I am beginning to suspect that navigating planet-side is not like traversing the surface of a sphere. If so, what shape should I imagine to aid in navigation?

I assumed a sphere, but my instincts keep getting confounded. Various things have made me suspicious: travel time to markers not being what I expect, markers seeming to shift position while flying at 1500u in the stratosphere, and so on.

I have not ruled out my earthbound mind becoming befuddled since I've never circumnavigated a planet for real, especially from a spacecraft. So I performed the following test.

I made a beacon. From the stratosphere, I flew until the beacon flipped from behind me to in front of me. That must mean it was on the farthest side of the world. At that point, it was 2 hours away at 150u. I flew straight down and landed. Without moving, the beacon was reported as 6 minutes away (via Nomad). This makes no sense!

The beacon marker had a tall vertical line, which indicates it was far around the curve of the planet. I had previously found a crash site, and its marker showed it to be 2 hours away, but it had same length line as the beacon.

The beacon marker and crash site marker were in the same 180° slice of the sky. I approached the crash site on my Nomad. The beacon marker and crash site marker converged. My gut tells me that, in this case, they should get farther apart as I approach one. Also, the travel time to the beacon went up from 6 minutes as I approached.


What McKendrick devised was a system whereby surface data could be stored in a mathematical cube. In-game, that data was then transposed onto a sphere.

From "In the beginning, No Man’s Sky was flat" by Charlie Hall in Polygon.

Therefore, the strange behavior I found during my experiment was probably due to this geometry distortion. For example, imagine if I was navigating around the 3 flat surfaces of the cube near one of it's corners.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.