No Man’s Sky Shows Its 18 Quintillion Planets To Colbert

In which Hello Games’ Sean Murray – looking every inch the sleb developer, from the rumpled just-so plaid shirt to the bushy black beard – holds his own against Daily Show alumnus Stephen Colbert, as he demonstrates No Man’s Sky [official site] on The Late Show. Indie games, who even are you now?

Colbert’s enthusiasm for the game, or at least the tailored highlights Murray shows him, seems genuine. It’s also fascinating to watch Murray attempt to explain procedural generation and the sheer bloody size of NMS’ universe to him. Colbert even compares him to God, albeit the one everyone thinks Morgan Freeman is. Here’s the whole segment:

Sort of a big deal for a game which isn’t made by an ultro-ginormous studio to be on a show like this, but then this has been the No Man’s Sky story so far. Despite ongoing uncertainty about how it’s actually going to play, it’s activated pleasure spots in so many brains that it’s long soared past its ostensibly humble origins.

The Colbert appearance sadly gives no hint of a release date, although Colbert lets slip a little Inside Baseball by noting that “I’m guessing it’s fairly soon since you’re on my show.” So here’s hoping this is but the first volley in a climactic promotional assault. This thing might actually be on on our electronic typing devices soon-ish, maybe, perhaps.


  1. Dorga says:

    “This thing might actually be on on our electronic typing devices soon-ish, maybe, perhaps.”
    You know something.

    • cqdemal says:

      You, keep watch on Alec’s front door. I will break in through the, uh, back door to see if he knows something.

    • SuicideKing says:

      It’ll run on typewriters?

      • Replikant says:

        _Electronic_ typewriters only. The screen refresh-rate with manual typewriters is too slow. It takes ages to type out a single 4K frame in ASCII-art, even with 10-finger typing.

  2. Skeletor68 says:

    So cool that Colbert had him on. I’d love to host my own show just to bring in awesome vidjo games people to talk to.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome:
    Matt Uelmen
    Ed McMillen
    Steve Gaynor
    Jane Ng
    Austin Wintory
    Lucas Pope

  3. Arexis says:

    I hope they are taking the Fallout 4 approach to marketing. Everyone knew it was being made. It was no secret but they didn’t even announce it until this year.
    I find this a lot better than trying to start the hype train two or three years out.

  4. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I was genuinely surprised we didn’t get a release date on the show, which brings me back to my crazy marketing idea of just releasing it with no announcement. Just do a few promo things like this and then one morning “Boom, here’s a universe for you, that will be £X please.”

    • draglikepull says:

      I think Sony might be planning to announce that every PS4 starting this holidays comes with No Man’s Sky. It would replace The Last Of Us, which is the current pack-in for most versions of the console. That would likely give them a ton of buzz around the most important sales period of the year.

  5. Chris says:

    So far I haven’t seen any actual gameplay.

    • klops says:

      Yyeah. I’m interested in the game, animals and exploring and AT-ATs (!!!) and the scale and everything, but

      WHAT DO YOU DO THERE? Is there a reasonable playing mechanic or any kind of story, goals or anything?

      I understand many players don’t need any of those things, walking simulators can be cool and resource collecting is popular, but so far playing the shown NMS does not interest me. Which is weird since at the same time I think it is the coolest thing.

      We’ll see.

      • golem09 says:

        What you do is trying to the reach the center of the galaxy. That involves resource gathering and management, and thus exploring, surviving, and combat.

    • Johgr says:

      There is gameplay up on the tubes, you might wanna look into that

    • Xzi says:

      You didn’t watch any of the Colbert segment, then? The gameplay is basically gathering resources, improving your ship/character, discovering new planets/species, and naming them. We’ve been shown that same gameplay plenty of times already. That’s what the gameplay is. It’s not going to be what everybody wants it to be, no game is.

  6. Marblecake says:

    I find calling No Man’s Sky an indie game a bit of a stretch since it’s quite obvious that Sony is shoveling a ton of marketing cash their way.

    • Kakkoii says:

      How exactly does the amount of exposure a game gets because of marketing money, change what the game is? A game is an indie game if it is developed by a small, relatively new studio. Sony helping advertise it doesn’t change the game.

      Now, if they’re getting lots of extra funding to develop for longer, then sure, it’s not quite as much of an indie game anymore.

      • Not_Id says:

        @Kakkoii: Once a company the size of Sony gets behind an indie game then it stops being an indie game.

      • Cinek says:

        A game is an indie game if it is developed by a small, relatively new studio.” – what? No. The game is an indie game if it’s independently developed, without a financial support of a publisher. No Man’s Sky is an indie game by definition, though it’s certainly stepping into the grey area with such a huge influx of money from Sony.

