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Feature Video

The Story of Hello Games & No Man's Sky

How can a tiny team in southern England create a game like No Man's Sky?

Hello Games are a different type of independent developer than people are used to. They didn't start making games to rally against mainstream development, or to create something incredibly avant-garde. They left their jobs in larger studios because of a passion to make something they could be truly proud of.

Unlike most burgeoning indies, they founded Hello Games not only armed with years of experience developing and shipping games, but with a hunger to succeed so that they wouldn't have to return to making games for others. This maturity saw a relatively tiny team release their debut outing Joe Danger across multiple platforms, onto phones and into the hearts of millions.

Many people have asked - how can a team of ten developers possible ship a game with the scope of No Man's Sky? The answer lies in the passion, experience and drive of those ten individuals.

Written By

Long time community member. Creator of video nonsense. Apologies in advance.dannyodwyer.tumblr.com@dannyodwyer

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Discussion

256 comments
bubba_1988
bubba_1988

Holy crap! I don't know if this is going to be part of a new series in which new games are featured or if it was a one off because you knew the development team, but damn. I really enjoyed the this piece. Everything from the content to the style/editing of the the video. Not to mention breaking up the story in smaller sections. Great work GS, here's to more content that is produced in a similar fashion. 

Darth_Aloysius
Darth_Aloysius

First, the most pertinent question of all: where the hell are you?

dan_cb10
dan_cb10

The most amazing game I ever seen !

Ragnagoth
Ragnagoth

Just, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, release the game for PC!!!

Sruppert
Sruppert

I think "the forest" is waaaay over-hyped.... Just Sayn'!

alexm1515
alexm1515

What is that killer Jazz electronic-ish song toward the begging? Gata know.

B0NES96
B0NES96

I'd like to know why they can drop the f bomb in the videos but we can't in the comments.

fbn_games
fbn_games

No man's sky is going to blow up my mind.

jeffgost
jeffgost

Thank you Gamespot for that, awesome.

drysprocket
drysprocket

Danny...you guys should really consider making documentaries. It's obvious you have the passion for it. Really-really well directed and edited.

xaviermf
xaviermf

Great article (NOT sarcasm).

pnova
pnova

PS4 game insane

viewman
viewman

 I wonder how generic the planets and stuff will be, when they say it will basically be an infinite universe. There's no such thing as infinite memory in tech. So how will they do it? do the early planets you visit get erased after you have discovered a certain amount?

Dont get me wrong, im really looking forward to this 'game', It just sounds too good to be true.. :)

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

I'm really rooting for these guys, they seem to be nice people. I hope they can pull off a game like that, where you can travel across planets with no loading times. It would be groundbreaking.

e5115271
e5115271

Anyone else see the irony at Danny releasing a video titled 'Is Marketing Killing the Wonder' and then a few days later we're promised video about "...The gameplay, details about No Mans Sky, details about moment to moment play, your role within the universe, the tools at your disposal and the possibility of playing with others".

GbeTech
GbeTech

@dannyodwyer I can't explain why but this interview is pretty amazing. I'm so hooked on this game right now, and I totally relate to sean murray and the rest of the team's effort. You guys honestly brought out the best of the game and the team, thank you. Awesome job.

Also the tracklist is pretty captivating, especially the post-rockish song that starts at 8:27, at the flood bit. Can you please tell me its name? I really want to the get to know the band!

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

oh - i hope this is good...please let this be good.... because this gives me hope in the games industry that's being cluttered with recycled titles that need 200 people in a team for big corps like EA.

dfernand
dfernand

I hope it has the thrilling discovery element of Mercenary on the Commodore 64 (yes it's been that long ago since I wanted to get hold of a game so badly and play it). Although my main concern is repetition (as we suffered with Elite on the Commodore 64) were an entire universe was randomly generated from a seed and then you could only do  a handful of things within this environment e.g. mine, pirate, trade. I would like to see interruptions to the normal mechanisms of the game Elite on the Commodore 64 did this with the Trimbles clogging up your engines and a few special missions (rescuing crew of a space station close to a star that was going super nova) and of course the Thargs and Witch Space. You  may say to yourself 'why on Earth are you relating No Man's Sky' to games from 30 years ago ? well I tell you..that is because this game seems to be breaking the conventions of modern game design and going back to something we had back in the mid 80s.

hystavito
hystavito

@B0NES96 And many other "bombs" :),  some of which are not even bombs at all.

equili3rium
equili3rium

@daikkenaurora12 You DO realise that the article is actually the video at the top of the page and not just the three paragraphs, yes?

maxm2neotech
maxm2neotech

@viewman Actually, the memory of the computer will more than likely be used to

store data such as (Graphics, Textures, Planetary Positions, Audio/Video and Equations).

