The No Man’s Sky star system that offers normality to those who need it most

April 16, 2020
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As I warp into the system known as The Heart of Unity, it doesn’t seem as if anything special is happening. Five planets and a handful of moons slowly orbit a sun that casts an aquamarine light into the void between. My stellar guides have already entered the orbit of Terra1, a green and blue sphere that, from my vantage amid an asteroid belt, looks pretty Earthlike.

I’ve been invited to tour one tiny portion of No Man’s Sky’s infinite, procedurally-generated universe, where a community project a year in the making flung its doors wide open in a sudden gesture of goodwill. UNity1 is the brainchild of several disparate factions and communities. It originally planned to provide an in-game, faction-neutral meeting ground for politicking, ambassadorial discussions and the arbitration of disagreements. They chose a planet, spent months erecting infrastructure, and looped in the leaders of some of the playerbase’s largest civilisations, such as The United Federation of Traders and Galactic Hub, in anticipation of a big public reveal.

Then the coronavirus pandemic changed everyone’s lives. “In three weeks I met thousands at work, screened countless people and in walking outside the scarcity of human interaction was almost creepy,” says Lillihop. She runs the NMSCafĂ© Discord server and has coordinated much of the planning on UNity1. Outside of No Man’s Sky, she works at a reception at a hospital. “There’s anger and fear, loneliness and loss, and that’s not even the day-to-day.”

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