They say good things come in little packages and if the latest IGN First video ’24 Hour Time-Lapse’ is anything to go by that certainly rings true.
At only 1:12 long, you may have felt a slight twinge of disappointment that we weren’t being treated to another 20 minute-epic, exploring a brand new planet or looking in detail at some specific element of the game. You might also have been disappointed that IGN had some production issue meaning a slight delay until the video’s release. However, all good things come to those who wait, and we were treated today to something yet to be seen in No Man’s Sky, a full 24 hour cycle on an unidentified planet. Instantly banishing our disappointment and having this author grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
Night is coming
The transition from from day into night and back into day again is truly a sight to behold. We start out in what appears to be late morning with a bright blue sky, not too dissimilar to our own. Clouds drift wistfully by. A lone animal appears on the brow of a small rise, seemingly searching for food, living it’s daily life oblivious to our presence. As the day wears on, and bright sunshine begins to wane and slips seamlessly into the orangey-brown haze of dusk, the animal’s companion arrives. Perhaps rested from it’s daytime sleep and ready to start the night-shift while it’s mate gets some well earned rest. We know from previous reports by play testers that animals have social interactions so this is certainly a possibility.
Soon we’re plunged headfirst into the night, a worrying time for a player on many planets of No Man’s Sky. For this is the time when carnivores like to hunt. Fortunately for us, night progresses without incident and the night watchman continues their activities untroubled by any nocturnal foes. A solitary Sentinel passes into view, it’s light providing some comfort in the seemingly long passage of nighttime on this planet. At this time of night, the distant hills are no longer visible, an indication that view distance will be affected by the time of day. We see the animal occasionally venturing to the small grove we can see on the right, perhaps checking on it’s friend or maybe a place of safety if it senses danger.
Let there be light…
Eventually the inky night begins to morph into a purple sky, heralding the end of our friend’s lone vigil and the arrival of morning. The tranquility is briefly shattered by a passing (or landing?) ship. The sun rises higher and higher in the sky, peeping through the branches of the trees and creating some delightful shadows and completing our 24 hours on this planet. We get to see our two friends one final time, out for a stroll in the morning light…
To me, what this video shows above all else is how everything in this game is a seamless clockwork of activity. Planets spin on their axis and orbit their stars. Day turns to night, night turns to day and turns to night again in an endless solar cycle. Creatures live their lives irrespective of any player interaction. They have their own schedule and follow their own activities. Everything in No Man’s Sky follows it’s own path. The player is not the centre of attention in this universe, but rather just a visitor. On every planet, around every star, in every galaxy in the game, the same mechanics are playing out (if only in mathematics) and if Sean Murray is correct, 99.1% of them will do so invisibly, never to be seen by any player.