When I first saw No Man’s Sky in action along with the rest of the world I was pretty impressed, especially since it was coming from the team that brought us the great but cartoonish Joe Danger series. Then I actually learned something about the game.

It struck me as a realization of a dream that was out of an old school mindset. If we looked forward from the days of the NES and wondered what gaming would be like we would probably think something more along the lines of No Man’s Sky with its universal freedom than the highly scripted story driven games so popular today. no-mans-sky-gallery-04

It makes me think of Blaster Master with intergalactic flight. Anyway, some new information recently surfaced that seemed just… impossible. In an interview with IGN Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray estimated that it would take 5 billion years to visit every single planet for just one second. This was due to a change from 32-bit number computations to 64-bit.

That’s a huge scope but has anyone stopped to consider what this is going to be like in practice? There’s just about no doubt it is going to be a fun, great game based on what we know about Hello Games. When it comes to a huge universe I’d like to know how these things planets are being made.

One assumes there will be a set of animals, atmospheric conditions, terrain settings, etc. If the universe is a giant set piece that produces randomized planets where differences amount to giraffes versus dinosaurs, red versus blue skies, hills and rivers versus mountains and canyons. There’s still a lot to learn about the game so I’m hoping there will be more than enough extra variables to combat such an outcome. If it falls prey to this problem then the wonderfulness of such a vast universe could become dull and repetitive after a few hours.


Will the routines for animal behavior be enough to make the worlds feel natural? They could also have to be made somewhat generic so they can be interchangable. How many other variables could propose the same difficulties?

We aren’t looking at a huge studio and a AAA budget here so there’s no reason to be overly harsh in doubting the game but with some of the numbers they are throwing out there one has to wonder about these things. Here’s hoping more answers will come soon.

David D. Nelson
David D. Nelson is a polymath with a BA in English working as an independent writing and editing professional. He enjoys gaming, literature, and a good hat.

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  1. Everybody gets excited when studios announce new free form large games “GO ANYWHERE” “DO ANYTHING” “NO TWO GAMES THE SAME”.. I can’t name any that have really delivered (beyond turn based CIV and Sim games but in my experience you tend to approach each game the same).

    If you ask people to list their 10 best games ever excluding sports games I imagine you will get mainly tightly scripted, well planned single player games that delivered a consistent and well executed experience.

    1. Probably depends on who you ask. A lot of people would put minecraft on that list.

      1. Which is basically a version of a sim game which I understand do offer a large portion of gamers something they like (even if its not my thing). There was a discussion an another thread how games which feature realistic, if repetitive tasks appeal to a certain demographic. But do people really say that Sim City is one the greatest game ever? Or The Sims. Popular yes, but great?

  2. I think the reviewer is struggling w/ the concept of procedurally generated worlds. 1) it’s not random, 2) in this generation of procedural generation there’s much more to it than choosing between a handful of parameters.

  3. I’m with Joe W., just for the record. Also, David N., there’s an interesting interview with Sean Murray where he mentions that you can essentially become a zoologist. The A.I. is that good. Animals will drink when thirsty, eat grass (or whatever the eat) when hungry, interact with other animals, etc. And you can follow them, watch them live and die. Then there’s the mutations. Murray isn’t very forthcoming about this aspect, but from what he’s said, animals will evolve. I could be misinterpreting his statements, but if true, that should assuage your concerns – “Will the routines for animal behavior be enough to make the worlds feel natural?”

  4. I love the openness and the exploration.

    With the huge amount of variability, I imagine that some differences in planets will be minimal. Probably visible but minimal. That combined with the size of the game raises my only major concern – with a galaxy that large, you could find yourself in a huge section of the galaxy with only those minimal differences. That’s not to say that there aren’t weird and wonderful worlds out there, but you could be in a patch of space with relatively similar worlds simply because of the roll of the dice. I’d hope that they somehow fiddle with planet placement to ensure that each player gets a slice of the full range of what the galaxy has to offer within a reasonable playtime.

  5. Wow, you’ve done basically zero research on the game have you.

    1. Chauncy billups should coach…. he was the best.

  6. With the universe so big I hope they have a way to add some kind of Flag or sign to indicate that you are the first one there..

  7. Either way I’m looking forward to this one. I can’t get enough of everything Sci-Fi so, “sold”. I do want the developer to admit that the inspiration for their main craft came from none other the original-legendary “Colonial Viper” less the tail fin. Know what I mean?

  8. Watching animals get hungry and eat grass and die doesn’t solve the possibility for constant repeat dullness around a potentially samey universe. How exciting will it be to see all these details really?

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