Mapping an Abandoned World in No Man’s Sky

Drogradur-Outliers

Communication Stations and Features on Drogradur. Map by Andrew Reinhard.

Introduction

The capital planet of No Man’s Sky’s old Galactic Hub, Drogradur NO425, hosts dozens of communication stations from players who attended the farewell “portal party” of August 20, 2017, saying goodbye to a now-frigid world before heading to a new system. Other comm stations lay scattered across the icy surface, left by players as markers to points of interest. This follows the protocol set by the Galactic Hub, to tag significant features for others to find and use. Outside of publicly visible bases (when a player turns the base-sharing feature on), comm stations remain as the only evidence of past visits by other people. Comm stations are not procedurally generated and placed by the game, but must be “hand-crafted” and deposited by players.

As of April 10, 2018, there are 23 “outlier” comm stations on Drogradur all roughly clustered on one side of the planet (as opposed to all over the planet as is seen with the world adjacent to Drogradur). One of these is mine, placed near procedurally generated ruins I discovered by accident during a flyover. Occasionally clusters of comm stations (2–4) occupy the landscape, placed near one of the five bases so far identified. Three of these bases remain unclaimed. My “dig house” sits relatively close to the portal, but on the other side of some mountains. On either April 7 or 8 one player left a comm station to welcome me. Although the planet was abandoned, it is still used, and there is evidence to support an active player presence, although a shadow of what it once was.

No Man's Sky_20180409233657

View from Space of the Distribution of Comm Stations on Drogradur.

One base (flagged with an * in the table below and on the map) has been claimed (or was claimed). It contains a functional exopad for a Colossus vehicle as well as a cube with a galactic trade terminal façade. It is unclear whether or not the base is new or old, and I will revisit it every few days to see if it is either being built or deconstructed. If built, we are seeing a resettlement. I have seen a few other players arrive and depart, using starships, vehicles, or the portal, perhaps tourists to the capital. I have been taking screenshots of the portal from up above to see if new comm stations are left behind by these visitors.

Mapmaking in NMS

The map that introduced this post shows the approximate locations of the outlier comm stations, plus bases, as well as ProcGen built environments such as outposts, an observatory, beacon, shipwreck, monoliths, and ruins. Absolute distance is a rough estimate when on the ground. In space it is easy to see how far away something is. As soon as one approaches the atmosphere of a planet, however, units of distance switch to units of time. Travelers in NMS are time-focused. They are time-travelers, if you will excuse the pun.

To make the map, I needed to know time-to-target and direction. The current version of NMS contains north-south ordinals only, and one must estimate the rest. This can be fine-tuned by recording either video of rotating on a central point, or in stitching together a 360-degree image and then measuring with a protractor.

Each comm station appears in the landscape as an icon. Hovering one’s crosshair over an icon reveals time-to-travel. When standing still, that travel time is assumed to be standard walking speed. Informed by the angle off of north and of the travel time to an objective, I could then map these features within a circle representing the planet. I used the portal as the central, fixed point. Its address/location is a constant in the universe. Standing atop it, I took my measurements, and then flew to each location.

At each stop I took screen captures of the comm station and of any notable features nearby. On occasion (e.g., monoliths), I took detailed notes. Those notes are below, organized by comm station number. For each comm station, I recorded color, player name, and message, assigning each station an incrementing number (1–16) as well as a letter (if a comm station was part of a cluster). The table below shows the data, plus brief notes of environmental features:

No. Color Placed By Text Notes
1 orange Xtrue-MarksmenX Trash… Next to Gek observatory
2 orange marsh49all Found 5/4/2018 Marshall Next to Gek monolith
3a orange Sailormoonfan692 Any friends who claim this im next to you Next to base unit and comm station 3b
3b orange xXkisakuXx :3 Next to base unit and comm station 3a
4 orange funnyimps Need storage? Next to shipwreck
5 orange EcoDabs420 Monolith Next to Gek monolith
6a orange MaxxPowwer12 Jump point, do not use Next to 6b and near Dig House. Gone on 11-Apr-18.
6b orange LuiCheese Ok 🙂 Next to 6a and near Dig House
7a orange Admiral-Bos I Across small crater from 6a and 6b
7b orange lego–boy68 Welcome… Next to 7a and Dig House, added on April 7 or 8, 2018
7c orange its_Tang Disregard Next to 7b and Dig House
8 orange wastelander6698 Oh hope oh oh oh…. 1:22 walk to a Gek outpost with landing pad and trade terminal
9 orange DaRumpleKing100 Here’s a beacon if you need it. Next to beacon
10 orange Kardian_ No base for j00! Near base unit
11 orange ShErMaNTaNk24 Leave A Starship Next to base unit
12 orange pingu70uk What Ho ! My cat says hiya 🙂 uk 1:23 walk due east to portal
13 orange TAS_22 Hi Near Gek outpost
14 orange HollowDrummer Hello friends !
15a* orange AarGUS222 My shiqs gone too._.
15b* orange Helmelk80 Hello from Norway
15c* orange cmprssr Just started the base
15d* orange davidsonramalho Hey bro All 15 comm stations at a base-in-progress(?)
16 orange NMS-Archaeology NMS Archaeology 2 April 2018 Near ruins discovered by accident

What follows are my notes about significant features found (so far) on Drogradur. No doubt given the size of the planet and the nature of the ProcGen algorithms used to populate it, there are other buildings out there in the frozen wastes, although the number of bases seems set at five, and monoliths at two. Planets may have one portal only. At this point in my work I’m more curious about things created and then left behind by human occupants. Note that no player created more than one comm station on Drogradur.