      • golem09 says:

        How exactly is Sony “marketing” it? They invite the guys to demo the game. That’s like saying that Stephen Colbert is marketing the game. Does Sony buy them ads in magazines or TV? No, they just let them demo it, just like they do with everyone else. And because it looks good, Sony has one more good looking game “in their line up”. Which is like saying Microsoft has Open Office in their line up because they made the operating system it’s running on.

    • Sam says:

      “Indie” has never been a great category. Failing to carve the industry at its joints, as cyberPlato might say. They’re a small studio making an unusual game; just call them that.

      It’s rarely helpful to try to define a studio in terms of the financial relationships they may or may not have with publishers. People like to imagine that when creators are unburdened by the Men in Suits they create wonderful inventive things, but the truth is mostly they clone games for iOS. And then giants like Ubisoft make charming interesting little games (in between churning out traditional AAA games.)

      • Sam says:

        Categorising based on financial arrangements is not only meaningless with regards what most people care about with regards a game, but is often not possible due to lack of information.

        As a discussion above indicates, it’s not at all clear what Sony’s financial relationship is with Hello Games. They have at the least been convinced to not release on the console of Sony’s primary rival. Have they had their development budget boosted by Sony? Are Sony providing some extra programmers to make it run nicely on PS4? Are Sony helping fund marketing beyond “just” featuring it in their presentations? We have no idea, and it’s quite likely there’s a contract that prevents us being told about it.

        All of that isn’t really a problem, but it does make categorising games based on unknowable facts an absurd proposition.

      • klops says:

        “Indie” isn’t complicated. It means means independent production without financial support. That is what the developers saw as important thing to say about themselves. I think it is meaningful to discuss what it means or is it an honest description, especially if they have some sort of deal with Sony.

        From NMS website:
        “No Man’s Sky is being developed by Hello Games, a tiny indie studio in Guildford, UK.”

        • klops says:

          BTW. How many tiny indie devs without big PR machine behind them go to Colbert or to talk shows in general?

          This does not mean it could not happen without big devilish publishers and their big devilish PR machinery. I watch and know very little about talk shows and haven’t seen much game coverage on those, except once saw Conan dying in Tomb Raider a lot.

  7. Cinek says:

    IMHO this game will very likely have the same problem that Elite does – putting all cards on a procedural generation and ending up with something that’s mile wide and an inch deep.

    Also somehow I feel like I watched this video and still got no idea how the actual gameplay will be like, added with an impression that this guy is holding a controller just for play/pause, with an entire demo being pre-rendered…

    I want to convince myself that this game will be nice and great, something worth the money, but after Elite flop and lack of real gameplay videos I’m more than wary of any games build around procedural generation.

    • Geebs says:

      To be honest, I had the same problem with the original Elite. The concept starts out exciting, then you realise you need to fly in a straight line for half an hour to get anywhere and get bored. Elite With Knobs On remains unappealing to me, and I actually liked the X series.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      It still looks more interesting than Elite.

      By interesting I mean “a cool planet and sight seeing generator” a bit easier and MUCH QUICKER than Terragen and other procedural planet generators.

      Elite is still a good fantasy flight “sim”. But NMS looks to hold the interest for me. Not expecting it to be anything more than a little bit of fun, but for the right price I’d be happy with it even as a tech demo.

  8. Gap Gen says:

    Can people stop saying “oh, our random seed is a 64-bit integer so we have twelve squillion unique planets” please. That’s like saying “wow! this bag of rice has 33,333 grains in it! I can lay them all out in 10^136287 ways! I’m never gonna get bored!”

    Anyway, I appreciate the need for assertive marketing, but if this game suffers backlash from people expecting completely unique experiences every time they jump to Planet [1-2^64] then I’m not gonna be too sad for them.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Actually you know what, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em link to

      • Cinek says:

        The amusing thing is that I wouldn’t be surprised if by tomorrow you’ll have more interesting ideas for a planets than No Man’s Sky procedural generation does.

      • LionsPhil says:

        You should charge micropayments for these.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        That’s great. But I think you miss the point.

        It’s still a bit of fun. It’s like marketing a crayon as “unlimited possibilities”. It’s true, it’s hyperbole and it’s over the top.

        I agree that there people may think there is more to the game than it actually can/will deliver. Which is a bad thing, they should not pretend it’s more than it is. However, as with your twitter example, some of us take more pleasure from the experience, jokes and expression than others. :)

        • Gap Gen says:

          I guess the thing is that if you say “there are infinite possibilities with a crayon!” then people get that it’s just a crayon, but not quite as many people will get the limitations of PCG in games right now. That’s not to say that NMS isn’t deeply impressive, particularly for a small studio, but with marketing hype you kinda reap what you sow, and if people get bored after 10 planets with slightly different coloured dinosaurs and wonder what happened to promises like 18 quintillion planets or “every atom procedural” then it’s not particularly their fault.


      That analogy is funny because rice is the most boring foodstuff.

  9. vlonk says:

    Naming stuff ist charming, but there is a reason so few people want to become a librarian.
    Discovery is refreshing, but for most people there comes the point where they feel they have “seen it all”.
    Keep the pricepoint low please, I might not stay but only linger until my Curiosity depletes.

    • Scurra says:

      Yeah, but on the other hand, some of us like being librarians. That’s your problem, not ours.

  10. SuicideKing says:

    I’m curious on why he dodged the server question.

    • Halvi3 says:

      He didn’t really dodge it, I’m pretty sure it’s been explained in past releases how the procedural algorithms are deterministic, so they don’t need to store the data/models/whatever of every single planet, just the set of seed numbers that were used to generate it, and then if a new player comes to that planet, their own client will generate it exactly the same as it was when discovered.

      • TauPhraim says:

        There’s still the naming of animals to be stored somewhere. And if you can see other players’ avatars, you also need some kind of server.

        • Ljud says:

          I guess that the state of the planets won’t be saved.

        • Faxmachinen says:

          Not exactly a large amount of data. You could probably host that on your desktop.

          • TauPhraim says:

            It’s not just a storage issue. If everyone is connected to the same universe at the same time, you need some serious network.

  11. zeep says:

    That BIG TEXT PLANET NAME when you are nearing the surface is going to get annoying real soon.

  12. muki0 says:

    The number of worlds feels less and less impressive to me. Starbound had the same pitch, but after 10 worlds you’ve seen the gist of what the animals look like, the biomes, the hazards, etc. Anything more was just color variation.

    I actually *want* to like No Mans Sky, and in certain ways I do look forward to its release. But I’m worried that we’ll get 18 quintillion planets that for the most part look the same (as in, jungles, oceans and savanas with color variation) and play the same. Same AI patterns, same resources to gather, etc.

    I want to know if there are gas planets, atmosphere-less rocky worlds, hostile ice moons orbiting failed stars, binary systems, fractured planets turned into orbital rings, volcanic planets where you need special protection, comets you can land on, planets that leave gas trails, and different levels of gravity. I want to know if every single world already has totems/artifacts on it, or if you can truly visit a place and be the first one ever on there.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Like I’ve said above I *suspect* that 18 quintillion ( = 2^64) is just the number of possible random number generator seeds, not a measure of how varied the generated planets are (unsure what that would be, not great on information theory).

      • Gap Gen says:

        And again, I should stress that the project looks really neat and I hope it plays well, just a bit skeptical about some of the marketing claims.

  13. Elliot Lannigan says:

    I want to believe this will be great and I have no issue with “not enough stuff to do” because exploration itself is enough for me, but I am starting to become concerned that every time we see the game it still has the same “huge farming crystals” on every single planet, and the same janky, low-budget animations on every creature. Those 2 small things do a lot to ruin the illusion that you are exploring a vast galaxy.

  14. Napalm Sushi says:

    I’d like to thank Hello Games – should any of their number happen to read this – for creating something that consistently makes my inner child giddy with glee during what has been the darkest 16 months of my life thus far, and for giving a desperately-needed spark to my imagination and creativity at a time when both have threatened to wither into nothing.

    It gets awfully tempting to cram a box-full of my meds down my throat with a pint of whisky sometimes, but I wouldn’t dream of actually doing it while the world contains stuff like this to look forward to.

    Thank you for being an inspiration.

    • Skeletor68 says:

      @Napalm Sushi

      This may come across quite weird as perhaps you weren’t being as serious as it seemed; but if you ever do feel that bad make sure to chat to someone, even on here. I feel pretty hopeless sometimes too, so hop on the forum and vent if you need to! RPS people are pretty cool (but obviously not professionals).

      • Napalm Sushi says:

        Thanks Skeletor. I picture you as the brilliant (and, alas, now late) Facebook feelgood page Skeletor Is Love. I will see to it that a suitably awesome planet is thus named.

        I really just wanted to counter the rampant cynicism that’s started clinging to this game like some kind of spiteful revenant. I don’t want to silence the doubters, since all their concerns are valid and may yet be proven right and doubt is a seriously underrated virtue in modern society for the most part, but the fact is that what’s been achieved here is more than a bit special (yeah, procedural universe generation’s been done on this scale before, but not to nearly this level of granularity) and I think the minds behind it deserve celebrating.

        Anyway, on a more relaxed note: does Colbert Prime remind anyone else of The Croods?

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Hope you enjoy the game. I see it more as a canvas and a bit of art, in that we can all enjoy it, or all just move on and try something else if it’s not to our liking. :)

  15. Shazbut says:

    I too am concerned with the apparent lack of interesting gameplay or a story.

  16. Owl Mark says:

    It will be released with this: link to