The Sky Is The Limit
The game's most likely feature to catch one’s attention is its immensity. This game is not merely open world but open universe. Boasting over 18 quintillion (1.8×10^19) life-sized planets teeming with their own fauna and flora, you can explore each and every one to your liking. Your only limiting factor is the range of the hyperspace jump engines of your current spacecraft and how much fuel the craft presently carries. No Man's Sky is so immense that Hello Games estimated that more than 99.9% of the planets would never be explored by players, The developers managed this feat by procedurally generating almost all elements of the game, allowing mathematical formula to create an exponential set of unique features rather than having the rather small developer team designing them individually. Following in the tracks of Minecraft, the game offers a paradigm shift regarding the possibilities in open-world games.
However it wasn’t all roses for them. From the game’s secretive development debut, initial tension among the Hello Games team, losing most of their equipments in a flood, delaying the release date, death threats and day-one updates, they've had a lot to deal with. One might also wonder about the point in making a game so immense if all you'll experience is less than 1% of the whole game. But hey, it’s an indie game that offers an AAA experience. We have to appreciate that at the very least!
Moreover, their fundamentally different approach to game design challenges the conventional ways. “The physics of every other game—it’s faked,” the chief architect Sean Murray explained to The Atlantic. Their game on the other hand offers something else. Every star that you see in the sky is an actual place that you can go to and explore. And your exploration is even credited for being the first to discover a planet and other types of information. Within 24 hours of the game's official launch, Hello Games reported that more than 10 million distinct species were registered by players, exceeding the estimated 8.7 million species believed to exist on Earth. “It’s our universe, so we get to be Gods in a sense,” said Murray in the same article.
Speaking about Gods, over on YouTube Mike Rugnetta asks a simple yet pressing question: "If we are able to simulate universes of massive, life-like complexity within our universe, should we wonder or worry if our own is simulated?” No Man’s Sky might not emulate life as we know it but how far are we from creating such an emulation ourselves, how far are we from being our own Gods? Even prominent figures are leaning towards a simulated “reality”. Elon Musk recently fuelled this thought by stating that “the odds that we're in base reality is one in billions”. When confronted to the question, Sean Murray's answered that "even if it is a simulation, it’s a good simulation, so we shouldn’t question it.”
So what do you all make of it? Should future open-world games be procedurally generated to allow for more randomness and exploration in games? How big is too big? And lastly, what does that signify about our own existence? Are we in a simulation or will we create one? Nevertheless, cogito ergo sum... right?
GBAtemp No Man's Sky Review