The scope of Hello Games' upcoming open world sci-fi title No Man's Sky is difficult to fully express, since gamers are used to "open world" meaning a map that you can run or drive across within about half an hour. No Man's Sky is a little more ambitious than that; it's an "open galaxy" game filled with so many worlds that it would take a player about 585 billion years to visit every single one, even if they only dropped into each planet for a second.
No Man's Sky is not a AAA title and does not have the money or manpower of a game like Mass Effect or Destiny behind it. Probably the best comparison that could be made is Minecraft, which created procedurally generated worlds for players to share and explore. No Man's Sky will take a similar approach, only instead of constantly generating brand new worlds with each new game there is just one world with 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 procedurally generated planets in it. Players will all share the same universe, but the chances of actually running into another player in that massive playground are going to be very slim.
This has led to questions about whether or not No Man's Sky can be defined as an MMO or even as a multiplayer game, especially after trailers showcased at the recent PlayStation Experience event demonstrated the ability to warp across the galaxy. This surely means that it will be possible - in theory - to simply figure out where a friend is and then warp to their location, right? Actually, that's not the case, as Hello Games' Sean Murray explained in an interview with Game Informer.
"[Your friends] will be a long way away. People keep asking us about multiplayer and I think when people see this they are going to fully realize what it means to be that far away from somebody else who's playing...
"People keep saying to us, 'Yeah, but what if I knew where they were? Would I go there?' And it's like, yeah, but they are going to have to stay there for quite a while while you get over there. And then once you get over there you might land on the same planet and then you will say, 'I'm on a planet the size of Earth and I am on a mountain. Where are you?'"
Murray describes the multiplayer of No Man's Sky as having all of the online players "flying around with an open lobby," but since the game world is so huge those players will almost never run into one another. The game is equipped to handle another player or two flying past, but there's no need to make it capable of handling thousands or even dozens of players on screen at the same time.
Rather than people actually playing together at the same time, No Man's Sky's multiplayer elements will work in a similar way to those of Dark Souls or Terraria - both of which are examples that Murray uses for comparison. The first player to discover a planet will live their legacy behind on it (when others visit it, the message "Discovered by [insert player tag here] will pop up) and there will be other ways for players to make others aware of their presence.
"We are going to have a way for players to communicate with each other. Maybe leave messages and things like that on planets. I don't know if it will represent that. Let's not get into loads of detail, but you can say that we're going to have a way for players to communicate with each other and leave little messages and things like that.
"[Discussing Terraria's gravestones] It sounds like a small thing, but it's so amazing. You walk around this world and then you've got all of these like silly stories that people have left."
Murray wasn't able to offer clear answers for everything, since No Man's Sky is still in developing with constantly evolving ideas, but one thing he was adamant about was the fact that No Man's Sky is more of a single player experience than a multiplayer game where players are supposed to team up with friends.
"Just to be really clear... it is not an MMO. All of those questions are leading toward that. There are loads of MMOs out there. People can play those. We want people to be able to get a sense of playing with other people and to see other people and feel like this is a real, live universe.
"If you want to play a first-person-shooter-sci-fi-run-around-on-a-planet game, play Destiny. It’s a really good game. Go play that. We're not trying to do that."
Although there will be shooter elements in No Man's Sky, it largely seems to be exploration-based. This has raised questions about what the story will be - or if there even will be a story. From what Hello Games has previously said, the main goal will be to reach the center of the a galaxy and there will be antagonists in the game, but it will probably be quite light on narrative. Perhaps players will just have to create their own stories.
No Man’s Sky comes to PS4 in 2015 and will eventually be available on PC.
Source: Game Informer