Superversive Music: Eye of the Storm

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One of the more interesting bands out there, The Cruxshadows is part Goth, and part Catholic. One might go so far as to say that they are Superversive by nature. Take for example, their song, “Eye of the Storm.” Honestly, look at the lyrics (below the video) and tell me that some verses don’t look like articles from the website.

Images from Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core.

The trials you now are facing,
They are not greater than your will,
For there is nothing under Heaven,
You cannot overcome.
See the door that lies before you,
And know – this too shall pass.
The confrontation of your fears,
In strength drawn from the past.

Where the silent voices whisper,
‘Find the course that is your own,
And however great the obstacle,
You will never be alone. ‘
For I have watched the path of Angels,
And I have heard the Heavens roar.
There is strife within the tempest,
But there is calm in the eye of the storm.

In fragments of an instant,
The chaos has returned,
And all that was left to sentiment,
Beneath the banner burned.
And as that voice was slow receded,
Into echoes, memory,
My doubts were re-ignited,
And fear awakened from it’s sleep.

I believe in what I fight for,
And I have paid for it with pain.
I am here because my contributions,
May help turn this fate away.
And all who stood by and did nothing,
Who are they to criticize?
The sacrifices of others-
Our blood has bought their lives…

This is the moment of truth,
At the point of no return.
Place faith in your convictions,
As boundaries start to blur.

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord.
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn.
There is strife within the tempest,
But there is calm in the eye of the storm…

The pages of our history,
Are written by the hand,
With eyes and ears and prejudice,
Too far removed to understand.
And so the heroes of the ages
Are stripped of honesty and love.
To make them seem less noble,
And hide what we can become.

This is the moment of truth,
At the point of no return.
Place faith in your convictions,
As the boundaries start to blur.

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn
There is strife within the tempest,
And there is calm in the eye of the storm…

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn
There is strife within the tempest,
And calm in the eye of the storm…

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord.
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn.
There is strife within the tempest,
And there is calm in the eye of the storm…

If you find the courage within you,
To face the path ahead,
It matters not the outcome,
If what you will gain instead,
Is a heart deepened in the knowing,
That experience carves the soul,
And the very thing that empties you,
Shall surely make you whole.

Where the silent voices whisper,
‘Find the course that is your own,
And however great the obstacle,
You will never be alone. ‘
For I have watched the path of Angels,
And I have heard the Heavens roar.
There is strife within the tempest,
But there is calm in the eye of the storm.

 

Declan Finn is a Dragon Award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does.

Pokemon, Go!

poka - pokemon_go_logo

At Boy Scout camp, we had no reception. To use the Internet, we had to go to a narrow span of space inside the staff lounge and stand on one foot while leaning to the north, which was the only place the WIFI worked. I did this once a day to check my email, and, occasionally, I looked at a newsfeed to see if the outer world was still there. It was here, while balanced precariously in a northerly direction, that I saw the headline:

Pokemon Go More Popular Than Porn.

This was my introduction to Pokemon Go.

At first, I confused this with Pokemon Sun and Moon, the new DS game my kids have been waiting for. It took a little while before I realized that this was, actually, something new. Very new.

This was like nothing that had ever been done before.

poka-ash

Ash Ketchum gets off to a rocky start

but almost two decades later, he’s still going strong!

A bit of history:

My first encounter with Pokemon was, well, probably before you heard of  it.

Back in the late 90s, I wrote for a briefly-existent magazine called Animefantastique. It was put out by the folks that publish Cimemafantastique magazine. They wanted to cover anime for the American audience, but maybe they started too soon, as it was not yet as big as it would be a few years later. So the magazine did not last long. My last article for them did not even get published.

My last article was on this new-fangled thing called Pokemon.

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A scene from the very episode my sister-in-law translated for me

So early in the Pokemon phenomena was this that, in order to review the TV show, I had to get my Japanese sister-in-law to translate an episode. It had not yet been released in English. This was before the release of the first movie, which came out in 1999, I believe.

Poka - Pokemon_the_First_Movie

This movie introduced Mewtwo.

Mew is cuter.

As part of my article, I interviewed the head of 4Kids Entertainment, the company that was bringing Pokemon to American. In the conversation, I asked him if he thought that Pokemon might make a big splash and be popular for a year or two. He told me that a year or two was nothing. Shows like Power Rangers and Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles had maintained their popularity for four or five years. 4Kids had high hopes.

Turns out, they were right! More right than any of us could have foreseen!

