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Video: How continuous world generation works in No Man's Sky

at GDC 2017 Hello Games' Innes McKendrick explains how the game works, focusing on techniques used to generate planets and the supporting structures allowing this to happen continuously in real-time.

Hello Games' 2016 release No Man's Sky uses procedural generation by necessity, constructing planets in a virtual universe where players can transition seamlessly from space down to an interactive and populated terrain.

It takes some unique technical architecture to pull that off, and at GDC 2017 Hello Games' Innes McKendrick explained how it works, focusing in particular on the techniques used to generate planets and the supporting structures allowing this to happen continuously in real-time.

Giving insight into the challenges Hello Games faced in developing a vast game-world as a small team, McKendrick offered up a step-by-step breakdown of the No Man's Sky generation pipeline, from voxel-based world generation, through polygonization and texturing, to eventual population and simulation.

It was a remarkable talk, especially if you're a programmer with an interest in building procedural generation tech that makes artists' work easier. If you missed it at GDC last year, no worries -- you can now watch it for free on the official GDC YouTube channel!

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its new YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

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