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Chapter 9 of Dungeons and Dragons! This one is really long, and it’s apparently just over 4k words which is WAY more than I thought? Anyway, enjoy!
GuardCarrion touched his cheek again. The group had been walking south, towards the desert, all morning. Carrion still felt butterflies in his stomach. The four dragons had gotten up relatively early to prepare for the journey. Carrion was packing things into a light brown pouch in the room he slept in, with Scorpio nearby. He was not too happy.
"I should really go with you...or you shouldn't go at all," Scorpio said, grumbling. Carrion stopped packing and looked up. "Obviously, you can handle yourself. I mean, you escaped with the greatest escape artist of all time, so I would hope something would rub off on you-" Scorpio said jokingly.
And Carrion had laughed. He actually laughed. It wasn't super loud or dryly; it was a good, hearty laugh. Scorpio smiled slightly and carefully twined his tail around Carrion's tail.
"You know, you're adorable when you laugh and aren't super stressed," Scorpio said with a grin. Carrion got all flustered, fumbling with the items he was packing. "Joking aside...please be careful out there. I haven't cared for a dragon like you in...well, I think in forever. I don't want to lose you, is all…" Scorpio leaned on Carrion and sighed.
Carrion had put a wing around Scorpio comfortingly. His warm SandWing scales felt comforting. Not super hot but not cold like other dragons.
"Just...be safe, Carrion."
And then he kissed Carrion's cheek.
Carrion rubbed his cheek again for about the twentieth time that morning. Tasman was next to him while Compass and Mahogany took up the front. Mahogany was asking Compass a lot of questions, and Compass didn't seem to mind.
"When did you fall in love with Scorpio?" Tasman asked quietly. Carrion flinched at the request, but he sighed and answered.
"You know the trope of forbidden lovers?" Carrion tilted his head up at the big IceWing. Tasman nodded. "Long story short, those whole make cheeky and joking remarks apparently are my type of dragon...Also, he was stupidly handsome-" Carrion mumbled the last part. Tasman smiled slightly, and they continued walking.
"You sure you don't have a key for that tail barb lock?" Tasman nodded at Compass' tail. It partly dragged on the dirt. Earlier in the morning, Compass had asked the same question. Carrion explained he got rid of everything he had after he had unlocked Scorpio's chains and took off his armor. Carrion shook his head to Tasman.
"If we wanted to unlock the casing, we would need a key that only guards have. However, we could probably break it open somehow. We'd have to be careful, though. I've seen broken SandWing barbs, and it isn't pretty, for the SandWing or anyone else." Carrion shuddered, remembering all of the battles he had watched and helped with.
"I bet there's someone in the Scorpion den who could help us out," Tasman said, also shuddering. The desert was the last place, and IceWing would want or need to be. Carrion was afraid he might melt, both figuratively and literally.
After more hours of walking through the root-filled trees and dirt, the group stopped when the sun was high in the sky. Mahogany needed to stay off her foot as much as possible.
"Don't worry, kid. Once we get to the desert, we can start flying since we would be easy to spot from above regardless of height." Compass bit into the head of a lizard. Mahogany ate a handful of berries from a nearby bush, which Compass taught her were safe to eat. Mahogany touched the thin golden bracelet she had received from DullPaw. Carrion had thought the gesture was lovely and thought it was both stupid and brave to be so open about having feelings for Mahogany. Mahogany either seemed to reciprocate those feelings, or she was just that nice to everyone.
"Where did you get that bracelet?" Carrion gestured to the other bracelet she had. It was white leather with one red gemstone and two orange gems next to it.
"My father, before he got really into blacksmithing, tried leatherworking. He made this bracelet and only this bracelet during that time. He thought it looked bad, but it's more than my mother ever gave me. It's my little treasure." Mahogany finished, smiling. She ate another berry.
"I'm sorry your mother was like that…" Tasman nodded. "My mother was about as good as IceWing mothers usually get. She fed me, kept a roof over my head, but not a whole lot else. She never hit me except if I did something really terrible. That's only happened once, though." Tasman laughed dryly.
"Well, whatever did you do?" Carrion asked, finishing off his prey.
"I um...I accidentally bumped into a large prey basket. I spilled blood and fish juice all over my mother and older sister…" Tasman turned blue in the face, looking sheepish. Compass chuckled.
"Well, well, well, I didn't know you had a sister. You seemed like an only-child dragon to me." Compass smiled slightly.
"I don't know; his sense of protection is something that naturally comes from dragons with siblings," Carrion said.
"And how would you know that?" Compass tilted his head.
"Oh, I've just…" Carrion paused, thinking of an excuse. He didn't want to talk about his brother. "I've seen it with other prisoners—even other guards or SkyWings. There are twins in the guard force, and they're both quite good, actually. Trained together and protected each other with their life. One is Cherrybomb, a firescales, and the other is Rubrum, what we call a snuffscales, both brothers." Carrion finished.
"What is...a firescales?" Mahogany tilted her head.
"Firescales is something that can happen with SkyWings where the dragon is born with 'too much fire," Compass started before Carrion could answer. "Their scales are imbued with fire, and anything they touch burns to a crisp, dragons included. However, I don't know what a snuffscales is."
"A snuffscales is mostly SkyWing slang, and it's the opposite of a firescales. They're born with too little fire, and they aren't able to produce fire. Cherrybomb took all of Rubrum's fire in the egg, and now Rubrum can't breathe fire. Simple." Carrion finished, nodding.
The group finished their lunch and continued onward. After an hour or so, the forest opened out to the desert. Compass rushed to the scorching sands and spread his wings out, taking in the sun. Mahogany mimicked the movement, with her wings and green scales shifting shades of pale pink and gold. Eventually, they stuck to a color similar to the sand below them. Carrion walked into the sun, enjoying the warm feeling. He looked behind him when Tasman wasn't next to him. He was standing under the treeline, looking nervous.
