No Mans Sky is so big, Hello Games uses probes to keep track of it all

You’d think the notion of creating a piece of software that randomly builds and populates itself might scare most people. It certainly scares us, but not the team at Hello Games, the custodians and creators of hype vortex No Man’s Sky. So what do you do when the beautiful yet terrifying universe you’re building gets too big? You do the obvious - program an army of probes to keep track of it, of course!

The Joe Danger studio was in attendance at PAX East to promote its upcoming space-faring project, with art director Andrew Duncan on hand to discuss the delicate balance between a procedurally-generated sandbox and the desire to tweak and adjust as artists.

"I think that the truth is, we're actually all control freaks," comments Duncan. "Artists are so used to having complete control of every single pixel. Especially now with digital artists. We can get Photoshop, we can zoom right in and obsess over something no one will ever care about."

And that’s where those NASA-like probes come in. Having a universe filled with planets numbering in the quintillions, these roving programs allow Duncan and co to regain a small semblance of control, adjusting certain elements to add more flare and personality on top of what was generated by the game’s creation algorithms.

No Man’s Sky is set to scour the stars of PS4 later this year.

Dom has been a freelance journalist for many years, covering everything from video games to gaming peripherals. Dom has been playing games longer than he'd like to admit, but that hasn't stopped him amassing a small ego's worth of knowledge on all things Tekken, Yakuza and Assassin's Creed.