No Man’s Sky – A New Universe on PS4

No Man’s Sky – A New Universe on PS4

How did video games look before? They had maps, a pretty linear gameplay – and all of which was planned built by designers to look exactly the way they wanted it to look. This has sometimes resulted in a limited “openness” of games, and in a story from which it was hard to deviate (with a few exceptions, of course). Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky will likely change all that – it takes us on a journey to a procedurally generated open universe, where nothing but the basic rules have been set by the designers of the game.

First of all, let’s see the basic features the game will offer: planet exploration, deep oceans, space battles, resource gathering, planet hopping. This sounds great in itself (although it’s quite similar to what many other games offer). What makes No Man’s Sky interesting is the way the universe is generated: a set of basic rules were specified by the game’s designers, and put inside a box of algorithms that were let to make random variations of them. Say, the programmers told the algorithm that a living creature has a skeleton and skin, and the rest was up to them to decide. The result is an open universe with approximately 18 quintillion inhabited planets, or – as Hello Games’ Sean Murray writes on the PlayStation blog – 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 of them to explore.

It’s a huge number, which makes the game virtually infinite. I say virtually, because it is theoretically possible to explore them allĀ (as well as it is theoretically possible to play online casino games at and win non stop), but in reality, even if you spent only one second on each world, it would take you 584,942,417,355 (almost 585 billion) years (not counting leap years, of course) to explore them all.

The universe created by Hello Games and its smart algorithms is so vast that the game’s creators had to program their own virtual space exploration probes to map as many planets as they can. I think players – especially science fiction fans – will find it most intriguing to be able to hop from one planet to another, find resources and new places to conquer, and be greeted by a completely new ecosystem wherever they go. Of course, there will most likely be planets with many features similar to the previous ones, but for every such planet there will be millions more to see.

No Man’s Sky will be launched at a still unspecified date in 2015, first as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, and will be later released for Windows operating systems as well. It will not be just another space exploration game – it is a marvelous piece of procedural art as well.

There is just one question left to answer: what if the life forms populating one of the planets in the vast No Man’s Sky universe suddenly become sentient?