No Man’s Sky
Developer/publisher Hello Games Format PC, PS4 Origin UK Release June 24
Sean Murray has a problem. It’s the last presentation in a long day of press demonstrations and he’s just discovered, on taking to the stage, that his bottle of water is sparkling. “I might burp,” he warns, “which is also embargoed.” But while a public bout of wind might be on the cards, No Man’s Sky lead Murray is uncomfortable for another reason entirely: despite his excitement at working on a game in which so many have taken a strong interest, the rigmarole of publicising it – and nurturing that public enthusiasm – from behind a necessary veil of secrecy is taking its toll on a man who just wants to code.
“We’ve never done something quite to this level before,” Murray tells us when we meet following a belch-free demonstration. “This is the first time we’ve done an event that Sony’s organised and we’ve seen, like, 80 press today. And that’s really strange to me. You end up with what I’d call a very shallow ocean; I’ve given an ocean of very shallow answers. It feels so weird, and everything about it is my least favourite thing – I come away from this feeling like I just want to have a shower and leave it behind. You use talking to somebody as a commodity. Like, ‘Five more minutes. Ten more minutes. This is your last question,’ and stuff like that. And that feels so inhuman to me. Like I’m some weird little asset. It makes me question interactions with people, and you lose a little bit of your soul. And, y’know, after the game comes out, NeoGAF will probably put a hit out on me or something. We all know it’s coming…”
But Murray’s discomfort shouldn’t be mistaken for ingratitude or arrogance. This is a man who, despite struggling with the monumental task of bringing his ambitious vision to life, remains impishly enthusiastic about the important stuff: coding, creating and the prospect of sharing his game with players. And he can even find some positives within the publicity maelstrom.
“I never saw videogames as my vehicle into some PR scenario,” he elaborates. “I always saw it as making games, I just never expected this side of it. And I’m definitely not the charismatic frontman that I should be for this role. But, while I say all that, and while it hasn’t sunk in yet, I got to go on stage at E3. I got to go on Stephen Colbert’s show. It all seems weird right now, but presumably once enough time’s passed I’ll be like, ‘That was cool! Let’s never do that again!’”
Of course, the reality is that Murray’s modesty, natural charm (uneasy or otherwise) and candour is what makes him such an appealing spokesman in the first place, and his ability to communicate his enthusiasm for No Man’s Sky is part of what has driven