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No Man's Sky: How A Seemingly Impossible Game Is Possible

This is a discussion on No Man's Sky: How A Seemingly Impossible Game Is Possible within the General PS4 Discussion forum, part of the Everything PlayStation; There's been a few post-E3 articles, getting snippets of what exactly it is you can do in the procedurely generated ...

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    No Man's Sky: How A Seemingly Impossible Game Is Possible

    There's been a few post-E3 articles, getting snippets of what exactly it is you can do in the procedurely generated space adventure No Man's Sky. In this particular one from Kotaku, they ask how there can be such scope and depth from a team as small as Hello Games, and are shown by the team themselves how it is done. It's an interesting read.


    How a Seemingly Impossible Game is Possible | Kotaku UK


    Personally speaking, this answered some of the questions I had remaining about the game, and I've come out of reading it as excited for No Man's Sky as ever.

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    To be honest from what I have read about it so far I am already excited for No Man's Sky. I will have a look at the article now as well.

    Edit: Wow ok I am even more excited for this game now.
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    Call me a sceptic, but based on what I've seen, I think there'll be a limited array of things to do on an infinite scope and it has the potential to get real old, real quick. Let's just hope this isn't another Spore.

    I like the underlying concept (exploring the universe is my ideal concept of an afterlife), but what happens when you've seen your umpteenth giant purple gorilla? You get to leave that planet and find another slight variant of the wildlife on a slight variant of another world.

    Unless there's some sort of overarching and evolving storyline to tie the whole multiplayer universe together, exploring virtual space on its own is not enough. There's scope for a massive dynamic RPG quest system here with co-op and PvP that I just don't see being integrated into the shallow "find new stuff" core gameplay. It'll have a quest and rank system, but I don't see it going beyond simple fetch and escort quests.

    What I see is more of an engine than a game. Bang something like this into Mass Effect: Shepard Reborn...Again or Star Wars: the Hunt for Midichlorians and you've got something special. On its own, it lacks context and it looks more like Flower in Space with Guns and Stuff to me . I don't think it's going to be a bad game, I just don't it'll hold my attention for long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ant1th3s1s View Post
    Call me a sceptic, but based on what I've seen, I think there'll be a limited array of things to do on an infinite scope and it has the potential to get real old, real quick. Let's just hope this isn't another Spore.

    I like the underlying concept (exploring the universe is my ideal concept of an afterlife), but what happens when you've seen your umpteenth giant purple gorilla? You get to leave that planet and find another slight variant of the wildlife on a slight variant of another world.

    Unless there's some sort of overarching and evolving storyline to tie the whole multiplayer universe together, exploring virtual space on its own is not enough. There's scope for a massive dynamic RPG quest system here with co-op and PvP that I just don't see being integrated into the shallow "find new stuff" core gameplay. It'll have a quest and rank system, but I don't see it going beyond simple fetch and escort quests.

    What I see is more of an engine than a game. Bang something like this into Mass Effect: Shepard Reborn...Again or Star Wars: the Hunt for Midichlorians and you've got something special. On its own, it lacks context and it looks more like Flower in Space with Guns and Stuff to me . I don't think it's going to be a bad game, I just don't it'll hold my attention for long.

    They have also mentioned combat, both in space, and on planets, mainly against pirates so far, also that while everyone shares the same universe, it will be rare that you meet due to the size. In fact, I remember them saying cataloging species was probably the most boring way to play the game. It's just an option, not the overall mission.

    The whole thing about No Man's Sky so far is that it seems unbelievable, but the way they describe making it backs up a lot of it's hype.
    I agree, that if they can even come halfway close to pulling this off, then it will at least hopefully act as a start point for other games to attempt something similar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ant1th3s1s View Post
    Call me a sceptic, but based on what I've seen, I think there'll be a limited array of things to do on an infinite scope and it has the potential to get real old, real quick. Let's just hope this isn't another Spore.

    I like the underlying concept (exploring the universe is my ideal concept of an afterlife), but what happens when you've seen your umpteenth giant purple gorilla? You get to leave that planet and find another slight variant of the wildlife on a slight variant of another world.

