For many, Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky is still an enigma. It’s a game of indescribable scope that’s mostly about exploration and discovery. Players are spawned near the edge of the game’s procedurally generated (not randomly generated; they’re rather different things) universe – tasked them with exploring a near infinite space.
Like our own space, though, there’s an overwhelming chance that the planets you land on will be mind-numbingly dull; vast expanses of rocks and inhospitable clouds of gases.
“Ninety percent of the planets that you visit should be barren, because that’s how it would be in our universe and anything else would feel fake,” says Hello Games’ Shawn Murray. “And then 10-percent of them should have some life, but that life 90-percent of the time should just be some grass and some shrubbery or whatever, you know, some insignificant life. But 10-percent of the time — 10-percent of the 10-percent — it should be real life. But maybe just birds, fish, and things like that, smaller creatures, 90-percent of the time. And 10-percent of the time it should be something a bit more interesting, like four-legged creatures. But that four-legged creature 90-percent of the time should be super boring.”
“People always talk about us being the game with space dinosaurs in it or whatever, right?” Murray continued. “Even those, they will be one in a million—like genuinely one in a million, like 10-percent of 10-percent of 10-percent of 10-percent of 10-percent, right? But even then, even though they’re one in a million, 90-percent of the time they should be a boring version of that. And we save the crazy interesting creatures for not one in a million, but one in a hundred million.”
It’s a game that dually excites and worries me. It’s so wide in scope that it could lead to some of the most exciting, emergent experiences – but only for the few that manage to be the first to make these grand new discoveries on newly found planets. For the rest, it could end up being unbearably boring and barren. Many gamers, I suspect, will come away feeling like they’ve wasted their money – that in itself is part of No Man’s Sky’s allure, I suppose: the very chance to be the first to find something new and exciting.
“As much as we can possibly manage, this needs to feel real, and true to what it is, which is a galaxy,” says Murray.
It’s coming to the PlayStation 4 as a timed exclusive, before heading to the PC.
Last Updated: January 12, 2015