Grow me a virtual universe – No Man’s Sky

I was excited to see the new project from Hello Games get a lot of blog and press time the last few weeks. If you don’t know who Hello Games are they are an indie development team who brought us the delightful cartoon fun of Joe Danger. A guy on a motorbike leaping and ducking around a number of tricky levels. It is hard not to bump into Joe Danger on every platform now, but I remember their stories of toil and trouble at Develop where they had houses mortgaged to the hilt in a last ditch attempt to get the game out. Whilst they have capitalised on, and followed up Joe Danger they have also been hard at work on an incredibly diverse project.
Joe Danger is a cute, side scrolling reaction game. It has a certain something, using an existing format but making it more fun, rather like Angry Birds has done.
The new work though is stunning in its claims. They have built a sandbox universe, not a sandbox city, desert or planet. No, a huge space of planets with detail on those planets. The claim is that everything is procedurally generated. Just to clarify, that means that rather than sitting drawing everything by hand, it is code that generates the places in a defined style. Behaviours of creatures, races, vehicles etc can also be put into this. Way back elite had a procedurally generated universe of names of planets. However you did not visit those planets and swim in their oceans. It was also not a shared space with others online. Terrain and in particular trees, or anything of a more ractal nature are often procedurally generated, like the famous Barnsley fern. This ramps that up a whole level. Of course in fractal maths complexity is the same at every level of abstraction so the detail of a leaf is the same as the pattern of the universe. It, rather like probability maths, tends to go against our common sense approach to the world. However when you ponder it a bit longer it does start to make sense.
With this sort of background information the video below gets even more interesting. Procedural generation at an atomic level. A world that your presence in influences its development. A place that is not technically infinite, but so big it would take more than a lifetime to explore. That is all very exciting stuff!

There is a good article with some more detail and a proper interview, rather than my speculation based on how I would do this over at destructiod
I am looking forward to this one though. Well done Hello Games welcome to the metaverse industry 🙂

2 thoughts on “Grow me a virtual universe – No Man’s Sky

  1. andrew wooldridge

    … the new project form Hello Games … —> the new project FROM Hello Games

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