Behind the Hype: What We Actually Know About No Man’s Sky

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When it comes to Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, I am as fascinated with the game itself as I am with the uncontrollable hype machine behind it.  Before E3, some people had heard of No Man’s Sky, but they didn’t really understand what it was.  After the E3 trailer, millions of people had heard of it, they all totally super got it, and people all over the world were having vague, noncommittal conversations about their shared “understanding.”

Now, two weeks later, the developers have done a bunch of interviews, during which they accidentally answered a few questions, and by piecing together the chance pieces of information therein, we have gained enough knowledge to at least discuss the game without spitting and drooling on our man bibs.  Discussing what we don’t know would require a lot of bullets, and I used most of the ones I had listing the games I bought during the Steam sale, so let’s take a stab at the opposite.

Here is what we know so far:

  • The game is 99% procedurally generated, but the procedure is more procedural than usual, or it proceeds to use a different procedure to procedurally proceed to the proceeds… or something.
  • The developers used a 90/10 rule, which references the 90 days you will enjoy this game, compared to the 10 hours total you have spent playing all PS4 games to date.
    • To paraphrase its actual meaning, the game only generates an inhabitable planet 10% of the time. You will only find life on 10% of the planet, and only 10% of that life will be especially unique.  The same basic principle is applied to most of the exploratory efforts.  In short, you will spend .1% of the time witnessing something amazing, 9.9% of the time witnessing something standard, and 90% of the time witnessing rocks.

Everyone in No Man's Sky will start on their own planet... somehow.

 

    • The game generates areas as they are discovered, not just for the player doing the discovering, but for everyone.  When players fly away, it deletes it all, but then it somehow generates the same thing when the next player shows up, and the universe expands almost infinitely in this way, as players explore.  I keep trying to understand this, but every time I get close to a breakthrough, I black out and wake up naked at Stonehenge.  The flights back are getting too expensive to keep pondering it all.  (Surprisingly, my credit cards haven’t shown any activity for the flights there.)
    • It only took three guys, one girl, and a pizza place to conceive the premise, build the technology, and develop a living, creative engine that can build its own universe.  That is one less person than it took to invent a burger that was bigger than other burgers.  I would say that is pretty impressive.
    • There is some ambiguous level of conflict in the game, only vaguely referred to thus far as a “malevolent force,” which will presumably stand between you and your goals.  Considering that this is a game where you make up your own goals, this force must be pretty darn malevolent.  Whatever you are up to, it hates you, and it will stop you.  Even if your goal is to malevolently stop other players from achieving their goals, it will help them achieve their goals just to malevolently stop you, and then help you achieve your goal just to malevolently stop them!
    • The designers made base models of creatures and planets that are procedurally morphed into random mutations which build upon those models.  A cat can become a cheetah, a bee can become a weird bee, a rat can become a chef, and a tree can become the hero of Isengard.
    • Just give up on ever meeting or talking to your friends.  They already referenced the multiplayer elements of Dark Souls and Journey, so you will definitely be talking to strangers, and you will likely be talking about beeps and boops.

Actually, it is interesting that they mentioned Journey, because the whole experience reminds me of Journey’s release, where the proposition involved not telling you what the game was, so as not to ruin the fun.  Every review could have been reduced down to three words: “Just trust us,” as even reviewers refused to spoil the fun by reviewing the game at all.  It really seemed like a trap, but we took the plunge anyway, we were handsomely rewarded, and we were ultimately glad to have been kept in the dark.  Hopefully, No Man’s Sky will deliver in the same fashion.  In all seriousness, even though we do not know a lot about the game, we know it looks really incredible, and we can learn the rest on the fly.  After all, with an idea so new and refreshing, what’s wrong with keeping it new and refreshing?

 

 

 

 

Thomas Shamburger
Thomas is one of the original creators of "What's Jump?" As a lifelong gamer, writer, and comedian, his goal is to provide readers with humorous, entertaining, and thought-provoking perspectives on current gaming news and culture. His early career successes in the business world helped to pave the way for the site's launch in 2012. As the Editor in Chief of "What's Jump?" he combines his passions for gaming, writing, entrepreneurship, and comedy.
Thomas Shamburger
Thomas Shamburger

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