No Man's Sky_20170825102725
Exiting a portal into a bubbly world in No Man’s Sky

Following Martin Carver’s lead as outlined in his book Archaeological Investigation, I have created a project plan for the Legacy Hub Archaeological Project and am sharing it publicly for comment until November 18. This gives people the chance to consider my proposed plan and offer suggestions on how to improve it. Following the public review period, I will update the plan and then move it into production.


The central purpose of the Legacy Hub Archaeological Project (LHAP) is to document what remains of the human habitations and material culture of the original Galactic Hub in No Man’s Sky and interpreting the abandonment process. Centered on the capital planet of Drogradur (aka Lennon) in the Euclid Galaxy, the Galactic Hub spanned hundreds of planets all discovered and settled by members of the Galactic Hub Project (a citizen-science Utopia) and later occupiers such as the Empire of Hova. With the release of update 1.3 (“Atlas Rises”), the ecosystems and environments (including landscapes/topography) of all worlds in the NMS universe changed rendering Drogradur (and other planets) uninhabitable. What was once a lush paradise became an arctic wasteland literally overnight. This unforeseen climate event forced the mass migration of Galactic Hub inhabitants to another place in the universe, a new Galactic Hub. The players named the evacuated systems the “Legacy Hub.” Many of their bases were left behind, as well as other markers to indicate previous occupation. As archaeologists, the LHAP team will record this material evidence to create an archaeological record of a digital space focusing on site formation and abandonment processes, and looking for patterns in spatial and structural transformation of the landscape.

Research Questions

Because this is the first mass exodus by human players from one place to another within a synthetic environment (without abandoning that environment), it provides a unique opportunity for archaeologists to record how people reacted to a climate-induced migration.

  • Can we intuit the abandonment processes in the Legacy Hub?
  • What did players leave behind?
  • How did players live on their individual worlds?
  • Are there patterns to settlement and abandonment?
  • What message(s) did they choose to leave for others to find?
  • Is it possible to recreate (or reimagine) the original landscape based on what was left behind?
  • Are there any update-induced aberrations (i.e., glitches) on the Legacy Hub worlds?
  • Has anyone else visited these worlds post-update? How can we tell?
  • How does out interpretation of site formation and abandonment evidence and processes match or differ from those recorded by the original settlers?
  • How might this migration reflect (or predict) how disaster-driven movements of populations behave in the natural world?

Other Activities 

LHAP team members should engage in the following activities pending discovery of settled locations in the systems of the Legacy Hub:

Communication Stations: Photograph and record these, including their color, the identity of who placed them, and what they say. If they are placed next to other communication stations or built elements, photograph them from above so that their arrangement can be mapped.

Bases: For abandoned, non-shared bases (round-houses only), photograph the exterior in relation to landscape features and other built elements (if present). Also photograph from above, and include other non-natural features when possible. For abandoned, shared bases, photograph and video the interiors; photograph the exteriors, and take aerial photos; draw a plan of the base. Record the location of the base and the name of its owner. Record the contents of the base (e.g., exocraft pads, cultivated plants, science terminals, etc.), and add them to your drawn plan.

Other Non-Natural Features: Other player creations or game-produced procedurally generated content must be recorded and mapped as they relate to player-made content. Photograph and map their relationships to each other, indicating absolute distances using the head-up display and placement of beacons. Note that beacons cannot be seen by others.

Portals: Discover and record the locations (and their glyph addresses) of portals on each planet in the Legacy Hub. All portals moved during the v1.3 update and so may be far from their original placement and planetary habitation(s). Be prepared to build an exobay in order to summon a vehicle for cross-country travel.

Environment: Note the type of planet as well as the flora and fauna found on it. Note the type and quality of the current landscape, including any natural resources. Note the placement of player-created content within the context of each planet’s landscape.

Surveys: LHAP team members will conduct at least one field-walking survey and one in-flight survey for each world they visit in the Legacy Hub that shows evidence of prior human occupation. All fieldwalking surveys will cover a triangle 800 m x 800m x 800 m using a base or communications station as a fixed point, heading due north 800 m, and then due west 800 m, then returning to the starting point. Surveyors will record what they see as directed by their survey form. Each point wil be marked with a beacon and a signal booster, the latter providing absolute coordinates for the archaeologist’s notebook. Flyover surveys will follow a similar pattern, flying from a base or communications station due north for two minutes, then due west for two minutes, and then back to the start. Surveyors will record features as dictated by their survey form.

