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WWDC Surprise: “No Man’s Sky” Is Coming to the Mac and iPad

WWDC Surprise: “No Man’s Sky” Is Coming to the Mac and iPad

Today, Apple live-streamed the keynote that kicked off its annual World Wide Developers Conference. Occurring every spring, WWDC serves as an opportunity for Apple to announce product updates to consumers, show off new software and OS features that are on the way, and put its latest development tools in the hands of the dev community.

During today’s keynote, Apple announced the new M2 processor, successor to the extremely performant / low power Apple M1 that kicked off the Mac’s transition from Intel-based processors to Apple Silicon. Apple showcased the M2’s performance in the first machines that will be receiving the chip, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops. The coming, yearly update to the Mac’s operating system, called macOS Ventura, was also demonstrated. As is always the case, the new OS brings with it a variety of new technologies that were detailed during the keynote. One of those technologies is Metal 3.

Metal is a low-level, low-overhead hardware-accelerated 3D graphic and compute shader API created by Apple. It debuted in iOS 8 during WWDC 2014 and combines functions similar to OpenGL and OpenCL in a single API. Apple moved away from OpenGL as its core 3D API and created Metal in order to improve performance by allowing low-level access to the system GPU. It is comparable to other APIs such as Vulcan and DirectX 12 and is currently utilized by Apple’s macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS. WWDC 2017 saw the release of Metal 2 which brought various enhancements and optimizations. Today’s announcement of Metal 3 brings more features and improvements still, and Apple Senior Director of GPU Software Jeremy Sandmel took the stage today to demonstrate some of these new features.

And that’s when things got interesting. (The keynote video presented herein is cued up to the moment in question.)

The first first new feature of Metal 3 that Jeremy pointed to is MetalFX Upscaling which, it was revealed, is as a scaling technology akin to Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (both of which are supported by the PC version of No Man’s Sky). While he began to speak, saying the following (quote below) about this feature, the keynote stream highlighted a MacBook Pro laptop running a game that looked so familiar to me that, in this completely unexpected context, I had trouble recognizing it.

We continue to improve Metal. It’s the software that powers hardware accelerated graphics on all our platforms, and now Metal 3 brings new features that will unleash the full potential of Apple Silicon for years to come.

Gaming at maximum resolution and quality looks awesome. And, to help game developers increase the performance of realistic and immersive graphics, we’re introducing MetalFX Upscaling which enables developers to render rich, visually complex scenes even faster. It works by rendering smaller, less compute intensive frames and then applies high quality spacial upscaling and temporal antialiasing — and it’s so cool.

No Man’s Sky, coming to Mac later this year, will be one of the first games to use MetalFX Upscaling. The framerate increases give you that responsive feel — and it looks beautiful.

There was … a Traveller … jetpacking up the hill of … a paradise planet… It took a few moments for my mind to take in what I was seeing, and it was at about that time that he stated that No Man’s Sky would be coming to the Mac later this year and that it will be one of the first games to utilize Apple’s new upscaling technology.

This is amazing news of which no one had heard even a hint. Hello Games’ front man Sean Murray didn’t even tweet a teasing emoji leading up to it. This came as a complete surprise to the entire No Man’s Sky community.

MetalFX Upscaling demo clip from the Apple keynote

And, what comes as a further surprise to those who watched the keynote is Apple’s announcement, in their own press release, that No Man’s Sky will also be coming to the iPad later this year. Nowhere during the keynote video was an iPadOS port of the game mentioned, which is a little surprising considering that in 2021, the iPad generated over 90% the revenue of the Mac.

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“’No Man’s Sky’ Is a Joy to Play On Steam Deck,” Says TouchArcade

“’No Man’s Sky’ Is a Joy to Play On Steam Deck,” Says TouchArcade

As we have detailed in several posts on this blog, No Man’s Sky runs quite well on Valve’s new mobile console, the Steam Deck, which started making its way into the hands of early adopters a few months ago. As more people are getting their hands on the new console, reviews of the system and reports of how well popular Steam games run on it are popping up with increasing frequency. And, some from game publications who have not traditionally covered PC gaming…such as TouchArcade.