The galaxy of No Man's Sky should not be commited entirely to memory, but rather

generated by mathematical calculations. Consider a sphere for instance? Instead of

making the sphere and holding it in memory, you could simply store the equation

for the construction of the sphere. That way, you could make thousands of spheres

with one simple equation, and augment each of it's properties (Size, color, etc)

as you see fit. If this is applied to a Galaxy, one could reliably design

all of the matter and bodies inside this Galaxy, with one or more mother

equations. And since mathematical expressions produce the same result, the

entire Universe will be also be produced in the same manner. Minor changes

to the equations will be all that is necessary in order to make big changes.

MaxS

maxm2neotech
maxm2neotech

@viewman Actually, the memory of the computer will more than likely be used to

store data such as (Graphics, Textures, Planetary Positions, Audio/Video and Equations).

The galaxy of No Man's Sky should not be commited entirely to memory, but rather

generated by mathematical calculations. Consider a sphere for instance? Instead of

making the sphere and holding it in memory, you could simply store the equation

for the construction of the sphere. That way, you could make thousands of spheres

with one simple equation, and augment each of it's properties (Size, color, etc)

as you see fit. If this is applied to a Galaxy, one could reliably design

all of the matter and bodies inside this Galaxy, with one or more mother

equations. And since mathematical expressions produce the same result, the

entire Universe will be also be produced in the same manner. Minor changes

to the equations will be all that is necessary in order to make big changes.

MaxS

yetanotherus3r
yetanotherus3r

@viewman well, the point is you probably don't need an infinite universe at all. we're very close to the point where machines can hold way more information than our tiny human brains can discern and categorize. again, that's setting the bar pretty high, and no matter how good a job the guys at Hello World do, there IS going to be some degree of repetition in the final game, and the question is how that is going to affect the experience...

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

@viewman The devs said that there were a set number of meshes, but that the engine can sort of alter sliders on them. Kind of like when you create a character in TES or Fallout or The Sims.

DarkAztaroth
DarkAztaroth

@viewman Position based seed for planet re-generation and instanced content being unloaded from servers if no one is in the area sounds pretty possible. Only thing they need to save permanently is who discovered what ?

meatz666
meatz666

@viewman Think about it, all planets in Mass Effect were designed individually, and apart from the campaign systems, they are all extremely generic. 

pezzott1
pezzott1

@viewman 


Since all planets are generated ramdomly, I'm sure there are a bunch of variables that will be randomly generated to define each ecosystem rather than "infinite" number of meshes created per planet. Nvidia has a tech demo showing how they create complex procedual terrain using the GPU with no pre modeled meshes. (GPU Gems 3 - Chapter 1)

Shunten
Shunten

@e5115271 I'm pretty sure he mentioned that in the The Point video as well.

Ragnagoth
Ragnagoth

@maitkarro -.- Now I feel like an idiot... but hey, GREAT NEWS (for me at least)!!!

uncompetative
uncompetative

@DarkAztaroth @viewman Yes, although it is actually the player's location and orientation in spacetime that determines what their PS4 generates for them to gawp at, as relativity means that time moves more slowly for those that are in rapid spaceflight compared to those on the ground, meaning that even if two friends elected to meet up at a planet one of them had discovered they could not meet up as the friend arriving from space would turn up in the other's past - both space and time have to be taken into account as these planets hold life which goes through different patterns of behaviour through time, e.g. deer are coming to the watering hole to drink at a certain time of the day every day, yet that may encourage predators to turn up there too as they know where there prey will be, but No Man's Sky will probably have seasons affecting flora and fauna with the latter adapting to a change in the weather with thicker winter pelts and in some cases hibernation. Hopefully, Gamespot will interview Hazel McKendrick on her work on No Man's Sky's ecosystems later this week.


Given that a player can affect / be affected by stuff wherever they go there is reason to conclude that each planet is generated to be the correct age at the time of your visit, nothing you did to impact it in the past need necessarily be recorded as the costs of doing this even galaxy wide for a great players would be prohibitive as well as creating a data-shuttling problem as everyone neared the centre of the galaxy and put the state of shared worlds in immediate flux. So, a pragmatic design would let you shoot a bird, fly away, come back and not notice that the same bird was back as all birds look the same.