(Including them. Apparently, in 2005, 4Kids did not renew their contract to be the American distributor of Pokemon. Maybe they thought the fad was over. Poor guys.)

Then, when my eldest son was three, his godfather lent him 72 episodes of Pokemon. Almost the first two seasons, I think.

It was love at first view!

poka friends

Love at first sight–unlike Ash and Pikachu,

who did not get along at first.

I remember the day I heard pitiful wailing coming from downstairs. I ran down. My three-year-old was in tears. Rushing to his side, I could find no injury. Eventually, the mainly-pre-lingual boy (he learned to talk quite late) was able to communicate to me:

Butterfree had gone away.

Poka caterpie

Caterpie!  

Ash’s first catch.

In the TV show Pokemon, ten-year-old Ash Ketchum’s first Pokemon catch, after he and Pikachu set out on their Poka-journey, was a Caterpie. Caterpie evolved into Metapod, who has the ultimate technique of harden, as in hardening its cocoon-like outer shell.

poka-metapod

“Harden, Metapod! Harden!”

Metapod then evolved into Butterfree, a cool butterfly pokamon who could do actually effective attacks, like put people to sleep. Eventually, however, the day came when Butterfree was mature enough that it was its time to go off with a flock of other Butterfrees, to do whatever Butterfrees do that lead to little Caterpies.

So Ash had to let his very first catch go.

poka - butterfree

And my three-year-old son cried.

It was the first time he had ever been upset by something that was not a concrete problem. I was impressed that he was able to comprehend the sadness of the scene enough to be upset by it. It showed he was growing up.

What followed was a childhood steeped in Pokemon.

poka riolu

According to some…this is the best Pokemon of all

My sons watched the show. They hummed the song. They played the card game.   (I won’t even tell you how much I spent on cards one summer. Or about the time that the neighbor’s kid tricked my four year old out of the most expensive card we owned. I stormed right over there and got it back.) They played with toys (many of which they inherited from their cousins, so they were straight from Japan.)

Poka toys

Not our house…but it could be.

Eventually, they even played the video game.

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Iced poka ice cream cake.

We even had Pokemon birthday parties. In the Pokemon TV world, kids leave on their poka-journeys at ten. So both of the talking boys got a Pokemon party for their tenth birthday. I planned Orville’s for a whole year, buying cute plushy pokamon dolls, so that every kid got to unwrap one from pokaball colored paper and take it home. I even made a pokaball ice cream cake.

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Holding a pokaball — maybe not my best picture.

By Juss’s tenth birthday, I had even found plastic clear and red spheres, that looked like pokaballs to put the plushies into. We went out hiking through the local forests, pretending to spot pokemon, and running off to catch them.

You could say that we played Pokemon Go before it was cool

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Catching Pokemon before it was cool.

Note the riolu in hand.

They lived and breathed Pokemon.

It changed our life.

Orville even invented his own world (Eddaria) with his own version of Pokemon (W-Beasts, short for War Beasts), which he still works on, even today.

Orville 9th birthday

Young magician and his assistant, Turtwig

So, when I read that they had come up with a way to make it so that kids could go outside and catch Pokemon on their own, by combining a video game with GPS geocaching, I thought:

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Then, the stories started pouring in.

First the horror stories: Two people walked off a cliff and were badly injured trying to catch a Pokemon. Someone got pulled over by the cops for speeding—trying to catch the Pokemon you could only catch at 88 miles per hour. People walking into traffic without paying attention.

But then came the good stories.

People getting out of the house. People going to seminaries and churches. One seminary had a Pokemon Go event and reported six conversions.

Bestselling author John Ringo wrote a very touching piece about the way that getting out and hunting Pokemon changed his health and his life.

There are even dog shelters that that will let your walk their dogs while you play (so you don’t look too stupid out there on your own. Helps the dogs, too.)

But the people who are the happiest are young men, a bit like my sons, who grew up with Pokemon, watching it, playing the card game or the video game—watching someone else journeying around to capture pokamon.

And now, they can do it themselves.

The joy on the faces of young men in their twenties who I have spoken to about this game…I’ve almost never seen anything like it.

And to hear modern young geeks talking about the hours spent hiking or the distant they have biked.

poka exercise

Exercising geeks. Almost a miracle, in and of itself.

The first thing my kids discussed when they heard about the game was how long you could keep it interesting. Pokemon Go has about 150 pokamon, but currently there are something like 721 pokemon in the game/TV background.

That promises a lot of later releases.

