"We've created a procedural universe. It's infinite, and it's one that everyone can share. We're gonna start every player on a different planet so no two people will have the same experience. This universe we've created...it's so vast, it's so boundless, it's actually infinite, and we don't even know what's out there."
So, how in the world did a team of four game developers transition from indie hit makers to triple-A rogues? We asked Hello Games just that, late last week in an evening demosession for No Man's Sky.
" I COULDN'T PICTURE MYSELF TURNING AROUND AND WORKING ON A GAME THAT'S THE SAME SCALE OF JOE DANGER."
The last time I saw Sean Murray and David Ream, they weren't quite so serious. The previous games from their 10-person studio, Hello Games, are great in their own way, but not anywhere near the scope or scale of No Man's Sky. Not by a long shot. Let's run a quick comparison, just so you're clear. Here's Joe Danger for PlayStation 3:
Beyond that, Murray and co. wanted to break out of the game-development formula. They were tired of beginning development by asking, "What type of game are we making?" and going from there. "You start to have conversations like, 'We'll make a platformer next! We'll make a point-and-click adventure,' or something like that. And you're not pushing yourself as a developer. We wanted to try and do something really landmark," Murray says.
Sound arrogant? That's a measure of text not conveying tone. Every time Murray made a statement like that during our half-hour meeting, he'd couch it with a statement like, "But we didn't talk about it [in] that kind of arrogant way or cocky way," abashedly looking away. Even in his statements above, he can't help but add caveats like, "I think," as he goes (I've cut out most, for your sake). This is a man with grand ambitions and, thankfully, a sense of self-awareness.
"CAN I SEE MYSELF DOING THIS ON THAT INDIE CIRCUIT? GOING TO PAX EVERY YEAR AND KILLING MYSELF ON SOMETHING THAT LONG-TERM ISN'T ... AM I GONNA LOOK BACK ON IT? WILL THEY ALL BLUR INTO ONE?"
Hello Games is an indie studio. There are 10 staffers. Four of them went dark internally to concept No Man's Sky (including Murray and Ream), and even now, the four-person team that initially created the project works closely together. They're not scaling up for No Man's Sky, either; the game was built around the concept of a small team creating a massive project. It's procedurally generated and it's made of voxels. But what does that mean?
For one, it means that the usual army of artists required to create the artwork of a massive game aren't required. Murray explains: "Our artist, just like on any normal game, builds something like this: a tree. And he would have to build dozens, or maybe a hundred of these, to create a forest. And then if you had another forest with a different type, then you have to build a different type of tree. Another several dozen."
If no two planets are the same, then the world is infinite -- there's no reason to stop exploring, which is exactly what Murray wants. There aren't defined goals or conflict in the game just yet, nor a quest log or some form of points/scoring. He's only vaguely hinted at the gameplay of No Man's Sky beyond exploration; your ship has a weapon to fire, and the dinosaur-like creatures in the E3 demo could absolutely stamp you out with a single step. There are resources to gather, and Murray sent out a pulse to scan for said resources in the demo we were shown. What you'll do with those resources is another question; there are many, many questions about the game of No Man's Sky, though we've got a pretty clear picture of what its world will be.
"IF YOU PLAY IT, I WANT YOU TO PLAY IT NOT BECAUSE YOU'RE INTERESTED IN INDIE GAMES. I WANT YOU TO PLAY IT BECAUSE YOU PREFER IT TOCALL OF DUTY, NOT BECAUSE IT'S MORE 'LEGITIMATE' OR 'CREDIBLE' OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, BUT BECAUSE IT'S MORE ENTERTAINING."
Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Indie devs make great games, and even some of the world's most popular. Minecraft was created by a single man. Rovio was a small studio when it stumbled on a hit with Angry Birds. Hell, Oculus VR mostly exists from Palmer Luckey tooling around in his spare time.
But there's still a separation. The three aforementioned indies all broke out of that world into the mainstream, and Murray's aiming to repeat that success for Hello Games. It's not the only goal, of course, but it is a concern to Murray personally with No Man's Sky. "We don't actually want the story to be, 'Oh they made it with a handful of people,' or whatever. We just want it to be good."
The good news for Murray and co. is that all of us -- the folks who play games -- also "just want it to be good." With an unannounced release date and only PC and PlayStation 4 platforms named thus far, Hello has the flexibility with expectations to impress us all. Now all they have to do is do it.
source: engadget.com BY BEN GILBERT