Excavation: At times it may be necessary to excavate a buried base, communications station, etc. Fully document the site with images and video prior to excavating. Record the location using the coordinates from a signal booster placed near the site. Use the terrain manipulator feature on the multitool to excavate, and film the entirety of the excavation. Document the location of finds, including their approximate depth and relation to other features.

LHAP Procedures for Recording the Archaeology of a Legacy Hub Planet

  • When you arrive in a Legacy Hub system, record its name, type, and number of planets/moons, as well as the name of the original discoverer.
  • Check the LHAP Google Sheet to verify that another team member has not already visited your planet.
  • Scan the system. If there is a player base, it will appear as an icon on your HUD. Also, communications stations will appear as icons above the planet on which they are placed.
  • Visit, survey, and document as described above.
  • Search for a monolith and activate it. Choose the “locate a portal” option, and then travel to the portal. Charge the portal and activate it to get the portal’s address in glyphs.
  • Once finished documenting the human settlement of a planet, upload all images, video, data, and reports to the LHAP Google Drive. Create a new folder for your planet, and place your materials in there.

Grouping Up

In v1.3 it is now possible for up to 16 people to appear together on the same world. When players meet, they look like spheres of light, but can speak to each other via the game’s local voice-chat feature. As learned in the first No Man’s Sky Archaeological Survey, it is difficult to maintain motivation and to conduct archaeological investigation alone. Partnering up with one or more team members is recommended (especially for field-walking surveys) in order to break up the monotony, but also to expedite data collection. If another person is on your planet, they will appear as a green icon in your HUD. A green ship icon indicates that player is using a vehicle. A green person icon shows that a person is traveling on foot.


Refer to the Ethics document created for the original NMSAS project, which remains applicable here. To add:

LHAP team members must place their communications stations and/or beacons, save points, etc., out of the line of site of a human-placed feature so they do not interfere with that material and will not show up in photos/videos.

  • LHAP-placed communications stations may only state the full project name and date of placement.
  • Interaction with non-LHAP team members is possible should they approach you. Be polite and answer questions. Give a tour and explain what you’re doing. If the player requests that you build a monument together to commemorate your meeting, do so outside of the place being surveyed/excavated.
  • Do not damage or deface any human-placed features. If you do so by accident, immediately restore from your previous save.
  • Respect the wishes of the original human settler. If a “no trespassing” sign is posted, respect it. If a base in the Legacy Hub is still in active use, ask permission to visit either by speaking to the player directly in the game, or by finding that player on the NMS Galactic Hub reddit and sending a private message.
  • Do not build your “dig house” on a world claimed by another player.


Members of the public and wider NMS player community are already interested in LHAP, and some want to help as volunteers. Much like working with volunteers on traditional archaeological sites, we can train people to help with documenting settlements on Legacy Hub worlds. Volunteers receiving training will receive access to the LHAP Google Drive as well as forms and templates of recordkeeping.

Andrew will continue updating the @nmsarchaeology Twitter account as LHAP progress is made. The NMS Archaeology Twitch channel will also be used for “ridealongs” during excavation/survey days. Andrew will also be the key contact for updating the Galactic Hub community on reddit on progress, and for sharing data.

Many of the current Galactic Hub members used to live in the Legacy Hub and are curious as to what happened to their worlds, bases, etc. Once a world has been documented, that world’s original human inhabitant should be contacted to give an oral history of its settlement along with a description of its original environment, ecosystem, and landscape. This data should also be available through the Galactic Hub’s public-facing wiki.


Because Andrew is using Drogradur/Lennon for his PhD thesis at York, he will be publishing his work on this planet separately and independently from the rest of LHAP (although he will share his data right away). For ethics reasons, he will not be teaming up with other LHAP members and will not use volunteers for his work on the Legacy Hub’s homeworld.

All other LHAP data and reports will be consolidated into one or more articles each year for peer-reviewed publication in an academic journal. All LHAP team members who created reports used in the articles will receive author credit.

