18 quintillion. Yes, you read that right.
Believe it or not, No Man’s Sky has a virtually unlimited number of planets. And they’re not just sitting on the disc, in the cloud, or on your drive. So, how does No Man’s Sky work?
They’re actually being generated by you, as you explore them. How? Some amazing – and, chaotic – algorithms.
That you’re creating the universe as you play is already pretty mind-blowing, but let’s take it even one step further. After you visit and leave a planet, the data from that planet completely disappears.
It’s not saved within the game for reference. It simply isn’t stored. But…
If you do stumble upon that world again, it will be the exact same planet as before – the same planet as your first visit. Even if you come back days, weeks, months, or even years later (which is totally possible – it could absolutely take you that long to find your way back). Even though the planet itself wasn’t saved.
How can this be?
If you’re wondering how No Man’s Sky works, read on. I did the research, and I’m going to tell you all about it.
What Can you Expect From No Man’s Sky?
First, let’s talk about the game itself. What can you expect from No Man’s Sky? Well, it is a virtually limitless system of planets that you can explore by foot, or use your jetpack to transcend across. These planets are vividly colored, and they are the route to your mission to reach the center of the universe.
Along the way, you will meet a variety of animals (no two are the same) and aliens that you will communicate with. You will barter to upgrade your ship and your spacesuit. In the game, you will experience different climates, terrain, plant life, and atmospheres. You’ll be exploring all sorts of worlds.
With so many variations on each planet, I can’t imagine getting bored (at least, not by the images). The scenery is so fantastic, and it’s constantly shifting and changing. If nothing else, you have to appreciate the intense and beautiful graphics within such an expansive game.
How Does No Man’s Sky Work?
Now, let’s talk about how they did it.
First, it’s all about mathematics for No Man’s Sky, as well as the ability to use algorithms that will generate what you see on your screen.
But, how did they create 18 quintillion worlds in one game? How is that even possible?
By the aforementioned algorithms. Hello Games developers were able to assign certain characteristics to the different planets. Things like closeness to the sun (which, in turn, determines the type of landscape you’ll be exploring), if there is water, and the amount of moisture in the air (which will help determine the color of the sky). These qualities add to the calculations on what type of plant life is present and which kinds of animals will inhabit the planet.
By assigning a series of characteristics, algorithms are used to determine what the outcome and appearance of the planet will be. Every single planet has a different “look” within the game.
Furthermore, because the algorithm and characteristics are always the same for each planet, this information will be recalled and recreated upon a revisit.
But – there will be noticeable differences. For instance, the animals will have moved to other areas and will be partaking in different activities.
Let’s Dig a Little Deeper
Let’s get more technical.
Through this use of procedural generation, Hello Games is able to create a universe that is vast and totally different than anything you will ever see or use.
By using algorithms, the game’s AI is able to create variations on all the parts of the game that its developers have created. So, a developer would have created a tree’s leaves and its trunk, but it’s the robot that makes the adaptations (think shorter or longer trunks, different colors for leaves, different shapes. This is why no two animals, plants, or landscape in the game are ever the same).
Even the animals in the game were deconstructed and reconstructed using mathematics. Developers created the bone structure of a variety of animals and allowed procedural art to do the rest. And, it worked. It creates quintillions of animals found throughout the game, each different on every planet.
Not everything is mechanical in the game. The artists for Hello Games worked hand-in-hand with coders to give a more artistic flair to the graphics. The resulting look isn’t mechanical, but rather, realistically dreamy.
A Few More Things to Note
Based on the game’s scope, your chances of seeing another person playing the game is very rare. There’s too much space! This will almost never happen.
In addition, each player starts on a different planet at the beginning of their journey to the center of the universe. With 18 quintillion planets, it would be difficult to bump into a buddy.
That’s actually part of the criticism so far – that you can’t play with friends. Players who have grabbed their copy are also reporting instances of crashes within the game itself. While it’s disappointing, it can’t be too surprising when you consider the game’s scope. There were bound to be some initial glitches. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be fixed.
It’s being reported that these technical issues are being addressed. They are also considering taking the steps to create the opportunity for multi-player experiences within No Man’s Sky. This should be next – getting to explore with your friends.
I still think the game is worth a shot – even if you choose to wait a bit before purchasing. With the PC release only out for a few short weeks, I’m expecting No Man’s Sky to provide the ultimate exploration experience for its players to embark on as they engage in an 18 quintillion planet quest. There’s been nothing like this before.
Get your gaming computer ready and hunker down for some out of this world discovery that’s sure to amaze.
Did you get your copy of No Man’s Sky? What do you think so far? Let me know in the comments.