Gamer explains how No Man's Sky's procedural generation works, and how players came across so many interesting, and sometimes goofy-looking, creatures while playing.
While No Man’s Sky still faces many challenges, from receiving an “overwhelmingly negative” rating on Steam, to having its advertising come under investigation, there’s still a lot about the game that’s unique and impressive.
The most unique, and some could argue comical, feature in No Man’s Sky is its procedurally generated animals. While some gamers have spotted some rather goofy looking critters, the tech behind the peculiar animals on the planets of No Man’s Sky is quite extraordinary. And thanks to a post by blogger gregkwaste, gamers now have a bit more insight into how the No Man’s Sky creatures are created.
The first point the author makes is to remind readers that No Man’s Sky is actually a fairly small game in terms of assets used. That’s not surprising given the small development team behind it. But thanks to the way Hello Games coded the game, players can feel like they’re a small dot in the vastness of space, without the development team having to create millions of assets to fill the void.
Instead, Hello Games created a small set of assets, which were used to create hundreds of animals, all with different variants and styles. This was done through procedural generation. Each creature starts as a base model blob with each region of its body classified a certain way. From there, the game’s code randomly selects an asset that matches that classification, and sticks it in the necessary spot. The final result is hundreds and thousands of different creatures, each with its own design and flare.
Granted, while this method has the potential to create beautiful creatures of wonder, it can also spit out an hilarious, circus-worthy animal that seems to defy gravity thanks to its funky proportions.
Despite the potential for awkward monsters, the Frankenstein tech delivering these fantastical creatures is impressive, and will no-doubt be used in some shape or form by developers in the future, including Hello Games. With current-gen consoles now capable of running galaxy-sized games, there’s plenty of potential for where developers can go. And with procedurally generated capabilities like those found in No Man’s Sky, there’s almost no limit to what can be produced. That said, hopefully anyone who picks up on this idea will be able to avoid the disastrous results that sometimes popped out of No Man’s Sky engine.
Interestingly, the same tech used on the animals in No Man’s Sky was used to create the game’s ships. Thankfully, the ships turned out much better, and didn’t experience any off-the-wall designs.
Those with great interest in this type of work should really read the full post, as it’s chuck full of great detail about how the whole process works. Though be warned, it can get quite technical in places.
What do you think about No Man’s Sky procedural generation? What other developers would you like to see adopt this style of character creation?
No Man’s Sky is available now on PC and PlayStation 4.