Why Some Planets In No Man’s Sky Are Barren Wastelands

Why Some Planets In No Man’s Sky Are Barren Wastelands

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.


  • http://i.imgur.com/Nxoedeb.gifv

    That suggests otherwise.
    It certainly sounds like it was there intention to get all those awesome algorithms working, but seems like a lot of it slipped to make the release date.

    Not sure if the above link is just a bug or a common occurrence though.

    • Check out that core though! My dog has tiny legs and walks all over the place on his back legs because his trunk is so muscley haha.

      There are certainly weird ones though. Saw some man sized pig/anteater flying around with tiny hummingbird wings.

      • I discovered some kinda beaked behemoth, with cute little wiggly legs and tiny wings, it looked ridiculous

  • I initially had barren wasteland after barren wasteland, but I have now come across a moon I never want to leave! soooo many graviton balls! That plus lots of gold and an excess amount of drop zones to increase my inventory is leaving me one very rich man.

    If only life imitated art “sigh”

  • I’ve come across a barren planet, it warned me it had no life, a ton of resources and larger strain on my life support.

    I stopped playing on an ocean planet I named Highsee, can’t wait to get home to explore the depths

    • Make sure you have the right stuff equipped in your exosuit, otherwise you run out of oxygen rather quickly which makes it like bobbing for apples…. Except without the apples

      • Ha!

        Yeah I noticed as my lady warned me of 25% less support every 30 seconds lol.

        However, I have also noticed that I can avoid having to stray from my ship at all. Plutonium is stupidly abundant where I am so I actually do all my exploring via ship.
        In fact it’s the only way I can keep my inventory free at this stage.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever had to grind so much in a game before lol, been making inventory slots my priority but I have managed to get 41 so far and its been tedious as hell.

    Edit: @namiwakiru woops posted in the wrong bit

    • I think it really depends on the person, I personally refrained from any hype material so I wouldn’t have expectations. The game does have a lot of repetition but it’s still a fun game to just switch off with, and kind of adds to the experience in some ways.

      It also has huge potential for updates to enrich the experience, and if by paying $70 (let’s face it, its really just a base game without add ons presently) can give them the funding to do so then I’m glad I spent the money on it.

      Last note I would say it’s rather a game focused on playing with the emotions I guess, the tedium and the vastness of it all go hand in hand.

      • Thanks for an informative answer. It seems like it could be quite relaxing and hypnotic. I’m happy to wait for it to fill out a bit with more content/features.

  • My advice to everyone. Just land on the moons. Everything is closer to each other, no vegetation means its easy spot drop pods and anything else you are looking for, much easier to complete entire catalogue with no fauna or flora. Moons is where its at!! ?

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