"You good?" Carrion asked, turning towards him.
"I feel like I'm going to melt, even just standing in the shade here…" Tasman muttered, flicking his tail. Carrion rolled his yellow eyes.
"You'll be fine. So far, there's never been an IceWing who's actually melted due to the sun." Carrion encouraged, flicking his tail, agitated.
"Plus, there's an oasis on the way to the Scorpio Den. We can stop there both on the way there and back." Mahogany said, checking over the map she had. Compass nodded at her, telling her tricks about reading the map. After some more talking, Tasm stepped out into the sand gingerly.
"Ow! It's burning hot!" Tasman yelped, leaping into the air. "How come she can step on it, but I can't?" Tasman nodded at Mahogany.
"Part MudWing, my scales are generally tougher than regular dragons. Heat doesn't bother me as much." Mahogany replied smirking. Carrion smiled slightly and leaped into the sky. He spread his wings wide, feeling so free in the air. He hadn't flown in almost a week, and his wings were sore. Finally, they could get some exercise in. Compass and Mahogany retook the lead, with Mahogany sometimes doing a dive or flip for fun.
She's still a dragonet. She's almost an adult, but not nearly as old as we are. It makes sense that she'd want to have some fun to clear the stale air...Both literally and figuratively. Carrion thought, watching Mahogany do a barrel roll, amused. The group kept flying until they came across an oasis. Tasman was panting from the scorching heat, and he practically fell into the pond below them, cooling off. The rest of the group landed in the shade of the few palm trees that were there. They all took a few minutes to rest and drink water before flying again, with Tasman reluctantly in tow.
After flying for a few more hours, a city appeared on the horizon. Carrion gulped. He had heard the Scorpion Den was the harshest place on the continent. Usually, he was good at dangerous places, but since he was on the run and could be recognized at any moment, he felt less secure.
The city was below them after almost an hour. The group spiraled down towards the entrance, hiding behind a dune to think of a plan.
"Alright. Walking into here is going to be dangerous; I won't sugar coat it. Mahogany, I know you want to come in, but I really advise against it." Compass said, glancing over and down at her. Mahogany shook her head.
"Nice try, sir. But I am going in there." Mahogany stated, her scales turning dark purple and gold. "Plus, if I shift my scales enough, I can look like a SandWing...or at least a hybrid of one." Her purple scales shifted to a sandy brown. Except for the spines and lack of a tail barb, Carrion had to admit she looked somewhat like a SandWing. Compass raised an eyebrow, also seeming impressed but worried at the same time.
"Mahogany, I don't know…" Compass thought for a moment before sighing. "Fine, but stay close to us and don't make eye contact with anyone. I mean it." Compass narrowed his eyes at her, and Mahogany nodded. The rest of the plan was decided, and Carrion walked towards the town by himself. He stepped inside, avoiding eye contact with the two SandWings stationed outside of the entrance. He found the nearest cloth stall and purchased a cloak. He walked back out and behind the dune again. Compass threw on the cape, covering his tail. The group walked into the city.
Smells of all different kinds whacked Carrion in the face. From roasted lizards and meats to leather pouches and burning metal, every scent was vibrant. Dragons ran through the streets and alleyways. The look of the Scorpion Den was like Prosperity if you painted it with a fresh coat of "desert." The buildings were made of sandstone and wood, built in the shape of multiple rectangles. Vendors were selling many different things, but the group resisted the temptation to stop and continued moving. Carrion walked up to Compass.
"So...who are we looking for again?" Carrion muttered, glancing around. Mahogany shifted closer to Tasman. She looked a little nervous, but she tried to keep a brave face.
"There's a SandWing here. Knows about this kind of stuff. They were the one to send me on the assignment to steal...the gem." Compass said, also glancing around.
"Don't you mean the Cloud Gar-" Carrion started before Compass whacked him with his tail bludgeon.
"Shut your snout right now! There are ears everywhere…" Compass whispered back. Carrion kept quiet after that. Eventually, Compass led the group down a few alleyways and in front of a shop. There was only a small sign that read "Gemstones and Jewels" on the building's side. Compass knocked on the door, and it opened from the inside, almost by itself. Compass nodded them inside.
A muted-yellow SandWing was inside. They were surprisingly small, but still a bit bigger than Mahogany. They had a few necklaces, armbands, and horn rings on them. They had a tattoo on their cheek, depicting a small cactus flower. Their tail barb was the most exciting part about them, though. They had golden ink tattooed on their tail barb, with an even bigger and more complex flower design. They turned around in their seat, and Carrion was surprised to see a female looking at him and the group.
"Ah. Compass. Glad you finally decided to show your scum-of-the-earth face again in my shop." the dragon said, glaring at Compass.
"Heliodor. Glad to see you missed me so much." Compass said with a dry smile. Heliodor rolled her eyes, scoffing. "That being said...We need your help." Heliodor flicked her tail, and her eye twitched.
"You really expect me to help you? After attempting to get the gem I wanted and clearly failing?! You haven't been seen or heard of for years!" Heliodor yelled at him, standing up and glaring at him, nostrils flaring, face inches from his. Compass kept a straight face.
"Yes, I do. Because we have a great sum of money for you if you help us." Compass smiled slightly when Heliodor backed off a bit, face subsiding. Carrion glanced over at Tasman and Mahogany. Mahogany was standing close to him, looking even more nervous, and Tasman looked incredibly stuffy. His scales glistened from sweat.
"Tasman, if you want to take Mahogany and go to the oases in the middle of town to cool off and get a drink, I wouldn't mind. We can handle the deal-making on our own." Carrion muttered to him, happy to see the relieved expression on Tasman's face. The two left, with Tasman asking Mahogany about different fruits. Carrion turned back to the argument Compass was having.