    Unless there's some sort of overarching and evolving storyline to tie the whole multiplayer universe together, exploring virtual space on its own is not enough. There's scope for a massive dynamic RPG quest system here with co-op and PvP that I just don't see being integrated into the shallow "find new stuff" core gameplay. It'll have a quest and rank system, but I don't see it going beyond simple fetch and escort quests.

    What I see is more of an engine than a game. Bang something like this into Mass Effect: Shepard Reborn...Again or Star Wars: the Hunt for Midichlorians and you've got something special. On its own, it lacks context and it looks more like Flower in Space with Guns and Stuff to me . I don't think it's going to be a bad game, I just don't it'll hold my attention for long.
    I pretty much agree with all you've said. I thought there'd be a bigger focus on the "exploration with friends!" possibilities of the game (that now seem to be gone lol), instead of the diversity in the color palette and the slight weight and height variations of the wild life. I really hope Hello Games realizes how little that actually represents for the overall enjoyment of the game and start thinking of ways to improve the experience itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ant1th3s1s View Post
    Call me a sceptic, but based on what I've seen, I think there'll be a limited array of things to do on an infinite scope and it has the potential to get real old, real quick. Let's just hope this isn't another Spore.

    I like the underlying concept (exploring the universe is my ideal concept of an afterlife), but what happens when you've seen your umpteenth giant purple gorilla? You get to leave that planet and find another slight variant of the wildlife on a slight variant of another world.

    Unless there's some sort of overarching and evolving storyline to tie the whole multiplayer universe together, exploring virtual space on its own is not enough. There's scope for a massive dynamic RPG quest system here with co-op and PvP that I just don't see being integrated into the shallow "find new stuff" core gameplay. It'll have a quest and rank system, but I don't see it going beyond simple fetch and escort quests.

    What I see is more of an engine than a game. Bang something like this into Mass Effect: Shepard Reborn...Again or Star Wars: the Hunt for Midichlorians and you've got something special. On its own, it lacks context and it looks more like Flower in Space with Guns and Stuff to me . I don't think it's going to be a bad game, I just don't it'll hold my attention for long.
    These are all valid points, and this is a well-reasoned argument, and yet... I don't give a shit.

    ITS JUST SO PRETTY!!!!!

    This is gonna be a digital release, and I'm more than happy to fork over $20 to experience it for myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ant1th3s1s View Post
    I like the underlying concept (exploring the universe is my ideal concept of an afterlife)
    yeah I want to be a spooky ghost when I die too.

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    I'm really excited for this game. I didn't know anything about it until E3, and their trailer shown there was just incredible. The world looks extremely beautiful and everything so far seems very well done. It's definitely one of the games I'll be buying on or around launch.

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    Even though it was the most interesting thing I saw at E3 this year, I do see it having problems.

    The basic problem with procedurally generated content is that it has no heart - it's computer generated. People will begin to see the underlying patterns of the content soon enough, and even though something in-game may be labelled as "new", "unique", "undiscovered", etc, I see it becoming unfulfilling discovering 'predefined randomness' that a computer made.

    Yet people will overlook environmental tedium if there is an amazing progression system to focus on. What they need to do is make all facets of the character progression system just as expansive (maybe just as endless), to give people a reason to keep on exploring, harvesting resources, fighting, and whatever other mechanics they bring to the game.

    I heard them say it'll be rare to encounter other people in general, which I think is great, so long as they give people the option to still invite their friends to their sector of the universe and play together. If they don't, they'll be alienating a huge portion of their audience.

    What I hope this game does, is essentially 'Infinite Minecraft' - layering resource gathering, crafting, building structures, all with the exploration options the trailer showed. If it does at least that, I think they'll be successful. With only 4 people working on the game, I'm not sure how in-depth they plan to make those systems, yet I think the more layered and intricate they make it, the more likely people are to continue playing it. Nothing like having infinite things to do in an infinite universe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ant1th3s1s View Post
    Unless there's some sort of overarching and evolving storyline to tie the whole multiplayer universe together, exploring virtual space on its own is not enough.
    minecraft disagrees.

    these games are all about creativity, how creative you are = how long you play it.