In their recent roundup, Best Games to Play on Steam Deck – From ‘Elden Ring’ to ‘No Man’s Sky’ and ‘Risk of Rain 2’, TouchArcade had this to say about our favorite procedural space exploration game:

Open world exploration adventure game No Man’s Sky is one I’ve hoped would come to iOS and iPadOS for a very long time. It felt like a perfect fit for Apple Arcade as well with how it gets major updates and supports playing with friends on everything. No Man’s Sky is coming to Switch, but the Steam Deck version has impressed me more than when I played the game on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. It obviously isn’t as nice as playing it on a high-spec PC or PS5, but No Man’s Sky on a portable at 60fps is a sight to behold. My only hope for No Man’s Sky is cross progression between PC and consoles in the future. Until then, No Man’s Sky is a joy to play on Steam Deck.

Their thoughts on No Man’s Sky and inclusion of it in their “best games” roundup post is high praise that didn’t escape the notice of Hello Games’ chief Sean Murray. Sean recently tweeted a link to the post, with a brief quote from the write-up.

It’s fairly likely that PC gamers and traditional console players (Playstation, Xbox) haven’t spent a lot of time at TouchArcade, whose primary focus is iOS (iPhone, iPad) gaming. Why, then, am I writing a post specifically about their assessment of No Man’s Sky?

Well, when I saw that tweet from Sean, my heart skipped a beat.

And that is because, way back in early 2008, I co-founded TouchArcade with Arnold Kim of MacRumors. I joined the MacRumors team in San Francisco to cover MacWorld Expo 2007 and was in the keynote audience at the Moscone Center when Steve Jobs took the stage and showed the world the iPhone for the first time. It was an amazing event. When we learned, a year later, that Apple would be releasing an iOS (née iPhoneOS) SDK, we knew that games would be coming — and lots of them. So, in April of 2008 we launched TouchArcade (snapshot from Wayback Machine), which quickly became the largest website dedicated to iOS gaming, a distinction that it still maintains nearly 15 years later.

The site grew fast and it wasn’t long before we were staffing up, contributing to print game magazines, and running an iOS gaming podcast. In recent years TouchArcade has branched out to include Nintendo Switch gaming news and, as can be clearly seen here, Steam Deck-related news. I personally worked the site for six years — three part-time and three full-time. I have not been significantly involved in its operation since 2015, and a few years later I stepped down as co-owner of TouchArcade to follow other pursuits.

At any rate, I appreciate the patience exhibited by readers who made it this far; I couldn’t let a shout out from Captain Sean to the gaming site that I helped bring to life go without a little bit of rumination spoken aloud.

Godspeed, Traveller.

“No Man’s Sky Outlaws” and the Wonderful New Solar Ships

“No Man’s Sky Outlaws” and the Wonderful New Solar Ships

Last week, Hello Games released No Man’s Sky Outlaws, a major update to the game that might just have you singing “Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate’s life for me!” Outlaws v3.85, Hello Games’ twenty-first major (and free) update to No Man’s Sky, greatly expands gameplay and mission mechanics for would-be pirates, including a new class of starships called Solar Ships, improved space battles, in-atmosphere ship combat, wingmen, pirate-controlled systems and space stations, visual enhancements, the sixth Expedition: The Blight, and much more, all detailed on Hello Games’ Outlaws release page.

Hello Games has a habit of releasing major updates when I am on an extended vacation with my family — and that was the case with Outlaws. As such, I was a bit late to the party in giving it a go (if only the upcoming Switch release were here already!). Having now spent a number of hours exploring the update, I am much impressed, and most so with the new Solar Ships. I can’t get over the look and feel of them, dramatically transforming as they take off, leave and reenter atmosphere, and land. Their solar sails, procedurally-generated variation, and “feel” — both on screen and VR is amazing to me.

I have been so impressed with these new ships that I put together a short video to share with readers, showing my first-acquired Solar Ship doing its thing, as well as a bit of the craziness involving both these new ships and ships of olde in a pirate attack on a planetary Trading Post.

While I am still feeling out the various new pirate mechanics and am only early-on in Expedition Six, the No Man’s Sky Outlaws update has added a whole new dimension to gameplay that I can already feel and much appreciate.

How are you liking it?