"Heliodor, when have I ever led you astray?" Compass asked, sounding a little desperate.
"Hm, let's see. In the first assignment, you almost got me evicted from the Den. On another assignment, you lost me a large amount of money because you wouldn't shut your mouth during the trading phase. This time you fail at getting the most important gem of my career!" Heliodor yelled again, and Compass flinched this time. "Honestly, why would I even let you in my home ever again?" she finished, smoke curling out from her nostrils.
Carrion was about done with the yelling and arguing. He took the satchel of money from his side pouch and dropped it on her table without a word. His face was blank, and he didn't break eye contact with Heliodor. The money made a jingling sound as it landed on the table. The moment the bag hit the wood, Heliodor stopped talking, her eyes turning only slightly surprised. She took the bag and tucked it to the side.
"So. What did you need help with?" Heliodor asked, keeping a calm composure.
"Well, we need help with-" Compass started before Heliodor glared at him and thumped her tail, shutting him up.
"I was asking the persuasive SssskyWing," Heliodor said in a snake-like tone. She turned back to Carrion, and Carrion continued.
"First off, it's Carrion…." Carrion started. Heliodor nodded at him. "Secondly...We want to know more information about the Cloud Garnet, and it's two...siblings? Yes, I'd call them siblings." Carrion finished, keeping his expression blank. Heliodor slowly nodded, clearly thinking. With every nod she made, her jewelry would clink around.
"Three moons, I haven't heard that gem name in a long time...Give me a moment," Heliodos said, standing up and going to the back of the room. A large bookshelf lined the wall, and she sifted through multiple book titles before pulling a large red book from the shelf and bringing it over. She set it on the table with a large thump.
"This...is the book of the Gems of Cometes." Heliodor flipped through the book's first few pages, stopping at a page of a pale white dragon with blue accents.
"Looks like an IceWing…" Compass mumbled, glancing over Carrion's shoulder.
"See, everyone thinks that, but look here, right under his eye. That's a teardrop scale. Most dragons believe he was an IceWing, but he was a NightWing with some sort of albino condition." Heliodor said, seeming less aggressive. "Cometes was an animus dragon. Everyone thinks he descended from Whiteout, which lines up with the white scale condition and, obviously, the animus powers. Long story short, Cometes created these three gems a long, long time ago. With their powers combined, the user could rule the continent."
"One of those gems is the Cloud Garnet, right?" Carrion asked. Heliodor nodded.
"Correct. The Cloud Garnet, which you know about, is with the SkyWing queen, Queen Ruby. There are two other gems. One is the Tundra Sapphire, which is frozen in the coldest part of the Ice Kingdom. The other gem is the Reef Emerald, hidden at the deepest depths of the Sea Kingdom." Heliodor said, flipping even more pages until she came across an image of all three gems aligned together. "When the gems are combined, they form the most powerful gemstone to date: the Comet Opal. The Comet Opal gives the user power beyond our understanding." Heliodor finished, closing the book.
"Of course, it's in the Ice Kingdom…" Carrion mumbled grumpily. Neither of the SandWings noticed.
"So...if we find the gems before the villains do, we stop the end of the world from happening?" Compass asked, flicking his tail. Heliodor shrugged.
"That would be my guess. I don't know about any motives any dragon would have against the queens. Maybe some grudges are so strong that it urges dragons to do harm." Heliodor thought, her tail barb scraping against the stone floor.
"I should also mention there is a traitor among the SkyWing guard force...I bet they have something to do with it…" Carrion mumbled, furrowing his brow.
"Well, why didn't you mention that earlier!" Compass said, surprised.
"I swear I had mentioned it before, but I suppose not…"
"Talons and cacti, Carrion, that's super important information!" Compass opened his wings a bit, nearly knocking over a vase of pink desert flowers. Heliodor yelped and caught it before it fell. She glared at Compass, but he didn't notice it. Carrion started shuffling Compass, who was still telling Carrion off, out of the house, before turning to Heliodor, who was adjusting the flowers, as he got to the doorway.
"Thank you, Heliodor. This information is wonderful and will definitely help us. Also, I really like the tattoo on your tail barb; it's fascinating." Carrion sputtered, pushing Compass out of the door. Before he closed the door, though, he saw a faint smile on Heliodor.
The two dragons walked through the city until they came to the center, where a giant pool of water was. Palm trees lined the edges of it, and a large cloth spanned from tree to tree, creating shade. Tasman was as easy to spot as a diamond in a pile of gold. Mahogany was a little hard to see, but the NightWing next to her helped make her more visible.
"...and if you turn this knob, it zooms in more. This dial focuses." The NightWing was showing off a device of sorts. It was long, made of metal, and had a circle of glass on the larger end. On top of it was a narrow compass. Small knobs and dials lined the side of it. Carrion and Compass walked closer to them, and Mahogany smiled. Tasman looked relieved.
"Carrion! Compass! Look at this thing!" Mahogany said excitedly, gently holding it out so they could see it. Carrion nodded approvingly as Compass tapped it.
"Yes, it's pretty cool. How'd you get it?" Compass tilted his head. Mahogany nodded towards the NightWing.
"From CleverClaws." Mahogany smiled. CleverClaws gave a shy grin, waving slightly. "He saw Tasman and was wondering what an IceWing was doing here. A lot of dragons probably are, but CleverClaws was the only one to walk up."
"I told him we were saving the world." Tasman smiled ever so slightly.
"So I-I thought perhaps y-you could use a tool t-to navigate the world…" CleverClaws stuttered out, twiddling his paws. "I-It's a regular old spy, but I added a few th-things. It now has a compass, a sundial, and a zooming f-features. It can also collapse into a smaller shape, for easy st-storage!" CleverClaws pushed a small brown button on the device, and it shrunk down to less than half its size. Mahogany tucked it into her pouch, which was getting a little full.
