No Man’s Sky trailer, first broadcast on December 7th as part of the Spike VGX awards, opens by stating that the game’s “every atom” is procedural. What follows shows a character emerging from an ocean full of fish, climbing inside a spaceship and flying into space in a single contiguous motion, interspersed with quick shots of different planet surfaces, gigantic space stations, space combat, deformable terrain and more.
It’s fantastic, and exciting, and it leaves you with no sense of what the game is. The trailer shows you just enough to suggest it might contain everything you can imagine. It’s the space game you always wanted, as far as you know. Luckily I had an advantage. When I first saw the trailer, it was a few days before the VGXs, and it was with the nervous, tired, excitable Hello Games development team. I spent two hours afterwards quizzing them about procedural generation, but also about what you actually do in No Man’s Sky.
Every player in No Man’s Sky will begin their life somewhere along the edge of a galaxy. Everything in the trailer takes place in a single solar system near the galaxy’s edge and, red grass aside, on Earth-like planets. “It helps to ground people and I think if we hadn’t shown that, people would go, ‘what the feck?’” Sean Murray, lead developer on No Man’s Sky, is choosing his words carefully. “It’s quite weird to see a thing that isn’t a fish, in the water. And so we have grounded the trailer in a particular solar system that kind of makes sense for people.”
Which suggests it’s not going to make sense later. The loose objective for players of No Man’s Sky is to head away from the edge and towards the galaxy’s centre. As you do, the planets you visit along the way become more mutated, more dangerous.
As you make your way towards the centre of the galaxy, the planets you pass are stepping stones along the way. You’ll land your ship on them and go hunting for resources. Those resources then, in some unexplained way, aid you in upgrading your ship and yourself. These upgrades allow you to travel larger distances, or maybe make you faster, or probably improve your guns. It’s still ambiguous.
The other reason we’re not seeing beyond these worlds is that Hello Games want No Man’s Sky to be about discovery. “What we wanted to get across was a sort of frontiersmanship, a sense of mystery and wonder. For me exploration is seeing something no one has seen before, and for your experience to be unique.”
This is also why the game is procedurally generated. At one point during the conversation, an odd, exciting question is raised: is No Man’s Sky the first game without a skybox? If you’re standing on a planet’s surface and look up, every single dot in the sky is an actual star you can go visit. If you see a tree three miles away, you can walk to it and find out what’s underneath it.
Exploration and resource gathering are the ways, really the only ways, in which the game is similar to Minecraft. The planets you land on aren’t cube-shaped and it’s unlikely you’ll build a house on them. They are the equivalent of Minecraft’s network of underground caves: exciting to find, unique to you, and full of materials which give them significance and value despite not being handcrafted.
Any planet you discover on your journey is marked on your galactic map, along with its name, its atmosphere and what resources you found there. If you choose to, you can then share that information with every other player, uploading it so that it’s shared across everyone’s galactic map.
You’ll get credit for discovering it. You’ll also, if the materials there are valuable, attract players to come visit. No Man’s Sky isn’t a multiplayer game, in as much as you’ll never see another player. But the galaxy is the same between everyone and actions of “significance” will be shared. If you kill a single bird, that won’t be shared. If you make an entire species of bird extinct, then those creatures will blink out of existence for everyone.
That means you might want to keep quiet about a planet of valuable resources, so others don’t come and deplete it. I also instantly start thinking of ways to be devious. Can I upload false information to the galactic map? Can I lure people to a system full of pirates and then, when their ships crash and burn, steal materials from their ghostly hulls?
When I ask these questions, Murray is light on specifics, but hopes players will work cooperatively. “There are some things that you could do for the wrong reasons. You could broadcast certain information for the wrong reasons. But generally people are playing together cooperatively to the benefit of everyone. You can be a Richard in the game if you want, but it has less point and less value.”
More at the link: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/12 ... -mans-sky/
By far the most interesting thing announced at the VGX, sounds incredibly ambitious (especially when considering the size of the dev team)... So far it's only announced for Pc but hopefully it'll make it's way to consoles as well down the line. Can't wait to hear and see more.
EDIT: Confirmed at E3 2014 to release on PS4.