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The Awesome No Man’s Sky Virtual Universe – IGN First Preview

The Awesome No Man’s Sky Virtual Universe – IGN First Preview

by Giulio PriscoJuly 8, 2015

IGN First is running a preview of the upcoming No Man’s Sky game – a game as big as a whole universe – with videos and interviews with the developers. The preview started on Monday, July 6 with the longest uninterrupted look at the game yet: an 18-minute guided tour of a planet with lead developer Sean Murray. New content will be added throughout July.

No Man’s Sky is a “procedurally generated game,” which means that the game universe is self-generated by mathematical procedures, instead of manually developed by designers and programmers. The procedural generation system makes random but consistent tweaks to basic design primitives so that, for example, the game contains a variety of life forms, mimicking the diversity of species resulting from evolution on Earth. Robots explore No Man’s Sky all the time and take pictures for the developers to review, so that the developers can make tweaks if necessary.

Planets in No Man’s Sky Will Be the Size of Real Planets Separated by Light-Years of Digital Space

No Man's SkyProcedurally generated games are hot, and therefore No Man’s Sky has received a lot of attention though the game’s release date hasn’t been announced yet. Murray and his team Hello Games have shown limited previews and video clips at various gaming conference since the first announcement at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014, which have received rave reviews. The IGN First preview is the most extensive so far.

No Man’s Sky game universe is as big as the universe, with stars, solar systems, space ships, planets, and life forms. The gameplay is open, and the developers expect that some players will spend time exploring the same planet, others will become hunters or traders, and the restless will journey all the way to the galactic center, where some kind of reward waits for the bravest explorers. “Exploration” is the right word, because nobody – not even the developers – knows what can be found on the more than 18 quintillion planets in the huge No Man’s Sky universe.

“Planets in the universe will be the size of real planets, and they will be separated from one another by light-years of digital space,” says reviewer Raffi Khatchadourian on the New Yorker. “A small fraction of them will support complex life.”

Because the designers are building their universe by establishing its laws of nature, rather than by hand-crafting its details, much about it remains unknown, even to them.

Khatchadourian says the the game development should be completed by the end of the year, but no release date has been announced. The current plan is to launch the game for Windows and Playstation.

Murray’s first demo includes examples of (very limited of course) in-game Artificial Intelligence (AI), with bots able to escape from hunters and learn how to stay alive. It’s fascinating to speculate on future versions of procedurally generated games with real AI – perhaps we will meet the first alien intelligences in a computer game? Are we bots in some alien programmer’s game?

Images from Hello Games.

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