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No Man's Sky includes over 18 quintillion planets

Hello Games says they would take billions of years to explore

Upcoming procedurally generated sci-fi game No Man's Sky will include over 18 quintillion planets, according to its developer.

Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray told IGN that the game uses a 64-bit number to generate all the planets in the universe.

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This means the total number of planets is 2 to the power of 64, or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616.

Early in development, the game instead used a 32-bit number, offering a mere four trillion or so planets, with Murray saying at the time that it would "take you four or five thousand years to see every planet if you spent only a second on each one".

However, after fans on message boards started saying that due to technological limitations no game universe could be truly infinite, Hello Games decided to switch to the 64-bit number instead, meaning it would take around five billion years to spend one second on each planet.

As IGN puts it, since the Earth's sun will burn out in 4.6 billion years, this means that theoretically the number of planets in No Man's Sky is indeed infinite because it would be impossible for the human race to see every one.

No Man's Sky captured the imagination of the games community when it was first revealed at VGX in December.

The game drops players off at the outskirts of the universe with a mission to journey towards its centre. According to Hello Games, completing this task requires "intelligence, imagination and co-operation".

Players are set free to explore space in search of new worlds. Stars and planets are created procedurally as they are discovered, with unique environments and complete ecosystems to match them.

No Man's Sky will be released on PS4 first, with a PC version to follow.

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