Lapidibus memoriae is Latin for “stones of memory.” This is how I describe the communications stations left behind by players in No Man’s Sky. While most of NMS is the product of procedural generation of entire worlds (including material culture), players are able to create their own communication stations wherever they visit, leaving behind a custom message tied to their gamertag (name). This is not unlike pilgrims to holy sites who leave stones, or people on the Grand Tour who left graffiti on ancient monuments. It’s a personal statement and proof of having been somewhere. Comm stations are cheap to build (20 iron, iron being the most widely distributed element in the NMS universe) and are conceivably left for all eternity for others to find and read. Eternity can be brief for these memorials, however, as will be explained at the end of this report.
Part of my archaeological investigation of Drogradur in what is now the Legacy Hub is the documentation of comm stations left at that planet’s portal (and elsewhere in the landscape). On August 11, 2017, the Atlas Rises update (v1.3) disrupted all of the planets in the NMS universe and, in the case of the Galactic Hub and its capital of Drogradur, forced a mass migration to more habitable climes. I wanted to see what was left behind, and comm stations form a major part of documenting that abandonment, although what I found does not support abandonment, but rather rediscovery by players visiting the abandoned Drogradur as tourists. What did people write for others to find? I present here my preliminary findings.
In order to document the portal-centered comm stations, I first took a top-down photo from my ship using the game’s Photo Mode, and then overlayed it with a Cartesian grid in order to assign relative coordinates to the stations below. I then numbered these for record-keeping in a spreadsheet. Here is the grid containing all of the outlying comm stations, the red box indicating a more detailed map (see below). I made this image on March 28, 2018:
Here is the close-up grid with numbered comm stations. North is roughly to the right of the image.
In all, I recorded 66 comm stations, 49 of which were quite near the portal, the remaining 17 on the periphery within sight when standing at the portal itself. When visitors arrive at the portal from another planet, they walk from north to south, exiting the portal on the left of the grid as shown above. When players wish to use the portal to go someplace else, they enter the active portal from the northern opening. Note that roughly two-thirds (42) of the comm stations are placed at (or near) the portal’s exit with a near-even distribution to the east and west. The comm stations do not currently display placement date, although some players have included dates in their messages.
The table below shows the preliminary data collected from each of the comm stations as recorded on April 3–4, 2018:
|No.||Location (x, y)||Color||Placed By||Content|
|1||-12,-3||orange||LFCSTE88||Am I too late?|
|2||-10,-5||orange||LordMarkov||Greetings from Lord Markov (TSG)|
|4||-9,0||orange||JakeTheRak||Do you know the way|
|6||-8,-2||orange||WashedZebra||Greetings from Auckland, New Zealand|
|7||-8,-1||blue||pictmatrix||Have I missed ANOTHER party?|
|9||-7,-2||yellow||TOUCH-death||So am I cool now?|
|12||-7,0||red||DiamondThief_TDT||Did u tuch my spagat|
|13||-6,0||orange||Whyudra||Dark Souls is to easy|
|14||-7,-5||orange||Klunk234||Would you kindly? 27/3/18|
|15||-6,-2||orange||annusatronchi||They know you are here|
|17||-4,-7||orange||LORDBEN2010||Greetings from Canada, fellow travelers 🙂|
|18||-2,-5||orange||Dahjiit||Update on Easter day? April 1st?|
|19||-1,-5||orange||ChemicalLust||Melissa says greetings, Travelers!|
|20||-11,1||orange||Tendani2006||Welcome to the Galactic Hub.|
|21||-11,0||orange||vh191||Crap my ship keys. Hi from Norway|
|22||-9,3||orange||cch156||Hi from h***|
|23||-9,2||orange||TheLarssons555||Fullow da queen|
|25||-8,1||orange||HyperPhlex||Hi from Dallas, TX USA 2018/03/05|
|27||-8,1||blue||TNT_MUSICIAN||Hi:) from TNT_Musician.|
|30||-6,2||orange||sharpmapper||Welcome, Traveller, to the Galactic Hub|
|31||-6,1||orange||Wild__Flowers_||We and kardian like you|
|32||-4,2||orange||grizzly1964888||Pokemon go rules|
|33||-4,3||orange||broncojim30||You have found de way my brudda|
|34||-3,5||orange||FitzLC||Where TF my ship|
|35||1,-7||blue||Airmailrelic7||Greetings from Brazil!|
|36||3,-6||orange||Rickachay||Late to the party|
|37||4,-2||orange||finn6193||Hello my friends I come frome the USA|
|38||5,-2||purple||AlmondJoyattack||Disco 4 eva long live ABBA|
|39||5,-3||green||Obi-Won_1977||Greetings fellow traveller|
|40||6,-6||orange||scm1971||Ireland welcomes you.|
|41||6,0||orange||Ramialhilli98||Greeting from iraq|
|42||7,-1||orange||Munnelaus||Greetings from Virginia !|
|43||8,-1||orange||insidezout80||Outstanding Vacation!! 5*****|
