No Man’s Sky is a wildly ambitious procedurally generated space MMO from the makers of Joe Danger | PCGamesN

No Man’s Sky is a wildly ambitious procedurally generated space MMO from the makers of Joe Danger

No Man's Sky Hello Games

Hello Games don’t want to be typecast, that’s for sure. Their last game, Joe Danger, saw you controlling the eponymous stuntman as he navigated a sidescrolling racetrack. Their current game, No Man’s Sky, places you with other players in a procedurally generated universe and leaves you to explore the vast space, filled with wildly different worlds, and populated with creatures great and small, all of which have their place on their planets. 

It’s difficult to grasp the scope of No Man’s Sky. It’s simply too large. However, the trailer does a good job of showing how rich a game it is.

“We’re an indie studio, we want to do loads of different things,” Sean Murray told Geoff Keighley at VGX. “And, I guess, with this game we wanted to make something that was a science fiction game and there are lots of science fiction games but they’re normally... when I say that you picture space marines, you picture the post apocalypse, you picture dystopia, and that’s not what I picture when I think of sci-fi.

“We wanted to make a game about exploration. So in our game when you stand on a planet and you see a mountain, if that mountain is three miles away, or wherever it is, you can see it you can walk there. You can go and you can explore it. But if you see a planet on the horizon, that’s a real place, you can see features on it and you can hop in your ship and you can go there. But it’s even more than that: if it’s night time or you’re in space and you see all the stars, those are real stars, those are suns, and they have planets around them. You can go and visit them.”

You don’t do this alone. You’re “all playing in the same universe and there’s persistence there.” Murray doesn’t expand on this to say how you can affect a world in a way that other players can see. Though, if that shot in the trailer of the ship blasting a hole through an asteroid is anything to go by then it could be that you can alter the geography of a planet for everyone in the known universe.

Murray made clear that No Man’s Sky isn’t “just wandering about passively. These are planets that have an ecology, they have an ecosystem, and you’re not necessarily at the top of that chain.” Hopefully, there’s more to do on these planets than fight things. It would seem a waste for such a beautiful concept.

The trailer shows a little of the variety of life present on the different planets. The undersea life, birds, the Frank Herbert-esque sand worm, all of it has the sense of being just the first page of an extensive bestiary.

What I’m particularly keen to learn is just how procedurally generated this game is. The trailer opens by saying “every atom procedural” and games like Spore have shown it’s perfectly possible to generate models, textures, animations, and AI completely procedurally. The extension of that technology to populate a universe doesn’t sound impossible but then there were shots of ships crashed into a planet’s surface. Instances like that are usually something hand-placed by a designer.

I look forward to hearing more about No Man’s Sky. It looks to have the potential to unseat Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen, and Limit Theory from their places in the eagerly anticipated space simulation throne room.

Here’s the rest of that interview:



Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
UntoldAv3nGer avatarRavenHawk avatarTim Edwards avatarjamesbinns avatarcgerrr avatarD.clements1991 avatar
RavenHawk Avatar
4 Years ago

Dear god, I need this.

But it looks VERY ambitious which makes me wonder if it can be pulled off. Here's to hoping.

UntoldAv3nGer Avatar
4 Years ago

Very very cool!

James Binns Avatar
4 Years ago

It's kind of cool that procedurally generated is back in fashion.

cgerrr Avatar
4 Years ago

I kinda wonder how huge send snakes or presumably unique ship crash sites can be procedurally generated. That aside - looks great.

D.clements1991 Avatar
3 Years ago

I hate to break it to everyone, but we all remember what happened with Watch Dogs. Whilst not being made by the same developers it still generated so much hype and turned out to be nothing close to what we expected. Now, I'm not saying this is going to create as much of a gap between expectation and reality but it might not be a good idea to set our hopes too high about this title. That way we wont be disappointed if it precedes our expectations or pleasantly surprised if it does.

On a completely unrelated subject, I'm very excited about what procedural generation could bring to the table. Not just for Sci-Fi space mmo's but other games as well. I mean, imagine an infinitely explorable Skyrim? and who knows what kind of doors this could open for MMORPG's. Those annoying repeatable quests could now be the same concept in a different place, with different enemies and different story behind the events not just two or three times, but every time! And a world in which you could never fully explore, one that is constantly changing with regular updates and new ones that constantly generated without those updates. I'd say in about 5 years time, hell. Even less than that. We will see a lot of games using this technique, combined with next gen graphics we could be preparing for some seriously epic games on the way both online and offline. I really can't wait to see what Bethesda might do with this technique if they use it at all.