If you’ve been even slightly connected to 2016’s abysmal pipeline of original video game launches, then you’ve heard all about the unprecedented sh!tstorm that is Sean Murray’s No Man’s Sky.
No Man’s Sky is one of the greatest examples of a product’s scope getting out of control. Murray and his team promised gamers the entire universe, claiming that players could fly around galaxies in their spaceship, land at planets, gather resources, and encounter all kinds of interesting creatures, generated by a unique code. The galaxy is supposed to be MASSIVE, with the odds of players seeing the same planet incredibly low…until two people found the same planet and stood in the exact same place on stream. Murray’s entire hype-train for the game was fueled by his ambiguous answers, offering multiplayer, tremendous variety, and the ability to do “whatever you wanted.” Yet, what we got was a glitchy, unfinished mess, and awful reviews from people who made the mistake of falling for Murray’s promises.
Again, the issue comes back to product scope. Maintaining a clear and concise scope of the product/project your working ensures that
- Your teammates and you clearly understand what to prioritize
- Your teammates understand your artistic vision very clearly
- Most importantly, allows your teammates to understand what SHOULDN’T be focused on
Murray and his Hello Games team were extremely small for a game of such hype and proportions, so their promise to offer everything at the same time is a dream that even the largest developer teams can’t keep. He made the mistake of making the scope for No Man’s Sky literally endless, and because of that, offered very little substance for the players to consume.
No Man’s Sky, Sean Murray, and Hello Games have been trapped in a tight spot as of late. Customers demanded refunds for their game, and if you did so on the PS4, you would have gotten blocked from customer support, as many users on forum NeoGaf reported. The UK was investigating the game for reports of “false advertising” highlighting the hazards of having too broad of a product scope. The video game’s reddit was closed for a time due to the toxicity of the community and the negative discourse happening around the game (but it has since reopened). A disgruntled employee/internet hacker even tweeted “No Man’s Sky was a mistake” a couple of weeks ago using the OFFICIAL No Man’s Sky account. Sean Murray’s own hubris laid the final nail in the coffin, he was on the road interviewing about this game, making hypocritical promise after promise when he should have been working on the game. This video does the best job of putting the interviews and the content released on launch together, it’s one of the only 16-minute videos I watched with rapt attention on YouTube.