‘No Man’s Sky’ Is Reaching Molyneux-esque Levels Of HypeFiled inside: Games
“A science-fiction game set in an infinite procedurally-generated universe.”
It’s the quote that graces the main page for the website of No Man’s Sky, an utterly ambitious project by an indie studio that ended up being a focal point of Sony’s E3 Press Conference back in June.
The game reeked of design sensibility and offered many outlets of exploration and excitement, but the trailer was vague in many ways. It was difficult to ascertain exactly what sort of game No Man’s Sky was set to be. It started in a cave, highlighting valuable resources before traveling out to a mysterious planet where new species were identified before taking to the stars and introducing combat. It did this with a smoothness and aplomb that screamed “trailer magic!”, but nonetheless rustled the jimmies of pretty much anyone that saw it. It called to us on a visceral level—it was video game-based freedom in its purest form.
The funny thing about it all is that, in a way, it’s nothing new. Like any game these days, there are inevitable comparisons to existing games and upcoming projects, and No Man’s Sky isn’t exempt from this. With space exploration, combat, diplomacy, and commerce, the game echoes chords of Star Citizen or EVE Online, the former of which is one of the most successful crowdfunding projects ever to grace the gamescape, while the latter is an extraordinary example of a non-standard MMORPG that has remained intact in the face of titans like World of Warcraft as well as the general passage of time.
The introduction of the procedurally-generated content—especially with its supposedly infinite scope—is what’s been so gripping. The massive universe led to hushed whispers of doubt, from members of the gaming community and press. Sean Murray (programmer at Hello Games) mentioned during a Gamespot feature video about how prior to their debut during the VGX awards, some people weren’t even convinced that the game was real. After all, this was a studio that started as a four-man operation, grew to ten, and got split in half to try to make what is shaping up to be one of the largest games ever made.
I was utterly intrigued the moment I saw it at the Sony Press Conference. Perhaps I’ve just become jaded, however, as I maintained a healthy skepticism toward this endeavor, waiting to see where the limits lie. Games, after all, are predicated on rules. Without these rules, the games would not function. If they were wholly functional, they’d be exercises in utter chaos, unplayable messes that could never realistically be completed. Limitations are imperative—an endgame goal to reach for, for instance. The very thought of a game that is infinite in size and scope screams in the face of design principles.