“No Man’s Sky” on Nintendo Switch – So, How Will They Do It? [Updated]

“No Man’s Sky” on Nintendo Switch – So, How Will They Do It? [Updated]

Many of us had wondered over the past few years if it would ever happen, and last week Hello Games announced that — yes — No Man’s Sky will be landing on the Nintendo Switch game console sometime this summer. [ Since this post was first published, a tweet from HG’s Sean Murray has announced October 7 as the launch date of the Switch version. More info can be found at the bottom of this post. ]

The news comes to the surprise of many who had assumed the Switch wasn’t up to the task of conjuring the limitless, procedurally generated universe of No Man’s Sky. And, indeed, Hello Games is certain to have had to make some compromises to get the game running on the Switch in a manner that maintains a solid framerate while remaining a real looker. But, as the No Man’s Sky Switch announcement trailer demonstrates, they seem to be having success in the effort. (And, yes, based on a number of small details in the trailer video, most notably the discernibly low resolution, I feel confident we have been handed in-game video of the Switch port of the game in that trailer.)

No Man’s Sky looks the best and plays the smoothest on high power gaming PCs, the Xbox Series X, and the Playstation 5. As the chart below shows, the older Playstation 4 — the game’s original target platform — is a considerably more powerful system than the Switch for playing a game like No Man’s Sky, which is particularly intensive as far as both GPU and CPU demands. So, how will they do it?

Nintendo SwitchPlaystation 4
CPUTegra X1 (4x ARM Cortex-A57 cores) @ 1.02GHzJaguar (8x AMD x86-64 cores) @ 1.6GHz
GPUNvidia Maxwell w/ 256 stream processorsAMD GCN Radeon w/ 1152 stream processors
GPU Perf393 GigaFLOPs1.84 TeraFLOPs
System RAM4GB LPDDR4 @ 1.6GHz8GB GDDR5 @ 2.75GHz
Memory Bandwidth26GB/s176GB/s
Max Display Res1920×1080 docked, 1280×720 mobile1920×1080

One approach is the use of adaptive screen resolutions. Many console games vary their screen resolution depending on the complexity of the scene being rendered, even on today’s most powerful consoles. I have analyzed a still shot grabbed from the Switch announcement trailer at different source resolutions with several graphics editors and, counting the individual pixels for a section of the screen and calculating across the full screen width, I have determined that it is being rendered with a horizontal resolution of 640 pixels. It’s hard to estimate what the high and low marks will be for rendering in No Man’s Sky on the Switch, but the indicated scene appears to be rendering at half of the Switch’s mobile resolution of 1280 pixels wide. Such variable rendering would certainly assist in keeping the game’s framerate fluid.

Screengrab from NMS Switch trailer

Another performance enhancing approach that will certainly be employed on the Switch port is the use of AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution, a set of open source high quality upscaling algorithms that allows a game to be rendered at a lower resolution and scaled up by the GPU to a more desirable target resolution for significantly improved framerates with almost no reduction in image quality. And, the GPU of the Nvidia Tegra X1 in the Switch supports this technology.

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Five Years in “No Man’s Sky” – 1,000 Photos Are Worth a Million Words

Five Years in “No Man’s Sky” – 1,000 Photos Are Worth a Million Words

Five years.

It has been five years since I first blipped into the No Man’s Sky universe, finding myself dazed and standing next to that downed Rasamama S36 starship back in August 2016. After exploring the alien surrounds to find the elements needed for its repairs, I lifted off into space and set out on a journey of exploration that has not slowed down since.

A day one player, I quickly found No Man’s Sky to be the best game I had ever experienced (in a rather long life of gaming). The surreal and alien landscapes of one world after the next ever captivated me and I was gripped with the drive to relentlessly explore the strange and boundless universe that is No Man’s Sky.

In the aforelinked blog post written just weeks after I began my journey, I said of the game,

Playing No Man’s Sky is the best and most breathtaking gaming experience I have ever had in my life. The sense of the infinite and of limitless discovery is tremendous. I am just lost in this game.

