ByJacob Hutson, writer at

[No Man's Sky](tag:2684052) has been hyped since E3 2014. It looks absolutely stunning and what makes it even better is that many interactions, planets, systems, etc., are all unique. It's the kind of game where you may not see your friends or relatives for weeks on end. Let's look at why you'll find this game so addictive.


No Man's Sky uses a custom game engine. This allowed Hello Games to build around their ideas. Sean Murray, one of the founders of Hello Games, had a dream of being an astronaut and this idea was his inspiration for No Man's Sky, a game built around a custom engine that is focused around procedural generation. So this is not a Unity or Unreal Engine game, it is a new engine entirely and it looks pretty good.

What makes it more impressive is that this game was accomplished by a small group. They created their own game engine in order to produce this final product. Sean Murray is humble when explaining this amazing new engine:

We built our own engine. It's super crappy, but it's kind of like Unity or something like that. We've written it all around procedural generation. And that's kind of what we spent the first year, when it was just four of us, what we spent our time doing. And then the last month before the VGXs we built the trailer using that.

Procedural Generation

No Man's Sky is beautiful. Everything in the game compliments itself, thanks to procedural generation. What the developers at Hello Games accomplished was a complex algorithm which, when paired with procedural generation, allows infinite possibilities in terms of worlds, plants, animals, space ships, just about anything. Art Director Grant Duncan said it best:

We have a really complex kind of color theory system so they all obey rules, like leaves having complimentary colors compared to the grass and things like that. And the same goes for silhouettes. So, if a planet's very hot, we'll have things like everything becomes a little bit more dried out or you'll get more sharp shapes.

So things are not randomly generated, there are systems that pair up likely shapes and colors in order to create a realistic environment. Below are only six examples of the graphics and how the procedural generation will create environments.

All six are radically different, but within each one are shapes and colors that compliment the terrain and environment. Below is a video that shows how procedural generation works.

Sean Murray does not like the term "randomly generated." It is more like controlled chaos. And there will be a lot of chaos. Approximately 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets will exist in No Man's Sky, each with its own unique ecosystem. This also applies to the spaceships as well. Infinite possibilities of ships that will have different properties, colors, windows, etc. Sean Murray explained how each variation is created:

This is like one ship model, with a variety of different kind of basically what we call grammar which describes how a ship is built. Which is, like, it has a core structure, it has a middle, it has wings, it's symmetrical, things like that. We built the basic blueprint for that and then that's formed. So you get kind of infinite ships. And all of these are instantly pilotable and they have their own properties.

This applies to nearly everything in No Man's Sky. The only other game I can think of that is close to this kind of scale is Minecraft, but even that has limits and people have reached the edge of the maps before. No Man's Sky is looking to never have that happen. It is said that it would take 5 billion years to visit each planet for one second in the game.


Besides exploration, what is going to take up all of your time in No Man's Sky? Exploration may very well be the main objective in the game, but there are other choices.

Interaction with NPC's is an option in the game. Aliens are present and can be communicated with. One "goal" of the game is to reach the center of the universe and along the way you can encounter NPC's and learn their language through monoliths. You can then trade with the aliens, becoming a merchant of sorts. No Man's Sky has its own periodic table and economic system.

Of course, there are other options besides exploring and being a merchant. You can upgrade your suit and ship with the resources you acquire. This leads to collecting currency and resources to trade and sell. And where there is a market, there are also thieves.

You can be a space pirate. Space battles can be initiated with any passing ships and when you destroy them, they yield resources. So instead of acquiring resources by being a merchant or explorer on the planets, you can take resources from destroyed NPCs.

That was a short breakdown of No Man's Sky. Infinite possibilities across the board that was accomplished with a custom game engine. The end result is a game that will lead to hardcore gamers never leaving their couch. To end this article, take a look at a look at the game:

Leave comments and discussions below and let me know what you all think! Should there be more games like No Man's Sky, or should it be one of a kind?


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