"How much do we owe you for it?" Carrion asked, impressed.
"Oh, y-you can just have it! I h-have a lot back in my tent, I can p-part with just one." CleverClaws smiled, pushing his glasses back up his snout. Carrion nodded back.
"Alright, everyone. We have the information we need. Let's go…" Compass said under his cloak. He nodded in the direction of the entrance. Tasman stood up quickly and followed close behind. Carrion started walking with them but stopped and looked back when Mahogany wasn't with them. Mahogany had grabbed a few of the coins she had and set them in CleverClaws' claws, smiling. Carrion smiled slightly, which was rare. CleverClaws thanked her profoundly, and Mahogany ran to catch up with the group.
"You know, that was a wonderful thing you did there. You didn't have to give him anything...but you did." Carrion said, smiling slightly at her. Mahogany grinned.
"Well, I just like to give dragons that happiness. It makes me happy knowing that they're happy with a small act of kindness, you know?" Mahogany said, flicking her tail.
"I wish the world was that way, kid. We need more dragons like you. You don't ever stop being this way, you understand?" Carrion said, raising an eyebrow. Mahogany nodded, looking determined. Eventually, the group reached the entrance of the city. Compass really wanted to get a small bag of sugared dates, so the rest of the group waited while he stood in line to get his treat.
As Compass got to the front of the line and ordered, a shout rang out across the streets. Carrion turned towards the entrance and saw, to his horror, a small legion of SkyWing guards running towards him. He realized they had noticed him and Tasman. Compass paid for his food, whipping his head around. He looked panicked once he saw the patrol. He ran over to the rest of his group.
"Run. Go, go now! That's an order!" Carrion barked out, pushing Mahogany with his wing. Tasman and Compass followed behind. Compass threw his cloak over Tasman so his scales wouldn't be easy to spot. They twisted through the city like a deranged game of cat and mouse. The guards were close behind them, shouting at them to halt. SandWing guards had begun to join in, and there were now nine dragons chasing everyone. They kept running, eventually ducking into an alleyway. They hid under some cloth pieces, hoping the shadows would be enough cover.
It happens the group hid in front of Heliodor's house. She threw open her front door at all of the commotion, and a few guards walked up to her.
"A group of dragons passed by. An IceWing, SandWing, SkyWing, and some sort of younger dragon. Which way did they go?" A pale red dragon in the front asked. Heliodor opened her mouth to speak, but she caught Carrion's eye, slightly looking up at him. He shook his head at her, putting a claw to his mouth. Fear was in his eyes. Heliodor blinked, turning back to the guard legion before she pointed down an opposite alleyway.
"They ran that way. The dragonet was wearing a cloak. Hurry, and you can still catch them." Heliodor lied, watching the guard force sprint off. She sighed, carefully walking over to the group as they emerged from the shadows.
"Thank you, Heliodor, I don't know what to-" Compass started before Heliodor waved her paws quickly.
"No time for thanking me; you all need to get out of here." She gestured to the sky, towards the west. The sun was getting low in the sky. "Fly west. Fly towards the Ice Kingdom. Fly as far as you can and get the Tundra Sapphire before it's too late. Now go!" Heliodor said urgently.
Compass ushered Mahogany into the air, and they were off first. Tasman followed suit. Carrion paused for a brief moment, nodding thanks to Heliodor, and she nodded back, smiling slightly. Carrion shot into the air behind the group. They all flew as fast as possible, with the sun dipping below the horizon quicker and quicker with every wingbeat.
Update(s) Idea for No Man's Sky
While I had originally done this in a word document, linking it was hard so I decided to copy it onto here. Just to note
I highlighted ideas that I believed were not economical for HG to implement but as the highlight does not transfer over to reddit I decided to simply but square brackets around them, and I hope this is understandable for any readers.
As another note, I mention new upgrades, cosmetics and mission types a lot while not giving specific examples. Ideas for these can be found right at the end of these ideas in their own separate section, minus cosmetic ideas, as I believe pretty much any cosmetic would be a good idea.
While No Man's Sky is a fantastic game, I feel as though there can be improvements that remove some things that are holding the game back. I believe it is being held back from becoming a true sandbox game that can be enjoyed by a very wide audience because:
- No Man’s Sky lacks either a Win or Lose condition – its aimless.
- No Man’s Sky lacks real substantial content that is deep – it’s been said to be as wide as an ocean but as deep as a puddle.
My gripes about the game lacking content certainly isn’t the first time it’s been said. No Man’s Sky has many systems – excavation, scanning, base building, flying, missions. The unfortunate part about these systems is that if you do them once, you’ve done everything there is to do. There’s no variation or depth to the content, and players CAN (note not saying WILL) get bored and leave. This isn’t always a bad thing, games naturally end and you don’t have anything else to do, but aside from No Man’s Sky having a potential and wonderful dev studio that is trying very hard to make this game as perfect as it can be, No Man’s Sky also has no natural end. What I mean by this is the first issue I outlined: there is no win or lose condition.
Let’s talk about some sandboxes – Dwarf Fortress is a game where you, well build a fortress for dwarves. How do you win in dwarf fortress – You don’t die. Dwarf fortress has its appeal because there is a danger to losing your progress. If the game was just about building a fortress, then why not just make it not use resources, and not have to worry about gathering and maintaining the civilization? It wouldn’t have a lose condition so the only thing you’d need to do is just build, and the other content would be padding. Kenshi is an post-apocalyptic survival game where you control a cast of characters you can make and recruit as you try to survive and explore the wasteland. Again, the lose condition is death of your party, because otherwise what reason would you have to progress through the game? To see the pretty visuals and landscape? Why not just look at art instead, or 3d models?
This is not to suggest that No Man’s Sky should have permadeath – far from it, and I think this would be disingenuous to the feel of the game. Instead, I believe No Mans Sky should have a natural end to a playthrough, with how you get to it being unique and having lots of things to experience.
