Murray and Hello Games coded a near-infinite universe and survived a harassment ordeal. For two years, they’ve stuck by the game that put them on the map – and led to death threats
Sean Murray does not like talking to the press. He says this several times when we meet at the Guildford offices of Hello Games, the development studio he founded in 2008 with Grant Duncan, Ryan Doyle and David Ream. He is loquacious, but nervous. No one at the studio has spoken to any journalists for nearly two years, since the release of Murray’s pet project No Man’s Sky, an extraordinarily ambitious space exploration game that aimed to put an infinite universe on a games console – a game that, when it didn’t meet some players’ high expectations, triggered an appalling internet harassment campaign that left the small studio and its staff reeling.
It is hard to blame him for his hesitance. Talking to the press is partly what led to Murray’s ordeal in the first place. As the visible creative lead of No Man’s Sky, the person who talked up the science-fiction game and its enormous ambitions in interviews before it was released, he bore much of the ire when features promised during development were not present when the game came out. One poster on Reddit drew up a list of everything Murray had said in interviews about No Man’s Sky, cross-referenced with what was actually in the game. It was not flattering.