“And then they could introduce breeding,” said my younger son, who has spent serious amounts of time trying to breed Pokemon on his DS to get just the one he wanted.

Being able to both walk out and catch pokamon…and get new varieties by breeding the ones you catch with people you meet on the street…that has potential.

And then, there is Team Rocket. Who would not want virtual spies stealign their hard-won Pokemon. Not to mention that Giovanni could easily use Pokemon Go to carry out his plan of world domination!

poka - israeli

Pokamon are everywhere. The president of Isreal had to call for security when this member of Team Rocket showed up in his office.

Giovanni even cries out “Go! Go!” in his theme song. Clearly he forsaw Pokemon Go over a decade ago!

Giovanni

Giovanni of Team Rocket.  

His theme song is one of my favorite songs. Cool lyrics:

“I was born to rule the world.

“There’ll be world domination, complete obliteration

“of all who now defy me!

“It will all be mine, power so divine

I will tell the sun to shine

On only me!”

Oddly, my kids are not interested in Pokemon Go. Probably because they don’t have smart phones. But I suspect it is just a matter of time. Sooner or later, someone in the house will get a hold of the game, and a new chapter of Pokmeon adventures will enter our lives.

f0b259392d0a6c2bcdec64afdfb036bd.jppokag

Gotta Catch Them All!

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Tombs and Terrors Online Game to Win Free Books!

A unique online event is going to be held this Friday, an old-school dnd dungeon crawl with genuine ebooks and paperbacks as the random treasures. Among the treasures will be two ebook copies of Beyond the Mist, two of Nobility Among Us, and two of Selected Verse – Heroes and Wonders (If it’s not on sale by the time the game starts, these will be eARC’s of that collection). The event is sponsored by Nick Cole’s excellent Cyberpunk Novel Ctrl-Alt-Revolt!, so there will be in-game bonuses for people who have bought and/or reviewed that book. Don’t ask me how the game will work, I’m not running it, just contributing to the pot of prizes together with a lot of fine writers, and that pot is still growing. Take a look for yourself over here:

http://www.oldschooldnd.com/tombs-and-terrors/Tomb-of-Terros-Wide

Blast from the Past Story Review: “To the Moon”

In honor of being named a top ten gaming blog by Jeffro of Castalia House, here is a review I wrote a year and a half ago about a sci-fi game titled “To the Moon”. It can best be described as a cult classic – fiercely loved by a core of die-hard fans (I would be one of them), and basically unheard of by everybody else. I cannot recommend it enough.

This particular review focuses on the story, and you’ll see why – there isn’t much else to focus on. Except, of course, for the soundtrack…but let’s not get distracted. I’ll wait for you to finish.

Ready?

And without further ado…

It’s the Steam summer sale, and that means literally hundreds of games are going on sale from prices ranging from as low as 10% off to as high as, occasionally, 99% off. So of course this means that by June 30th I’m going to end up with some cool new stuff to try out.

But honestly, though I’m still looking for deals, I’m not sure why I’m even bothering now that I’ve found and finished “To the Moon”, a little-known gem of an indie game with one of the best stories in a game I’ve ever seen – possibly THE best. Story-wise, it rivaled the experience I get after reading a great book. It was that good.

And a good thing too, because there’s almost no gameplay. It was made in an RPG (role-playing game for those who don’t know) engine, but it’s more or less an interactive novel. Gameplay involved collecting objects, a simple tile-flipping puzzle, and a hilarious but brief plants vs. zombies spoof at the end of the game. But that’s it – you’re here for the story and the story only. There isn’t even voice-acting, just written down dialogue. Basically, it’s an interactive novel.

I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers, but it won’t be easy. I’m doing that because I encourage everybody who likes good writing in general to play this game, not just gamers. These are the sorts of games that should be getting publicity, not the ultra-violent affair that was BioShock Infinite.

“To the Moon” stars two scientists, Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts. They form a classic “odd couple” dynamic, with Neil as the goofball who makes a joke out of everything and Eva as the serious, professional one who’s always rolling her eyes. Their banter is entertaining and you grow to like them and root for them very quickly. Their job is to go into dying people’s heads and change their memories so that they believe, before they die, that they have achieved their greatest wish. And their patient Johnny’s wish is, of course, to go to the moon.

The story is creative, well-written, at times hysterically funny, and at times profoundly moving. It moves at exactly the right pace and handles its serious subject matter with the perfect mix of humor and pathos. It is also, in its own way, an excellent mystery.

