Warning: humour ahead.
If you’re keen on Hello Games’ upcoming sandbox, I don’t blame you; the No Man’s Sky E3 footage looked wonderful. Whether you love the idea or hate it, though, you’ll probably get a giggle out of this satirical No Man’s Sky beta, which was put together by the Josh and Jay’s Excellent Video Game Show team.
It’s a pretty funny joke, although there are genuinely some gamers who find games about exploring randomly-generated worlds to be meaningless and unsatisfying. You know the kind I mean – they say things like “but what is the point of it” and think Minecraft was a waste of time until the quest to reach the Nether Dragon was implemented.
These people can enjoy expressing their disdain in the comments, where we’ll politely ignore them; I am well excited for No Man’s Sky. Over on Kotaku, there’s a great interview with Hello Games which discusses how the game’s apparently impossible scope – a whole universe, procedurally generated – is possible.
Hello Games has built its own engine to power the game, which founder Sean Murray calls “super crappy” – presumably referring to the fact that it’s been cobbled together by a team of four for private use, rather than polished by dozens to be sold to other developers.
The tech is entirely focused on procedural generation, and allows Hello Games to quickly generate hundreds of variations of objects with just a few changing parameters like colour, size, and the position and ratio of various parts like windscreens or muscles. Every new base model of ship, or tree or what have you that the team creates can be used to spawn assets built on similar lines but often very different in appearance, with just a few clicks.
“You’re building a blueprint, and that’s true of everything in the game,” Murray said.
“So say one of our artists will build something and that will take say a week. But what they get from that is every possible variant of that. So if you build a cat, you also get a lion and a tiger and a panther and things that you’ve never seen—kind of mutations beyond that.”
“When I was saying that we don’t know what’s out there – every time I play through this I’m seeing something that’s new and often I’m seeing something I’ve never seen before. And that’s quite cool,” he added,
No Man’s Sky doesn’t create a new, unique world for every user who logs in. Instead, everyone is exploring the same huge, persistent universe. it’s not stored on the disc or in a cloud server, but generated on the fly whenever you log in and start exploring – sort of like when you and a friend share a Minecraft seed but explore your own single player games. The difference in your experiences depends on where you spawn initially.
It’s a lengthy feature but worth a read; click through above to learn more.