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The Devil’s Advocate – No Man’s Sky

The Devil’s Advocate – No Man’s Sky

Return to a procedurally generated galaxy far away…

I know, you are probably wondering why even bother mention this game when it’s been out for almost a year now. However, there is a number of messages that can be taken from the No Man’s Sky controversy. Video game reviews take into consideration a lot of factors like story, gameplay, graphics and so on. One aspect that is usually shunned though is the technology and methods that made everything a reality.

No Man’s Sky – Developed by Hello Games, promised diverse planets with diverse life, its own Table of Elements, etc and here is the result:

The game’s gameplay was heavily critiqued as repetitive and with a very small assortment of things to do, at its release.

The two sides of gaming development

In the video game development process, and more generally in the software development world, we can separate people into two big categories; the people responsible for making the Front-End and Back-End of a system. The first, are the people responsible for creating what will be visible to the user. The second are responsible for the nitty-gritty coding, method implementation and algorithms that keep everything from crumbling.

Procedural Generation of bugs

When the game was released, I noticed that the game size was 2 GB. Considering what the game offered trillions of planets etc and also the average size of new games today that was weird. And that s where my article really begins. The code size for procedural generation is just 300MB, (13:40 of the video). The whole universe is generated on the fly, there are no predefined planets. Animals or alien installations. Everything is generated real-time by the game engine. What is so special about that? If you watch the talk from Sean Murray, one of the lead developers of No Man’s Sky, you get a very interesting insight of the inner workings of the game and in my opinion a newfound respect for their work. Take a moment to think, the process of debugging is usually feeding the system under investigation with various test cases and see how it reacts. For example you throw an object in a controlled environment and observe whether the collisions have been correctly activated and the gravity behaves at it should be. However, how do you debug a game where the environment does not exist yet? How do you make sure that the first time the game world is generated, the planets do not implode or the spawn items do not get placed into the core of the planet?

Environment generation with … noise 

Talks about world and environment generation through the use of voxels. Generation of landscaped using noise and frequencies and how they implement methods to smooth them and make them more realistic and believable (as believable as they can be in a universe about walking phallic shaped monsters). If you want to find more I suggest you have a look at the talk by Sean Murray and another video in the same field by Innes McKendrick on Continuous World Generation in ‘No Man’s Sky’.

My point! 

Games are reviewed and critiqued based on what they are supposed to be, fun adventures for the players to enjoy and that of course includes gameplay, story, graphics etc . However, it s a shame when a game accomplishes something on a more technological level, something that players take for granted, and is barely mentioned if at all in the reviews, gameplay videos etc. I am not asking for reviewers and or gamers to critique games on a more technological level, almost nobody want to know about that, however I believe that credit should be given where is due, game development is no longer a small industry, a lot of different disciplines are integrated today in order for a product to be finalized and it is time that all people involved get the credit they deserve.

The post The Devil’s Advocate – No Man’s Sky appeared first on BadFive.

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The Devil’s Advocate – No Man’s Sky


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