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    No Man’s Sky: “It’s a flxer upper of a planet but we could make it work”

    When humans were exploring the earth, a plethora of fiction was written to chronicle the mixed emotions we experienced as a race: trepidation, excitement, achievement, terror. Now, we’ve charted the earth and our attentions have turned to space. The likes of Interstellar, Destiny, Gravity, Elite and Mass Effect have done a fantastic job of commenting on humanity’s preoccupation with the ‘final’ frontier, but No Man’s Sky plans to further that taking the gaping black cosmoses above and rendering them habitable, colourful, attainable.

    No Man’s Sky’s biggest selling point as a work of science-fiction is its infinite universe well, not quite infinite: the game’s director Sean Murray has stated that there are 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets. That number hasn’t just been plucked out of the air, unsurprisingly; it comes from the fact Hello Games will be making the game with a 64-bit processing system and Hello chose 2 to the power of 64 to give itself some kind-of ethereal constraint… that means even if a player discovered one planet every second, it’d still take 585 billion years for every possible planet to be discovered. And if Hello Games is to be believed, you won’t encounter a second of loading time during that epic odyssey.

    One of the most attractive things in sci-fi is the idea of discovery the fantasy of escaping the mundanity of life and finding something new. Due to the sheer number of planets in No Man’s Sky, it looks like that will actually be possible. Even if you pick the game up 40 years after it’s released, the odds are still incredibly high that you’ll venture upon a planet that no other player has yet set foot on. That’s not just a first in gaming, but a first in fiction. It’s sci-fi’s oldest promise, realised.

    The 18 quintillion number is impressive, but without content and depth, its nothing more than that. Luckily, the procedural generation that Hello Games is working on allows the game’s engine to populate each planet with different types of alien creature, and game director Sean Murray seems intent with angling this procedural generation to attack a more alien route the rich sci-fi vistas Hello is creating would be wasted if you just found the same old deer everywhere, right?

    There are three main classes of ship: fighter, trader and explorer. The classes themselves are pretty self explanatory, and help to offer insight into how No Man’s Sky will play: there will be enemy AI dotted around the planets (with wildlife and enemies populating roughly 10 per cent of the in-game content) which the fighter will inevitably have to attack; there’ll be orbiting space stations the traders can deposit their wares at; and we assume the explorers will be quicker and more nimble than their assault and merchant counterparts. Which class will you choose?

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