No Man's Sky players have already discovered 10 million species (and counting)

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August 10, 2016 by Kris Ligman

What brave new world with such quadrupeds in it.

No Man's Sky is procedurally generated, but all players (ostensibly) share the same universe. That means that as players set out to explore, the planets and species they discover become part of a growing, shared database of discoveries. And it seems that No Man's Sky's explorers are intrepid indeed, as they've already logged more than 10,000,000 species in the first 24 hours since the game's release. A million of those came within the first hour.

This should underscore just how potentially vast No Man's Sky is. While it makes a certain amount of sense that the largest number of discoveries would take place shortly after launch -- for the same reason finding a new mammal is newsworthy these days -- the sheer scale seems to have staggered even its lead architect, Sean Murray:

There is one little wrinkle to the present situation, however. Remember a few paragraphs ago when I said all No Man's Sky players "ostensibly" share the same universe? Murray has said repeatedly that should two players encounter each other in the game, they would be visible to each other. But two players have found themselves on the same planet in the exact same spot -- both livestreaming the entire encounter, in fact -- and that didn't happen.

The two players' Twitch streams (screengrab via Kotaku). The two players' Twitch streams (screengrab via Kotaku).

What's going on there? The streamers thought at first it was because one of them didn't have a PlayStation Plus account, but that didn't appear to have an effect. Is it possible that although all discoveries are shared in a central database, there are still multiple servers, meaning the chance of encountering someone at the same place, at the same time, while on the same server, is a yet more remote prospect? Could it be that No Man's Sky takes into account space-time dilation, and even though the two were in the same place, they weren't in the same time at all?

The last one has some evidence to support it -- one of the players was standing in daylight; for the other, it was already dusk -- but if that's the case, No Man's Sky is operating on a tremendously more complex mathematical model of the universe than just a procedurally generated map. My bet is on the different server theory. For its part, Hello Games has not yet commented on the issue yet, though Murray has noted (excitedly) that he didn't expect two players to meet up so soon after release.

Whatever the case, it's clear that players have already exceeded its developers expectations, which is a hell of a feat, given the extreme hype that has surrounded this game from its first unveiling.

No Man's Sky is available on PlayStation 4. It will release on PC on August 12th.