Digital Reconstruction of Digital Heritage

No Man's Sky_20180525211048
Front of the New Temple, May 25, 2018.

There was an older Parthenon at the site of the Parthenon we know today, which stands atop the Acropolis of Athens. This “proto-Parthenon” was built after the Battle of Marathon (490–488 BCE) and was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BCE. While we do not know what this earlier building looked like, we know about it from the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus (Histories 8.53). Construction of the new Parthenon began in 447 BC after the Peace of Callias, which ended the Persian War. With the Parthenon we see a temple constructed, destroyed by fire by the occupying Persian force, and then rebuilt, but on a much grander scale. So it is with the two temples of ButterForTheKing.

TempleFrontsComp
Front façades of the Old Temple (left, image ButterForTheKing), and the New Temple.
CompBases
Old Temple (left, image by ButterForTheKing), and the New Temple at its new home nine months later.

The first temple was completed by July 24, 2017, a scant three weeks before Atlas Rises reset the No Man’s Sky universe. We know the completion date based on an Imgur post by ButterForTheKing himself. He also posted another completed temple photo in July 2017 on reddit. This was not his original base build, however. In May 2017, ButterForTheKing had built his first base on the planet that would later host the Old Temple. This base would have been destroyed in order to create the temple because planets can only maintain one base per player. Although players can have multiple bases scattered across the universe, only one can occupy one planet at a time.

BFTK Base
ButterForTheKing’s original base prior to the construction of the Old Temple, May 2017. Image: ButterForTheKing.

Destroying secular architecture for the purpose of temple-building is not new to humanity, and the construction of the Old Temple follows that tradition. A visit to the planet that hosted the Old Temple on May 21, 2018, showed that the Old Temple had been destroyed, and new secular architecture had been introduced by ButterForTheKing in the form of ButterBase 1.3 (pictured below) as he decided what to do about the possible construction of the New Temple.

ButterBase 1.3
ButterBase 1.3 on the reset planet that originally hosted the Old Temple.

After the v1.3 reset, ButterForTheKing ultimately established a base on a new homeworld in the New Hub in the system [HUB1-!X-110] ButterZone on the planet Niflheim X110. Instead of building the New Temple right away, he created another base, which would later become the building site of the temple.

BftK's New Base on Niflheim
Completed in September 2017, one month after the NMS reset, ButterForTheKing’s base occupies what would become the site of the New Temple. Image: ButterForTheKing.

Five months later, in February 2018, the New Temple was built, as announced by its creator. He credits player AtlasPassV2 for inspiring him to do the rebuild:

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 1.56.06 PM

As described above, we have seen a rich building program of alternating secular and sacred construction on two separate worlds affected by a catastrophic event with building programs taking months to begin. This mirrors what happened with the two Parthenons and the fact that it took 40 years between temples, a lag time generated in part by the Persian occupation of Athens, a peace treaty, a decision by the Athenian government to build a new-and-improved Parthenon, and a few years to raise funds and plan the structure. In online terms, a period of months is little different than years in “realtime”.

One other point to make concerns the digital reconstruction of born-digital heritage. In the instance of the Old and New Temples, the player took the decision to knock down and rebuild. The general temple plans match, with a large, rectangular plan, the front elevation topped with pillars and pediment, tapering to the back near ground-level. The New Temple recalls the Old while creating something new.

Touring Arch of Palmyra
The “rebuilt” and “preserved” triumphal arch from Palmyra. Image: The Institute for Digital Archaeology.

This differs from other recent restoration and reconstruction efforts in the natural world. I’m thinking of the reconstruction and subsequent tour of Palmyra’s triumphal arch, a provocative effort by the so-called Institute for Digital Archaeology. In this case, the arch was destroyed by Isis, but then a facsimile was rebuilt, sparking the debate about heritage, authenticity, reconstruction, and preservation, and ways to approach this using technology. I thought this was what I would see with ButterForTheKing’s two temples, but instead of a straight reconstruction for preservation purposes, he rebuilt and expanded on the original temple plan, making a lived-in, practical space exactly the way the ancients had done it. Instead of nostalgia, a new space emerged from the old, demonstrating how built heritage is alive and ever-changing. So it is in synthetic spaces as it is in the natural world.

