The Mystery of the Missing Pearl Farm

No Man's Sky_20180510114730

Introduction

In March 22, 2017, hollyworks became the 12th player to arrive at the newly founded Galactic Hub in No Man’s Sky, putting her roots down on Didiophoek-5 TT736, which she renamed “Holly’s Blue Moon Paradise” in the system she called “Dancing Bear” because of the 8-meter-tall, lacrimose bears who inhabited her little corner of the universe. Junglelike with a stable atmosphere and lush vegetation and ample irrigation, the environment, climate, and landscape proved suitable to growing Albumen Pearls, a rare material that when farmed in quantity could provide millions of units to the impoverished Traveler.

Over the next few days hollyworks built the Dancing Bear Base pearl farm containing a domed base unit and adjacent landing pad surrounded by 15 hydroponic domes growing 211 albumen pearl plants. In No Man’s Sky, all player-planted crops are sustainable (and self-sustaining), and players can harvest mature crops (such as albumen pearls) knowing that in a day or two the crop will replenish itself. Twenty minutes’ effort can yield high dividends at market, enabling players to purchase gear, resources, and elite S-Class ships making it easier to explore the cosmos. Visitors would also often leave communication stations behind (aka “comm balls”) with messages of thanks and invitations to visit neighboring systems and bases. Nearly 70 comm balls remain on the moon, but Holly could only see ca. 20 at any given time.

Satisfied with the farm, hollyworks departed her Blue Moon Paradise in search of other worlds, technology, and players, bequeathing the albumen pearls to visitors, checking back from time-to-time. At some point in mid-2017, another player arrived in the Dancing Bear system, settling on a nearby planet and creating a base. In No Man’s Sky, placing a base in a system that already has a shared player base will overwrite that base. Other Galactic Hub players noticed immediately, and the player either removed the new base or turned off the public base-sharing option, restoring the Dancing Bear Base until the cataclysm of the Atlas Rises patch.

On August 11, 2017, version 1.3 (Atlas Rises) was released, resetting the universe. Holly’s Blue Moon Paradise became a truly lifeless moon, nothing but purple rock, rainbow arches, and shallow caves. The dancing bears became extinct along with all other wildlife and plants. The Dancing Bear Base lay in ruins, partially buried and broken by the update. When Holly returned to her pearl farm after the update, she saw for the first time all 60+ comm stations and was overwhelmed by their warmth and supportive notes. She then dismantled the farm completely, leaving behind a barren moonscape, now waterless, ringed by messages from well-wishers. This would not be her final visit.

Between August 11 and August 14, 2017, Holly returned to build a new, utilitarian base. In the transition from v1.2 to v1.3, players lost some of their most basic base-building blueprints, and were forced to re-do some of the basic quests in order to be able to construct new bases on new homes far from what had become the Legacy Hub. The new base, “Club Blob”, reflects the spartan necessity of completing these quests. On August 14, 2017, hollyworks and ciccio_baffo created a monument just to the east of the new base, setting a memorial to what was.

No Man's Sky_20180508222345

Unlike other players who opted to leave their old construction behind, abandoned on newly inhospitable worlds, hollyworks packed and shipped everything to her new home, abandoning the site like an Oklahoma farmer pushing to California after the Dust Bowl destroyed all of the crops making it impossible to survive.

Archaeological Interpretation

When I first arrived on Didiophoek-5 TT736 I knew there would be a base created by hollyworks, but I did not expect it to be the new, utilitarian base I found. A massive cluster of comm stations lay an hour’s walk to the southeast, indicating either a portal or previous settlement. Flying there, I noticed an almost perfect ring of dozens of comm balls, most of them suspended 10m in the air or occupying the edge of a ring of a shallow crater. This indicated the original site of the Dancing Bear Base, but there was nothing left. Reading some of the comm station messages, I learned that not only was there a base here, but that it had been a working albumen pearl farm. But where did it go?

