Understanding 'No Man's Sky's Enormous World And Music Using Math

No Man's Sky lives up to it's name. It's now the most expansive world with the most infinite soundtrack possibilities in gaming history ever.

No Man's Sky released worldwide on August 9 and just days after its launch, we're already at a loss. One, No Man's Sky's PC ports are a mess. We will never forget what Batman: Arkham Knight's PC ports did to us and we might never forget No Man's Sky's too. But two, we will never forget No Man's Sky as well for its incredible and almost-impossible size.

No Man's Sky is open world at its best and finest. If we thought Minecraft was huge, then No Man's Sky is here to challenge that. The creation of No Man's Sky's more than 18.4 quintillion procedurally-generated planets is almost impossible to conceive, thanks to its never-ending algorithm that creates world after world after world. Next time when you're asked what is two to the 64th power, next time you'll know how to answer.

The infinite world of No Man's Sky (via Hello Games)
The infinite world of No Man's Sky. [Image via Hello Games]No Man's Sky and Minecraft actually has a lot in common too. For one, they are both almost infinite in terms of size and possibilities. So a user at Reddit found it interesting to compare these two game giants using the best tool on Earth: math. Reddit user hclrd actually posted his findings two months ago and compared the individual blocks of Minecraft with the exponential number of planets of No Man's Sky. In his post, he used the PC world size up to the start of the far lands.
"Minecraft has a phenomena known as the Far Lands. When you get too far from coordinates 0,0 the world generation freaks out, creating the visual glitch of the wall. The wall occurs at ±12,550,821 on both the X and Z coordinates. This is the limiting factor of the world, giving it a maximum edge length of 25,101,642 blocks. Taking this length and squaring to get the top-down surface area, we end up with a 2D area of 630,092,431,096,164 square blocks."
If you're not aware about Minecraft's Far Lands phenomenon, simply put, it's an "edge" that occurs on the supposedly infinite map in Minecraft's PC versions, prior to Beta 1.8. This has been in a result of floating-point errors that happened because of large numbers in the game engine and the maximum limitations, of course, of a 32-bit renderer.

Hclrd then continues.

"Next, the maximum vertical generation of a world is from 0 to 128 blocks, with 64 being "sea level." If using the amplifed world type this number increases to 256. For the vertical calculations we will use 256 blocks high, since they still exist in a normal generation, they are just air. Multiplying our 2D area from above by 256 results in the number 161,303,662,360,617,984. That is the total number of regularly generated blocks, including air, in a single Minecraft world within the far lands.

"Finally, we combine these two numbers, dividing 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 by 161,303,662,360,617,984.

"The result is exactly 114. No decimals. That's the magic of powers of two.

"Perfect numbers aside, this means that if each individual block, including air, in a Minecraft world represented an entire planet in No Man's Sky, it would take 114 Minecraft worlds to generate the same number of blocks as there are planets."

One hundred fourteen is actually a wholesome estimate as the real final number is a non-terminating decimal that's around 114.36. So that's how infinitely huge No Man's Sky should be compared to Minecraft, give or take.

Another user UncleHang tries to make sense of all the numbers and posts.

"Another version of this would be - imagine that every grain of sand on a vast coastal beach somewhere represents a planet in the universe, and then imagine that each beach represents a separate universe. Then, imagine some beaches link together, while some do not. Then imagine the blades of grass behind each of the beaches represent other dimensions. Then imagine that in each of those dimensions, every molecule represents a beach, which in turn has grains of sand on them representing smaller, grass-lined beaches with other universe-sized fields of grass, each containing one or more beaches."
In terms of soundtrack and music, No Man's Sky also has a very interesting algorithm. U.K. noise/drone rock group 65Daysofstatic (65DOS) is the band responsible for No Man's Sky intelligent soundtrack system. To pull off the huge task ahead of them, Engadget reports they created their own logic system for the Ableton Live and Max for Live recording software. In addition, 65DOS created custom applications for software development tools like the Unity game engine and FMOD for the sound effects.

65daysofstatic's standalone release of the procedural No Man's Sky soundtrack (via 65DOS)
65daysofstatic's standalone release of the procedural No Man's Sky soundtrack. [Image via 65DOS]In effect, the algorithms are actually assembling themselves in the same way that the worlds in No Man's Sky assemble themselves. It's math rock! Engadget notes, quite impressively.
"Handing songwriting duties over to a piece of software and letting it assemble a soundscape from a bank of audio files is virgin territory for the band and, quite possibly, the industry in general."
Listen to 65DOS' No Man's Sky soundtrack.
[Image via Hello Games]