Anatomy of Niflheim X110

Planet: Niflheim X110
Base Name: ButterBase2018
Discovered/Built by: ButterForTheKing
System: Mafatticsr (in the New Hub)

Type: “Malfunctioning” planet
Weather: Lost Clouds
Sentinels: Low Security
Flora: Absent. According to the Discoveries log, no plant species have been identified. While I did not observe any plants, caves occasionally featured yellow-capped mushrooms. This was the only organic life I saw.
Fauna: Copious. Also based on the Discoveries log, 0 animals have been identified. There are no animals left alive on this world after the Atlas Rises reset.

Economy: Scientific // Promising
Dominant Lifeform: Vy’keen
Conflict Level: Lawless

Planet Base Coordinates: NAWA:044C:0082:0D55:0110
Portal Coordinates: bird bird bird pie pie dinosaur balloon balloon ship tent moon shuttle. The base is a 1-hour drive to the southwest of the portal over challenging terrain.

Resources (according to the log): Cymatogen, Nickel, Heridium. I visually observed all of these. Not noted in the Discovery log are the very rare Vortex Cubes, one of which I found near comm station 36.

Exterior Temp: Ranges between 104.7 F, 0.9 Rad, 14.8 Tox (day) and -16.6 F, 0.4 Rad, 10.1 Tox (night)
Storms: none
Length of Day: 1 real-time minute = 45 minutes on Horner. 32 real-time minutes = 1 day on Nohash Patieme.
Sunrise: 0400
Sunset: 2000

Circumference: Unable to observe (based on 4×4 travel instead of starship)
Diameter: Unable to observe
Volume: Unable to observe

Waypoints: 0 Waypoints discovered

Communication Stations

No communication stations greeted my arrival on May 24, 2018, but the connection to online services had been lost. Restoring from a prior save on May 25, 2018, “re-popped” 37 comm balls, which have now been recorded. Most of these communication stations form a ring around the base, and rest on natural features (sometimes suspended in the air) that surround the temple. Unlike many comm stations placed at heritage sites, the New Temple’s messaging is overwhelmingly about the quality of the architecture, or notes of greeting.

No. Color Placed By Text Notes
1 Orange FitzLC Deleted lmaooo Embedded in temple front
2 Orange ButterForTheKing Welcome to The ButterTemple Next to beacon
3 Orange Bentothefuture77 Hi
4 Orange TMarq1 Disappointing farm.
5 Blue CaptPausert Awesome! 12:05 PM 10/22/17 Next to No. 6.
6 Orange crack_psychiatry Just wow! 10\2017 Next to No. 5.
7 Orange Dudeabidin The Dude Abides Atop floating carbon
8 Orange vongregor Really reative! Atop floating carbon
9 Orange Jimmyjoneser Jimmyjoneser loves your base :]
10 Orange LtRegBarclay 2018 baby! Hi interloper. Barclay Atop floating carbon
11 Orange msterTpsyche Amazing design, respect! -msterTpsyche
12 Blue w yellow trim Vercanna Scotsman,Jack’s Kilt, Abyess pays respect
13 Orange aTalentlessHack Best base in the galaxy.
14 Orange WumpWilliam Love this temple! So detailed!
15 Red w black trim henry_u333 Best base I have seen. Great job!! On ridge rim
16 Orange GBCheese Amazing stuff 4/11/18
17 Blue w yellow trim Benk25 Nice base “:”
18 Orange CitizenCoyote Awesome base, freakish planet! Fun!
19 Orange Im_BiGGDaDDy Awesome base!!
20 Green acesMelancholy Urban dictionary: Challs
21 Orange Eyonimus Greetings from [HUB1-1E2] Helix II,seeya!
22 Blue w orange trim mark4945 Mark 4945 says Hello
23 Blue w orange trim TheSwigz Greetings from TheSwigz. 8-25-17
24 White w red trim hollyworks Awesome job!
25 Blue thing–12 Amazing planet & clever base. Thanks.
26 Orange noofsta Hi from new zealand
27 Blue Dyn57_ Salutations
28 Orange semiosus Excellent base for a great planet!
29 Red w black trim UniDestiny I Can’t Believe It’s Butter!
30 Yellow w black trim DesignationG DesignationG 23/8/17
31 Purple Fr3nky_one Greetings! 1 sept 2017
32 White w blue trim Cyrain Greetings from [Hub2-42] New Cyrain
33 Orange Maroc-22- I applaud you sir… [HUB11-2A] Maroc Atop floating carbon
34 Orange Bcnuby Bcnuby was here! Amazing base interloper! Atop floating carbon
35 Orange hoboxia Oh, it’s on, my buttered beauty Atop floating carbon
36 Orange SmeeMont Epic Style 0:45 from Base
37 Blue w orange trim thisisunderdose Love the vibe! Atop pillar
Comm Station Placement
Southeastern ridge of communication stations.

