No Man's Sky: How 2014's most ambitious game creates a working universe in your console

Reach for the stars

It’s important to remember that No Man's Sky isn’t Star Wars. There's no good versus evil narrative; no world to save or princess to rescue: “You’re just a very small part of a real, working universe. It’s up to you to make your own story,” explains Murray. “As you go further into the reaches of the universe you might be forced to engage in combat, both in space and on the ground. You don’t know which planets will be friendly and you might not necessarily be top of the food chain. We’re not trying to make Halo but you will sometimes have to fight to survive.”

No Man's Sky

While No Man’s Sky is no MMO, every player will inhabit exactly the same universe. That means you’ll explore alone, but you’ll never feel alone within it – and Murray points out that what you do within the game can affect the experience for others: “Say you land on a planet and shoot a bird, the next time you visit its carcass won’t still be on the ground. But if you visit a planet and wipe out all of the birds on it then you’ve significantly altered it and that planet will be like that for everyone.”

More after the break...

The Right Stuff

For a team of four people No Man’s Sky is a game of staggering ambition. Unlike most games, it doesn't use what’s called a skybox – a Truman Show style, painted-on backdrop that limits the size of the world. If you can see something in No Man’s Sky you can visit it. Every star in the sky can be reached and if you stay in one place long enough you can watch it slowly turn from day to night. “That’s happening because the planet is actually spinning through the universe, which is mind blowing when you realise it for the first time. Those are the moments that make it feel like we've really hit on that science-fiction dream,” says Murray.

But isn’t there still a risk that latecomers will have nothing new to discover? Murray doesn’t think so: "To question the size of the game means you haven’t grasped the full scale of the universe. Yes, everyone will start in the same galaxy but there’s way more to the universe than just that one.”

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That is curiously similar to what I wrote a decade ago..


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