I’m going to get this out of the way here to avoid shoehorning it in awkwardly later: The game is really, really funny. I mean, hysterical at times. It’s probably the funniest game I’ve played besides the Portal games. Neil is the comic relief and he gets a lot to play with. The comic highpoint is a montage of Neil and Eva going through Johnny’s head and trying to “plant” a desire to go the moon inside of his memories, a totally ridiculous sequence that had me laughing out loud. It has everything from dumb puns to smart pop culture references (done badly they can be cringe worthy, but the game pulled it off), and all of it inserted in exactly the right places to keep the serious undertones of the game from descending into melodrama.

Taking its cues from movies like “Memento” and “The Matrix”, the game (I nearly wrote “movie”) follows Neil and Eva as they journey back in time through Johnny’s memories, searching for a way to link his desire to go to the moon from his later memories to his early ones. Early on the story sets up a LOT of mysteries, some of them really bizarre (“What’s with all the origami rabbits? What does a hackysack have to do with any of this?”). I was worried they were writing themselves into a corner, but with time and patience the mysteries are all solved in a more than satisfactory way.

The story focuses mostly on the relationship between Johnny and River, his late wife. Early on we learn that there’s something a little…”off” about River. We follow Johnny and River’s relationship backward through time, starting with River refusing treatment for the disease that ultimately killed her all the way down to their awkward first date back in High School. River never reacts to the world quite the same way everybody else does, and while Johnny means well one of the overarching themes of his life is his difficulty understanding River and empathizing with her feelings. As much as he loves her he’s obviously out of his element.

What’s up with River is a plot point I don’t want to give away, but it’s part of the reason the game is so great. It’s probably the most realistic and respectful portrayal of a mental disorder (I use this for lack of a better word) in the history of video games. It knows its subject matter well, and it neither sugarcoats it or makes it out to be overly destructive. It’s a fact of life that everybody involved with River (and, of course, River herself) has to deal with, and one of the tragedies of Johnny’s life is that he never really learns how.

The relationship makes up the core of the game, and of all the mysteries the biggest one really is “What on EARTH does any of this stuff have to do with going to the moon?”. Well, by the end of the game, you learn, and what happens after is absolutely heartbreaking.

The game isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions. If you could have the one thing you wanted most in the world, would you lose your memories to do it? How much is worth bearing to be with the one you love? And let’s not even get into the morality of the whole concept…that’s a post for another day, and an idea that I’d love to see Dr. Feser tackle [Author note – I am referring to the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosopher Dr. Edward Feser, who did tackle a subject similar to this in his article “Self control”, about the movie “Memento” and the Phillip K. Dick short story “Paycheck”].

So what we’re getting here is really a relationship put under a microscope. It’s a story that starts out complex but slowly progresses into a very simple tale of a man in love with a woman he can’t quite understand, trying to deal with tragedy but not sure how. The ending is profoundly touching, and I must say that by that point the player is EXTREMELY invested in Johnny and River’s happy ending.

If gaming is ever going to be accepted as a serious art form and not just something for nerds we need more ambitious projects like “To The Moon”. The story took an incredibly original concept and instead of taking it and going off in a cliche direction they took the opportunity to explore the effects of dealing with a loved one who suffers from a mental disorder. And on top of that, they handled their difficult subject matter in an extremely mature way. River was a complex character and her disorder was portrayed realistically, without exaggeration or sugarcoating. The humor and emotion of the game worked together in a pitch-perfect way, and when the emotional beats hit, they hit like sledgehammers. Oh, and by the way, it had the best original soundtrack for a game I’ve ever heard.

The video game world does not need “Half-Life 3”, or “Final Fantasy Billion”, or “Uncharted 4”. What gaming needs are games like “To The Moon”, games that aren’t afraid to go off in new directions and tackle the serious subjects. If games like this aren’t the future of gaming, they should be.

Two thumbs way up, and I urge anybody who likes a good story, and not just video games, to go and get this game. For three dollars, its sale price on Steam, it’s a better experience then you’ll get out of most books, and for the ten dollars it normally is it’s still a bargain. You can be sure that I will be following this developer from now on and eagerly awaiting the game’s sequel [Author note – since this review was finished the developer, who is working on a major sequel, did put out a mini-sequel set in the same universe, as well as a couple of DLC’s. For the curious, a brief review of the mini-sequel can be found here].

New Kickstarter Card Game: Hero’s Journey!

