No Man's Sky Players Would Need 5 Billion Years to Explore Every Planet for 1 Second

Cancel your plans. All of them.

We know the universe of No Man's Sky is truly massive, thanks to its procedurally generated worlds. Even if developer Hello Games could share the exact number of worlds players can visit, it would be incomprehensibly big. What it can provide is a rough estimate of how long it would take to visit every planet in the game: five billion years.

That figure was shared with IGN by Hello's Sean Murray. It's an extraordinarily long time, but what makes it more impressive is the fact that it's merely how long it would take to visit each planet for a single second. What we've seen of the game so far suggests you'll need far longer than one minute, let alone one second, to fully explore any given world, so suffice it to say, you're never going to run out of new places to visit.

This is made possible because Hello opted to use 64-bit numbers to generate its worlds, rather than 32-bit numbers. When 32-bit numbers were being used at one point, it still would have meant taking several thousand years to visit each planet for one second. By moving to 64-bit numbers--which can store the astronomical sum of 2^64 total values, substantially more than the 2^32 total of 32-bit numbers--Hello was able to ensure it's even more difficult to fathom just how many planets No Man's Sky contains.

You can expect to hear more about the game before long, as Murray teased that Hello "will have something big to show soon."

The open-world game was first revealed last December and is expected out in 2015 for PlayStation 4. (A PC version is also in the works.) For more, check out our Next Big Game coverage from July, which dives into just how massive the game is and the tools Hello is using to make this all possible.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Twitter/Xbox Live/PSN/Nintendo Network: TheSmokingManX

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Discussion

551 comments
csward
csward

I'm excited to hear this big announcement coming soon..

eliebaz
eliebaz

18,446,744,073,709,551,616, if that's what a game can produce... Anybody wondering how many planets actually exist? 

itmustbepaul
itmustbepaul

TRANSLATION: The planet-generation algorithm has the ability to create a few trillion different possibilities of planet based on the variables we have programmed into it.


Peter Molyneux thinks that this game's hype is starting to border on ridiculous.

daBrokenFace
daBrokenFace

I'm sure all the planets look 99% the same, there are just minor differences

funkymonkey344
funkymonkey344

Just to clear things up, Murray said that it would take 5 billion years to MAYBE see repetition.

Not to see every planet.

crisiscore2012
crisiscore2012

I hope they use the music used in these videos in the game..it sets the mood so well...!!

vadagar1
vadagar1

wow 2015 is still wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy off


time to play the time sucking game

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

If the world is truly as vast as they claim then the chances of players meeting each other randomly is very close to zero. About the same chance of Earth getting a visit from real extra terrestrials.

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

Again, this is like the goofy "250 billion different guns" comment the devs made prior to the first Borderlands being released. Newsflash game makers. Most of us who are going to potentially buy your game aren't 3, and only and handful of us still believe in Santa Claus.

dani_i89
dani_i89

Yayy, can't wait to explore big, open, repetitive spaces.

pezzott1
pezzott1

Now my question is: How can they check those planets to see if the formula that creates them is working?

LazyGamerX
LazyGamerX

yeah, something tells me most of these planets are going to look alike after visiting a dozen or so planets.

tomservo51
tomservo51

Ugh, maybe there are too many planets then?

BehemothBlade
BehemothBlade

Dante in Devil May Cry 4 has a total of 80 moves.

All of them can be used against Berial.

So the number of different ways to beat Berial is 


80!=80*79*78*. . . . . .. . .2*1=7.1569457x10^118


If a person would have started beating Berial with all possible outcomes since the Big Bang, that person still would not have finished. 

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

As long as this doesn't interfere with me living forever. 


Or does it?......

dellis66
dellis66

I love the article's subtitle.  It made me laugh pretty good.

oflow
oflow

I think this game looks awesome, but from the descriptions I've read of it, it seems like they opened up the door for the universe to basically become a griefers' paradise.

 I guess the way they will avoid this is spacing the players very far apart, but still since it seems a very important part of the game is resources (which become rarer and rarer as you go towards the center of the galaxy) it seems like overtime it will basically turn into a game where you are sitting on your happy little planet doing whatever it is you enjoy and some jackwagon player like the Vogons come, wipe you out and take your stuff.

I wonder how they will avoid this type of scenario from overrunning the gameplay?




pongley
pongley

@itmustbepaul You know what else has a few trillion possibilities based on the variables programmed into it? DNA. That's worked out pretty well for every living creature in existence so far.

deathBRINGER201
deathBRINGER201

@daBrokenFace Have you seen how it works??? Read up a bit more on how its done I can guarantee its not gonna be the case. the way the formula works with both planets and inhabitants is really intriguing

kryotech
kryotech

@KSSuperhero Yea, to a degree there is a lot of hype. But the thing is that it's hard to have expectations when the developers haven't really told us much about what exactly we'll do in the game. So in that sense, there can only be so much hype.

funkymonkey344
funkymonkey344

@crisiscore2012 I hear the music is procedural as well as everything else. Not sure if that's true, it's just what I heard.

vadagar1
vadagar1

@mav_destroyer u fail to factor in that players have FTL and they might be able to text each other

jellyman68
jellyman68

@DinoBuster If you're not 3, why didn't you read the article and see what they actually mean?

