No Man’s Sky will keep its name after settling a legal dispute over the use of the word “Sky” in the title. The lawsuit was a major annoyance for indie developer Hello Games, but only a small obstacle for a game that is set to revolutionize the video game industry in August. Innovative game design and mechanics are likely to lead the industry to mimic what the small company has created, especially if the title is successful.
No Man’s Sky came under fire when a British cable company filed a trademark lawsuit against Hello Games for the use of the word “Sky” in its game’s title. The name of the British company is Sky Broadcasting Group, and it owns a trademark on the word “sky.”
As ridiculous as that may sound, in 2013, the broadcaster brought a lawsuit against Microsoft for their use of the word in its file hosting service, SkyDrive. According to Gizmodo, Microsoft buckled under the suit and changed the name to OneDrive.
The settlement conditions of the No Man’s Sky lawsuit are unknown.
A tweet from the co-founder of Hello Games, Sean Murray, described the lawsuit as “3 years of secret stupid legal nonsense.”
What is known is that the game’s title will remain unchanged.
Since the outcome is being called a settlement rather than a victory, it can be assumed that Sky Broadcasting will be receiving some form of recompense for the continued use of its trademark. Hopefully, this will not financially impact the studio too much because the game they have planned could change the face of gaming.
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Warning. The rest of the article contains mild No Man’s Sky spoilers.
No Man’s Sky will revolutionize the entire gaming industry. This prediction may sound bold, but the game is unique on so many different levels that if it is successful, its formula is sure to be copied.
At first glance, the game does not look like much. Development studio Hello Games is independent and does not have a huge budget to spend on the title. The graphics are not flashy or photorealistic like a lot of triple-A titles, but they still look nice. It appears to be something of a space-shooter/open-world type game on the surface. Nothing, in particular, stands out in the game until you look deeper into it. That is when you discover how amazing it is and why it will be revolutionary.
To say No Man’s Sky is open-world is like saying Disney World is an amusement park. With over 18 quintillion (18 x 1018) planets to discover and explore, “open-universe” would be a more appropriate label. This is not a game that completionists will want to play.
According to Movie Pilot, “If one person spent 1 second on each of these planets, it would take them 585 billion years to see them all.”
Developers predict that less than 0.1 percent of the planets will be discovered collectively by all who play No Man’s Sky. No game in the history of video gaming has attempted to have an explorable setting of this magnitude.
Furthermore, each planet is unique and expansive with exclusive flora and fauna to discover. Planets are not just small locations that can be fully explored in a few minutes or even hours.
Sean Murray told the Atlantic, “When you’re on a planet, you can see as far as the curvature of that planet. If you walked for years, you could walk all the way around it, arriving back exactly where you started. Our day to night cycle is happening because the planet is rotating on its axis as it spins around the sun. There is real physics to that.”
Planets are one-of-a-kind locations with individual coordinates and are not randomly generated. In other words, players can share the position of a planet that they have discovered and the world will appear the same to every player who visits it.
How does No Man’s Sky accomplish this?
Each planet is created using a procedural algorithm. The algorithm is given a seed number and from that number, the coordinates, size, gravity, climatic conditions, types of vegetation, and animal life for a planet are generated. Since the procedure is constant, any given number will produce the exact same world on any system that the game is played. According to the Atlantic, it only takes 600,000 lines of code to achieve this. Compare that with the millions of lines of code in triple-A game engines and you can see why No Man’s Sky has the potential to revolutionize the industry from a programming standpoint.
However, it is not just the video game development end that No Man’s Sky stands to change. The mechanics of gameplay are also innovative. Players start on a random planet and are given complete freedom to do whatever they want. Other games, like the Grand Theft Auto series, have attempted this type of complete freedom but have fallen short by comparison.
Through crafting, mining of resources, trading, and discovery, players can create and buy starships to leave their starting planet. In space, there are not only other worlds to discover, but space stations, trading outposts, other spacecraft, pirates, traders, and the list goes on. Players are allowed the freedom to choose how they play the game.
Become a pirate and blow trading ships out of the sky, collect their cargo, and sell it. Act as a trader, mining resources on different planets and trading them at outposts. You can do that, or maybe you just want to stick planet-side and play a scientist discovering and cataloging plant and animal life. No Man’s Sky will have a player compiled “Atlas” that contains the planets and species that players discover, and they will be paid for doing so.
IGN states, “Players can upload information from various beacons on each planet, ranging from data collected on animals, plants and resources, which will earn them Units (the in-game currency) for adding to the database.”
The Atlas is not only a source of information, but it is also an integral part of the game’s lore.
No Man’s Sky has no plot or storyline. This aspect may be its only drawback, but the move is intentional. Hello Games wants a game where players create a story of their own. In that sense, the game is a bit like Second Life. Second Life had no story; players just log in and live their second life. The difference with No Man’s Sky is that there will be things to do in this game and there will be lore to uncover and somehow the Atlas ties into that lore.
No Man’s Sky may not be for everyone. For gamers looking for a compelling narrative, this will not be the game for them. However, it will be two things.
First, for gamers, it will be an immersive and immense sandbox to play in for as long as they wish.
Second and more important, for other developers, it will be a springboard to experiment with and create games of a similar scope. It could even be used as the main engine for a story-based game.
Imagine a future game where you have an expansive universe in which you must uncover clues to reveal the story. Or a game where you are not limited by the borders of a city. The possibilities for future games based on the engine employed by Hello are positively exciting.
No Man’s Sky is set to release on August 9, 2016.
[Image via Hello Games]