Intangible Cultural Heritage on the Pilgrim’s Path

No Man's Sky_20180602072149

Mt. Hova as seen from the generic base unit at the site of the original Pilgrim Base Camp. June 4, 2018.

Introduction

On August 27, 2016, player Steam-bot decided to go for a walk. Over the next 16 days he successfully circumnavigated an entire planet in No Man’s Sky, journaling about his walk on reddit, and posting pictures of his trip on imgur. His walk was an exercise in faith. He named the system the “Pilgrim Star.” Every day he thought about quitting, but the encouragement from fellow players scattered across the galaxy convinced him to continue. After 45 hours of walking, falling down mountains, and enduring extreme cold, he arrived back at his ship and left, vowing never to return. He left nothing behind to commemorate his trip except pictures and video posted online, plus his journal.

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Image taken along the Pilgrim’s Path, Dudenbeaumdeme, August 27, 2016. Note the cold temperature and presence of water and trees, both of which are gone as of June 4, 2018. Image: Steam-bot.

The walk immediately became the stuff of legend and began to attract other pilgrims to voyage to the planet in a system Steam-bot had picked at random to explore. They began leaving behind commemorative communication stations, and one player, NMSSurvivalGuru, reenacted Steam-bot’s walk, but without the aid of the head-up display (HUD) while in Survival Mode. In May 2017, Spaceartgek posted an image (below) of the Pilgrim Base Camp, which served as a welcome center for newly arrived travelers.

OLD-PilgrimBase

Pilgrim Base Camp, May 2017. Image: Spaceartgek,

The Pilgrim Star (aka Starfall) became so popular that players new to No Man’s Sky began making it a destination along with the two other major ones in the game, 1) Lennon, the Galactic Hub’s original capital, and 2) the center of the Euclid Galaxy itself. The Pilgrim Star Path even became a navigational app to help players find their way across the galaxy prior to the activation of portals and glyphs for fast travel, which came about in later versions of the game. To understand why this walk was so important, one must understand the video game concept of “feats of strength,” a term used to describe something either unusually difficult (or insane) to do within the context of a game.

I visited on June 3–4, 2018, to find the planet completely changed. Instead of cold, I was greeted by a toxic, yellow and green world. The welcome center was gone, and in its place were a few comm balls and a generic base unit. Over time, Starfall had become so popular that people continuously overwrote the older bases with their own, wiping heritage off the map, very much like current developers knocking down historic buildings to construct luxury condos. The base unit squats at the foot of Mt. Hova, named after a player who created an empire that brought war to the Hub, eventually settled peacefully in a nearby system, Local Serenity. Not many of the old comm stations remain, and new ones seem to take their places continually updating the landscape just as they do at the portal to Lennon. All of the old Waypoints are gone. What we are left with is a rare example of intangible cultural heritage, in this case of a human player who did something historic that became mythical yet left no physical trace behind.

So what is intangible cultural heritage? From Wikipedia:

An intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill, as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts, and cultural spaces that are considered by UNESCO to be part of a place’s cultural heritage.[1] Intangible cultural heritage is considered by Member States of UNESCO in relation to the tangible World Heritage focusing on intangible aspects of culture. In 2001, UNESCO made a survey[2] among States and NGOs to try to agree on a definition, and the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage[3] was drafted in 2003 for its protection and promotion.

Steam-bot took his fabled walk 17 days after the original version of No Man’s Sky was released. Nearly two years later, the player community continues to celebrate that legendary trip, a walk done to explore a rich, digital ecosystem, which became an act of very human faith and perseverance.

Pilgrim-Outliers

Anatomy of Dudenbeaumodeme

Dudenbeaumodeme (the original start of the Pilgrim’s Path)
Legacy Hub
System: Starfall (aka the Pilgrim Star)
Base Name: Nojuray Colony (one was Pilgrim Base Camp)
Player: Currently reads as “Arshehole” but originally discovered by “Steam-bot”

Type: “Corrosive” Planet
Weather: Acid Rain
Sentinels: Low Security
Flora: Frequent. According to the Discoveries log, 21 plant species (all “common”) have been discovered.
Fauna: Moderate. Also based on the Discoveries log, 14 animal species have yet to be recorded.

Economy: Commercial // Unsuccessful
Dominant Lifeform: Korvax
Conflict Level: Rowdy

Planet Base Coordinates: 064A:0082:01B9:009A
Portal Coordinates: pie pie galaxy hexagon pie dinosaur galaxy whale hexagon tree moon whale. The portal is on a nearby planet within the Starfall system.

Resources (according to the log): Frost Crystal, Cymatogen, Iridium, Heridium. All of these resources are observable on this moon, except Frost Crystal, which is a holdover from when the planet was classed as “icebound.”

