On 3 October 2017 I received a note from No Man’s Sky player KingJamesHova with a link to a YouTube video showing him unearthing the Bez-Harr Embassy. “I can show you how to find it in the Legacy Hub and give you the history.” With echoes of events from Eve Online, I was about to meet up with the founder of the Galactic Empire of HOVA, the man who started the so-called “Harsh Buds” war against the HUB proper in April 2017 following the Path Finder update, v1.2, which appeared in March. King James would show me the ruins of a structure alien to the rest of NMS, something created by a player but left half-empty for others to find, something that should not be possible.
The Bez-Harr Concern is a star system in the (now) Legacy Hub containing four planets and a moon. The system and the capital planet Hova Rises were discovered by player art-nik, a registered member in the Galactic HUB census. he built the base-structure that is still there, but is now in a state of disrepair. Because of the way the game works, any visitor can come and excavate it now. The question is, now that is has been partially buried in the Atlas Rises v1.3 update that changed the face of every planet in the synthetic universe, why is the base still there, empty, but without reverting to an abandoned space?
King James sent me instructions on how to navigate to Hova Rises, which has no habitable bases and, so far as we can tell, no portals for fast-travel. Players must fly there, something akin to hiring a camel to cross the desert to an oasis settlement. Upon arrival in the Bez-Harr Concern, players can scan the system to locate the position of the ruins. When landing nearby, the player’s ship may find a landing pad, which is now in a cave. Players must tunnel in order to get to the ruins outside, summoning their ship once above ground.
The embassy was designed as an inverted pyramid, its square base facing the sky, and its top embedded in the ground, accessed by a door that needed to be excavated with either a terrain-manipulator or grenades (really). While not advisable in Earth-bound archaeology, grenades move a lot of material for fast excavation without damaging other features or stratigraphy (there are no strata in NMS). Below is a fly-over video:
Having surveyed and photographed the building’s exterior, I was able to dig down to the entrance to the pyramid, feeling a bit like Howard Carter. I cleared away the debris in front of the door, and then walked in.
Entering the pyramid brought me to a short passage. Unlike the base I’d visited on 2 October, there was neither greeting nor decoration.
I did discover a Galactic Trade Terminal (Exchange 6/169) coated in rock, which I was able to clear away. The terminal still functioned.
The photo below is of the main entrance to the pyramid, which needed to be excavated prior to entry.
Outside the ruins is a new monument (3 October 2017) created to commemorate the meeting of players King James and TheKingSnake, who had visited only moments before I arrived.
Planets in NMS can only have one meeting-monument, which displays orbs and a thin column of light.
The video below shows the interior of the embassy.
The interior of the embassy is open, multi-tiered, and walled (and roofed) with glass. One can watch the dust storms roil in the 125F heat.
Bedrock occupies some of the interior of the ruins, almost as if the entire structure was placed within an active lava-flow, which was then left to cool. There are no signs of use or occupation. If this building was once a base, the token elements of standard bases are absent, namely a blueprint vendor, a registration terminal, and a fast-travel portal. If player art-nik only discovered the ruins, who built them and when, and why here? I will attempt to contact the player today.
Back outside, I visited the shelter positioned down the hill from the ruins. This is a typical shelter, the kind that NMS algorithms place around the landscape of any planet. King James had named it the “Dig Site”, which is appropriate in this context, and I’ll use it over the next couple of days as I continue documenting the ruins on the hill above.
It should be noted that I did not discover these ruins, nor was I the first to excavate them. At least three people had visited before: art-nik, then King James, then TheKingSnake. Other visitors left behind Communications Stations, which I will investigate tonight for clues about the building and the people who came here before. The fact that a local ruler reached out to me to share this structure with an archaeologist is important, as is the fact that he guided me to the place to show me its wonders. It’s public archaeology, that intersection between archaeological professionals and interested people—especially local residents—as we work together to understand and document (in this case) digital heritage in the spaces we inhabit online.
At the end of my initial investigation, King James said that he (and others) would let me know if they come across other, similar ruins. This is the kind of crowd-sourcing from which archaeology can benefit, so long as the archaeologists share their data openly after conducting their research. I look forward to seeing what comes next, and am thankful to King James Hova for his patient help last night. I would have never seen this without him. I asked him how he came to find the ruins, and it all led back to the brief war, and its material remains:
“It all started on a comm pod I dropped outside that base when it was fully built. You can still find the comm pod. It’s somehow perfectly preserved. I came back to the system to see if I could find the comm pod. Found the ruins instead. I was shocked.”
[UPDATE, 4 Oct. 2017]: I received two messages immediately after posting this, one from King James, and the other from Artnik:
King James Hova: Some clarification. Artnik originally built those ruins. But the base he designed was fully realized (it had interior designs and furnishing (a lot of plants). Artnik left the base many months ago, before the Atlas Rises update. The mystery is not where the base came from, but how it is still there? It’s all very odd to me. Why this base? And how is it still semi-functional (landing pad, trade terminal) but has no habitable base attached?
Artnik: 12:15: I am actually visiting the site right now. I can confirm it is the location of the original Bez-Harr base that was built at the time of the Harsh Buds War, based on the Comm pod content, and the video. I’m not seeing the ruins however.
4 of the original comm pods still show for me, and the recent monument that Hova left, but a comm pod I left after tear down isn’t present either.
The state of the base in the video looks like it was in mid-deconstruction when I was tearing it down to move. There is another video that /u/MacForaday posted when he tried to visit the base several months ago, that seems to show it in the same state, but still with the habitable base module intact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhBqJMmtd5A
Obviously, there is some kind of glitch in the HG base system. I was kind of hoping it was a kind of intentional tribute from HG to the Harsh Buds War, but it would seem not.
Perhaps HG is using multiple servers for the base sharing, and they are out of sync, with one being current, and another having updated mid tear down, and not properly updated since. Interesting that you both can see it.
My comm pod is showing now. /u/gtahov and I are both on site now. He can see the base, I can’t.
From an archaeological perspective, the terrain is interesting. The original base was nestled in a hollow, with a ridgeline above it. My com pod was placed above on the ridge, overlooking the base and that is where it still is.
Also, Hov’s original comm pod that kicked off the war was in a cave hollow, to the right of the base, and curiously, that hollow still exists.
So, the terrain changes are, somehow, still linked to the old model, at least in this case.
Here’s a video still (MacForaday, linked above) from Artnik’s base before v1.3, which shows how the planet used to appear, and the presence of the underlying base structure:
—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming