A YouTuber dad and his five-year-old daughter have been delighting corners of the internet with an equal parts adorable and thrilling ten-minute fan film inspired by Hello Games' space exploration sim, No Man's Sky.
Titled Nomad Squadron, the six-months-in-the-making short film is the brainchild of Matt Silverman, and follows the daring deep-space adventures of his daughter Amelia, packing in everything from white-knuckle dogfights to the tense infiltration of a hostile alien world. Amelia's squadron cohorts are played by Kinda Funny's Greg Miller (who was apparently keen to get involved after he heard the idea from social-media-buddy Silverman), and Miller's pal Austin Creed, AKA WWE wrestler Xavier Woods, "a fan of [No Man's Sky] from the early days".
Nomad Squadron was created as part of Silverman's Free Dad Videos YouTube channel, in which he sings songs, performs skits, and generally larks about with his daughter. However, the No Man's Sky short is easily Silverman's most ambitious YouTube project yet. As he explained in a post to the No Man's Sky subreddit at the start of the year, Nomad Squadron's filming "was actually a relatively small part of the picture. Compositing the game footage and getting everything to look cinematic was the biggest challenge."
Indeed, one of the fan film's neatest touches is that most of the short is recorded in-game, with the live-action clips of Amelia and friends carefully integrated into the footage.
To achieve the desired effect, Silverman (as revealed to Kotaku) made extensive use of a trick uncovered by the No Man's Sky community following the launch of last year's Next update. Fans quickly learned that opening photo mode while in a multiplayer session would not, as is normally the case in solo play, pause the game. That made it possible to hide the HUD, and shift the camera around to create sweeping shots or striking angles - all of which could then be recorded for later use. You can see the technique employed to dramatic effect below, in a cinematic short created by EvilDr.Porkchop - who features in Nomad Squadron's credits.
Those curious to learn more about how the project came together can watch the behind-the-scenes video which accompanies the main feature. "I had to solve a LOT of technical challenges along the way," Silverman said on Reddit, "which is why it took so damn long to make." In fact, the project was apparently enough of an undertaking that Silverman says he's "not sure if I have the fortitude for a sequel". He does at least offer some hope for those struggling to come to terms with the fan film's cliffhanger ending, continuing, "but you never know".
Even if a sequel never materialises though, Amelia and her dad can rest easy knowing their intergalactic escapades have garnered some big fans at Hello Games. Sean Murray tweeted, calling Nomad Squadron "the most heartbreakingly sweet fan made video", and saying, "When you make games it's for moments like this".