“Game.” Is it a game? It certainly seems more of a pursuit, a hobby, even a passion than a game to me. Inserting one’s self into No Man’s Sky is to begin a potentially endless adventure, visiting world after world after world that no eyes have ever seen before. Worlds placid, worlds violent. Worlds teaming with beautiful and fascinating life both plant and animal. Dead worlds, as well. You can never know what’s waiting down below when you drop into atmo.

All my life I have dreamed of exactly this in gaming — an interesting, alternate universe, massive in scale, in which I can freely wander and explore at my own pace. That is what No Man’s Sky is to me, and it’s my observation that many others are similarly moved by the game. The fact that the universe is procedurally generated and that even the game’s creators can’t describe everything that’s out there to be encountered adds to the incredible sense of the unexplored, the alien. There is a lovely feeling of solitude to the whole experience of discovering a world, leaving your mark on it, and moving on to the next.

Having started out on the PS4, I quickly decided to build a high-end gaming PC specifically for the purpose of playing No Man’s Sky to the fullest, at a higher resolution and framerate and with faster storage than the PS4 could offer. Over the years, as Hello Games graciously extended and expanded the game with update after (free) update, I upgraded the PC in various ways and accumulated a perhaps shocking amount of No Man’s Sky related schwag / merch. (Time is not the only thing I’ve put into this game, as a Polygon article from 2017 details [updated version of the post, here on the blog].)

With what I believe is certainly the friendliest community in all of gaming, the social aspects of No Man’s Sky have been a real pleasure to be part of. Sharing stories, screenshots, planetary coordinates and just getting to know fellow players on the related Discord and subReddits has been a lovely experience. Making a new friend by happening upon a fellow Traveller, tending their base on some planet in the corner of the galaxy, is a rather nice occasional treat, as well.

At just over 3,200 hours in-game at the time of this post, I have found certain particular gameplay pursuits that keep me busy. For example, I’ve taken to building “tiny home” bases on particularly breathtaking worlds. More recently, I very much enjoyed playing through the two community-centric Expeditions that have recently taken place as part of the No Man’s Sky Expeditions update, which landed this past March. I’ve made a little fan art here and there. And, of course, I am ever exploring. Sharing what I’m up to in the game is the main point of this blog, so if you’ve an interest, have a look around!

Perhaps my favorite pursuit in No Man’s Sky is in-game photography. The game’s visuals are amazing, and capturing that perfect shot (thanks to the superb Photo Mode the game provides) of a world that almost certainly no one has ever before explored is extremely rewarding to me. This has been the case since the beginning and, as such, I keep several galleries of No Man’s Sky exploration photos. Photo sharing is a big part of the NMS Discord; showing the vistas you have captured and seeing what others out there have encountered is a lot of fun. Another way I like to share my shots is in a public Flickr photo gallery I maintain that contains, presently, 1000 images I have captured in my travels over the past five years, going all the way back to day one. These are the photos I consider to be the best of the approximately 15,000 screenshots I’ve apparently taken in the game since the beginning.

To mark the fifth anniversary of No Man’s Sky‘s launch, I wanted to focus on that gallery, which provides what I think is an interesting look at a Traveller’s (me) encounters across all versions of the game, starting on PS4 and ending on the PC. So much has changed, and such sights were seen. Take a look back through the various ages of No Man’s Sky — at the sights that most captivated me.

Godspeed, Traveller. After all, new Frontiers await

A “Photo Mode” Glitch in “No Man’s Sky” on PC and How to Work Around It

A “Photo Mode” Glitch in “No Man’s Sky” on PC and How to Work Around It

One of the things I most enjoy in playing No Man’s Sky is in-game photography. The visuals are so, well, otherworldly and striking that capturing the perfect shot is a challenge I take on many times in each play session. When No Man’s Sky Pathfinder (v1.2) was released, Hello Games added a proper Photo Mode to the game that is, in my experience, unmatched in any other game out there. It allows the action to be frozen while camera placement and various other filter options are tweaked for just the right shot. They further improved Photo Mode in the recent release of No Man’s Sky Prisms (v3.5), adding several new controls. In No Man’s Sky, “virtual photography” or “gametography” is quite a pleasure and easily done.

