In the previous article about No Man?s Sky latest update, we have discussed Sean Murray and his team were being ?flagged? for using the Superformula. It seems though that Murray is adamant that he had not infringed upon a patent. This means that he uses other means to procedurally generate naturalistic objects in No Man?s Sky.
But what is procedural generation? How does it work? Where does its inspiration come from? In this article, we will try our best to get to know this tool much better.
Procedural Generation: Mimicking Nature?s Tricks, Future of Gaming?
Instead of manually handcrafting every detail, the?No Man’s Sky?team?used algorithms or procedures to do it for them in the game. This is a bottom-up process of ?creation? as the team establishes its laws of nature, initial conditions, and to a large degree, let it go from there. As pointed out by Raffi Khatchadourian of The New Yorker, because of such approach, much of the digital universe of No Man?s Sky is unknown even to Murray and his team.
In the sciences, bottom-up emergence is a pretty important concept. This principle encompasses scales of phenomena from the ?purely physical? to the ?social?–from the big bang, abiogenesis (the emergence of life), appearance of hominins, the appearance of our species, the rise of civilizations and up to the appearance of today?s economy. All of these have no single top-down designer, they arise from various interactions from differently-abled agents in the ?just right? conditions to emerge in the universe.
As Murray is creating his digital own, he concerned himself and his team with procedural generation. He takes a page off nature?s tricks. His team used this technique to create large contents in the game. In a sense, his outsource computation and creation as top-down design would require more time.
Also, this is ingenious as this provides a degree of unpredictability. Degrees of unpredictability makes games more exciting and open-endedness gives players a sense of freedom. This is the secret for No Man?s Sky?s notoriety.
This is also the secret why No Man?s Sky only requires 6GB of free storage space for 18 quintillion planets. That?s 18 with 18 zeros. Also, every planet is the size of one planet in realistic physical dimensions. This procedurally-generated design approach creates more and needs less storage. According to Bryan Ke, in MNR Daily, the majority of the files taking up the most space in the game are the audio files. This is extraordinary.
From what it looks like, procedural generation would help us create gaming experiences that has never been done before. It would also revolutionize storage yet provide more excitement and predictability.
Stay tuned for more?No Man’s Sky latest updates.