Nathan McClellan, a delightful fellow and Superversive Fan, is involved in a Kickstarter for a really cool card game called Hero’s Journey. I showed the Kickstarter video to my youngest and he cried out in awe, “How can I get that!” So, I asked Nathan and his partner-in-crime, James Wright (no relation), if they would concent to be interviewed.

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Can Odysseus survive the Flying Monkeys? 

Willl the the starving Greeks be forced to eat Toto?

1) What led you to embark on the Hero’s Journey, so to speak?

Well, there was an old game both of us loved to play a lot during our college years which has since gone the way of the dinosaur.  Several other games from that period were starting to make a comeback so we asked ourselves, “Why not this one?

Then we asked, “If we did bring it back, what would we want most?

And almost simultaneously said, “More crossovers.

So we set about expanding the game’s original engine to accommodate beyond its original, narrow focus.

2) Tell us about yourselves. Who are the folks who are making the Hero’s Journey happen?

Just a couple of nerds that like games and books.

We had an older friend, Brad, who died in his thirties who also loved this game.  We like to imagine he would have been on board for this and enjoyed it too so the whole thing is dedicated to him and giving his boys one more legacy to remember their dad by.

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Who will kill you first, Paris or the Wicked Witch?

3) There are many types of games out there. We might play Life if we want an group game, or Uno if we want something fast and easy or Chinese Checkers, if we are looking for a bit of strategy. What kind of experience might a person be looking for that would prompt them to reach for Hero’s Journey.

This is more for the harder gaming crowd as the game has at least 2 layers of strategy to it.  First is the planning where you take the cards we’ve given you and build a deck with.  Second is when you play that deck against an opponent who has constructed their own deck.  But we’ve included at least 2 simple deck lists to help beginners get started and are planning to posts decklists as players invent them or if you want to do quick start plays or themed style evenings.  We’ve tried to keep the game pretty flexible.

4) How did you come to pick Oz and the Iliad?

Since we’re just getting started we decided the best bet was to start with public domain books.  That way we could take a property and develop parts of the game to simulate moments and characters from that property without having to worry about licensing fees or having the game tied up in legal battles.

Then since the game naturally simulates trying to get from point A to B with constant challenges along the way, we thought “What’s something in the public domain that everyone recognizes which has a hero & their companions get from a start to a finish?”  Oz (get home) and the Iliad (get to Troy) seemed the most obvious choices.

5) The art looks really good. Who is/are the artist and how did you get them involved.

A mix of asking for artists on the web and asking people we know for recommendations.  Since we’re just getting started with the game (and know how frustrating it can be to look for that “big break”) we especially looked for artists that are building their resumes.  If this launch is successful, I hope to keep it going by always looking for new talent whenever we start a new set of cards relating to a book.  As for who they are, we’ve done a week long focus on our artists along with examples here: https://epicusliterati.wordpress.com/category/artist-focus/

6) Is this a game about storytelling? Or is storytelling actually required to play the game?

No, it’s a game first.  Though we won’t complain if players want to combine it with a trivia night (i.e. “Name the pair of animals that attacked Dorothy & co while crossing a log.”).  We also like to invent our own stories of how things might happen in a game (like the time Dorothy got to beat up on an old Trojan priest).

7) Do you have plans for additional expansions? Might there be other stories joining the Hero’s Journey, should things go well? If so, do you have any in mind that you’d like to see?

Yes, we’ve got at least 2 more small sets rough-drafted and currently testing off and on.  And definitely yes as to more books.  If this game proves successful enough and we can move out of the public domain, we have a wishlist of stuff we’d love to license. (Though we’ve found more in the public domain than initially thought, we might do a whole series on “forgotten classics.”)  We also aim to allow the players to help us pick and choose which books are adapted next.

8) How does this game differ from something like Smash-Up?

Well, Smash-Up (a game I usually enjoy – if you ban spies & geeks) is a much faster, pick-up & play, while our game will require a bit of prep before anybody comes to the table.  Smash-Up also has a very loose rules system to try and make it as flexible as possible, but that gets messy when players interact.

Our rules are a bit more complex and structured to allow things like ranged & melee combat as well as multiple players to gang up on one (as that’s what’s happening to you every turn).  This also means that while Smash-Up isn’t too bad for new players to grab & play, Heroes’ Journey may take 1 play through before players really “get” it.

 

9) What age range to you foresee enjoying the Hero’s Journey? Can ten year olds set out on this journey, as they might on a Pokemon journey, or does this require more

On average I’d say maybe 13 and up.

Some cards and their resulting decks are much simpler then others, so might be a better fit for some players.  For example, “Wild Monkey Beatdown” (as we nickname it) is pretty easy and basic, while “Monkey Swarm” is much trickier to pull off.

