It’s time to bow down to our robot overlords. The future of gaming has arrived and is in our midst. We may not know it yet, but we will soon realize the historical significance of No Man’s Sky and its impact to game development.
Typically a game development cycle uses several teams to create their software. It takes designers, artists, programmers, level designers, sound engineers, and more. This is a costly production cycle, not to mention the amount of time it takes to push a final product out to the marketplace. The opportunity cost for delays in publishing the software can cost a company millions of dollars in some cases.
So, what can possibly be done? Have that work farmed out to the most efficient worker of all – the computer. With the advent of sophisticated artificial intelligence and automated algorithms, software teams can be reduced to the fraction of the current staffing levels. While this is alarming to those in the industry, it should be welcome news to the gamers, who want more sophisticated environments and realistic game play.
No Man’s Sky was developed by Hello Games and was the brainchild of Sean Murray. There was a lot of hype that led to the high expectations for the release of their game that claimed to have quintillions of planets to explore and millions of species to discover.
How was this level of detail achieved? Through procedural generation and fancy “maths” according to the developers. As a result, they were able to create a massive environment with just 14 developers.
Many critics claimed the game did not deliver on the promises made during the publicity tours. And, they are mostly correct, except for one key point. They pulled off one of the greatest software development projects of all time. While many of the details need to be worked out, this was an incredible achievement for the first release of a game developed mostly by computers.
One incredibly exciting facet of the gaming engine is the ambient audio. It is procedurally generated as well, offering a constant music track that is ever changing. The developers used base tracks from 65daysofstatic to enhance the audio experience.
Hello Games continues to update the game, since the release in August of 2016. Now that they have the base formula down, they will be able to create better content with more diverse environments. I expect with each new update, the gaming community will slowly realize the software behind No Man’s Sky is brilliant.
Slowly, even the bitter and outspoken gamers have started to embrace No Man’s Sky. The online communities are now filled with photos from various planets, each user with a different view of their personal exploration. Each photo may represent the unique experience of the gamer because of the immense expanse of the game’s universe.
All of this in the first game of its type! With each development cycle, it will be amazing to see how sophisticated games can become. Without a doubt, Elon Musk must be right, we may be living in a simulation, perhaps one built from the creators of No Man’s Sky.