No Man's Sky_20180509215150

Typically an abandoned base will be indicated by a base flag icon, which leads a player to either a floating base or one that was buried by the Atlas Rises event. In the case of Dancing Bear, there was only the new, small base, which had little to do with farming, and everything to do with basic quests. This was odd because new players rarely (if ever) spawn in the Galactic Hub. This was new construction, yet was memorialized as if it had been something important. I would learn later based on reading through the Galactic Hub’s wiki pages and ultimately skyping with hollyworks herself what had happened to the base and to the rest of the moon.

There are still ghosts of the older version of the Blue Moon Paradise. When one touches down outside the ring of comm stations and walks towards the center, the sound of splashing water echoes in the landscape even though the surface is bone-dry. The comm stations indicate the level of the old water line prior to the climate change event, and one can imagine the island atop which sat the pearl farm waiting to be harvested.

Photogrammetry

Thanks to images shared with me by hollyworks of how the moon and base appeared previously, I was able to match my landscape shots taken on the moon as it is now, and then match the two to create side-by-side images of past and present, as well as an overlay. Photogrammetry assists the archaeologist in comparing photos of things as they were to things as they are now, allowing one to see how things changed over time, but also allowing one to locate archaeological sites. I was able to do this with the Dancing Bear Base as seen in the photos below.

ArchSideBySide2BasePlcmntPhotogrammetryNo Man's Sky_20180512083820

Communication Stations

No Man's Sky_20180510140241

A total of 67 comm stations occupy the landscape as of May 12, 2018. Eight surround the new base. Another lies underground two hours’ walk southeast from the base. A small grouping in and around a rainbow arch an hour away to the southeast as well, and two minutes’ walk from the main cluster of remaining comm balls. Most of these are suspended 10m in the air out of the reach of someone with a jetpack and must be read from inside one’s starship. Unfortunately the names of the players who placed these now-floating messages cannot be viewed. About half can, those stations set on the rim, on a large pillar of rock, or buried in the wall of one of the cliffs.

No Man's Sky_20180510135956

Most messages thank Holly for her farm, and two indicate the presence of a racetrack, although I could see no latent evidence of it as I had on Pepper Dusk. One pod mentions the Empire of Hova, which started a war with the Hub (other planets in the system were discovered/claimed by KingJamesHova). A handful of notes leave calling cards to other systems, which may or may not have bases on them anymore. One contained a URL, hollyworks.com, which led me to Holly’s contact details and eventually to an enlightening conversation about what happened on her moon, putting the mystery of the missing pearl farm to rest.

