Home Gaming This is how No Man’s Sky creates infinite universes

This is how No Man’s Sky creates infinite universes

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How No Man's Sky creates infinite universes

Studying engineering, I love knowing how things work. Mixing that with my love for games, and you could say that I look at them a little differently. I often sit pondering how a certain effect was created, or a particular mechanic was implemented while playing. There’s a special type of magic to making millions of pixels obey your every command on screen – an intoxicating feeling of control that creating games just fosters.

It’s for this reason that No Man’s Sky intrigues me so much. Mathematics is at the forefront of most games, but I don’t think I’ve seen one embrace it as much as the procedurally generated space sim from Hello Games. As Sean Murray so briefly explains, there’s numbers flying around everywhere in the billion planet strong universe they’ve created. So much so that it’s all he really sees when he looks at the game – like an operator checking out The Matrix.

Knowing how No Man’s Sky works is really part of the reason why I already adore the game. For others it’s the allure of infinite exploration, or the type of space putty that allows you to create your own intergalactic adventures from scratch. Instead, I just drool at the ways numbers and mathematic principles are stretched and bent into glorious shapes and sizes –  something which dropped my jaw to the floor during the game’s showing at E3.

And I’m not really alone. There’s rarely a day where I don’t get into conversations with other game designers about No Man’s Sky. This little slice of insight into the magic of how the game ticks is an absolute treat, but like any good magic trick it’s just enough to fuel even more intrigue into how the payoff really works.

Just something else to look forward to when the game eventually arrives on PS4 and PC.

Last Updated: July 23, 2015


  1. Its interesting how they approached this project, still very excited for this


  2. Umar

    July 23, 2015 at 07:58

    :O :O :O


  3. Hammersteyn

    July 23, 2015 at 08:11

  4. HairyEwok

    July 23, 2015 at 08:23

    My question I would like to ask Sean is where do you start… Like where do you actually log in. Do everybody start on the same spaceport/planet or does everyone start on the edge of the galaxy at a random spaceport/planet.


    • Admiral Chief in Skellige

      July 23, 2015 at 08:26

      Random I believe


    • Aaron Lucas

      July 23, 2015 at 15:18

      Everyone starts on their own planet at the edge of the galaxy (where it’s “easiest”), and then moves inward if they want to. Sean has even said that not everyone will start on the same type of planet. Some people could get a very lush, hospitable planet, and others could start out on a harsh desert world with limited resources. So each player will have a different beginning and a different story to tell, which I think is really cool.


  5. Ghost In The Rift

    July 23, 2015 at 08:32

    Wonder if they will “lend” the code to other developers, i think a Stargate game like this would be awesome to play.


  6. BMXWufam

    July 23, 2015 at 08:34

    I’d like use that opening scene as a desktop/screensaver.


  7. Sageville

    July 23, 2015 at 09:53

    That blows my mind.

    The amount of work to get all those generated objects to work seamlessly together, just amazes me. I think fellow coders will have added appreciation for this development.

    Frankly they can take my money right now, even if it ends up just being a beautiful tech demo, the idea of having an entire galaxy to explore on my PS4 makes me very happy.

    I actually believe that this procedurally generated model will soon be the foundation of a new type of game development, good things are coming people!


  8. Jac7

    July 23, 2015 at 10:04

    Pardon my language, but that is fucking amazing.


  9. Ranting Raptor

    July 23, 2015 at 10:39

    THis is mind boggling 0_0


  10. Ranting Raptor

    July 23, 2015 at 10:44

    So… much…. hype…..


  11. Pariah

    July 23, 2015 at 11:58

    Yes. Yes yes, and yes.


  12. Lollies the Laughing Lollipop

    July 23, 2015 at 13:55

    this game.. OMFG.. its everything Spore was Lacking..


  13. konfab

    July 23, 2015 at 23:11

    Next step after this is procedural cities with procedural characters, with procedural stories, with procedural dialog.

    After that we might as well turn off our PS6 and go outside, given how we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.


  14. Lemming

    July 24, 2015 at 09:02

    So, I agree that it is very, very cool.
    My issue thus far with the videos I’ve seen is that the terrain all seems same-y; I haven’t seen any towering mountains, continents, oceans, or anything. Just a planet with splotches of land strewn about with water.

    I’m hoping that the environment and the terrain will differ much more in the final product. I’m not straight criticizing the game, I’m just stating a concern I’ve had thus far.

    If there is a ridiculous amount of variation, I’m excited that they’re basically not telling us, and we can just go and discover it ourselves.

    I haven’t felt this excited for a game in a long, long time.


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