Those cringeworthy Star Atlas trailers are freaking me out
Star Atlas and Jason Silva appear to be taking a serious trip to the metaverse.
Star Atlas is an incredibly ambitious space-faring metaverse game that’s shaping up to become either the NFT gaming industry’s greatest hit… or its biggest scam.
It’s a game that promises huge lofty goals such as unbridled space exploration, political intrigue, trade routes, and‘film quality‘ graphics with Virtual Reality functionality powered by Unreal 5.
However, despite Star Atlas supposedly launching later this year, there hasn’t been any gameplay trailer or any footage of a working build or developer diary of any sort — which are things you’d usually expect from game studios that, you know, prove that the game is actually being made.
In place of those frivolous things are some questionable and downright cringe-worthy promotional material and ‘trailers’. And yet hereit all is, front and center with Star Atlas.
Man on the moon
There are a lot of strange things on Star Atlas’ YouTube, such as the 1:14-minute Metaposter videos where a voice drones on in the background that “Star Atlas is a place where dreams come true“, and a video that looks a whole lot like a pre-rendered cinematic being passed off as actual gameplay footage.
However, the ones that I so badly want to talk about first are a pair of videos starring a futurist, philosopher and TV personality named Jason Silva.
On his website, Silva includes a description of himself from The Atlantic: “A Timothy Leary of the Viral Video Age”.
Timothy Leary, of course, dropped a LOT of acid, and judging by these videos… well, draw your own conclusions.
Silva speaks directly to camera from a farm somewhere, surrounded by sheep (why?) while he waxes poetic on vague, nebulous philosophical concepts and the promise of space travel… while loosely relating them to a videogame that he’s promoting.
It is very, very odd.
In the video, entitled “ReBirth Meta-Poster 4: Short Story of a Lost Astronaut – A Special Message from Jason Silva” the protagonist explains how we can be “ghosts in the machine” in the metaverse, “exploring space through digital means”. And he discusses how Star Atlas is a digital metaverse that will “free our minds beyond the pale blue dot”. At one point he even says that Star Atlas will “allow us to stargate beyond the bounds of the imagination, to literally become star light”.
Literally? I don’t know about you, but this terrifies me. While Silva is doing this, the editing fades in trippy visuals of various space related imagery while increasing Silva’s reverb and throwing in some sci-fi music. It’s the type of conversation that you’d expect to hear when you and your astronomy major buddy drinks seven too many tequila shots.
This particular video ends with Silva laughing with the camera operator in the way one would after staying in a ridiculous character to prolong a joke, until you can’t stand it anymore and burst out laughing — which was exactly happened In another video titled “Star Atlas Legends: Armstrong Forever-A Special Message from Jason Silva”, Silva returns.
This time he is sitting on a park bench staring up at the sky contemplating the vastness space as he spouts lines such as “this realm that opens up [from Star Atlas] will offer us a kind of transcension where we leave the limitations for Euclidean meatspace” and lyricizes about how “the human imagination and the universe are the only two things that we have found to have no limit” and that to that end “the fusion of those two things could potentially be unleashed by Star Atlas”.
I like video games too, Jason. But I don’t expect them to lead to ultimate enlightenment.
The whole thing is astro-flavored word salad and philosophical improv rather than an actual, credible pitch promoting the game. Not once did Silva mention anything about silly things like gameplay mechanics, or lore, or even the game’s genre. Not once did Silva mention anything about what the Star Atlas is, and instead he focuses on what Star Atlas could be. And for him, it could be anything.
One giant leap
The Jason Silva videos are the only things that you will find on Star Atlas’ official YouTube apart from a handful of cinematic trailers that, while cleanly rendered with bells and whistles, don’t really prove there’s a game in the works. And the value of pre-rendered cinematic trailers is only to show off the mood, atmosphere and tone of the eventual game to come. They’re not an indicator of its final quality, optimization or even its moment-to-moment gameplay. The fact is that there is a distinct lack of anything substantial in showing off the game’s core gameplay… Yet the developers choose to show off videos about some guy’s brain farts about becoming starlight, explaining how its tokens and events work and shoving its merchandise in your face. I hope I’m wrong — but so far, the only ghost in the machine appears to be Star Atlas itself.
United Gamers Guild writers offer their unique Analysis and Perspective as expert opinions to help readers understand the context of the facts. These opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publication or its principals.