Unfortunately, despite the numerous enhancements (including VR gameplay) that No Man’s Sky Beyond (v2.0) brought upon its release in mid-September of 2019, it introduced a glitch to the screenshot system that is still there to this day. It doesn’t affect everyone; it is an issue for PC players using certain anti-aliasing settings. It took me a few days after Beyond arrived to notice it but I soon saw that, after the update, screenshots captured in Photo Mode, upon close inspection, looked as if the anti-aliasing had been completely turned off.

Now, a bit of history. With the release of No Man’s Sky Foundation (v1.1) in late-November 2016, Hello Games introduced (among many other features) TAA or temporal anti-aliasing. Prior to this, FXAA or fast approximate anti-aliasing and SSAA supersampling anti-aliasing were the two AA modes available in the game. TAA is much cleaner than FXAA, and is the mode I choose to use on my i7-6700K PC with Nvidia GTX-1080Ti. Another available mode is TAA+FXAA, but to me this looks a bit too soft, ever so slightly blurry — I prefer TAA. (SSAA was removed from the game early on.) And, with the release of No Mans’s Sky Prisms (v3.5), Hello Games added DLSS or deep learning super sampling for PC users with Nvidia RTX-class graphics hardware, which uses machine learning to perform rather impressive asset upscaling to 4K resolution.

As in-game photography is such a big thing for me, I tried a few different approaches and discovered that if I set my shot up in Photo Mode as per normal but used Steam’s F12-key screenshot feature, the resultant image looked great, just as photos taken with the “Take Screenshot” button / key used to look, before the glitch arrived. This has been my workaround to the issue, but I have submitted the issue with screenshot examples to Hello Game’s tracker site.

Click the photos in the embedded gallery above and have a look at the full-sized screenshots provided to see the issue described here. The top two screenshots were taken shortly after Beyond landed in 2019 while the bottom two were taken yesterday, in the Prisms update. The TAA anti-aliasing mode is active in both sets of photos. (And for a brief time there was an issue with the zoom / aspect ratio between the two screenshot approaches, as demonstrated in the first pair of screenshots above, but that was addressed in short order.)

Zoomed: Photo Mode “Take Screenshot” key on the left, Steam F12 screen capture on the right.

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Jeff Minter Names “No Man’s Sky” as His “Game Of A Generation”

Jeff Minter Names “No Man’s Sky” as His “Game Of A Generation”

“On the eve of the next generation” of game consoles (the new Sony PS5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X), Edge magazine, in issue #352 (Christmas 2020 issue), is running an article entitled “Games Of The Generation.” The piece includes a variety of industry notables sharing their pick of a game released since the arrival of the PS4 and Xbox One worthy to receive this title.

The list is comprised of 20 games, their advocates describing their reasons for bestowing such singular note upon them. Some are extremely well known — Red Dead Redemption 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Ico — while others are less so. And among them is Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky.

“…our Games Of The Generation awards go to the crème de la crème — those Edge has judged to represent the pinnacle of game design as we know it today.”

Within, legendary developer and founder of Llamasoft, Jeff Minter, has named No Man’s Sky his Game Of The Generation. With a development career that began in 1981 with titles for the Sinclair ZX80 micro, Minter is known for a great many (and frequently psychedelic) titles across many platforms, including 8 and 16-bit Ataris, C64, Amiga, Nuon, PC, iOS, Xbox 360, and PS4. Some of his most notable titles include Gridrunner; Hover Bovver; Attack of the Mutant Camels; the Virtual Light Machine/Neon; Space Giraffe; Tempest 2000, 3000, 4000; TxK, the iOS Minotaur Project; and Polybius. Additionally, he has long been one of this writers’ true industry heroes.

Jeff Minter explains why No Man's Sky is his game of a generation.

Soon after the launch of No Man’s Sky back in 2016, Minter began tweeting his enjoyment exploring the wild and alien, procedurally generated worlds that Hello Games had brought into being. A post on his blog from September 2106 (don’t let the title fool you) expresses the degree to which the game had impressed him. (His post was included in a list of articles reacting to No Man’s Sky on the first post made from this blog, “A Few Words About the Best Game I’ve Ever Played: ‘No Man’s Sky’”, on September 1, 2016.)

A brief excerpt from Minter’s assessment of No Man’s Sky (shown in full, above), follows.

