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Step inside the artistic algorithms of 'No Man's Sky'

The closer you get to the center of the universe, the wilder the planets become.
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Even if you haven't played it yet, one thing is clear about No Man's Sky: It's stunning. The entire game hinges on the idea of procedural generation on a massive scale, meaning when artists at Hello Games create a patch of grass or a fluffy animal tail, these elements are mixed and matched in nearly infinite combinations across the entire in-game universe. But, it isn't all left to random chance -- there are complex algorithms working behind the scenes to make sure every planet is aesthetically pleasing in some sense. Controlled chaos, if you will.

"We have a really complex kind of color theory system so they all obey rules, like leaves having complimentary colors compared to the grass and things like that," art director Grant Duncan says in a new video. "And the same goes for silhouettes. So, if a planet's very hot, we'll have things like everything becomes a little bit more dried out or you'll get more sharp shapes."

As players journey toward the center of No Man's Sky's universe, the creatures and landscapes will become more "unsettling," Duncan says. That sense of discovery and weirdness is a main feature that will drive players through the game -- not that Hello Games expects anyone to actually reach the center of No Man's Sky's universe.

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