    This game is basically "we're minecraft, but you can fly into space, every creature/plant/etc. has tons of variations, and we are just bigger in general"



    i know some mentally insane people who still play spore, bless their souls



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    Quote Originally Posted by Ps360 View Post
    minecraft disagrees.

    these games are all about creativity, how creative you are = how long you play it.


    This game is basically "we're minecraft, but you can fly into space, every creature/plant/etc. has tons of variations, and we are just bigger in general"



    i know some mentally insane people who still play spore, bless their souls
    But this game is nothing like Minecraft. Minecraft relies on your creativity to create new content with the tools at your disposal, while this relies on your hunger for exploration. In one you're focused on building, creating and mining, and in the other you're focused on exploring and travelling. Not only do you not build anything, but your creativity has no influence whatsoever on your experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nagflar View Post
    Not only do you not build anything, but your creativity has no influence whatsoever on your experience.
    After just reading some recent articles, this does seems to be the case. You do do some basic resource gathering, yet you just buy upgrades or new equipment, and don't make anything. That's rather disappointing, and not being able to create anything seems contrary to a universe suppose to be filled with endless possibilities, as they touted during the E3 presentation.

    I'm not all that keen on exploring 'randomness with parameters'. At least with other exploration games, like Journey, each level was drawn by an artist and had purpose and heart - I just don't attribute those things to a programmer and computer processor's creations. I'm still willing to give it a shot and be proven wrong, yet my excitement meter has sort of gone soft...lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuklar View Post
    After just reading some recent articles, this does seems to be the case. You do do some basic resource gathering, yet you just buy upgrades or new equipment, and don't make anything. That's rather disappointing, and not being able to create anything seems contrary to a universe suppose to be filled with endless possibilities, as they touted during the E3 presentation.

    I'm not all that keen on exploring 'randomness with parameters'. At least with other exploration games, like Journey, each level was drawn by an artist and had purpose and heart - I just don't attribute those things to a programmer and computer processor's creations. I'm still willing to give it a shot and be proven wrong, yet my excitement meter has sort of gone soft...lol
    I feel the whole 'heart' argument is crap. I remember people complaining about FFXIII being shit because you couldn't walk around some random town with a population of 10 NPCs, which lead to it being "heartless" (because we all know games have organs).

    That said, I understand where you're coming from, since the "limited by parameters randomness" is more of an illution that makes you believe you've got an endless quantity of content at your disposal - but instead, you're just stuck with the same thing repainted differently, which in the end means you're not really experiencing anything new and the supposed replayability ends up not really being there.

    As for how much you can build, I never expected much. I mean, if we could build something, we'd all end up having a flipping army of Deathstars to subjugate the universe and our enemies. I know I'd be crashing Star Destroyers at my opponents' Deathstars to leave them defenseless .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larrydavidsavatar View Post
    They have also mentioned combat, both in space, and on planets, mainly against pirates so far, also that while everyone shares the same universe, it will be rare that you meet due to the size. In fact, I remember them saying cataloging species was probably the most boring way to play the game. It's just an option, not the overall mission.

    The whole thing about No Man's Sky so far is that it seems unbelievable, but the way they describe making it backs up a lot of it's hype.
    I agree, that if they can even come halfway close to pulling this off, then it will at least hopefully act as a start point for other games to attempt something similar.
    Did you ever play Spore on PC? It was a big budget game from EA and Maxis that promised a tonne and delivered nothing. It was in the same vein as No Man's Sky with (theoretically) infinite combinations of procedurally generated worlds and evolving inhabitants, all melded together in one expansive user-generated universe. What we got was a poor man's excuse for a real time strategy game.

    Cut through the "procedural" hype and look at the gameplay. Fly between worlds, shoot down ships on the way, land on planet, look at flora and fauna, shoot bad guys, rinse and repeat for eternity.