Exterior Temp: Range between 65.7 F, 1.9 Rad, 67.7 Tox (day) and 63.9 F, 0.2 Rad, 65.1 Tox (night)
Storms: Once daily featuring extreme toxicity by way of acid rain.
Length of Day: 1 real-time minute = 45 minutes on Dudenbeaumodeme. 32 real-time minutes = 1 day on Dudenbeaumodeme.
Sunrise: 0400
Sunset: 2000

Circumference: ca. 10:30 minutes (630 seconds) at 4756u/s = 2,996,280u or ca. 2,996ku
Diameter: ca. 954ku
Volume: 4.55 x 108 u = 455,000,000u
The Earth’s moon has a circumference of: 10,921km (or nearly 4x that of Dudenbeaumodeme).

 

Landscape

Dudenbeaumodeme was once an icy world with precipitous cliffs, but it is now an uninhabitable toxic wasteland, miasmic yellow clouds obscuring visibility. The mountains remain, many split by deep canyons and caves. Fungus of varying shapes and sizes comprise the plant life while doglike creatures and stunted dinosaurs struggle to survive.

 

Waypoints

41 Waypoints discovered, dates ranging from June 6, 2017 to May 8, 2018. Note that Steam-bot’s circumnavigation on foot took place between August 27 and September 11, 2016, when the planet was still frozen, which predates the first recorded Waypoint by nine months (that first Waypoint logged two months prior to Atlas Rises).

7 on June 6, 2017 by cemuto888.
1 on June 25, 2017 by monel156.
1 on July 15, 2017 by FLAMINGSTICK.
3 on July 20, 2017 by MightShadow02
3 on July 25, 2017 by Gnat_Churly
1 on August 2, 2017 by Arshehole (the log says that he discovered the planet)
5 on August 3, 2017 by Arshehole
2 on August 4, 2017 by Arshehole
3 on August 9, 2017 by ChowThyme
1 on August 9, 2017 by Arshehole
5 on August 11, 2017 by NightShadow02
1 on January 8, 2018 by tomcoolcam
5 on January 14, 2018 by tomcoolcam
2 on March 17, 2018 by MCM71083
1 on May 5, 2018 by aj-oggy

Base Description

The original base (pictured) is long gone, having been overwritten by players in 2017. All that’s left is a generic base unit.

 

Comm Stations

A massive cluster of comm stations occupies the split summit of Mt. Hova. A smaller cluster surrounds the base station at the foot of the mountain where the welcome center used to be. Various other comm stations exist in ones and twos across the rest of the landscape, not unlike the pattern seen on Lennon.

No. Color Placed By Text Note
1 Orange Dukebagman I came, I saw, I left this message Near base unit
2 Orange ncrxgrt RIP Near base unit
3 White w blue trim DG_Squared Greetings from creative Near base unit
4 Orange FLAMINGSTICK The journey has only just begun Near base unit
5 Orange tomcoolcam Hello traveller
6 Orange NmsSurvivalGuru Pilgrim Marathon [Turn Point] Next to Trade Terminal Data Store Q28-28P
7 Orange Monel156 Monel156 was here Floating (ship only) above observatory
8 Orange xxGeneralMillsxx The General sends his greetings… Near Waypoint and Huts
9 Orange Enosch Interloper! You made it!
10 Orange SixxAZhell Owned and Operated by N E O tech Under Trading Post (on ground)
11 Orange thecreed88 Trade station Under another Trading Post (on ground)
12 Orange NighShadow02 Mt. Shadow
13 Blue w orange trim doglegsxr Phase 2 ? From your founder 21/07/2017
14 Orange XbaconpancakesX ARC Trooper XbaconpancakesX, here to serve
15 Orange snortler It’s been along journey, snortler uk East summit
16 Orange GBCheese I Have Traveled Across A Sea of Stars East summit
17 Green w blue trim HollowDrummer Worth Every Warpcell To Be Her With You East summit
18 Orange LancerSTX5 Wheres The Nip Farm? East summit, Floating
19 Orange Tegroeg TEGROEG was here. Loop 16 East summit
20 Orange abu-madiel Bow to King Hova! East summit
21 Red w black trim catsatmegs WE ARE SR375-DOGLEGSXR-AH- East summit
22 Orange RSRacer007 Great place to take a walk! Maybe. East summit
23 Orange Matthew71NSW Greetings from #theAGT… East summit
24 Orange Arshehole Hova wakes my titan, wink wink East summit
25 Orange CalamityMaim I travelled worlds to find you (Sguild) East summit
26 Red w green trim MCM71083 01A7:0081:07D7:0079 East summit, Floating
27 Orange Pennywise1020 PLEASE someone notice me! West summit, atop arch
28 Red Igwordius Atlas is pleased [PoA] West summit
29 Yellow w black trim Rider____s Made it! Hello from Rider____s West summit
30 Orange aj-oggy 2-1-2-7-1-6-1-6-5-8-8-6-4-9 permadeath West summit
31 Orange Bowzilla666 Looks like we mad it! West summit, in cave
32 Orange Sir_Oops Blessing from S.O. ETARC CSFD West summit
33 Yellow w black trim firefly753 Greetings pilgrims. M.H. ECSD West summit

—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming

One thought on “Intangible Cultural Heritage on the Pilgrim’s Path

  1. Pingback: Past Meets Present in Local Serenity | Archaeogaming

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