As No Man's Sky players gear up for Next, the big update coming in July, they're readying their communities to welcome new players. For some, that means making new shareable farms and laying out community guidelines. For others, it means creating an intergalactic police force.
Screenshot: No Man's Sky (Hello Games)
Next claims it will bring true multiplayer to No Man's Sky. Currently, players can see other nearby players as floating orbs of light, and can talk to each other but not otherwise interact. Real multiplayer, where you see other players' avatars and play with each other as opposed to observing each other, opens up the possibility of PVP.
In an interview announcing Next's multiplayer with Inside Xbox, Sean Murray, founder of No Man's Sky developer Hello Games, seemed to hint at PVP being a possibility. "You can pair up together in a team and work together to survive," he said, "or, if you're that guy, you can go and kind of prey on other people."
In the current state of the game, it is possible for communities of players to wage war by passive-aggressively naming planets or building bases, but no one's been able to shoot at another player and take their stuff before. If that does come in the next update, players who participate in communities in No Man's Sky want to be prepared.
The average player might never even see another player, but players who are part of the Galactic Hub, a project meant to catalogue and civilise a corner of No Man's Sky space, are around other players all the time. The size of the community, as well as its notoriety, has many Hub members worried they will be a target for PVP attacks.
The Galactic Hub Twitter account has already started getting some vague but threatening tweets, and there have been outright calls to create chaos in the Hub on reddit.
"As soon as those words 'prey' were mentioned by Sean Murray, we were targeted and threatened by numerous people," Andy Krycek, a high ranking member of the Hub's loose government, told Kotaku over Reddit private messages. "With this, it's only natural for us to gather defences in the best way we know and that's by banding like minded players in one group who are dedicated to the Galactic Hub."
"Even in the current Hub, it's somewhat common to encounter other players at farms and other popular bases," Hub founder 7101334 said over reddit private messages. "Once we can shoot each other, it will be important to have a peace-keeping presence in those areas."
As soon as 710 heard Murray's interview, he posted a topic in the subreddit about a potential police force, and followed that up with a more detailed proposal the next day.
"The Galactic Hub has always been about one thing at its core: mutual benefit drawn from shared discoveries," he wrote. "But this is not a static simulation, and our universe is fated to be changed again in 2 months. For the first time, it will be possible for Interloper to turn against Interloper." (In No Man's Sky, players refer to each other as "Interlopers".)
"The current plan is to establish a Discord channel where Hub citizens can tag an established Defence Force - basically like calling 911 or 999 or whatever your country's emergency response number is - and say, 'Help, I'm being attacked at [coordinates or HUBn tag]!'" 710 proposed. "Then, other Interlopers would respond to your location and defend you from the pirate (or avenge you if they were too late)."
The community was overwhelmingly in favour of creating a police force. Although topics discussed in the post ranged from "how do we as a community preserve our communal way of life?" to "what should we call our space cops?" the community was very enthusiastic about using the latter to enforce the former.
So far they have received 75 applications for what they have dubbed the Galactic Hub Defence Force. They have begun setting up Discord channels for the space cops to congregate, as well as where they will receive the future distress signals they will be responding to.
After surveying the community, Hub members decided on the official role of the GHDF. "The GHDF act as public servants and protectors of the Galactic Hub population," the Galactic Hub wiki states. "The GHDF may occasionally act in matters outside the Hub, such as defending another civilisation from an organised attack."
They even decided on an official ship and colour scheme for Defence Force members.
Screenshot: Galactic Hub Wiki
Of course, real world police forces can succumb to corruption, and there has been no shortage of news items in the past couple of years noting police abusing their power.
710 doesn't seem too worried, and told Kotaku that most of the applicants are all about keeping the peace. "People are looking forward to running training exercises, possibly building shared 'police bases' with the cooperative building features Sean [Murray] referenced," 710 told Kotaku.
"I want to make sure that the Defence Force troopers remember that they serve the people of the Galactic Hub, not the other way around. I don't think it will be a pervasive issue, but I wouldn't be surprised if I had to correct one or two instances of power-tripping."
Before the update in July, the Galactic Hub Defence Force will be doing a whole lot of nothing - they won't even be able to train together until multiplayer is live. However, creating space cops in anticipation of these changes has made community members a bit less nervous.
The last time the game had a big update, the Hub had to move locations and start over because the changes to world generation made their previous planets uninhabitable. All that might happen again, with the additional potential danger of hostile players.
No matter what happens, Krycek told Kotaku that players should stock up on money and ammo.
"Whether it's warranted or not, I think we should be prepared for either a new AI threat or players threats," he said. "Make sure your hyperdrive is maxed, we may have to relocate and set up shop quickly as part of our contingency for a universe reset, if you want to help in that eventuality, you're going to have to be fast."