BraollusBeBack
BraollusBeBack

@dani_i89 That is a good question, just how varied the procedurally generated content will be. Right now mostly it's used in games as a way to generate simple things, like grass, trees, some terrain. But there are certain games that do it relatively well, space engine pops into mind, it generates a whole Universe, not just our galaxy, it's still in pre-release, but already you can be pleasantly surprised when visiting the planets. Now thinking no man's sky, judging from the demo they showed, it seems the game even generates life and structures, and things, events, so it might not be so boring, I mean there's no way that EVERY planet will feel completely new and completely different, though I doubt that every planet in the real world is completely different. So, they might screw up, they might not, thus far it looks good.

BraollusBeBack
BraollusBeBack

@tomservo51 You don't have to visit them all, it's not a goal of the game, they are there if you want to explore, when you get bored, proceed doing other things, when you get bored of those, stop playing.

pezzott1
pezzott1

@oflow   64 bits (2^64) could create 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 (give or take) planets. There is more than enough space. 

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

@vadagar1 @mav_destroyer You failed to read that my comment said "randomly". That usually means without texting or messaging. Also, I'm going to assume that when the devs said it takes 5 Billion years to visit everything then that includes FTL.

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

@jellyman68 @DinoBuster I read the article. I didn't need to read more than the headline to know that making such a statement about the game is silly.

kryotech
kryotech

@BraollusBeBack @dani_i89 Beyond a point, some planets will certainly feel similar. But it also depends on how they place the planets: if two planets are too similar, they might just place them at opposite ends of the galaxy, opting to place them with dissimilar planets. There will be a lot of variety (from the looks of it). 

dani_i89
dani_i89

I'm still remaining skeptical about this. I cannot see how such a small team with little experience in the industry can pull off such a huge game with so many varied thinags to do. It just isn't possible considerig so many plants are planet sized. I'm curious to see how it plays out, but this seems like it's going to be big for the sake of being big.

pongley
pongley

@BraollusBeBack @dani_i89 Outerra is also procedurally generated, and unlike SpaceEngine it's deterministically generated (kind of).
The best analogy for variation in deterministic generation I can think of is the concept of a recipe, think how many millions of types of food there are and how many hundreds or even thousands of variations of each one.
If you have one recipe you can only have a few variations before it's not that recipe any more. That's random generation. But if you take the concept of a recipe then you have every possible combination of every ingredient in the world.
NMS would take it even further because they don't need many planets to be habitable so they can use "inedible" ingredients, to stick with the analogy, for even more variation.

pezzott1
pezzott1

@pongley @pezzott1 If it takes players 5 billion years to visit each planet for one second: How much time will it take them to go through all the data the bots bring back?

oflow
oflow

@pezzott1 I actually read another article on Polygon where they say MP wont be in it at launch so basically you wont meet anyone anyway.

 I think this game will be boring unless it has some sort of really robust tech tree that gives you something to do besides explore, like seed other planets with life/terra form.  If its like space is for real, its mostly nothing but barren worlds and gas giants.  They talk about how basically only even 1 in 10 habitable planets will even have a lifeform.

pongley
pongley

@mav_destroyer @vadagar1 I would imagine that since the general "goal" is to get to the centre of the galaxy, the chance of meeting another player will increase exponentially as you get closer.

oflow
oflow

@mav_destroyer @vadagar1 MP wont be in the game at launch so you wont meet anyone anyway.  Just read that in another article.

jellyman68
jellyman68

@DinoBuster If you'd read the article you'd know that what they said is actually completely true. 

pongley
pongley

@dani_i89 Minecraft was originally made by one person, and these people do have a lot of experience in the industry, just at other companies.

pongley
pongley

@pezzott1 @pongley Why would they need to go through all of them? The formula is the same on every planet, they just need to make sure that the algorithms are working as intended. They can tell that by visiting a handful of planets.

BraollusBeBack
BraollusBeBack

@oflow @pezzott1 Gives more reason to explore then, makes you want to find those life forms. I'm sure the game will be more than just pure exploration, it will be there when you're in the mood to explore, but I don't think you will be forced by the game to do that much, if at all.

BraollusBeBack
BraollusBeBack

@pongley @mav_destroyer @vadagar1 Exponentially?! Are you sure? Especially considering that the concentration of the stars is bigger near the center, so there's even more planets to go through, and even if the stars are closer to each other, the distances are not measured in hundreds of km, rather light years, or billions and billions of kilometers, so how big is a chance of say a thousand small space ships, that are couple of hundreds of meters, or even capital ships who are dozens of kilometers big to meet in an area that is measured in lights years and big big big big numbers. So randomly bumping into other players(presuming that the number of systems inhabited with space stations are not pre-defined, which probably will be), is one in gazillions of gazillions.

dani_i89
dani_i89

@pongley @dani_i89  Yeah, I wouldn't expect Minecraft to be made by more than one person. I read on GS a while ago that it's a small team with little experience in other small developments. Don't get your hopes up from this game, I can see this just being hype.