Regarding a ‘game of the generation’, I think for me it’d have to be No Man’s Sky. Even back at the very start when there wasn’t a great deal of complex gameplay in it (and the developers were taking a right kicking for that), nonetheless I thought the style was fantastic (recreating almost perfectly the style of 1970s sci-fi book covers) and remarkably creating an explorable universe in that style was quite an amazing achievement. …

This nod from industry veteran Jeff Minter is mighty kudos, indeed, for Hello Games and the universe they have created with No Man’s Sky. And, thinking about it, this seems a rather apt post to have put together on Thanksgiving Day!

A New Traveller Describes His Enchantment With the “No Man’s Sky” Universe

A New Traveller Describes His Enchantment With the “No Man’s Sky” Universe

YouTuber Ben Is Bread recently posted a video entitled Why I Needed No Man’s Sky, in which he shares his experiences playing the game after downloading it for the first time several weeks ago. Being a gamer who has run an active YouTube game channel for several years, Ben was well aware of No Man’s Sky and the travails of its launch, but had never stepped into its universe until recently. (And it’s worth noting that the video was published a week before the Origins v3.0 update landed, notably enhancing variation within the game.)

I don’t feel like I’m just playing or going through No Man’s Sky, I feel like I’m actively engaging and experiencing it … At the end of the day I feel something playing this game.

The video spoke deeply to me and certainly resonated with my own feelings surrounding the game. That you are reading this post on my No Man’s Sky blog, you probably have some idea of the regard I have for the game.

And, so, I wanted to share this video with those who feel likewise, as well as those who have not yet had the chance to see how they feel about No Man’s Sky.

What kept me constantly fascinated with this game was the joy and satisfaction I found in discovering and exploring the crazy hostile and beautiful worlds this game creates… There were just so many points in my journey where I would stop exploring, stop mining, stop looking for materials and — just take in the experience. No one else had ever been here. No one else had ever stepped on this planet and seen what I’d seen.

For right now, in a stressful and confusing time, where so often we can feel trapped and helpless, it’s incredible to be able to explore, to discover, to have curiosity and wonder what lies just over the horizon…

Related link:

Does Expired Patent of the “Superformula” Tie to Rumors of More Alien Worlds in “No Man’s Sky”?

Does Expired Patent of the “Superformula” Tie to Rumors of More Alien Worlds in “No Man’s Sky”?

[ NOTE: This post contains references to allegedly leaked information about upcoming versions of the game and, as such, should be viewed as a spoiler post. Be warned. ]

On June 5th, Hello Games updated the Steam (PC) Experimental Branch of No Man’s Sky with an update several gigabytes in size. (The Experimental Branch is a beta version of the game that Steam players can opt into in order to see the latest features and help Hello Games work out the kinks by providing feedback and bug reports.) The patch notes for this release say only:

  • Replaced networking back end.
  • Upgraded to OpenVR 1.10.30.

Upon receiving this update, Experimental Branch players began seeing little platform icons attached to players wandering around in the Anomaly (a networked area of the game). Hello Games also released this beta version of the game (or a similar version) for the Xbox One via the Xbox Insider Hub, a Microsoft service that allows users to opt into betas, akin to Steam’s beta option. Players on both platforms running these betas are seeing each other, with appropriate platform icon, in the Anomaly at the same time. This, along with a host of platform icons discovered in the beta release by data miners, clearly speaks to some level of cross-platform gameplay on the way.

Now, since May 19th we’ve known that new content of some sort was on the way, thanks to a tweet from author / scriptwriter Greg Buchanan who was behind the (great) Artemis storyline from 2017’s Atlas Rises update to No Man’s Sky. On May 29th, Hello Games posted the Beyond Development Update 11 page on their website, detailing a number of new things going on in the game, including mention of a content-related hiatus to the weekend missions.

Beginning this weekend, there will be a short pause between seasons of weekend missions. These will be returning very soon, featuring new story content we’re really enjoying from one of the writers on Atlas Rises.

(There actually was a mission this past weekend, but it appears that it may have been a test of the new networking back end / cross-play and only visible to those running beta versions on Steam and Xbox One.)