    By itself, that's teaspoon deep. It's a good concept, but needs more meat on the bones if it hopes to be more than it appears.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ps360 View Post
    minecraft disagrees.

    these games are all about creativity, how creative you are = how long you play it.

    This game is basically "we're minecraft, but you can fly into space, every creature/plant/etc. has tons of variations, and we are just bigger in general"

    i know some mentally insane people who still play spore, bless their souls
    Where's the creativity? The user does nothing. They simply fly around while the CPU generates the universe for them based on a limited number of random variables.

    Minecraft on the other hand, is NOTHING without it's users. They make the world what they want it to be. If it was just about chopping down trees and digging up rocks, it wouldn't be much of a game now would it?

    This looks like Spore all over again, but from a first-person perspective. What it needs to be is Starlancer, Freelancer, Elite or Star Citizen, whereas it's little more than an engine for automatically generated solar systems with limited interactivity. I've played 64k demos that do the same thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    These are all valid points, and this is a well-reasoned argument, and yet... I don't give a shit.

    ITS JUST SO PRETTY!!!!!

    This is gonna be a digital release, and I'm more than happy to fork over $20 to experience it for myself.
    Agreed. Which is why I compared it to Flower. It's a nice, relaxing, short-term experience, but don't expect it to be a deep, rich and rewarding one. Exploration in and of itself is ultimately boring once you've seen the same thing a dozen times in a different shade of purple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ant1th3s1s View Post
    Did you ever play Spore on PC? It was a big budget game from EA and Maxis that promised a tonne and delivered nothing. It was in the same vein as No Man's Sky with (theoretically) infinite combinations of procedurally generated worlds and evolving inhabitants, all melded together in one expansive user-generated universe. What we got was a poor man's excuse for a real time strategy game.

    Cut through the "procedural" hype and look at the gameplay. Fly between worlds, shoot down ships on the way, land on planet, look at flora and fauna, shoot bad guys, rinse and repeat for eternity.

    By itself, that's teaspoon deep. It's a good concept, but needs more meat on the bones if it hopes to be more than it appears.

    Oh Yes! Spore is a good example of shooting for the moon and forgetting to bring a rocket, I'd also chuck in any Peter Molenyeux game.

    I don't disagree that No Man's Sky will likely fall short of it's lofty ambition, will probably lack true long term appeal and that it sounds too good to be true, especially as it is being made by a relatively tiny dev team. I'm mainly excited because they are actually having a crack at it, and I want to see if they manage to come close to building that rocket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nagflar View Post
    I feel the whole 'heart' argument is crap. I remember people complaining about FFXIII being shit because you couldn't walk around some random town with a population of 10 NPCs, which lead to it being "heartless" (because we all know games have organs).
    By 'heart', I simply meant that there's a point of inner reflection where you ask "why did the person who made this do what they did, put this there, etc" while you play the game - something you can do with all forms of creation, art or otherwise. I think it's something an exploration game needs to rely on heavily to be somewhat interesting. You can ask the same question of a procedurally computer generated universe, yet then you're literally asking for the answer to a math equation - there's no emotion or deeper meaning behind it.

    As you said later, we obviously agree on the tedium this illusion of content will generate, I just wanted to further explain what I meant by 'heart'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuklar View Post
    By 'heart', I simply meant that there's a point of inner reflection where you ask "why did the person who made this do what they did, put this there, etc" while you play the game - something you can do with all forms of creation, art or otherwise. I think it's something an exploration game needs to rely on heavily to be somewhat interesting. You can ask the same question of a procedurally computer generated universe, yet then you're literally asking for the answer to a math equation - there's no emotion or deeper meaning behind it.

    As you said later, we obviously agree on the tedium this illusion of content will generate, I just wanted to further explain what I meant by 'heart'.
    Fair enough, and now I do get where you're coming from. The one issue with that, though, is that you end up having Evangelion all over again: people wondering what this little detail might mean and how much more added value it gives to the series, just for Hideaki Anno to say he added it becaused "it looked good and wanted people to ask questions".

