New Archaeology Tools in No Man’s Sky v1.11

Just as I was about to begin the No Man’s Sky Archaeological Survey (NMSAS) post-mortem report for a project with good intentions that stalled once the team actually began to play the vanilla version of the game, Hello Games released a major update on November 25, 2016 (Thanksgiving in the U.S.), version 1.1, the so-called “Foundation Update.” This update is less Asimov and more about laying the groundwork for future iterations of this procedural universe exploration game. Read the full patch notes. Two major needs for the team have now been met: a) a Photo Mode for photography without any cruft (to supplement those shots where the planet name is included), and b) COORDINATES. More about coordinates in a minute. There are some other cool new toys to play with archaeologically:

Communications Terminals

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Make your own subspace transmission that others can find.

With the right resources (typically iron) you can now build Communications Stations/Terminals with your own personal message that sends a subspace signal, which acts like off-world beacons did in the original version of the game. Archaeologists can type in information about their discovery for others to read—think of it as a plaque placed near a monument.

Signal Scanners

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Build a signal scanner that has its own coordinates.

Signal Scanners operate like the older beacons players could find scattered across planets in the original version of NMS. Players can build their own beacons now, and can place them wherever they like. Like those beacons, the new ones contain coordinates so that one can pinpoint their location in the universe and then on a planet’s surface. More about how the “hex” system works can be read via this reddit.

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Note the entry for “alien antiquity.”


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Earn a blueprint to build your own permanent waypoints.

Now that NMS has done away with the old beacons, replacing them with player-built Signal Scanners, players can now build their own beacons, which allow them to PERMANENTLY mark places of interest during their travels. These beacons can be color-coded to indicate the types of things players want to tag. For archaeologists, different colors could signify different ruins types. Note that the beacon blueprints are awarded after following a quest chain in v1.1 that requires you to build your own base, claiming a planet as a temporary homeworld. That’s right: players are now building within the game. While game-placed material culture and built environments are more sporadic in v1.1, and are predictable in placement, shape, and function, player-created bases introduce humans building within various biomes. NMS v1.1 also includes a “Creative Mode” for free-play very much in the spirit of Minecraft, becoming less of a game, and more of a sandbox.

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To try these tools out, I first found some ruins (above and below) by correctly answering a number puzzle found in a Korvax observatory. When you do this, a purple “ruins” icon appears on the horizon along with an estimated time of arrival should you be walking or flying.

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A “Type 3” ruin with three major constructed elements.

Arriving at the ruins, I first did a drone-style flyover in my spacecraft, and then landed to photograph the ruins (with Photo Mode OFF first so I could record planet metadata, and then with Photo Mode ON for some pretty shots), and then to video a walkthrough to film each of the three buildings, their graphic elements, and other features (e.g., Gek monumental sculpted head).

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Archaeology tools deployed.

Following photography, I set up my suite of three tools just off-site so as to not interfere with the ruins. I set a Beacon to mark the permanent waypoint for this set of ruins.

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Use the Communication tool to enter info about your find.

I then set up a Communications Station to enter basic information about the site (I’ll write more next time).

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Use the signal scanner to learn the coordinates for your find.

Lastly, I set up a Signal Scanner in order to learn the coordinates of the ruins. In this case, the coordinates are YANMA:05AD:007D:02A7:00D5. Archaeologists on the NMSAS team can now FINALLY enter coordinates into the FAIMS data management software for proper record-keeping.

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Second signal scanner.

I was curious to see how the coordinates changed, so I walked 90 seconds in a straight line opposite the ruins and placed another Signal Scanner. The coordinates were the same, except the first bit: TAGA.

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Third signal scanner.

I then walked another leg of the triangle another 90 seconds to place the third Signal Scanner. The coordinates here are the same, excepting the first set, which reads XEDI. It’s comforting to know that coordinates can be fine-grained like these, roughly half a kilometer apart in this test case. This will become important as the NMSAS team places Signal Scanners, Communication Stations, and Beacons near ruins, plaques, monoliths, portals, and buildings constructed by Gek, Korvax, and Vy’keen races. We can begin to determine patterns of placement, which could help forecast where to find similar structures on current worlds, or on those that have yet to be explored.

Note that in v1.11, these non-human structures are considerably more rare than they were in the vanilla version of the game. This makes the game more challenging, and the archaeological data gathered on them all the more important.

Stay tuned for more exploration notes from the Euclid galaxy.

-Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming

2 thoughts on “New Archaeology Tools in No Man’s Sky v1.11

  1. Oh, an update!? That’s good news. I borrowed this from a friend months ago, and have since returned it. I was just underwhelmed by the vastness and lack of diversity in the game. It just went on and on.

    Luckily, I was fairly couch ridden as I had a nasty injury that kept me on the goofy pills. This game made that experience enjoyable as I used up all my PTO.

    So, the update allows for customized settlements now? Did I read that right? I’m assuming it’s nothing like Fallout. But if it was, I’d totally borrow this again.

    I also couldn’t get over the ridiculously awkward alien lifeforms. Once I got my suit, tool and ship all tricked out, the game lost all magic and purpose for me.

    So I started just heading to the galactic center. Then it just became work. Another thing I could never figure out was how to travel back to a system you’ve enjoyed. So I kept pressing on. And on. And on.

    Aaaand on.

  2. Pingback: Forschungsinstrumente ungenügend! – nomasky's log

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