No. Color Placed by Text
1 orange PODRICK_PAYNE Welcom to Club Blob!
2 orange ciccio_baffo my teleport likes this planet lol 🙂
3 orange bluJumper_ /u/blujumper
4 blue StevensonOsorio1 Stevie O from Brooklyn N Y love the club
5 orange BerZerK Thirsty Thursdays here at Club Blob!
6 orange KingJamesHova Glory to the Empire of HOVA!
7 yellow w black trim THEKINGSNAKE Howdy friend!
8 orange Icharlieecho Thank you Holly!!!
9 orange unknown A+ rigogen spot. And that view ❤
10 orange Cluffy100 Mojo Base One established March 2017
11 orange SJSchillinger Holly manufactures fake pearls!
12 orange think–12 Your dedication is appreciated. -Think
13 orange AreBeAre My Moon, google Monbetsu HU994
14 green rabbitgripper Stunning 🙂
15 orange masamune156 I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!
16 orange ptd10032 Thanks for info on your base. It’s grand.
17 blue Botelho666 Greeting from AVALAR
18 blue w yellow trim Nesbyte42 Sweet base Holly, gonna make a mint!
19 orange ButterForTheKing Thanks Holly! LL**ButterForTheKing**LL
20 blue TheeLonePine So long, and thanks for all the Pearls :o)
21 orange R055Socks /r/NMSGalacticHUB /u/c1010010
22 purple w yellow trim Parasite159 Hi, I didn’t want to mess up your lawn 🙂
23 red BobbaVett Thank you to the keeper of this farm
24 blue MessiahMushroom Thanks for the warm HUB welcome
25 orange w blue trim Ryder_E-E Thx for this base. 🙂
26 orange jale2015 Same. Nice race btw 🙂
27 orange w blue trim AlbertGraham2778 Great Base. Nice Farm Made 4 Mil Units.
28 purple boardsofandross Nice farm, may the atlus guide your path
29 orange AsotaRockin I killed the plant
30 blue termy66 Greetings from Termy66. Thx for the AP
31 yellow w black trim Evilalthalus Me, my shadow & the shimmering Moon.
32 orange unknown Thanks Holl most appreciated
33 orange semiosus Nice!
34 orange Carpocalypto The Future War Cult is the only constant
35 orange kingvithe1st Thanks Holl, much appreciated
36 white w red trim N1MMERS4TT THX>>first steps in hub looking for shelter
37 orange MockZ1Sil …start my own pearl farm. Thanks Holly!
38 orange unknown 16 Iulio 2017 from Italy. Bye
39 orange unknown Not lonely anymore? Do you have a base her
40 blue unknown Nice water-filled caves here
41 orange unknown MrSager77 was here March 25, 2017
42 orange unknown Now there’s pearls in domes!
43 yellow w black trim unknown BoOndock Conquered Your Race
44 orange unknown thank you truly the best
45 orange unknown Thanks for the dosh, fella.
46 blue w orange trim unknown Greetings from [HUB-K-2A] Abacus!
47 red unknown Thanks so much! Listen to Starset ❤
48 red unknown [HUB-10V-192] Neutrons base greets you!
49 orange unknown Goodbye, and thanks for all the pearls!
50 orange unknown Great job dude
51 orange unknown From a Class C to a Class S, THANK YOU
52 blue unknown Nice Farm! Great Job on it!
53 yellow unknown Great Base
54 orange unknown Outstanding sir. Thank- you1
55 orange unknown Cough cough, Hollyworks.com Great base!
56 white unknown Thanks great base regards Anakey
57 white unknown Welcome to Holly’s Discount Pearls
58 orange unknown So long and thanks 4 all the fish!
59 orange unknown I come here all the time
60 blue w purple trim unknown Gracias
61 red w black trim unknown So much not empty
62 orange unknown Came 4 pearls. Stayed 4 awesome view.
63 orange unknown Shan was here 7/11/17
64 orange unknown Come visit! [HUB -9-GE9] Cereus Nip
65 orange unknown Sp style planet and no base, i c the coms
66 orange unknown Visit me. zotack@gmail.com for directions
67 orange unknown [HUB-K] Orson] (Thockeri Fringe) 1,485 Ly

Below are images of the comm stations where player names could be identified:

Here are images of the comm stations that had to be read during flight:

Anatomy of Didiophoek-5 TT736

Didiophoek-5 TT736

(Once was named Holly’s Blue Moon Paradise. Scanner says the moon was discovered by: kiwinobby. All other planets in the system were discovered by King James Hova.)

Legacy Hub
System: HUB-G-1E6_Dancing_Bear
Base Name: Dancing Bear Base
Player: hollyworks

No Man's Sky_20180507222306

Type: “Lifeless” moon
Weather: Clear
Sentinels: Average

Flora: Nonexistent. According to the Discoveries log, 6 plant species (all “common”) were discovered. None survive on the current world.

Fauna: Absent. Also based on the Discoveries log, 10 animal species once existed on the planet, and 1 was recorded. None survive on the current world.

Economy: Shipping // Satisfactory
Dominant Lifeform: Gek
Conflict Level: Critical

Planet Base Coordinates: YAKS:0469:0D6D:01E6
Portal Coordinates: There are no portals on this moon because of its barren nature.

Resources (according to the log): Star Bulb, Gold, Iridium, Heridium. Only Heridium deposits remain on this moon.