|44||9,-7||red w green trim||aDanica||Hola!! Baja California, Mexico|
|46||2,7||red||Azazel0681||Greetings from France – 04/01/18|
|47||5,5||orange||theFrozenGod||Welcome! Cinci, Ohio!|
|48||8,1||orange||Goodyman42||Hello from Wyoming, USA|
|49||9,3||orange||DJ_D-Original||Sup guy! Greetings from Boston! (^_^)|
|50||-9,-4||orange||LFCSTE88||Am I too late?|
|52||-9,0||orange||tdawg099||Tdawg099 wants to join|
|54||-3,11||green||c112780||Dude. Your high.|
|55||-2,6||orange||HawknBaja||WOW !!! Looks like I’m not the first lol|
|56||-2,12||orange||its_a_cigaweed||Puff Puff Pass!!!!!|
|57||3,-8||orange||SmeggyFox||I’ll be back for breakfast|
|58||4,-6||purple||albi-six||Smoke me a kipper skipper|
|59||6,-3||orange||JessicaDaviesxx||Live long the NMSRebellion!|
|60||8,-8||green||bonski399||Anyone know new hub adress ???|
|61||1,4||orange||ataricat||Toronto, Ontario Canada says HI!|
|62||0,10||orange||ZRayTGZ||Greetings from Minot, ND|
|63||1,10||orange||TutorSecond55||I am TutorSecond55. I have many names.|
|64||4,8||yellow||KnightAlese||Hail from Alese (TSG)|
|65||8,5||red||jaw43058||This is nice and quiet|
* = False read. These are round shrubs, which look like comm stations from above.
Many of the comm stations’ messages contain words of greeting not from the player’s homeworld in NMS, but rather from the players’ actual locations on Earth. The United States holds the lion’s share of location-themed stations from North Dakota to Ohio to Puerto Rico and elsewhere, with others from Canada, Mexico, Europe (France, Norway, UK), South America (Brazil), and Iraq, if the players are to be believed. Players are a mix of genders. Those stations containing dates are a mix of 2017 and 2018, more trending towards March and April 2018.
Two players are tagged with “(TSG)”, which is probably an abbreviation for The Spacing Guild, a group of players in the Federation tasked with helping other players find their way around the universe. Generic welcoming messages are frequent. One player asks for directions. Light humor is present (“where are my spaceship keys?” and “where is my ship?”), pointing to the fact that portal users are restricted to foot-travel until they build exocraft or import their ship/freighter. On occasion, comm stations are placed next to each other to simulate conversation. Station 56 makes a marijuana reference, and station 54 exclaims, “Dude. Your [sic] high.” Both stations occupy a mountain overlooking the portal.
Contemporary meme references also occur. Comm station 12 asks, “did u tuch my spagat?” This refers to the “somebody toucha my spaghet” meme, which made its appearance on December 25, 2017, itself a reference to a 1939 Terry Toons cartoon of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” The Earth-world continues to blend with NMS, and the messages are not unlike graffiti left by citizens of ancient Pompeii, a mix of greetings, names, places, humor, but there is a distinct lack of profanity, likely because of the game’s terms of service, or perhaps this is reflective of the nature of NMS players.
Below are screenshots of every comm station at the Drogradur portal as of April 4, 2018. Click on images to enlarge them:
After completing my survey of comm stations at the Drogradur portal, I remembered one message that greeted me during my first visit to the planet back on September 14, 2017. I recorded a video of it, and the first message was “Yeet.” This message and its comm station are no longer present at the portal. But this is not an isolated incident. Watch the short (50-second) video to see other messages that have since vanished:
Messages now lost:
- Hello from Colorado!
- Non sei solo incontriamoci
- The game
- We’re alive in here.
- Greetings from Puerto Rico
I do not know if other comm stations are now missing between September 2017 and April 2018. I counted the comm stations in the video (48), and then from March 28 (49) covering the same area, but these could reflect the removal of some stations and the replacement of others.
What might have happened? Players could have dismantled their comm stations over the past six months. Another possibility is that an NMS update removed some/all original comm stations, and the ones that I see now were all placed at the portal within the past few months. My video is from September 14, 2017. On September 15, 2017, Hello Games released patch 1.37. Patch 1.38 was released on October 3, 2017. Either of these patches could have reset comm stations, and I will need to review various user groups and subreddits to see if this was indeed the case. If that’s so, the comm stations that were placed as part of the old Galactic Hub’s farewell party to the capital are gone, replaced by those of more recent visitors who have arrived as tourists to this newly historic digital space.
—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming