The Sound Of No Man’s Sky With No Man’s Voice

Not entirely without voice admittedly, but unlike the vast majority of No Man’s Sky [official site] footage out there, you only listen to someone’s excited commentary before and after this five minutes of in-game planeteering. As well providing some answers to the whole “ok, but, er, what do you actually do?” question which has gently haunted Hello Games’ procedural space exploration game, it’s also a fine opportunity to admire the fine audio design. Sounds of strange new worlds, sounds of colossal technology, sounds of planetfall, sounds of alien life, sounds of the universe: ambient wonderland.

You could probably stick the galactic noises from this footage onto a disc, write Brian Eno on the front and get away with it. It’s glorious. Looks quite nice, too.

Yes, many questions about exactly how we’ll be spending our time are left unanswered, but it’s pointing towards ‘tooling around admiring stuff’ and I’m more than happy with that. There are brief snippets of combat both on foot and in space, and of other craft doing things you may or may not approve of, there’s evidence of currency and other resources, but really the star of the show is the audio. One of the things which makes Elite Dangerous so mesmerising is the sound of space, but in No Man’s Sky we get the sounds of all these new worlds too. I guess I’m spending the rest of the day researching headphones.

Here’s the clip, anyway. After the five minutes of ‘clean’ footage is over, narrator Cobra TV takes over and has a dig through what is and isn’t know, and what might be gleaned from the video.

53 Comments

  1. Not_Id says:

    I honestly can’t believe this – “Sean Murray revealed during an interview with GameSpot that Jaden Smith’s motivational Twitter quotes will be featured in the No Man’s Sky when you die.” link to thekoalition.com

    • pauleyc says:

      That’s hilarious. What a brilliant mixture it’ll be, seeing for instance this quote from Carl Sagan:

      “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

      followed by this gem from young Jaden:

      “Why Is It Always 3 WHY IS IT ALWAYS 3!!!!!”

    • Ufofighter says:

      An alien kills you in a frozen planet of the outher rim… fade to black…

      “I watch twilight every night”

      You die in a massive space battle…fade to black…

      “How come you can drink a drink but can’t food a food”

      • P.Funk says:

        Jaden Smith is apparently the most famous person to riff on Philosoraptor.

    • SomeDuder says:

      I hate this generation

  2. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I love the colors of this game.

    • Guvornator says:

      Yes. Developers please note – if your game looks like weird sci-fi book covers or comics such as these link to darkroastedblend.com I’ll be forced to buy it. No Man’s Sky doesn’t quite scratch that itch, but it looks like it’s coming pretty close.

      • Muppetizer says:

        Say what you will about the actual gameplay, but Out There at least brought a loving torch for golden and silver age science fiction to light up the way in just about everything it did.

        • keithzg says:

          Hell yeah, that game reminds me so much of golden age “explore the solar system!” science fiction.

    • phelix says:

      I don’t. It reminds me of the fugly Instagram filters all my friends seem to slap on their FB profile pictures these days.

  3. king0zymandias says:

    I can already imagine a game of exploration like Sunless Sea, but in a world that is much more beautiful and much much larger. I really hope the core mechanics of the game is as rewarding and merciless.

  4. xcession says:

    For every awesome fact I learn about NMS there seems to be another thing which slightly disappoints. I think my expectations need better management. In this case: sound design is awesome! Yay! But it appears all animal seem to make the same whiney noises, Boo!

    It’s a bit of a reoccurring theme which gets masked by the gaming press’s general awe at the procedural generation: for all the variety it adds, it serves to highlight areas where something doesn’t vary they way you’d expect.

    • LTK says:

      In this case it’s probably just one animal that’s making the same sound and they might not have gotten around to giving the other animals their own sound. You can read all about how they procedurally generate animal vocalisations using a simulated vocal chords, larynx and mouth in this article: What a dragon’s mating scream sounds like

      • dontnormally says:

        Wow. If anyone had concerns about the game’s audio development, that piece put them well to rest.

        Very interesting link – thanks

      • xcession says:

        That audio of various NMS animals towards the bottom of that article is great!

        But when you’re deliberately looking for a lack of variety as I am, you do kinda notice how it’s 90% groans at different pitches. Obviously I’m not being fair, but when you compare those sounds to a real jungle – where animal calls have more consonants (for lack of a better word) – you start to miss the variety in that clip.

        “Uncanny valley” is perhaps the right metaphor here. NMS’s procedural work is teetering on the edge – you’re so amazed by most of it, it’s all the more jarring when something doesn’t seem right.

        • KastaRules says:

          That’s a good point. They could put a mic in a real jungle overnight and get tons of sounds to play with in an audio editor to get a lot more variety.

          Hope the game is gonna be moddable.

    • xcession says:

      Also, just to reply to myself like a dick, has no one else notice how much the procedural generation overwhelms every release of information about the game? If dogfighting were awesome, or trading were awesome, or crafting was rich, varied and complex, or there were a deep and compelling series of incentives to get to the galactic core…wouldn’t they be showing that off too?

      • Kitsunin says:

        Well, yeah…it definitely feels like if they had compelling gameplay, they’d be bragging about it like they are with all the procedural generations stuff.

        Then again, maybe they’re just saving development of that for after the world. Frankly, if their procedural generation is half as great as it sounds, they could pretty much just copy-paste the gameplay from other dogfighting and surviving games and it’d turn out excellent.

        • xcession says:

          I think the realistic answers are that either a) it’s all a bit shallow and they don’t want to draw attention to it b) it’s good but incomplete, which negatively impacts the release date and they don’t want to disappoint anyone c) it’s great but they haven’t considered their press strategy as well as we’re expecting d) it’s great and their press strategy is brilliantly leading us a merry dance to talk about it more.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            I don’t expect it to be bad, but I also don’t expect it to be anything groundbreaking. They’re logically focusing on the thing that makes their game special: the strong procedural generation that underlies everything.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Well yea, it’s still just a videogame, not the cure to cancer or solving world hunger. It’s also made by human being. Also, it’s very much focused on a console, so they have to make sure the visuals and controls can cope with it.

      We already have exploration- and crafting games, by the dozens. The biggest gimmick of this game is the ability to fly from space through a planet’s atmosphere and land anywhere you want. That’s it. Which is amazingly cool, for the first hour you play it, then it just becomes a thing that you do. And like you said, if the other features aren’t up to snuff (Combat, exploration, movement) then it’s just a visually mediocre mess of sounds and sights that lacks a goal.

      But hey, videogame “journalists” and the insufferable youtubers will be hyping the shit out of this game anyway, so it’ll be an amazing payday for the publisher.

    • Strangerator says:

      I hope they don’t forget the insects! On planets with tropical-ish climates I hope they factor in the bugs, or at least the bug sounds. Cicada-like bugs that make distinctive sounds on hot days or even bizarre night bug sounds. These could really lend character and atmosphere to planets.

  5. LTK says:

    The procedural animal vocalizations are pretty impressive, but it does result in a noisy cacophony that I probably wouldn’t enjoy while walking around on the surface. On a grassy hill with only a handful of species walking around, I’d expect most of them not to be making constant noise just for the hell of it. I don’t know how many variables enter into it, but I hope there are at least a few that concern how frequent vocalisations are and possibly whether they are made in response to nearby predators, as territorial or mating calls.

    Landing in an unexplored forest somewhere and hearing a massive animal bellowing in the distance to mark its territory would be really impressive, but not so much if it was a constant background noise that you couldn’t get away from.

    • Jeremy says:

      Totally agree.. it would be nice to have some variation in that. When I’m hiking through a forestt, I hear plenty of birds chirping away, but the raccoons, squirrels, bears, etc. aren’t making a constant chitter or roar. Hopefully they’ll have some variables like you say, depending on a predator, species, mating, etc.

  6. Mezmorki says:

    My qualm with much of what I’ve seen how decidedly UN-ALIEN all of this looks. Skipping through the video above – why is that all the trees and vegetation basically looks like earth trees and vegetation.

    • onodera says:

      I agree. That article about procedural sounds was an interesting read, but the final result sounded like a tropical forest. Why wouldn’t alien species employ clicks, or rattles, or use a tympanum to produce any sounds they want?
      The purple predator at the beginning of the video looked like a perfectly Terran vertebrate, a cross between a Komodo dragon and a wolf. The fish are even more fishlike. Okay, convergent evolution and all that, but even our own planet’s past had crazier-looking animals.

  7. fco says:

    I’m scared the amount of attention this game is getting may end up hurting it, and what could have been an amazing if niche game about exploration ends up ruined by more gamey elements because people demanded more things to do.

    • Farsi Murdle says:

      Well yeah. If they make a whole universe with nothing to do in it, I’d say it’s a bit of failure.

  8. Banks says:

    The downgrade has been brutal, what a shame.

    • Jeremy says:

      Which downgrade do you mean? I haven’t been following this super closely, as it’s a bit too far out for me to handle being excited about constantly.

    • Darth Grabass says:

      There hasn’t been any downgrade at all. What are you talking about?

      • Banks says:

        Just compare the first couple of trailers with the E3 gameplay demo. There is a lot less detail in the enviroment, most of shadows and particle effects are missing and the draw distance has been dramatically reduced.

        • Premium User Badge

          Harlander says:

          Does that ever not happen, though? I mean the first trailers are the shiniest they can make it, and then they realise “hey, we’ll have to tone this down a bit to get it to run smoothly”…

          With a bit of luck it’ll be tunable on PC anyhow

  9. SuicideKing says:

    The sound engineering is brilliant.

  10. fco says:

    speaking of sounds, here’s a nice article about the music:
    link to theguardian.com

  11. draglikepull says:

    I need this game yesterday.

  12. Vincent says:

    Headphones? Look into the HD 598: link to en-uk.sennheiser.com

    Have them since years, they’re just great. They’re open ones, which is great for environmental sounds (gaming) and non-electronic music (which sounds good, too, but if that’s the focus, something else is better suited), it feels like stuff really happens around you. I still sometimes mistake sounds for real ones and check if it was something outside. Only downside (of every open headphone) is that they’re not suited for use in public, because people around you can hear it too (and you can hear the people around you).

  13. nofare says:

    … still not feeling it.

    This game, more and more, looks like a new Elite: Dangerous thingy: beautiful to look at, but really, just another procedural generation tech demo parading as a game (its marketing actually mostly revolves around procedural generation, not story, or world building, or structure, or characters). Some people will get a kick out of the exploration, but most will move on fast.

    Moreover, the environment seems to be quite disconnected from us, “explorers”. Sure, from time to time, creatures “notice us” and run away, but more often than not they just go on about their business (like that big orange tiger-cat like creature, or those fish). Nothing like walking anywhere in real nature. The whole thing feels … intangible.

    As for the audio work … hard to say if it’s any good. What I heard is fine … but that’s not indicative of how the game’s audio work is going to come through after hours of play.

  14. Lionmaruu says:

    well we see that guy gathering some awkwardly positioned crystals so I guess we will be doing that at least… I DO hope you will have lots to do, because just wandering around is not for me.

  15. PancakeWizard says:

    Anyone else erked by those that ask variations of this question about games like NMS? From the very first video, my mind was amazed and wowed by the posibilites of what I was seeing. At no point was I thinking “gee I hope there’s some of kind of system ladder to climb.”

    WTF is wrong with everyone?

    • PancakeWizard says:

      Ah, screw the blockquoting. *kicks space where edit button should be*

      • PancakeWizard says:

        I was railing against the “By what do you actually do?” above, btw if anyone cares.

    • zero signal says:

      Well the developers are the ones who chose to call it a “game” after all, which people usually take to imply certain things. Maybe they should be calling it an “interactive exploration fantasy” or something like that.

      • Darth Grabass says:

        But it is a game. There’s forward progression with rewards, upgrades and increasing difficulty levels. And there’s a fail state–you die and lose all your stuff. That’s a game.

  16. Random Integer says:

    Feels like the best thing they could do would be to open the game up to modding. They’ve made an impressively huge universe generation system but it seems like a herculean task for a small team to fill that universe with compelling gameplay.

  17. Continuity says:

    I get the feeling we’ve seen 95% of what this game has to offer, in terms of gameplay mechanics, in the first 5 minutes of the video.

  18. Flea says:

    I have seen numerous videos of No Man’s Sky gameplay and read numerous articles and interviews and I am still struggling to figure out what the heck you are supposed to do in this game long term. It’s going to be a randomly generated universe where you can travel to any planet you want, land on it and see nicely colored foliage and funny looking animals. Don’t get me wrong, it does look pretty and unique (though the more I see of it, the more I notice the imperfections, the draw distance and foliage/texture pop-ins are quite noticeable), but if that’s the game, it’s gonna get boring real quick.

    • notcurry says:

      Oh, come on. You can’t have possibly read any of the interviews or articles out there. They’ve repeated over and over that you do have a specific goal, which is to reach the center of the universe.They’ve also said that things will get weirder and more dangerous the closer you get there, so my guess is that you will have to mine, trade, craft and fight to improve your skills and equipment enough to progress towards that goal.

      So yes, you do have a specific objective and it does take compelling (if done well) and varying gameplay to get there.

  19. EkoAzarak says:

    I am fully confident that even if No Mans Sky releases half baked I will still play the ever loving shit out of it. Even if its just a exploration flight simulator through space and worlds I am gonna love every fukin minute of it. omfg i cant wait. im earning all my game time with my fiancee right now, by not playing anything until it releases because once it does… WOOOSH im gone lol

  20. Chris says:

    I have to wonder, is there a game in this game?

  21. Strangerator says:

    I am fairly perplexed by people constantly asking “what do you do in the game?” or “is this even a game?lol”

    If this were a world without Minecraft or Terraria in it, I could almost understand your lack of imagination. However, No Man’s Sky is so close to these types of game, I can’t help but think you are being excessively dense. Replace some of the resource/building with more exploration, and you have it. You will still have some degree of crafting, but the main thrust is exploring and seeing new worlds (many of which will have never been discovered by other players).

    There’s no story, and you won’t be told what to do. If you are lucky enough to be able to enjoy this type of thing, you will be in for a treat. For everyone else, I foresee them buying the game, playing for 2 hours, then going online complaining about how bored they got. “There’s no game, there’s nothing to do.” I pity these people from depths of my soul.

    • keithzg says:

      Hear hear!

      Frankly, even if there was nearly no interaction and all you *did* was explore I’d love that. That others don’t like self-created goals and enjoying quiet, unique moments . . . well, that’s unfortunate for them, but that won’t ruin my enjoyment.