'No Man's Sky' Isn't Actually Infinite, And Other Revelations
Just 18 quintillion planets. But not infinite.
Alex Wiltshire of Hello Games cruelly wrote 41 staggering facts to clear up whatever speculation gamers have of No Man’s Sky. Some are obvious things Hello Games has said before, but others are total revelations skewed towards the unbelievable. How is this game being made by just thirteen people?
Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky is going to be wild. Whenever it comes out. No one knows when that will be, not even Hello Games, so these cool and neat facts they’ve posted are just infuriating.
Below are ten select facts, but you can read all 41 here.
“The universe isn’t actually infinite”
Computers don’t really do infinity very well. But there are 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets in the universe. If you visit each one for a single second, it will take you 585 billion years to see them all, so it may as well be.
Challenge accepted, Hello Games.
“The universe isn’t random”
Everything exists for a reason, and is governed by maths. Maths means every detail is always consistent and makes sense, the result of hundreds of rules we’ve made to make a sci-fi universe we want to explore. And anyway, computers just aren’t very good at random, either.
Hysterical that a statement such as “the universe isn’t random,” which could be a declaration of existential dependence, is chalked up to “computers, man.”
Still, what Hello Games has accomplished in terms of scale is absolutely staggering. This is a game no one can complete, ever, barring the discovery of human immortality.
“No Man’s Sky isn’t an MMO”
The sheer size of the universe means that everyone is going to be super far apart, and it’s super unlikely that people will even visit the same planets.
Like movies, we’re quick to categorize video games in easy-to-define labels. Thinking of No Man’s Sky like an MMO brings to mind World of Warcraft, where hundreds of players can be online in a single physical (in the game) geographical space. The vast space of No Man’s Sky means even if the entirety of Earth is playing, we’d barely see each other.
“There are bots exploring the universe right now”
We have sent a set of bots out into the void to send back to us gifs of planets. We can quickly review the gifs, lots at a time, to see what kinds of things are out there, and ensure it’s varied and interesting.
How terrifying would it be if those bots have grown sentient and are secretly planning an uprising in an obscure corner of an obscure planet, and this is how we get SkyNet?
“There isn’t a story to follow”
There are no cutscenes or characters, but there is a big objective: getting to the center of the universe. We don’t want to tell you a story, we want you to tell your own. No Man’s Sky is about your journey.
This is where I fear No Man’s Sky could falter. How quickly will players tire if there’s no texture to their exploration? We still watch movies even in the face of wildly innovative video games because we are intrigued by drama and character motivation. Is there any room for this in No Man’s Sky?
“You will make true discoveries”
Be the first to visit a planet, or be the first to scan a species of creature, and you will be recorded as its discoverer when you upload it at a beacon for all the world to see. You can also choose to name them. (There will be filters!)
But my buddy Joe is a butthead and his buttheaded-ness must be immortalized on “Planet Joe Is a Butthead.” Please allow me this, Hello Games.
“The Atlas is everything everyone has ever discovered”
The No Man’s Sky symbol stands for the database of all the things that players have discovered and chosen to share with the world. It’s perhaps the most important thing in the universe and will contain findings that even we have no idea about.
“We’ve discovered this stunning new species on Planet Joe Is a Butthead.”
“Planets are defined by their position in space”
If they’re close to their sun they’ll tend to be more barren; further away and they’ll tend to be cold. The planets in between tend to be richer with life.
If No Man’s Sky does gangbusters it could influence an entire generation on space travel. This is probably my favorite fact, it’s so crucial and necessary for the game’s authenticity, yet it’s so remarkably small time compared to “Infinite planets!” and “Travel space forever!”
The devil is in the details, and this tiny fact is where a demon dwells.
“You can only have one ship at a time”
Choose a ship that suits what you want to do, whether trading (large cargo capacity), fighting (good speed and weapons), or exploring (a long jump drive distance). Want to do something new? You can always get a new one.
No Man’s Sky is promising that we can live out our Han Solo or Mal Reynolds or space-faring fantasies, but it’s only allowing us to choose one or the other(s). It’s easy to change ships, but it might be a hurdle to leap over whenever we feel a change of heart. And personally, I’m impulsive, so I’m unsure how I feel about this.
“Some animals hunt others”
You’ll see food chains in action, with species being predated by others. You might find that you’re far from being at the top of the chain.
So, what Hello Games is telling us is that we’re going to be pitted against space bears. Good to know, guys. Thanks a bunch.
No Man’s Sky is still in development without a confirmed launch date.