    Sometimes there's actual meaning behind the choices, but that's almost never the case, which leads to people blowing stuff out of proportion and/or not praising the things that deserve it, which artsy indie games happen to suffer from most of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larrydavidsavatar View Post
    Oh Yes! Spore is a good example of shooting for the moon and forgetting to bring a rocket, I'd also chuck in any Peter Molenyeux game.

    the problem with spore is Chris Hecker.

    That dumb idiot decided to force Maxis to dumb down spore and make it "cute".

    no fucking joke. it was going to be the greatest game ever if it was on it's original path.

    http://forum.spore.com/jforum/posts/list/8555.page

    Chris Hecker was having strong misgivings about how appealing all this hard science would be to the wider world. "I was the founding member of the 'cute' team," he says with pride. "Ocean [Quigley, Spore's art director] and Will were really the founding members of the 'science' team. Ocean would make the cell game look exactly like a petri dish with all these to-scale animals and Will would say, 'That's the greatest thing I've ever seen!' and some of us were thinking, 'I'm not sure about that.'"
    Quigley's microscopically accurate concept drawings were vandalized with stuck-on googly eyes; there were suggestions that it might be cool if the creatures wore sneakers.
    Steve Grand, who made the big sim-life hit of the 1990s, Creatures, also faced the task of reconciling the limited behavioral range of virtual life-forms with the advanced expectations of players. "There are two ways to tackle this problem," Grand says. "Try to make the behavior look more real, or stop lying to people. As far as I can tell, Spore takes the former approach, to gently and quite openly fool the user into thinking she's engaging with real living things, while Creatures took the latter — I did my best not to fool anyone, even if that meant the results weren't so playable."

    Spore's decision — to preserve the illusion of life at the expense of the actual facts of life — made for some substantial casualties. First to go in the cute-versus-science war were the extreme ends of the scale — galaxy formation and originsof- life simulation — dismissed as being too abstract and dissipated. Next, small and then big laws were shattered and remade. Wright's determination to represent faster-than-light travel as impossible crumbled in the face of making the spacefaring section of the game enjoyable. Evolution, despite his staunch Darwinism, became a massively telescoped process that depended on the external, deliberate interventions of the players. And so, instead of becoming the ultimate science project, Spore gradually became the ultimate game.

    The snag is that Spore didn't just jettison half its science — it replaced it with systems and ideas that run the risk of being actively misleading. Scientists brought in to evaluate the game for potential education projects recoiled as it became increasingly evident that the game broke many more scientific laws than it obeyed. Those unwilling to comment publicly speak privately of grave concerns about a game which seems to further the idea of intelligent design under the badge of science, and they bristle at its willingness to use words like "evolution" and "mutation" in entirely misleading ways.


    Peter Moleyneux is a guy who wants to do great things but then constantly gets limited with some stupid reason (budget, Publisher whip, etc.)

    if the dude had a gigantic budget to do whatever with and 100% creative freedom that guy would make a amazing game. You can see he already has tons of potential if you play games like black and white 2 and other things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ps360 View Post
    Peter Moleyneux is a guy who wants to do great things but then constantly gets limited with some stupid reason (budget, Publisher whip, etc.)

    if the dude had a gigantic budget to do whatever with and 100% creative freedom that guy would make a amazing game. You can see he already has tons of potential if you play games like black and white 2 and other things.
    Molyneux got Populous, Powermonger, Flood, Theme Park, Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper and Syndicate right (and arguably Magic Carpet). All of them were low budget games. It's only when EA started tossing money at him hand over fist that the guy went to shit, and the only game he's done right since the Bullfrog days is Black and White 2.

    Perhaps you're right - the fact that he lost creative freedom meant he hasn't delivered to his potentially with a string of over-promised and under-delivered big budget games stretching back over a decade. But then, why has Godus been universally panned by Kickstarter backers? You can argue budget limitations, but he's got more money now than he ever had at Bullfrog.

    I'm more inclined to believe his creative well ran dry with Fable.

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