Though if a person can play, we say: Let them play.

Why No Man’s Sky Will Rock Your World

Depending on how you look at it, No Man’s Sky will be the most exciting video game released this year, or it is not even a game. Developed by indie outfit Hello Games for PC and Playstation 4, the preview videos got audience juices flowing faster than Niagara Falls. Meanwhile, the procedural mechanics that create the NMS universe have boggled the imaginations of even the most cynical astrophysicists. But the more you learn about the game, the more you realize how a small group of coders in Guildford will change the way we think about the world beyond video games. If you are into science fiction, mathematics, or philosophy, here are five reasons to be excited about No Man’s Sky.

1. There will be 18 quintillion planets to explore.

To be precise, there will be 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets. In one game. And they will all be planet-sized. For anyone who ever spent half an hour aimlessly roaming around Grand Theft Auto, for no reason but to go for a virtual drive, NMS is going to be mind-blowing. Wandering the universe may prove dangerously addictive. The map for this game has to be closest that anybody has come to realizing Douglas Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex.

Whatever the launch price for NMS, divide it by 18 quintillion and consider what good value that represents.

2. Reality is a formula.

A tree falls in the forest, but nobody is there to hear it. Does it make a sound? Now take that idea, and multiply it by a big number (maybe 18 quintillion). NMS takes an old philosophical conundrum and puts a new spin on it, because most of its universe exists only as mathematical formulae, which are evaluated according to the player’s location. So there is no tree, not even in the form of data, unless a player is present. But every feature of every planet is permanent, in the sense you could find a tree, go somewhere else for a week, come back to your starting location and find an identical tree, because solutions to mathematical formulae do not change.

No Man’s Sky is a full-size illustration of how mathematics governs the universe. It determines everything from the turning of the heavens, to how animals behave, to the formation of caves. As such, Hello Games have invented a game engine that comes the closest to the ‘infinite fun space’ enjoyed by the metamathematical Minds of Iain M. Banks.

3. Choosing your own purpose, but confronting somebody else’s morality.

If No Man’s Sky has a flaw, it is the seeming lack of an objective. Instead of winning or losing, you just do it. In that respect, it is like life. You can travel, discover, fight, steal, protect, and trade. Those are all choices you could also make in real life (but on fewer planets). However, the NMS universe also has moral police. A race of self-replicating robots monitor for transgressions like killing wildlife (dentists from Minnesota should take note).

The NMS universe is so vast that you are unlikely to bump into a fellow human being, but possesses a moral authority that is pervasive. This may prompt some players, like me, to take their existential crisis to a whole new level. Kierkegaard would have loved this game.

4. Old school science fiction, without the politics.

Spaceships and space stations, ray guns and jetpacks, dinosaurs and sandworms… NMS allows us the life that Don Quixote would have chosen if he had read classic science fiction instead of romances about errant knights. But apart from the robotic police, there is no need to worry about creeping politics or boring message fiction. NMS is a throwback to the days when education in science fiction had something to do with science, and the purpose of science fiction was pleasure, not moral edification.

Each player starts with the basic tools to make progress. The rest is up to them. With no notion of race or gender, this game will appeal to the colorblind child in all of us.

5. Small is mighty.

Video games have grown to emulate movies, employing hundreds of people on long, expensive projects. Because of the scale of the investment, these projects then need to be derisked using business techniques like franchising and tiered pricing. As a result, they have also become increasingly tired and samey. Improved graphics is used to gloss over a lack of compelling new ideas. Hello Games has shown that a small team of independents can possess the science, passion and skill to create a radically different new game that is well beyond the capabilities of any of their much larger rivals. And they do not need a massive budget or shock tactics to generate a marketing buzz, because their game offers something that people want, and cannot get elsewhere. Their appeal to imagination trumps all.

All science fiction writers should take note. Wholesome old-fashioned gameplay is going to be married to innovative programming and mathematics to create an extraordinary universe that people want to explore. Good and popular ideas will continue to overcome institutional resistance and corporate dogma. Like an algorithm that generates a universe, something incomprehensibly great can come from a surprisingly small source. Never mind the guardians who tell you what the public wants. Be like the founders of Hello Games: make what you want to make, then share it. The universe starts with you, and what you put into it.

But now I have used too many words to describe a game whose scale defies description. This gameplay trailer better illustrates why I, and so many others, are eagerly anticipating the arrival of No Man’s Sky.