18 quintillion planets, and you still can’t get away from the worst people on Earth. Namely: the central link of No Man’s Sky, a region of mapped space known as the Galactic Hub, was recently threatened by a troll that players claim is a “neo-Nazi.” Developer Hello Games has banned Grief for good, but players still have concerns about the game’s reporting tools.
No Man’s Sky, first released on PC and PlayStation in 2016, has come a long way since its rocky debut. At launch – and it’s a story that’s been told in more written accounts than there are planets in No Man’s Sky– the game lacked many promised features, such as working multiplayer. The hype suggested a game that was technically so vast that you would probably never meet another player. But when players visited the exact same planet as each other, they couldn’t interact. They couldn’t even see each other.
Many launch window issues have since been fixed, and Hello Games has additionally released more than a dozen free extensions over the years, introducing features like guys and custom bases. No Man’s Sky has more or less recovered the lost goodwill of its early years, spawning a robust and hyperactive multiplayer community.
This community gathers in a number of inhabited regions called “civilized space”, one of which is the galactic huba series of 11 interconnected regions where players come together to, in plain English, build some cool shit. A planet is home to an endless rave. (I’ll take a one-way ticket, please.) Another is a vast series of roads and outpostsfoundation of a possible utopian city.
For the most part, the Galactic Hub is devoid of trolls, surprisingly given the rampant toxicity that pervades online gaming these days. But recently, as noted by one of the Hub’s moderators in a long statement posted on Redditone player took it upon himself to wreak havoc.
“A neo-Nazi troll is attacking bases in the Galactic Hub, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said the player known as 7101334, who founded the Galactic Hub. wrote. “Every leader of a canonized civilization agrees that Hello Games has failed civilized space with their inaction. The ‘Report Base’ function returns a 500 error, which means that Hello Games has never seen a single one of these reports, and the ‘Block’ function in the game simply does not work at all.
Throughout the galactic hub, players spend a lot of time building bases, outposts, and other exoplanetary structures. The troll in question, however, would show up and plaster blocks all over these bases, essentially ruining every meticulously laid out plan. In any role-playing situation, whether it’s a video game or a game of J&Dthere is a certain level of leeway for assholes – life is full of assholes, after all – but there is a limit.
Galactic Hub representatives provided Kotaku with the troll’s username in the background, so as not to violate potential terms in No Man’s Sky‘s EULA. Kotaku was able to further verify the username in screenshots and a video clip, and it does indeed include numbers generally affiliated with white supremacy, as well as a reference to a well-known neo-Nazi leader. When contacted for comment, Hello Games declined to provide or officially confirm the specific player’s username, but said Kotaku:
It is unfortunately common for the most problematic players to find ways to have the most offensive names… The most effective thing when we see these names reported to us is for us to report them to the platform holder and they be banished from all games, rather than we just ban them from No Man’s Sky. This is our normal course of action. That said, the specific player you mentioned has already been permanently banned from No Man’s Sky also.
The mere fact of reporting the troll, however, raised concerns among No Man’s Sky community members. Players say trying to report the offending player resulted in a “Server 500” error, leading many to assume that the reports weren’t actually being forwarded to Hello Games. The studio, for its part, disputes this and claims to have received the complaints.
A representative from Hello Games said Kotaku the reason these errors were appearing is because the offending player’s bases had already been flagged. (No Man’s Sky lacks some of the direct player reporting tools available in other online games, which has long been a problem among the game’s community, but players can directly report offensive bases, rather than the players who built them. Here is a presentation video how it works.)
When players report a base, it’s immediately blocked from local view, meaning they can’t see it on their PC or console, but it’s still “downloadable by other players”. Otherwise, the rep said, it could easily be abused. Hello Games reviews all reports and moderates accordingly. In this case, the rep said, the reported bases were moderate, although the offending player used some tactics designed to circumvent the game’s existing anti-troll methods, a fix for which is on the way.
“We have identified them and a fix will be deployed as soon as possible,” the rep said, referring to the moderation dodging exploits. “It is our policy not to publicly acknowledge trolls or their methods, to avoid encouraging copycats.”
In this case, the case is closed. The player is banned. Corn No Man’s Sky players still have concerns about reporting tools that are – or rather, aren’t – available to the community.
“Easiest and least controversial solution would be for them to fix their in-game crash button. Currently it does nothing at all, as far as we can tell,” 7101334 said. Kotaku by email. “Maybe blocking someone from joining you, but they can still warp to the system and access your session without joining directly.”
Other actors, meanwhile, argue that handing over such strict reporting tools to community members, or even trusted moderators, potentially opens the door to exploitation. Giving any player unilateral power like that is ripe for abuse. But it is clear that something has to give. While trolls and heartbreaks are rare in No Man’s Sky, they are always a problem. 7101334 pointed out a notable member of the Galactic Hub who said they no longer build structures on planets because they know that these structures are likely to be sullied by bad actors. Obviously, this is not ideal.
“That’s the state of the game, and it’ll take more than one ban to fix it,” 7101334 said. [Hello Games] must play the role of a company that truly protects its community.
Asked about potential plans to expand the reporting toolkit for players, the Hello Games representative had nothing to add. The studio, they said, is “confident in the levels of protection we already provide.”