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Pop CultureJune 6, 2017

No Walkman’s Sky? No Man’s Sky developers send mysterious cassette tapes to Reddit


What’s on the tapes? Pure hype or a genuine ‘reaching out’? The Spinoff’s No Man’s Sky correspondent Josh Drummond on what is proving to be a genuine head scratcher. 

This post will be updated as the story progresses, so check back often.

After a launch that might be charitably described as “mixed” and uncharitably as an “unadulterated clustercuss” (plus two quiet and well-received major updates) the developers of No Man’s Sky appear to be stoking the game’s long-dormant hype train.

Sixteen moderators of No Man’s Sky-devoted subreddits r/NoMansSkyTheGame, r/NMSportals and r/NMSGalacticHub each received cassette tapes, numbered from 1 – 16. What’s on the tapes is currently unknown, but reader speculation is running rampant on Reddit.

“No Man’s Sky is getting ported to Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum (sorry no Amstrad CPC version I’m afraid) and all the Reddit mods have received free advance copies!” suggested u/Grubblett, in what is probably sarcasm, but honestly you never know with No Man’s Sky.

“Half-Life 3 confirmed?” memed u/Johnnyoneshot.

Other readers surmised that developer Hello Games had self-destructed and were “13 Reasons Why-ing” their fans.

This reporter suggests, boringly, that it is probably low-key viral marketing for an upcoming update, and hopes they’ll put in multiplayer and working portals this time.

Update: 7/06/2017: 

Drama reigns! Some of the mods, for inexplicable, inhuman reasons, have declined to share their tapes! Here’s u/edgarsoft with the hot take:

“Is really sad to see that some Mods have decided not to share it’s tape content, putting the decoding operation at risk. They have to know that one way or the other, the community will know at some point what HG have in stores for us. Then they will have to face the fact that the Internet never forget nor forgive. At that point they will probably be downvoted out of existence forever and ever.”

You see that? DOWNVOTED OUT OF EXISTENCE  FOREVER AND EVER. A fate worse than death itself.

oh wait they’ve shared the tapes now.

GET HYPE but actually don’t, it’s probably a good idea to take a measured interest in the subject at hand

All of the tapes so far have had a hexadecimal number appear when run through a sonic visualiser / music editing program like Audacity. The hex number translates to “PORTAL”.

So yeah, Half-Life 3 1000% confirmed.

This reporter thinks that if it turns out that all any of the tapes contain is the word PORTAL and there’s no deeper content to be found that the universe will probably collapse under the weight of sheer irony, but hopefully that isn’t the case.

Update: 12/06/2017

Well, this has taken a turn. It seems that whatever Hello Games are up to is entwined with an existing ARG called Waking Titan. Here is u/UnimatrixZeroOne, r/NoMansSkyTheGame mod, with this excellently coherent explanation:

“Upon further inspection, a code had been dead dropped in NYC that day. When converting the code (MDEzRDowMDc4OjA3MjQ6MDA1Ng==) from base64 to ASCII, the string “013D:0078:0724:0056” was revealed. At 2352 CST, user aggressive-cat (swampthing3000 had alerted us to it in the server before most of us had seen aggressive-cat had first discovered it) had posted a comment indicating they had travelled to the system the coordinates were for and discovered a message module left by user “instance16status” and the message was “LOOP16 UNEXPECTED ERROR: 97C-303N-5884-P.” 97C-303N-5884-P turned out to be the password to complete the current phase of the Waking Titan ARG. The message was found on the PC version, we have not received confirmation whether or not it is on PS4 as well. Various users have created threads on the Waking Titan ARG, some explaining why they believe the two are linked.” 

What does all this mean? I have absolutely no idea, and neither do you. ARGs, or alternate-reality games, are orchestrated mysteries for people who don’t find cryptic crosswords sufficiently confusing. They make my head hurt. What is clear is that whatever Waking Titan is, it’s connected to No Man’s Sky, which is now vying for the title of best internet hype metagame ever.

This reporter hopes they are are making their okay space game better too, ideally with multiplayer.

More as it develops. The good people of Reddit are following the mystery here.

The Spinoff has previously documented No Man’s Sky with a “mostly harmless” review, as well as stories about the terrible hype the game experienced before the inevitable backlash on release.

Made with the help of the benevolent superhumans at Bigpipe Broadband, the best ISP in all possible universes. 

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