Update 1: No Man’s Sky – Journey to the Center:
Journey to the center is our first major update. This update will focus on one broad thing – adding a point to the game, a way the player can meaningfully end his playthrough and start a new one.
Journey to the center –
The original journey to the center left a bitter taste in many player’s mouth. Why was this? Aside from being massively over hyped, the center WAS the endgame. It was the victory condition that players wanted, a reason to explore this vast galaxy and try to discover what was there. Unfortunately, this has been marred by two things – the journey is not difficult in the slightest and it did not require you to interact in an interesting way with the world. There is no reason to go to the center and there is nothing stopping you from doing it, effectively it’s better for players to stay in the galaxy rather than actually explore and go to the center.
Let’s take a que from another game that faced a similar issue – Minecraft and the ender dragon. The End is called the End for a reason. It’s the final dimension the player goes to so they can finish their run of Minecraft. The problem that has plagued this progression for a while is, well it’s not difficult at all really. You don’t need to explore all of Minecraft’s features and enjoy the game to beat the ender dragon, in fact it can be done in 30 minutes or less as seen with the speed-running community. While of course you can enjoy Minecraft without beating the ender dragon, it was also a bit of a negative draw for some people, because the question becomes “well why am I doing all of this? Why am I grinding to get all this stuff?”. Minecraft recently fixed this (I believe) by adding the “Depths”, a soon to be added new cave system that will lead to the end that requires the player to get through a supremely powerful enemy and engage in all of the games progression systems to get there. This way, a real challenge is presented before the player can officially end their run, and while players could probably still speed run through the game by avoiding the enemy’s detection, it adds a much better sense of challenge and a reason for players to actually gear up, prepare and engage in all the fun systems Minecraft has to offer.
What I’m not saying here is that No Man’s Sky needs to be super difficult to be fun. While the game can certainly lack challenge (and this will be addressed later), what I think No Man’s Sky needs is a reason to engage in all of their systems and then end the run. So how do we do this? Well we add a challenge to getting to the center of the universe and make the player engage in our systems as they reach the center.
This is already somewhat done by using black holes and portals, but I believe the fix to this would come in the following way – this is probably not perfect and I’m sure there can be improvements on it, but the rough idea is:
To reach the center of the galaxy, the player needs to have completed the Artemis Storyline and crafted Remembrance – by going to the boundary failures, the player can learn of new lore that allows them to craft an upgrade for their engine and exosuit, but in exchange the failures take in scans of local creatures, minerals and plants as well as artifacts from excavations. As this happens, the sentinels grow weary – if we remember from lore, the sentinels don’t exactly take kindly to those who hop simulations (Nada and Polo). The sentinel start tracking the player sending increasing waves of enemies after each boundary failure, even to the point of following a player even after they warp (although the player should still have a chance to escape with clever tactics). When the player has completed their upgrades and learnt from telamon how to hop universes, they are now chased forever by the sentinels – they player can fight them off to buy themselves time, but now they are set for the center, which will take them to another universe where they aren’t being hunted (note, the player can return to the old universe and not be instantly hunted down by sentinels, and can be explained through lore as entities no longer recognizing the player).
I believe with this extra added layer of challenge, the player will be encouraged to play with most of the games systems, become stronger and then take on the final challenge – if they so wish. This is not forced on the player and can be done if they so wish, but it adds a true victory condition to a playthrough.
I also understand that HG is probably already building on the story and planning something like a war between the abyss and the travelers, and this could replace this addition if it added a victory condition to players.
Death and Rebirth –
While not having a lose condition in being perma death, the game should still have some consequence and danger to dying. Survival mode makes you lose items and damage your ship, and while I think the ship being damaged can be transferred to normal, I believe that immediately losing items completely is a bit too harsh. Rather, I believe that you should still be able to retrieve it in normal mode, but have a time limit on when the items will disappear. This will add some sense of danger and urgency to players without being excessively difficult.
This is not however, the final improvement – while this certainly helps with giving a goal to players, it will not help with a lack of content to explore beside it. That’s why future updates will add more things and ways to interact aside from what we have now, but this should be the core thing that should be addressed immediately by HG. It will give a reason for players to stock up on S class gear and items because now they HAVE to fight the sentinels who are going to be powerful and coming in force, and gives them a goal they would want to reach that is sufficiently difficult and requires them to be good at the game. It’s also a goal that is easier if the player knows how to have good exosuit layout, proper upgrades and so on, encouraging further interaction.
QOL Updates –
While this may be a big update, smaller quality of life updates can be added in addition to this one to improve the game. Along with the bug fixes, several quality of life features that could be included are:
- Ships can now engage hover mode over planets to allow for easier landing.
- When player comes to base with storage, auto stores.
- When building bases or on freighter, allow direct access to storage inventory if it is built within range
- Favorite Stations and places on teleporter, as well as remove them if we want to
- Freighter Salvage is now found much more easily on crashed freighters and derelict freighters because they are too grindy to get at the moment, not requiring challenging gameplay but also being incredibly rare.
Update 2: No Man’s Sky – Forge of Worlds:
Forge of worlds is the second update featured here, and this is a MASSIVE one. This update includes a lot of things that are probably not easy to add, and some will be highlighted as only potential updates as some may just not be economical to add. With this update comes a much-improved terrain generation, ai and progression system that will make the No Man’s Sky universe feel much more alive and fun to explore.
Terrain Generation –
Although origins have brought much needed variety that the game severely needed, and I feel a bit entitled saying this, it was not enough.
The variety in plants and planet types is great, and I love the breath of fresh air it breathed into the game. However, the planets still have the same generation and all have the same terrain, rolling hills with a bit more increased variety in height, which is a very welcome addition.
