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Sciencing the Shit Out of No Man's Sky 'Multiplayer'

Science might have an explanation for why No Man's Sky 'multiplayer' isn't what we thought it was. And it relates to Netflix's Stranger Things.

Wow, the internet is upset about No Man’s Sky. Maybe it’s better to say that the internet is divided about the game, and the ones who are upset are really upset and very vocal about it. I really don’t blame those who are upset about the way that “multiplayer” is handled in No Man’s Sky. There are direct quotes from designer Sean Murray where he says there will be multiplayer in No Man’s Sky, although he was admittedly cagey about the whole thing, and he almost always caveated the mention of multiplayer with statement about how it’s not multiplayer the way you’d think. There was a lot of emphasis, especially right before launch, that the game was single-player.

What if there was a way who scientifically explain how the multiplayer works in No Man’s Sky. Sure, it will not excuse the hype, but I find this kind of thing fun. So let’s identify the problem with multiplayer and science the shit out of an explanation. I think this’ll be fun because we are dropping into the quantum realm, and there are strong ties to popular television series on Netflix: Stranger Things. What is the connection? Let’s science the shit out of No Man’s Sky multiplayer.

We should probably talk about what we know about player interaction in No Man’s Sky.

We know that there is a big database called Atlas that tracks the names that prayers have given different objects in the universe. If one player names a planet Lofty McFoofoo (feel free to name your next planet that), then everyone who travels to that planet will see that the planet is named Lofty McFoofoo. The same applies to creatures and the like. In fact, that’s how many of the players have discovered that other players are close. If one player names a planet just before another player arrives she will know that another player is close.

We also know that if two players are standing in the same place at the same time, they will not see each other. There have now been many videos with players who have been in the same place and not seeing each other. The first one on PC was on a space station, but I think that the most telling was of the story of TheGalacticCactus and Psytokat. These two players were streaming at the exact same time and decided to connect with each other. All the evidence, from buildings and rock formations to NPCs and space stations all indicated that they were in the same place, and since the streams were in real time, they were there at the same time.

However, there were some key difference between Psytokat’s and TheGalacticCactus’ instances of the game. While the stationary objects were the same, many of the mobile objects, like spaceships and fauna had moved. And if we look closely at this image I’ve included of the buildings, there are minor cosmetic difference. However, the most telling difference had to be the time of day. If you look at the pictures again, you’ll note that the lighting in PsytoKat’s screen is different than TheGalacticCactus’. That’s because it’s night on PsytoKat’s screen, and it’s day from TheGalacticCactus.

Now it’s time for a little science.

Before I get to how this kind of thing would work in a universe based on our physics, I would like to talk about a scientific phenomenon called quantum entanglement. When two quantum particles become entangled, we find that when one changes the other changes as well, instantly and regardless of distance. I briefly mentioned this in my segment about Pokémon Go. But the usage in that was exactly how it happens in real life. We see entangled particles when a beam of light is refracted by a prism or in extreme cases we observe entangled particles when gravity bends the light of a star around another star. Fun stuff.

As an example, let’s say one entangled particle has an upward spin and the other particle has a downward spin. If we were to reverse the polarity of the upward spinning particle (making it a downward spin), the entangled particle would also reverse its polarity, giving it an upward spin. These particles could literally be light years away from each other, and it wouldn’t make a difference. The particles would both reverse polarity instantly.

Entangled realms

Sorry for the minor spoilers for those who haven’t seen the Netflix series Stranger Things. There is a place in that series called the Upside Down. It’s essentially a distorted mirror of our world. And to top it off, actions in the Upside Down can (but not necessarily) affect our world. This was evident with the Christmas lights turning on and off. But how does that happen? I’m glad you asked.

I heard this explained by using a bedsheet. When thrown on a bed, the sheet has wrinkles that can resemble each other. Some are smaller, some are bigger, but they are still similar. Now, if you take your hand and smooth out one of the wrinkles, it has a profound effect on the other wrinkles. This is the idea of entangled realms. They are quantumly connected universes that are affected by changes in our universe.

In No Man’s Sky, the Atlas acts as the bound between realms with each player living in his or her own realm. Although minor changes like breaking down a door doesn’t necessarily affect the next realm, changing the name of a species, might. At the same time, it’s possible for one realm to be in night while the other is in day.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours? Science isn’t true science unless it’s tested and attempted to be proven wrong. How would you science the shit out of this? Let me know in the comments.

Published Aug. 19th 2016

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