Comm station 2: Monolith, “Visitation of Beodit”. Both monoliths on Drogradur share the same footprint and features.

No Man's Sky_20180409213025

Gek Monolith: “Visitation of Beodit” with Comm Station in Foreground.

Lower-left text: “underling! Elj Gek First Spawn demand kuje destroy nitr weak!

Right text: I see a strange vision. A small winged creature lands on the very top of the monolith. Suddenly, its eyes glow red and its head revolves in a full circle. It screams for mercy in an ancient voice that wants itself dead.

The poor animal has clearly broken its neck, but the monolith’s power of possession still animates it. I wonder if the right thing would be to shoot it, and put it out of its misery.

Choices:

  1. Shoot the creature
  2. Leave the creature alone.
  3. Locate a Portal (1 Gek Relic): Pointed me back to Drogradur’s portal.

I chose #1: Learned Atlas word for “perfection.” Received max health. Received 1 Gek Relic.

  • Knowledge stone to left of stairs: Gek word for “critical”
  • Knowledge stone to right of stairs: Gek word for “stability”
  • Knowledge stone at rear of monolith base: Gek word for “breach”

Comm Stations 3a/3b: Unassigned base currently named “Utund-Gute Base” with the option to “Claim Home Planet”.

No Man's Sky_20180411205619

Comm Station 3a (foreground), 3b, and base.

Comm Station 4: Shipwreck. B-class hauler, Ushimaru S90. Abandoned Starship (46 slots).

No Man's Sky_20180410221026.jpg

Shipwreck at Comm Station 4.

Comm Station 5: Monolith. Did not activate or give its name. This is likely the one I found earlier. Note, however, that the knowledge stones provide different words when re-activated:

  • Knowledge stone to left of stairs: Gek word for “eyes”
  • Knowledge stone to right of stairs: Gek word for “liquid”
  • Knowledge stone at back of platform: Gek word for “tank”
No Man's Sky_20180411200306

Comm Staion 5 and Monolith.

Comm Stations 6–7: The “dig house” base that I occupy with permission from the president of the Galactic Hub.

No Man's Sky_20180411200641

Comm Stations 7b (left) and 7c (right) at the Dig House.

Comm Station 8: Located 1:22-walk to NNE for a waystation with Gek admin, trade terminal Site 95R-F63/ES1 and Multi-Tool Strange Jayahunch-Veic (B-class rifle, 22 slots).

No Man's Sky_20180410222902.jpg

B-Class Multi-Tool with Identical Name and Shape as the One Found at Comm Station 9.

Comm Station 9: Beacon. Unlocked location of “advanced life form.” Also has two floating green crates, which means a change in topography here with 1.3 update, the only evidence for this on Drogradur that I have found so far. The unmarked outpost from Comm Station 9’s directions contains a 24-slot multi-tool, Alpha-class rifle, ALSO called Strange Jayahunch-Veic. (same name for the tool as the one from the outpost at Comm Station 8). Trade terminal 3T-UI8/K/S.

No Man's Sky_20180409233202

Alpha-Class Multi-Tool Found Near Comm Station 9.

Comm Station 10: Unassigned base, Yonso-Jukbe Outpost. Option to “Claim Home Planet”.

No Man's Sky_20180411201216

Comm Station 10 and unclaimed base.

Comm Station 11: Unassigned base, Gadar Outpost. Option to “Claim Home Planet”.

No Man's Sky_20180411195417

Comm Station 11 and Unclaimed Base.

Comm Station 13: Outpost. Multi-Tool station, C-class rifle, Experiment CM4-6. 18 slots. Also Trade Terminal Data Store NJ2/Q/KB7/GL7.

No Man's Sky_20180411195708

Comm Station 13 and Outpost.

Comm Stations 15a–d: Claimed base (BobHull1980). Unclear when constructed, or if construction is ongoing. Colossus exocraft bay. Signal booster: GEYPT:0469:0081:0D6D:0211. Restore point. Cube with non-public trade terminal outside base unit. Base name: Kunopu-Afyd Base. “Register your visit.”

No Man's Sky_20180409231304

Top-Down View of Player-Base and Comm Stations 15a–d. April 9, 2018. The top of the image is north.

No Man's Sky_20180410221719

Player-Base Under Construction(?)

Comm Station 16: Ruins. I placed a beacon and signal booster.

No Man's Sky_20180402143346.jpg

Ruins (left) and a Dancing Diplo (right).

I will spend a little more time on Dragradur, but then it will be time to explore its sister planet, followed by other systems in the Legacy Hub, looking for traces of human abandonment.

No Man's Sky_20180411212754

Drogradur’s sole neighbor, Aifurre Uthofl, abandoned as well.

PS: During the writing up of this part of the project, I actually had to use the map to navigate back to a few of these sites, and am happy/relieved to report that the map worked.

—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming

 

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