The whole trick behind No Man's Sky is the procedural generation. It's how you can have a universe with a seemingly endless amount of planets, lifeforms and NPCs just ripe for the pickings.
But fascinating as it is, we haven't really known a great deal about the algorithm behind No Man's Sky. In a new interview though, Hello Games founder Sean Murray has shone a little more light — metaphorically — on the subject.
In a chat with Inverse, Murray revealed more details about the generation of resources on each planet. Apparently, it's all to do with the sun.
"The angle of sun irradiation and its intensity determine what kind of minerals compose in the ground," Murray, who worked at Criterion before starting Hello Games, said.
"Naturally different resources influence what kind of flora and fauna grows up in a certain area. Every leaf of every tree contains a variety of stains. In England or Germany, the chlorophyll is very dominant, that’s why most of our leaves are green. In other countries, they are more yellow, and the Japanese cherry blossom is reddish, so that’s easy."
There are more checks and balances on the lifeforms, though. According to Murray, the game's algorithms blend various animal types together and procedurally morph a skeleton to suit. It's so you don't end up with animals with limbs that can't support their body weight.
"So we had to experiment a ton, to get these skeletons right, because an animal with a tiny body can’t have a huge head, otherwise it would constantly fall over," Murray quipped.
Given that we've already got animals with ball sacks for faces and miniature back legs, they probably should have let that one slide anyway. Wonder if a percentage scaler could have been applied, like 5% of creatures being the derpy residents of the No Man's Sky universe.
You can read the rest of Murray's interview at Inverse.