No Man's Sky is a beautiful looking sci fi affair. Every time we see another little bit of it our imaginations jump into overdrive, hungrily looking towards its eventual release. It is under development by a British Studio called Hello Games.

No Man's Sky is a lot of things and some have even referred to it as loosely from Minecraft in space. Where you make your own destiny, with no user manual, leaving you to discover your own way through the depths of its crafting and exploration. No Man's Sky is an open-world, space game that lets the player visit planets the size of actual planets and craft their own environments and gameplay experience. But with each video we see, it's hard to really know what it is that the game will be offering, beyond something very beautiful. So let's take a look at what we do know about No Man's Sky.

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No Man's Sky Release Period: Holiday 2016, perhaps? Currently unknown.

Platforms No Man's Sky is available on: PC, PS4

No Man's Sky full development began: 2013

No Man's Sky Background: Find your own destiny in a living breathing galaxy. Trade vessels will convoy their way between systems, factions will fight for power and space pirates will hunt for easy targets. Become an explorer, pirate, trader or fighter, upgrading your ship. All the while being tempted to visit the centre of the galaxy, where the answer to everything lies. A science-fiction game based in an infinite, procedurally generated universe. This sounds more Elite than Minecraft, but oh well.

What we know about the No Man's Sky

  • It is not an "MMO" by the classic definition
  • Everyone shares a single universe, but people are spread far and wide to enjoy exploration, more often alone
  • Your discoveries are shared via "The Atlas" or lost forever
  • Planets are the size of actual planets
  • Planets are procedurally generated
  • A weird statistic floating around, it would take you 5 billion years to explore all of them
  • No traditional story, although there is meant to be some unknown knowledge pulling the player towards the centre of the galaxy
  • Upon first discovering a planet you can rename it
  • Upon first discovering a creature you can rename it
  • You gain wanted levels if you kill too much on a planet
  • You gain wanted levels if you deplete resource from a planet
  • Planets have sentinels that will hunt you if your wanted level raises too high
  • Your character can leave their ship and explore a planet on foot
  • your space suit can be upgraded
  • You can also upgrade your ship, shields and weapons
  • You can find blueprints that you use to craft items from resources you find and store
  • The game does not completely end even if you make it to the center of the galaxy, you may continue exploring and trading etc
  • As you discover new information you must upload it to "The Atlas" a central database in your game. If you do not upload it before you next die then that data is lost and you have to discover it again.
  • Wildlife and even the sounds of No Man's Sky's wildlife are procedurally generated
  • You can literally discover things that even the devs have not seen before
  • You will be able to discover aggressive communities, hidden planets, dead planets and black holes
  • Finding life on a planet will be a cool, rare moment
  • If you discover a planet every other person who finds and visits that planet will see the same geography and wildlife you first discovered
  • You will be given a monetary reward for every new thing discovered and uploaded to The Atlas
  • There will be a naming filter to stop crude planet naming, but they expect that people will find a way to name a planet after genitals somehow
  • As you upgrade your equipment you will be able to jump further through space
  • You can visit Space-stations
  • Asteroids can be shot at and holes blasted through it to allow your ship to pass through them
  • Systems are built around real life ideas, so planets orbit around a sun
  • Animals generated procedurally will have a range of variations. So once a cat is discovered then panthers, lions, jaguars etc can be found. Each with male and females and babies. Different attributes will also be applied to each variation.
  • For example, male creatures of a particular species might only be found alone or even with a pack of females, depending on their specific attributes
  • Stood on a planet, looking into the sky you can see distant other planets. You can get into your spaceship and then seamlessly fly to that other planet

No Man's Sky Game Engine

Their engine is homemade. Work on it began in secret by Sean Murray, the founder of Hello Games, back in 2013, while working on their other game, Joe Danger. He says the engine is "super crappy, it's also kind of like Unity. Written entirely around procedural generation". Their small team spent the first year doing that, when it was just four of them. Due to the procedural generation of everything in game, the engine has only been possible since the latest generation of consoles have turned up. As the considerable processor power to build the world around the player on the fly is taxing on older hardware.

No Man's Sky System Requirements (Speculative)

  • OS: Windows 7 or Windows 8 and above - 64bit
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-860 2.8GHz / AMD FX 8120
  • RAM: 8 GB System Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti or AMD Radeon HD 7850
  • HD: 20 GB Free Hard Drive Space (speculative download size)
  • DX: DirectX 11

 The size of the game might not be as large as some of the more modern behemoth titles, because the game does not come pre-stacked with the universe loaded, instead the game engine builds it on the fly around the player. This will minimise the overall install size. Processor requirements will be high as your PC will need to create the game world around you. The RAM will house that temporary world, so a high RAM will be very useful.

This is some crazy clever stuff. The game is a mass of well designed algorithms strung together that can procedurally generate everything in the universe. So using this engine, once the universe is given its starting identity number, the game would render the exact same thing to anyone who visited a certain location. So the only other variable data would be the player's location number. Put that in and whoever visits that location would see the same rocks, the same plants, the same creatures, the same world. But until someone visits it, it has never been seen before.

And yeah Hello Games, were the indie guys from Guildford, who unluckily had their studios flooded on Christmas Eve 2014. All their stuff was lost in one day. And with true British pluck they were determined not to let it delay their No Man's Sky development a moment longer and get up and running as soon as they could.

Well it all sounds great but we have a few questions of our own. Is there any form of dynamically affected object permanence? So if you can impact the environment would someone else be able to visit that location and see what you did? For example, drill through a planet and that stays there forever, for everyone to see. Or would the "slate" be rendered anew each time a new player visits?

So No Man's Sky will gradually present itself to the player as they craft, upgrade explore and enjoy the many, many planets throughout the galaxy. Share any information you have regarding No Man's Sky below. As for me, well I am curious to see if this actually has some longevity beyond a beautiful random planet generator. Even if it doesn't, I will still want to explore it when it eventually releases.