The following day, an anonymous post appeared on 4chan (let me pass the salt) entitled “No Man’s Sky summer update leaked details.” Within, the poster claims that according to his/her source, a content update is imminent and that it will tease out details of what is to come in a larger summer update. I am not going to print all of the details that were mentioned, here, but will say that what caught my particular interest is the suggestion that this coming update is “heavily focused on pro[c]gen” (procedural generation), with the indication,

…my source has told me that hello games have been working on ambitious things with their procgen and will improve terrain diversity and formations. new biomes will be introduced & more “alien” planets.

Additionally, data mining efforts of Procedural Traveller on the June 5th PC Experimental release reveal several findings that seem to backup the notion of new biomes on the way. (It is worth bearing in mind, however, that there are some items found in the data from even years past that have not come to fruition in the game.) Also, a number of mild visual / rendering changes have already been observed by myself and others in the PC Experimental version.

The reason that this struck a chord with me is the fact that just last month, the patent for the “Superformula,” created by Belgian biologist Johan Gielis, expired.

The Superformula (image: Johan Gielis / Botanical Society of America)

The Superformula is, as Gielis describes it, “A generic geometric transformation that unifies a wide range of natural and abstract shapes.” It is basically a modified take on an equation that describes a unit circle. The equation contains a number of variables and the geometric shape that it generates depends on the particular combination of values plugged into it.

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“No Man’s Sky Living Ship” Brings Organic Ships…And Oddities…To the Universe

“No Man’s Sky Living Ship” Brings Organic Ships…And Oddities…To the Universe

Yesterday, Hello Games unexpectedly released a significant update to No Man’s Sky in the form of “Experimental Branch Update 18/02,” the details of which they posted to the Steam community discussion forum, as per usual with updates on the PC Experimental branch of the game. The list of changes was long, bringing significant quality-of-life improvements as well as performance optimizations for both standard and VR display modes. (Some players have observed changes in certain flora rendering, as well as several worlds that have changed color.) It didn’t take long, however, for the community to realize just how significant an update Hello Games quietly dropped, here…

Bizarre Living Ship in space

As PC Experimental branch players (such as myself) began to land in the Anomaly, they encountered extremely unusual, heretofore unseen organic crafts landing on the pads. What’s more, flying through space, we began being contacted by these strange “living ships” which broadcast to us pure music, to which our void eggs resonated in response, translating the melodies into navigation coordinates… And, so began the update’s new quest line.

It was quite clear that Hello Games, with “Update 18/02,” had stealthily deployed an enormous update to No Man’s Sky. As we began tracking the tonally-conveyed galactic coordinates and following the new quest line, we encountered strange and enormous crafts and structures drifting through space as we flew planet to planet and system to system. The first that I happened to encounter, in a lovely pink-hued system (above), was identified as a “Living Metalloid.” What was the nature of these extraordinary objects? None of these things were mentioned in the patch notes posted to Steam… Just how much was waiting unannounced out there? We continued to explore and share findings on the Discord. It made for a surreal sort of evening.

Things became rather more clear when today, announced in a tweet by Sean Murray, Hello Games officially released No Man’s Sky Living Ship, update v2.3 (presently available on all supported platforms).

Explore space from a different perspective with the Living Ship update. Introducing a new class of biological ship, a new story mission, mysterious space encounters, space NPCs and more.

Like all major updates of the game, Living Ship has a highly-visual release page on the No Man’s Sky website, detailing and illustrating much of what has been added to the game, along with a fascinating trailer video with a Rutger Hauer / Blade Runner-inspired voice over. [ Update: It turns out the voice over is Rutger Hauer, and it was created by him for No Man’s Sky before his passing. ] And “much” is indeed the word.

After following a new series of missions, “Starbirth,” players will be introduced these new procedurally-generated, sentient starships, of which there are dozens. The “Call of the Void Egg” quest line will allow players to grow and, ultimately, fly their own living ships. Traveling through local space will now bring chance encounters with the aforementioned strange, new objects as well as space NPCs hailing for a trade…or possibly something less desirable.

The No Man’s Sky Living Ship page goes into detail on these and many other new aspects of this major update. Hello Games’ chief, Sean Murray, discusses the thoughts behind the Living Ship upgrade and what lies ahead in a recent GamesRadar+ interview.