The engine has the capability of more however. How do I know this? Because there are several mods that actually go ahead and (try) fix the terrain generation, such as “Better Planet Generation Legacy” by user WoodyMontana on the nexus, “PROJECT ATLAS – DIVERSE ENVIRONMENTS” by user moddinaccount on the nexus, and RayRodTV’s very own “Multiverse Project”. All of these projects diversify and make new unique terrain (basins, flat desert fields) instead of just rolling hills and some mountains, and as we can see particularly from RayRod’s work, it brings a whole new dimension of beauty and wonder to the game. RayRod himself commented on terrain generation in a recent tweet in which he stated “Also you can have a ton of new assets and environments, but just ‘throw them in there’ and don’t take time to really flesh these things out…. Then that’s wasted potential”. While the new update beautifully revamped the world and next generation added more, there could be more done.
To fix this, I believe HG would have to first, alter their algorithm slightly to add more meaningful placement of assets. I believe they have already started doing this with updates to the game and this is certainly very welcome. Another addition is adding a fair amount more in their terrain generation – terrain variation, terrain archetypes, ground variations are all essential to be expanded upon. [For example, leveled planets could be added, where entire cave systems act as “levels” to the planet.] Another example would also be entirely tunneled planets of some sort, or simply a lot flatter planets, if we were being less grand.
This would also require the addition of many more biomes, which is a key feature that I think the game still lacks. Currently, the game has eleven types of biomes for quintillions of planets. Each biome should have unique terrain generation, unique assets and ecosystems that reflect the type that it is. A brilliant proposition by user u/StarrySpelunker titled “The best way to force folks to explore is not to make every planet the same.” Outlines a potential idea that HG can implement this feature, by mixing and matching types to generate unique environments. I think overall, this would make the game have a much more unique feel, more so than it already does, and encourage a lot more exploration particularly from the day one players who loved the game for the diverse worlds.
Unique Planetary Terrain -
Unique planetary terrain could also be added, and what I mean by this is terrain like volcanos that are currently in the game, that isn’t generated like mountains.
- Several of these unique planetary generation ideas are water related – rivers, lakes, puddles and waterfalls. While rivers already do somewhat exist, they are more so winding ocean channels rather than fully formed flowing rivers, and lakes do already somewhat exist, but are not linked to these rivers.
- Further increasing ocean depth and having more lucrative resources be deeper with more threats would also be a good addition to variety of planets with water. [If in addition to this, the team could add a dynamic rain system that affects the water levels of some of these (as difficult as this might be)], while also having unique rain storms on planets that could be linked with already existing hazards (think toxic rain), it would also add a very high level of detail that would certainly make exploration far more interesting.
- Adding unique mechanics on the Poles of a planet would also add more depth to exploration. These mechanics could include dry ice (like the ones found on mars), or hexagonal storms (such as on Saturn), and more.
- Ocean reefs can also be added, filled with coral that is unique depending on the planet (different colors for example).
- Canyons that are expansive and explorable for unique encounters would also be a great addition that might not even require it be unique.
With this feature, two mods have shown that new features to planets can be added, and I think both of these would also add more diversity – “Megaliths” by user x60n0va on nexus, and “CONSTRUCTS” also by user x60n0va would add new large structures and naturally generated elements to a planet’s surface making it more interesting to explore.
Finally, small additions could be made such a much larger color generation for rocks and rocky terrain, meteorite impact zones, and many more geographical features.
Currently, No Mans sky has 4 types of weather – these weather types correspond more so to damage types experienced by the player in storms – radioactive, toxic, hot and cold. I have no issue this, and this helps with generating planet biomes, what I think needs more of is atmospheric events. Things like firestorms, gravitational events and lightning.
Several new types can be added, some anomalous. Examples include rain, glass rain, strong wind currents, dust storms, snow, methanic snow, magmatic rain, auroras and psychedelic clouds. These all would have interactions with the environment – rain would put out fires, strong wind currents would pick up stuff and raise fires, dust storms would damage equipment and the player, sentinels and animals.
[In addition to this, there can be two new types of planet weathers – Chaos and Electricity. Electricity planets have large electricity storms and this causes engine speed on all vehicles to go faster, and the planets generate large electrochemical systems. Chaos planets are a bit more unique – storms do gravitational damage, and the planets generate strange effects like blotting out the sky with dark energy, or cause crazy black hole formations that the player can go through. They are also the only planets that can generate dark matter.]
Cave Generation –
Cave generation can be substantially improved with a lot of longer caves where they can be much narrower, wider, taller or more clumped. There can be more variation of plants and resources found in the cave, and rarer resources now also moved down the cave.
New cave types can exist, such as glow stone caves, lava caves, glacier caves, open air caves, infested caves, and overgrown caves. Furthermore, caves can have unique structures such as research outposts, collector plants, ancient cubes and structures that contain lore or unique items and rewards. Stalactites and rubble can also now fall and damage the player by mining the area around it.
Animal features –
Animals can exhibit new unique traits – invisibility, faster speed, or even toxic excretions to name a few, and this will add a new level of unique nature to the animals that players can encounter.
Animal AI Reworking –
Currently the AI in the game does not interact in an interesting way with the player and the world around them. Therefore, it could use a rework to make it more emergent and unique each time the player encounters animals.
Animal AI is broken down into predators and prey – this is a good place to start, but because these behaviors are the same no matter the creature, and they interact with the world far less than what was seen in the E3 trailer. New AI is needed to make them interact in a more interesting way. The following architecture is a suggestion that could probably be improved upon, but the core idea is that animals need goals that make them interact with the world in unique ways.
All animals now have 4 set goals in a day, checked by an invisible meter – eat, drink, sleep and play. As all the names imply, the animals will check if they are hungry, thirsty, sleepy or bored and do unique behaviors based on their type, for example predators will if hungry, go stalk a nearby herd of animals (or the player) and attack when they think they can get the kill, or another behavior depending on their size and behavior type.