Nothing about it is randomly generated. There is no such thing on computers unless you are dealing with non-deterministic random number generators that are based on hardware (temperature, magnetism, cosmic ray, clock, quantum fluctuations), or something that can't be predicted like Lada Gaga's Twitter. It may well be that terrain is created using pseudo-random numbers like Perlin or Simplex noise, but as they give the same results each time they are better classed as procedures - that is, complex functions that may involve a mutable state. Procedural generation made it possible to store eight galaxies into 22KB in the space adventure Elite, which was based on the psuedo-random pattern found in the digits of the Fibonacci sequence.


It is known that No Man's Sky tracks who discovered what, but there could be a cap on the number of planets each player can have to their name rather than risk running out of storage. There may well be a cooloff on resource gathering, so the cubes highlighted in the cave "grow back" after you've been away from that location for a time as in this way you don't have to permanently record all the sites you have ever depleted the resources of forever.


It is however, very likely that your relationships with sentient alien races will be tracked so that coming to the aid of one will implicitly make you an enemy of its rival - even if you have yet to encounter that species. A complex web of shifting territories and diplomatic truces collapsing into war, perhaps due to your pivotal involvement, should be enough to sustain the future of the game. Sean Murray isn't confirming much of this guessed-at depth because he is of the opinion that modern games give too much away and he wants to foster a sense of mystery, discovery, and awe. No Man's Sky is an exploration game, but one with consequences - not just Proteus in space.


It is technically possible to have a procedurally generated game remember all the recent changes you made to it so those systems stay affected that way so you can see what damage you wrought on your return. Far Cry 2 let you shoot the branches off trees, but over time these branches would grow back to full health at which point the game would no longer need to keep the "Delta" that tracked the divergence from its procedurally generated values. This can also be handled dynamically, with a game going as far as recording bullet holes (so you could write your name in a wall with gunfire for posterity), only to reuse all that storage for something more important (you had rescued the monster from the ravenous princess), if you found yourself to be in a bit of a pinch storage space-wise. Obviously, forgetting all the stuff you have likely forgotten about yourself and progressively healing things back, redecorating over bullet holes, furnishing castles with new prisoners (which could be different than before as you also have a time factor to consider), and letting destabilised ecosystems revert back to some kind of equilibrium is all relatively easy compared to 200+ programmers and artists being herded like cats to create every tiny detail in Assassin's Creed Unity from scratch entirely by hand.

viewman
viewman

@pezzott1 @viewman I have been looking at procedurally generated games lately. The old ones like Elite, and the new upcoming games like Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous, especially comes to mind. I believe No Man's Sky will be a different experience than those games, and it might be for the better actually. The intriguing thing about NMS for me though is the exploration part. If I get to see completely different things each time I play, well that would be like gameing heaven.

e5115271
e5115271

@Shunten @e5115271 Yes, 'Is Marketing Killing the Wonder' is the title of that Point episode. 

Games like GTA, Watch Dogs etc. are so full of what you'd expect them to be, that frankly there's not that much wonder to spoil. This is one of the few games I'd like to buy and play and discover by myself.

kpipes
kpipes

@oddjob117 @GbeTech @dannyodwyer It'll be a timed exclusive for PS4 with other releases down the road. Hello Games have chosen their words very carefully to say it will launch exclusively for the PS4. The window is open to release for other systems from what I've seen and read.


Plus honestly they're a a team of 10. It's probably best they focus on one system at a time. They're ambitious enough as it is to try to pull this off on a single system. 

deathwish026
deathwish026

@therealdolemike @Tiwill44 its not exclusive to ps4 you know.. they just havent anounced any other plats yet and are hesitant to do so. if it was just ps4 then they would say.

Tiwill44
Tiwill44

@therealdolemike I never owned an Xbox console, but you can believe that if it makes you feel better about your PS4 purchase.

I'm just poking fun at the name of this Gamespot feature. I mean, their last "Next Big Game" was Titanfall, and that didn't turn out so well, did it?

Though my doubt about No Man's Sky isn't without reason. The game sounds promising, but that's all we've heard so far, premise. Premise from the guys behind Joe Danger and nothing else. I prefer to set my expectations low and be impressed than set my expectations too high and be disappointed.