Landscape

Niflheim is a planet of rugged mountains and hills underscored by a massive, deep cave system with frequent openings to the world above. The surface is a combination of rock and two types of sand that can slow travel on foot or by wheeled vehicle. Floating, black carbon pods hover over the surface, paired with detritum, ground-based pillars and iron “seeds”, the former of which broadcast light into the atmosphere. Arches of nickel and pits of blue cymatogen break up the ground frequently. Also common are columns of heridium. At night, the columns of light bedazzle, and waves of iridescent dust blow in loops across the world.

As with other “malfunctioning” planets, tall “radio transmitters” crop up at random on the planet’s surface. These are silver and contain a large hoop big enough for a starship to fly through. One can activate a button at the back of the station in order to get some incomprehensible data. I found three of these on my drive to the temple.

Base Description

ButterBase 2018 is both a reconstruction and improvement upon the temple built for v1.2 Pathfinder. The new base is oriented on an east-west axis and retains the basic shape of the original, but then adds to it greatly in both scope and scale. Prior to entering from the east, a monument between aTalentlessHack and ButterForTheKing was erected on September 3, 2017, less than a month after Atlas Rises (August 11, 2017). Closer to the entrance is a green beacon, which can be used to save the game without worry of overwriting or displacing the temple because it was constructed after v1.3.

The eastern face of the temple is ca. 50 m high from the base to the orbed tops of two square pillars. A green flag with circular, white patterns blows in the breeze just below the columns to the north. The front contains a gem-shaped pass-through, and under that is the main entrance to the base unit, which is itself under a peaked room. Lanterns guide the way in.

To the right of the base unit entrance is a Vy’keen blueprint vendor, and ahead on the left is the base unit ID reading “ButterBase 2018.” Walking ahead into a corridor leads one to a tire rack to the left of which is a decorative Trade Terminal and porthole. This lower level contains an airlock to the outside, and also houses a desk and several flat-panel displays. To other doors marked with Vy’keen decals also lead outside.

A single staircase leads up to a second level containing a table and two chairs as wel as a bar area with chairs and a small computer room. Four standing planters occupy the room as well.

Heading upstairs to level 3, one is met by more planters as well as a long hallway to an airlock leading outside. An empty hydroponic unit and another set of stairs leads to level 4.

The stairs lead up to two chambers opposite each other containing single beds. The common room features a table and two chairs as well as a weapons station. Heading back down the hall, the airlock opens onto a never-used landing pad. To the right of the landing pad is a ramp leading up to a signal booster, and a second ramp leading up to a save unit overlooking the beacon and monument. An elaborate arch framing three openings covers the part of the walkways down. Another green flag with white circles tops the arch.

On either side of the temple are blocks that appear to have tumbled off of the main building. Some of these blocks remain half-buried.

The only sounds are the wind and a very deep hum, the source of which remains undetermined.

—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming

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