Review Period

This project plan will be posted for public review and comment for a period of two weeks, ending on November 18, 2017. Following that, the project plan will be revised and then enacted, posted publicly online and shared with anyone who wishes to participate in the project.


Anyone interested in being on the LHAP team should contact Andrew at

How to Get to the Legacy Hub

To make the most efficient use of your time in the Legacy Hub, you will need to claim a habitable base within the hub. Do not claim a base on a world that has been visited by another player. There are literally hundreds of systems in the Legacy Hub that have not been explored. Choose a new planet on which to settle, and use that as a base camp.

The Legacy Hub lies over 600,000 light-years away from the center of the Euclid galaxy. With average warp drives capable of making 500–1,500 light-years in a trip (your mileage may vary), the pilgrimage is a long one, even if you decide to play “black hole roulette” in an attempt to shortcut the journey. With NMS version 1.3, there is another, quicker way to arrive on Drogradur: portals.

Drogradur’s portal address (image: ACoupleOfIrishFolk)

Portals existed in NMS from the beginning, but only became active with the Atlas Rises update. Members of the Galactic Hub posted the portal address of the capital world on their wiki shortly thereafter. In order to travel to Drogradur by portal, however, players must complete the game’s “Traveller” quest line, and then collect all 16 glyphs in order to punch in the address at a portal’s terminal. It took me about 20 hours of gameplay to collect all 16 glyphs (later versions of 1.3 “nerfed” the ability to return to the same Traveller to receive multiple glyphs), but this method was considerably faster than warping 300,000 light-years from my current location to the Hub. Once I arrived and received permission to build on Drogradur, I was able to import some of my original base materials, plus my Nomad exocraft, and later my spaceship. Here’s the strategy I used to make the trip and set up the excavation house:

Glyphs. Do not search for glyphs in caves. I found all 16 glyphs by encountering Travellers in space stations, observatories, trading posts, and transmission towers. When encountering a Traveller, sometimes you will have the option to ask them where they’re from, which costs 100 nanites (digital currency dispensed from many types of buildings, and sometimes given as rewards). At other times, you will need to talk to a Traveller twice in order to get a location from them. Travel to their grave marker (noted as a heritage symbol on your HUD), and activate it, unlocking the glyph when prompted. To more “quickly” find Travellers, talk to NPCs and ask for directions, which will unlock locations to these facilities, or you can also encounter these buildings at random during flyovers. If you’re lucky, one of those buildings will have a Traveller in it. Note that I never found more than one Traveller per system visited, although that might just be my bad luck. I was never given a duplicate glyph. Patience is rewarded. On occasion I received glyphs in back-to-back systems after a single warp. You must have all 16 glyphs in order to activate a portal, even if a planet’s address uses only a handful of symbols.

Portals. Once you have all 16 glyphs, it’s time to find a portal. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to warp to a larger system (four or more planets), land on the largest planet, and then plant a signal booster. After activating the signal booster, choose the “Monolith” option to get directions. Travel to the monolith, activate it, and select the “show portal location” option, paying with the artifact that the monolith requests (e.g., Gek charm). The portal location will appear on the HUD as a purple heritage icon. Travel to the portal. It will need all of its 16 glyphs charged by feeding each glyph with blue, yellow, and red resources (any will work; they don’t need to be rare). Once all glyphs have been charged to 100%, the portal will give the “Activate” option. Select that and then enter the portal address of the world to travel to. The portal will activate. Walk through to the new planet.

Settlement. If you elect to move your base to a world accessed via portal and wish to import your ship, do the following: prior to going through the portal, collect enough resources to build a signal booster and an exocraft bay, which can now be built on any world (not just your homeworld). Travel through the portal. Build a signal booster, activate it, and choose “Habitable Base.” You may need to repeat this a few times to find a base nearby. Once the base is identified, build an exocraft bay and summon your land vehicle. Drive to the new base and activate it. Once claimed, drive back to the portal. Walk back through the portal to the world you recently left. Get in your ship and fly to the space station. Walk to the fast-travel portal in the space station, activate it, and choose your new base from the list of travel options. You will arrive at your new base, and your ship will be waiting outside.

—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming

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