Hello Games head Sean Murray introduced a new initiative for his studio yesterday at GDC.
Murray, who spearheaded the development of No Man's Sky, introduced Hello Labs, a side project to fund future projects that will focus on "procedural [world] generation and experimental games research."
Murray has noted that the project already has a title in development and that Hello Games has been setting aside some money for Hello Labs to jumpstart the initiative.
The entire talk Murray presented, "Building Worlds Using Math(s)," discussed the use of mathematical formulas to procedurally generate data- specifically the 18 quintillion planets found in No Man's Sky. In particular, Murray pointed to the Foundation Update and player feedback into improving the mathematical formulas - a risky task that wiped the game's entire universe and re-built it from scratch when the Foundation Update was patched in.
Murray focused mainly on the use of mathematical equations and their ability to compress data for the team, leading to almost all of the world building being compressed into 300 MB of data. He also mentioned that Hello Games lowballed the number of concurrent players playing on No Man's Sky after it was released. Out of the near 500,000 users concurrently on day one, Hello Games expected at best, 14,000 players online at one time- comparing that number to one of the biggest online titles at the time- Far Cry: Primal.
"It's a huge game, obviously," Murray said, according to Ars Technica. "That [number] made us a little bit nervous about servers and the sheer number of people booting the game up day one."
The team believed the number would be even lower, but Sony cautioned them to estimate numbers "befitting a triple-A product."
Hello Games is banking on procedural generation as the future of their studio, with Murray pledging to continue using mathematical content-generation systems to improve No Man's Sky and future projects by the company. "Making really neat, weird engine decisions, and letting them dictate a cascade of problems," said Murray. "It's cool for me to be able to stand up and say to talented people like yourselves, we're looking for that kind of thing."
Video of the discussion at GDC has not been posted yet, but may see a public release in the future.
Currently, Hello Games is hiring for more staff, as the dev team continues to patch and improve No Man's Sky for future updates.
What are your thoughts on these plans by Hello Games? Leave your comments below?