Exterior Temp: Range between 82.6 F, 1.9 Rad, 5.6 Tox (day) and -12.2 F, 1.0 Rad, 3.6 Tox (night)

Storms: none
Length of Day: 1 real-time minute = 45 minutes on Horner. 32 real-time minutes = 1 day on Horner.
Sunrise: 0400
Sunset: 2000

Circumference: ca. 1:30 minutes (90 seconds) at 4756u/s = 428,040u or ca. 428ku
Diameter: ca. 136ku
Volume: 1.32 x 106 u = 1,320,000u
The Earth’s moon has a circumference of: 10,921km (or over 25x that of Didiophoek)

Landscape: Didiophoek is tiny even for a moon. Its uniform, rocky landscape is pockmarked with shallow impact craters. The purple landscape is mostly flat with occasional arches and canyons. The surface is dotted with cave entrances. Travel is easy, and the weather is not hazardous, although it gets to -12 F at night, which drains life support systems. The moon is either dark or twilit, never receiving direct sunlight. Resources on the surface include an abundance of plutonium, but no thamium, platinum, zinc, or other common consumables.

The base is situated about a four-minute flight south of a major cluster of comm stations, which might indicate an old portal location, or perhaps the original location of the Dancing Bear Base, which might have been moved when the landscape changed with the arrival of patch v1.3.

Waypoints: 16 Waypoints discovered by a total of four players, dates ranging from March 22, 2017 to July 3, 2017.

6 on March 22, 2017 by hollyworks.
1 on April 4, 2017 by primaltoad.
2 on May 3, 2017 by hollyworks.
2 on May 26, 2017 by MockZ1Sil.
1 on May 27, 2017 by MockZ1Sil.
1 on May 29, 2017 by MockZ1Sil.
1 on June 1, 2017 by N1MMERS4TT.
2 on July 3, 2017 by hollyworks.

Base Description

Dancing Bear Base (as recorded by me on May 8, 2017) was built by player hollyworks who arrived on the moon Didiophoek on March 22, 2017. It is placed neatly on the surface on a flat, crater-like circular plain ringed by a ridge topped by a handful of comm stations. A geobay, beacon, savepoint, and signal booster are placed near the base, indicating an initial build as part of the Pathfinder v1.2 quest line. Note that the beacon does not belong to hollyworks. An initial scan from orbit indicated another player name, but I was too slow to record it before it disappeared from screen.

A monument burns blue just behind the base, placed by hollyworks and ciccio_becco on August 14, 2017, three days after Atlas Rises v1.3 was released. My guess is that this was when hollyworks decided to relocate to the new Galactic Hub, and she returned one last time to place a memorial to her previous residence.

The base itself is relatively small when compared to other player builds, and is constructed of generic materials. Short hallways open to the northeast and southwest of the central base unit. A Gek blueprint vendor sits in the unit. The northeast corridor leads to a weapons station and a botany bay containing four types of rare plants (Gamma Weed, Echinocactus, Gravitino Host, Star Bramble), plus a hydroponic tray around the corner with Mordite Root in it, which match those required to be built in the botany bay quest line. The corridor to the southwest opens to another small botany bay with four additional rare plant varieties (Fungal Cluster, Solar Vine, Coprite Flower, Frostwort).

Comm Stations

There are two concentrations of communication stations on Didiophoek, the smaller of which is located around the Dancing Bear Base. The major placement of comm stations is a short flight away. There are also a handful of single outliers around the rest of the moon.

Some player names that appear on this moon are known from other Hub planets explored so far (Bo0mstick Joe for example). Also, new names from the growing, competing empire (Hova) appear, hinting at the war to come.

The dates of the waypoints as well as on some of the comm stations indicate that this is one of the earliest Galactic Hub settlements. As more bases and comm stations are recorded, a larger settlement history can be established, stemming from the capital planet Drogradur branching out into the nearby stars.

—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming

2 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Missing Pearl Farm

  1. Pingback: The Curious Case of the Bez-Harr Concern | Archaeogaming

  2. Pingback: The Base Paradox of Beecham’s Pearl Island | Archaeogaming

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