Animals who are thirsty will go to local water sources and drink from there. Sleeping will have them use sleep animations, with some animals being half sleepers like dolphins and will sleep for a certain shorter amount of time.
Play behaviors involve several unique behaviors that the animals will do when not moving or doing the other behaviors. This can include climbing trees or plants, running around with their play mates or practice hunting with them/family, relaxing and looking off somewhere, burrowing small holes and other such behaviors.
A final extra unique behavior is territorial behaviors. Creature herds will designate territories they inhabit if they are of the predatory kind, and if a creature enters their territory while they can see them, they will randomly start a fight between the two animals. The opposite of this would be defensive mechanisms which any animal can exhibit that forces them to attack if they feel in danger and cannot find other avenues of escape. Finally, animals will also be given three new inputs, sight, sound and smell to see if they can detect entities around them.
Predators: Predators now exhibit new types of behavior, aside from just “charge at creature”. Predators can now stalk their prey, charge at their prey as before, pack up on herds of animals, swoop from the sky, chase animals and use their unique features (such as creatures with cloaking abilities) to get their prey.
If they are not hungry, they will not try and attack other creatures unless they are a particularly aggressive species. If a predator encounters another predatory species who is in the same weight/size class, they will usually exhibit territorial behavior, but if it is an animal of a bigger weight class, they will either run, use defensive mechanisms or if they are a pack animal, call over their pack to try to ward off the animal.
Prey: Prey now also exhibit new behavior – they will graze instead of hunt or actively look for resources to eat (such as Emeril deposits), while also staying in their ecosystem. They will not run for the most and will generally run if the player actively threatens them or attacks them, but when first met are usually docile but wary.
If they run but keep receiving danger stimuli upon which they can act out defensive mechanisms. This can be done to both player and predators, and generally the animals will immediately run from predators if they notice them. To do this they develop new senses like infra-red sight if they developed alongside a cloaking predator for example. Otherwise they exhibit the same behavior as all other animals.
Animals can be of both types depending on their weight class, and might exhibit predatory behavior for creatures smaller than them but prey behavior for those larger. Creatures can now also interact with the world around them, swimming in water, moving trees and foliage around and eating them, climbing and destroying, or even building small constructions of some kind, whether it be a leaf bed to sleep or a small rock formation.
New Hazardous Plants –
This one is pretty self-explanatory – maybe an acidic spray plant or other kinds that would make traversing the worlds more of a hazard. Personally discovering hazardous plants for the first time was a big “Wow” moment for me, and while I can’t articulate why I feel like adding more would be great and not be resource intensive.
Typing, Reworked progression and Core Gameplay Loop -
The core gameplay loop of no man’s sky, as of right now, is not very engaging. This does not mean that it requires combat or other things that would not make it a non-violent or relaxing game. Instead, the basic mineral extraction of this game should require the player to use more of their brain, rather than just defaulting to looking through the visor for resources.
In my opinion, most game mechanics can be broken down into 2 parts – the “mechanical” part of a mechanic, aka how the player directly affects the world, and the “contextual” part of a mechanic, how the world reacts and how what is around the player adds to the mechanic. Mining, mechanically, is not a broken mechanic. The problem is, the game world doesn’t require you to do much to find resources and doesn’t react in any way to it, save for sentinels who might attack you.
The player doesn’t need to do anything, they don’t need to engage in any systems that the game has (exploration, research, combat)
Efficiency is usually used as a defense from this stating that the player can progress and make themselves more efficient but the fact of the matter is making something more tedious and longer to do does not incentivize players to look for more efficient systems.
If the core mechanic of the game is not contextually and mechanically fun on its own, then no amount of other content will do anything.
Using subnautica as an example here to help the game improve this mechanic– while not a procedurally generated world like NMS is, it does do some stuff that is possible to add. For one, each of the resources has a specific interaction with the world around it – for example, in the creepvine area of the game near the start, stalkers (a fish in the game) will eat chunks of metal that land in the area as it helps them grow their teeth. Because of this, they will sometimes drop their teeth after chewing on metal, which is a resource the player needs.
All of the material gathering requires some sort of interaction and reaction with the world, and understanding it. Another thing that can be added to no man’s sky is a progression to getting materials. Right now, No Mans Sky’s only progression is the drives, but simply installing a new drive does not add anything engaging except going to a new color star system, and repeating the same process as before, but now with an advanced mining laser instead of a normal one.
Minecraft has good progression mechanics. Certain materials can’t be harvested without first getting a previous resource, and these resources are tucked further and further into hazardous places, forcing you to get stronger with aspects of the game (exploration, combat and gathering) as well as learn new recipes to allow you to explore new depths of the game. With the addition of the cave update, this is only more emphasized as the previous caves are now even more interesting to explore, with mineshafts, crystals and so many more things. This is what I think no man’s sky lacks at the moment, and both can be remedied with some big changes to the progression and resource collection/
To make mining and resource finding interesting, the game should engage you by trying to get you to understand the world around you.
The world therefore needs to be more dynamic and emergent, to make the player want to engage more in it and not feel the same each time as well as making unique progression for each planet the player visits. This can be done through a system I call “Typing”.
Flora, animals and certain environments on each planet now have unique “typing”. What is this mechanic exactly? Well they will cause an interaction with the environment that will influence generation and interaction of other species.
For example, let’s take the snow-covered world of Ixalan 5. On it, a tree by the name of “Admech” has the typing “generates heat”, which the player can learn by scanning it. This will influence Emeril to be generated near it, as Emeril grows near heat and energy hotspots. Furthermore, an animal called “H.Polyuchtate”, a fur covered 4 limbed beast will now have a behavior under their PLAY routine called “find heat” as they are from a snow covered world, and will therefore path toward Admech trees. Or for example, let’s take the predator “P.Krax”, a burrowing monster that has the typing “excretes toxic dung”, meaning that where they move, if the player were to follow them they would influence terrain generation and spawn flora and minerals that contain unique material.
