, 2019
350
408
390
(...) if anyone actually paid attention, he said a million times theres no multiplayer at launch. And thats its meant to feel like an empty solo Sci fi movie.... its gonna launch unfinished and that they are gonna build it up like Minecraft did throughout the years.
He said this many times.
This so much. I followed this game from the first trailer, reading every bit of news and watched every video up until release - and the game turned out exactly as I imagined. I have never understood why people call him a liar.
 
Last edited:

Miles708

Member
Sep 11, 2019
1,390
1,804
415
Hot take: No Man's Sky at launch was a worthy game.

A team of 4 people with a project with AAA marketing... things got awry. Very. They tried to fix, succeed, but it's still not enough. It will never be.
"He has fucked up once and never again!".

If you can't accept what they've done as a token of good faith, the problem is not the game nor the guy.
Sincerely.
 
Last edited:

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Jun 7, 2004
18,621
11,949
2,110
You can look at their accounts for free on Companies House.

The year the game launched its insane, I think they had sales of £45m or something. It was virtually all profit.
... aside from all the money invested in that up to that point (... and the pain in the arse that it is to restore an office after being flooded and having all this pressure on you and not having the time to breathe really let alone hire... and still releasing a kickass game they kept supporting for free for years).
 
Last edited:

Ballthyrm

Member
Jun 21, 2013
1,548
2,148
675
Montpellier
The lesson learned is to never anything on internet you are not willing to defend 10 years down the line.
Also people can't be trusted and don't care if this don't work out, anything said is a promise.

IE: shut your mouth and start talking after the game is out ...
 

Kadayi

Banned
Oct 10, 2012
11,979
15,137
1,225
Discord : Kadayi#0650
So Many people in this thread who's wife was fucked by murray or their cat killed by his SUV.

Indeed. You'd think given some of the response. I don't know how it is that anyone thought that NMS was going to be the second coming. People knew it was built by a team of 4 people not a AAA studio. If they hadn't had the Studio flood and then Sony stepping in waving a cheque and then pimping it as some AAA must have they'd have probably released as Early Access on Steam about a 3rd of the price. As is, and then built the game out from there.
 
Last edited:

Hunnybun

Member
Jun 3, 2020
974
1,120
335
... aside from all the money invested in that up to that point (... and the pain in the arse that it is to restore an office after being flooded and having all this pressure on you and not having the time to breathe really let alone hire... and still releasing a kickass game they kept supporting for free for years).

I'm not having a go, just stating the case.

People don't need to feel sorry for Sean. Whether he stretched the truth or not, the PR worked out spectacularly for them.

Their most recent accounts show £55m of cash in hand.
 
Last edited:

Panajev2001a

GAF's Pleasant Genius
Jun 7, 2004
18,621
11,949
2,110
I'm not having a go, just stating the case.

People don't need to feel sorry for Sean. Whether he stretched the truth or not, the PR worked out spectacularly for them.

Their most recent accounts show £55m of cash in hand.

Well deserved I would say. Look at what they have now a VR enabled fully multiplayer mega featured universe spanning adventure.
 

Hunnybun

Member
Jun 3, 2020
974
1,120
335
Well deserved I would say. Look at what they have now a VR enabled fully multiplayer mega featured universe spanning adventure.

Tbh I didn't closely follow the whole controversy around the release. It seemed like there was probably fault on both sides. He obviously failed to deliver on all his hype, but whether it was deliberate exaggeration or not I'm not sure. Certainly he knew the power of publicity: he rejected financial help from Sony in lieu of prominence at E3 and their other marketing, so building the hype was certainly part of the plan.

But there's no doubt they worked like bastards for years and created something extraordinary, especially for a team that size.

I can just also see how people who felt they were conned out of £50 would feel a bit resentful at the guy becoming mega wealthy off the back of it all.
 

cyber69

Member
Sep 21, 2018
1,911
3,276
385
Tbh I didn't closely follow the whole controversy around the release. It seemed like there was probably fault on both sides. He obviously failed to deliver on all his hype, but whether it was deliberate exaggeration or not I'm not sure. Certainly he knew the power of publicity: he rejected financial help from Sony in lieu of prominence at E3 and their other marketing, so building the hype was certainly part of the plan.

But there's no doubt they worked like bastards for years and created something extraordinary, especially for a team that size.

I can just also see how people who felt they were conned out of £50 would feel a bit resentful at the guy becoming mega wealthy off the back of it all.

If an individual is upset about a 50 dollar expense. They should not be playing video games.
 
Last edited:

EverydayBeast

thinks Halo Infinite is a new graphical benchmark
Aug 18, 2017
10,264
7,462
905
Mount Olympus
www.neogaf.com
No Man's Sky's creation came from a good place having a thousand different worlds works but everything can't be about next time in No Man Sky's case the game had a lot of issues, next gen will be more qualified for those big sized games.
 

MHubert

Member
Dec 22, 2019
350
408
390
I can just also see how people who felt they were conned out of £50 would feel a bit resentful at the guy becoming mega wealthy off the back of it all.
I agree that the marketing really pushed the expectations, but I also think those people bear some sort of responsibility in how they interpret and perceive said marketing - especially if they choose to spend money on a product that hasn't even released yet.
Again, to this day, I am still puzzled about how so many peoples expectations could differ so much from my own.
 
Last edited:
Aug 11, 2019
1,120
1,616
380
I'm looking forward to whatever this big game turns out to be. I would like to see what they could do with their procedural generation when scaled back in size. Instead of millions of planets what could they do with 1 planet?

I'm thinking that an Earth sized planet with more detailed generation on a smaller scale could make for some cool shit. Like a multiplayer game where you're spawned in a random spot in the map then you have to try to find other people to build up towns and whatnot. Eventually you would have cities and fighting factions.

There you go Sean, take that idea for free.
 

Hunnybun

Member
Jun 3, 2020
974
1,120
335
I agree that the marketing really pushed the expectations, but I also think those people bear some sort of responsibility in how they interpret and perceive said marketing - especially if they choose to spend money on a product that hasn't even released yet.
Again, to this day, I am still puzzled about how so many peoples expectations could differ so much from my own.

Yeah, like I said, fault on both sides.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MHubert

Fated_Crimson

Member
Jun 6, 2018
224
319
390
No Man's Sky is one of my favorite games of all time, but there is nobody to blame but Sean for the launch of the game. It's probable that he was rushed by Sony, but that doesn't explain his hype. It's documented that he flat out lied about features that he knew were not in the game. He was asked if the game had multiplayer and his answer was "yes". Hopefully he has learned from this and doesn't hype the game in that way again.
 
Last edited:

SafeOrAlone

Member
May 22, 2018
1,063
1,041
415
Sorry Sean, but you still have 3 more years of being shunned left. I see you are doing good work though, keep it up.
 

LordOfChaos

Member
Mar 31, 2014
11,811
7,195
985
This guy was public enemy number one for a while there, I have to give full kudos to him and his team for going quiet and working on making the game what it should have been. Hopefully there's hard lessons learned there, and I'm interested in seeing the next big game.