Sean Murray's Advice To Fallout 76 And Anthem: Just Focus On Development

no mans sky sean murray

No Man's Sky is the go-to story for redemption in video games, so it only makes sense that the industry would turn to Hello Games founder Sean Murray. As the person who received all the angry emails in those opening months, he knows what a rough launch can be like. So when asked for his advice on what other publishers can do to bounce back from their own rough launches, he was frank: less talking, more developing.

Murray was the keynote speaker at Develop 2019, a game developers conference in the seaside English town of Brighton. Having given a prominent keynote at GDC about what the No Man's Sky experience was like, he followed up at Develop with more details about what happened in the weeks and months after NMS' launch, and how the team dealt with it.

Sean Murray's No Man's Sky Talk Is Worth Watching

There's always plenty of news, announcements and personal stories from GDC every year that are worth listening to. But one of the most fascinating was from Sean Murray talking about what the No Man's Sky journey has been like.

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"I sat down so many times to write the perfect blog post, that was going to explain everything about the development, and where we were, and our road-map for the future — I did that so many times ... but I could see that it didn't hold credibility, for right or wrong," Murray said, according to GamesIndustry.

Murray said that, at that point, Hello Games hadn't spoken to the media in two years and it'd been about three months since they spoke to their community. As he mentioned at GDC, the studio changed its communication strategy to focus purely on patch notes and releases, communicating through what was being added to the game as it was pushed out, rather than talking about public roadmaps and upcoming content. And it's a strategy that more and more developers should subscribe to.

"There have been a number of games that have since come out, had a polarising launch, and that explosive mix of loads of people playing it but also problems. I can see EA or Microsoft or whoever try to placate players by talking to them, and for right or wrong it just doesn't really work," GamesRadar quoted Murray as saying.

"You see this all the time when a big publisher will talk to the community and try to solve the problem and then get embroiled, taking up more and more of its head space."

Given the move to games as a service, it's likely we'll see more and more franchises search for ways to re-engage players after their initial launch when expectations aren't met. The Hello Games strategy has a lot of appeal, especially with smaller studios that don't have the resources to deploy community managers and social teams all around the world.

And it also gets past a key problem Murray feels that exists within the games press and how people consume media: negative stories inevitably do better traffic, which leads to more negative stories. Positive tales "just don't do as well — and that's a problem," GamesIndustry quoted Murray as saying. It's a sentiment Murray told Kotaku directly when demoing No Man's Sky: Beyond at GDC, referencing the stories out Kotaku writer Gita Jackson had written about the NMS community.

"I think what gets lost — and that Gita does a really good job of highlighting — is the nice things people do in games," Murray said. "No Man’s Sky has been amazing for that: weird things that people do that you can’t predict. This is lovely and really meaningful to make games in a time when people are connected enough that they can do that."


Comments

    'More developing' was great, but I think the worst thing they did was to go radio silent at the beginning. You don't need to talk much, but you do need to let the fans know that work is being done. Just make the announcement and then go silent, but when after NMS's launch, no-one knew what was happening. I can't imagine what that launch was like for them or for Murray personally but no-one knew if they were going to fix things or just crawl into a hole and wait for the storm to subside. Make an announcement then get to work. That works just fine.

    Hell no, if there's a go-to story for redemption it's Final Fantasy XIV.
    They spoke to the community, took responsibility and tore the game down to rebuild it.

    HG has done some great work since so credit where credit is due but there's far better people to be emulating and taking advice from than Murray who still can't take even a sliver of responsibility without a but, because and a wild finger point.
    There's a reason nobody in their right mind is gonna let this guy take the stage or mic in a marketing or promotional capacity ever again, he may have redeemed himself in the eyes of some fans but the dude doesn't have much credibility beyond that.

      Yeah sean murray is still a slimey shithead. he's still clinging to his "we dindu nuffin" "we released a great game and everyone was so mean to us for no reason".
      The game is fantastic now, but this guy is still disgusting.

    How about don't release an unfinished buggy mess of a game in the first place? People are shitty because they paid full price on release for an early access mess with vague promises to fix it. Get it right on release, or accept when people call you out on your shit.

      ...really feels like you don't understand how the concept of early access works, or what it's used for in the development cycle.

        Fallout 76 and Anthem weren't released as early access though. At most they had an extremely short beta without enough time to address any of the bugs uncovered in said beta. Especially F76 which is still a buggy mess. If they had actually advertised as early access they would have taken a lot less flack.

        As the poster below states, fallout 76 and anthem were full priced AAA releases. They were not sold to the community as unfinished and lacking features or early access, it took people buying the game to realise they were incomplete.
        I'd add to this that yes I do understand early access, games like. Deep rock were sold to the buyer as a work in progress and priced accordingly. I have loved being part of the journey with the devs, enjoying new features, maps and weapons as they unlock. This was simply not the case with these games. They were sold as complete.

        Last edited 12/07/19 10:21 am

    Came to see the negative comments, wasnt disappointed.

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