Created in a procedurally generated universe, No Man’s Sky is a game about exploration and survival. It is being developed for Sony’s Play Station4 at Hello Games, a studio in southern England. Featuring an infinite, virtual universe, its design will ensure that no one will ever be able to visit all of the game’s planets. According to Sean Murray, one of the company’s founders, “If you were to visit one virtual planet every second, then our own sun will have died before you’d have seen them all.”
This is the first game that enables one to fly to a variety of planets that feature “procedurally generated” life and geography, thereby creating an endless and diverse playing area. Once the exploration of one planet is complete, it is off to another planet and another adventure. Utilizing Sony’s international network, the game will be distributed to players around the globe.
Procedural generation is the designing of an environment through an algorithm rather than an artist’s pencil. It is similar to Minecraft which creates an individualized world for each player by randomly arranging game pieces. No Man’s Sky, however, is more complex. Each of the multi-million planets is individually unique and generated upon a player’s discovery of it. Planets are all subject to the laws and forces of its personal solar system, making them vulnerable to the evolutionary processes of space and living organisms. Its scale of virtually building new worlds is unprecedented.
Sony’s No Man’s Sky game is a massive undertaking that comes with issues of development. One of which is the means of testing such a large-scale universe. Risk of players being stranded alone in such a vast environment without ever running into other players is also a possibility. To address that issue, every player begins the game in his or her own galaxy, with a goal to travel to its center. Along that journey players can meet, trade, explore or fight.
After a player discovers a new planet and completes its exploration, new discoveries can be uploaded to the game’s servers. Players’ names will not only be linked forever with new discoveries, but they will also have the ability to label the planet with life and atmospheric information that will be universally transmitted to all players.
Originally, the game was randomly generated. But that created issues with uninteresting and unnatural features. Simple rules were created to circumvent those types of issues. Some of the rules surrounding water include distances from the sun and quality of light rules are dependent on the type of sun the planet orbits.
There is already a high expectation for the release of No Man’s Sky. It was the most appreciated video game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video game conference earlier this year. This game is a science fiction enthusiast’s dream and truly offers the Star Trek vision of, “Going where no man has gone before.”
Murray and three friends founded Hello Games in 2009. After some modest success, they opted to develop a game he had imagined as a child, a game of exploration that featured the yet unexplored. In a day when YouTube becomes an outlet for every recorded and uploaded game, No Man’s Sky will never be captured in its entirety. Therefore, the game can never be spoiled for any player.
No Man’s Sky is scheduled for release in 2015 for Sony’s PS4 and the PC. It will lure players into a new universal reality that is unprecedented in today’s gaming world. Adventures will be personalized and no two experiences will ever be the same.
By Hans Benes