Next, we need to edit each of the resources – how we would do this is making each of the flora or environments in the planet have a unique statistic about it correlated to how the resources generate. For example, with our rework, Emeril spawns in high energy environment. So, planets that can spawn Emeril in green systems now require the player to research the local flora of the area to find which one generates a form of energy which will increase the players chance of finding this material, and this is done by looking at the typing of the plants or animals.
This will necessitate the player’s field of vision with the analysis visor be very slightly reduced to encourage the player actually trying to find these unique traits of the world around them. As the player tries to find certain elements however, they will end up in more dangerous places – for example, in blue systems where indium spawns, players will know that indium spawns in places that are concentrated with energy, usually near the crust of a planet, or in underground burrows formed by animals such as the sandworm.
Flora and animals that have this “extreme heat generation” typing will only be found underground or in more dangerous areas of the planet, such as meteor sites, lava flows or special openings formed during chaos storms or heat storms, similar to how storm crystals open up. Rarer materials will only spawn in hazardous locations, meaning the player has to engage with the game systems and make themselves stronger.
Finally, certain materials will ONLY spawn on certain planets – for example, this is already done with materials like phosphorus which more commonly spawn on scorched planets, and could be done with other materials. This will incentivize the player to explore planets with unique weathers instead of simply sticking to one.
[Gas Giants and Stars –
As the name implies, with stars and gas giants having harvestable resources that use new upgrades to get to and harvest, and are used in new upgrades. Gas giants also have floating structures that the player can visit, perhaps ancient remnants of civilization or trading out posts.]
Update 3: No Man’s Sky – Trailblazer
Trailbazer is the third update along this list that while being smaller than the previous, adds a new depth to gameplay that is needed for a peaceful exploratory game like this. With the trailblazer update, we focus on updating and expanding the researching and archeology aspects of the game to make those systems more fun and engaging.
To make research more interesting, players can now build a dedicated research room – this research room allows players to analyze extra data that is useful to understanding more of the environment around them.
While players can normally simply scan to find basic information (age, mineral content, elements) players can now use the research room to find out about the unique new features of each element, like how it forms or what the unique typing of it is, and without researching the player cannot find out.
This is done by collecting samples using the new “Scientific Multitool”, an idea presented by u/vortexofchaos by the name “We come in peace: Now shoot to kill – Wait what?” which would allow for a more researching playstyle instead of a combative playstyle.
The player can then use a “Sample Analyzer” in their research room (or they can install an upgrade to their exosuit that would allow them to briefly analyze samples on field) to get information about the elements they analyzed, particularly the formation processes i.e. where they can be found and around what other things (so for plants, root structure and nutrient source, for minerals formation processes, for animals’ behavior and diet).
Data about animals and items is also a lot harder to analyze – just analyzing it with the scanner won’t give you all the data, but rather will be acquired by collecting samples of the thing that is being researched and analyzing it, giving more detail to each discovery.
Research can also now be bought and sold for rare unique items from the explorer guild, and “rare” animals, plants or minerals can be sold to scrap dealers for illegal materials by capturing them using the multi-tool, but more on illegal activities later.
As for archeology, the new update brings many more assets in archeological sites – statues, new building designs, destroyed monoliths etc. This is procedurally generated for each archeological site. Each of the archeological sites now have a feature where the player uses the built-in analysis tool on the site and the features, they discover such as plates, glyphs and so on to compile a story about the site, similar to how proc gen stories work in the derelict freighters.
These artifacts will then be located near the ancient keys which the player needs to unlock the main artifact. The artifacts can now be used for a secondary purpose aside from just being sold, where they can be used in research labs to reconstruct them, allowing players to uncover more details about them and give additional lore as well as unique “ancient upgrades” that the player can craft and install. This artifact data can be given into certain guilds for special rewards and increased standing. The player can store and display all of these items by building them using vessels, displaying them like a museum.
[However, when the player is digging these new artifacts can be broken by the terrain manipulator. That’s why the player is encouraged to use the new surveying and topography system proposed by u/corey_m under the post “Feature/Idea Request: Topography Surveying and Mapping”. A great explanation can be found there, but to add to the feature, when the player generates topography, they can get a quick view in field, and these quick scans can give view of the underground and where the artifacts are generally located, making sure that the player is careful when digging but giving them enough information to not go in blind.]
Unique Energy Resources –
Currently we only have 3 main energy sources – biofuel, electromagnetic and solar. And while these are great, adding more energy sources for players that are unique to weather types that the game has will add a new depth to creating bases – toxic converters, which can convert toxic atmospheres or rains into energy.
[Terraforming and Creature Creation –
This is a rather large feature, and is actually two features packed into one – both of these features that players have been asking for. Using the new research parts, the player can capture creatures and analyze their dna to unlock build parts for a spore like game, allowing them to create creatures of their own choosing. This would be a high end game thing, and would be utilized as a tool for terraforming – the player can establish a colony on a dead world and using a new tool named the “World Former”, terraform the planet, choosing the weather, plant types and animals that they have already scanned to inhabit this planet, as well as allowing their unique created creatures to be there too. The terraforming would take a long time in real time, and the player could come back to a new world after this time. However, infestations of biological horrors on the world will attack the player and the new life, which the player can attempt to purge by either simply attacking all instances of them or using a purging device before their terraforming.]
Thank you for reading this far! This is the first part of a two part post that lists all the features and explanations for their inclusions. If you feel like I did not credit someone properly in this post please inform me and I will edit it to include proper credit. If you have any suggestions or would like to say anything please do leave a comment. Thank you a lot!
Here is the link to the second part of this post: