Sean Murray, the founder of Hello Games, recently tweeted that No Man’s Sky players managed to discover and name over 10 million species of flora and fauna that is procedurally generated in No Man’s Sky vast, and for practical purposes infinite, universe.
That alone begs the question that are there actually more species discoverable in No Man’s Sky than there are on planet Earth in the real world?
Without a doubt, No Man’s Sky was the most anticipated video game of 2016. The space survival and exploration game was first announced in 2014 at an E3 event.
Review websites such as Kotaku, having spent countless hours in the procedurally generated world of No Man’s Sky, have called No Man’s Sky a genuinely open universe.
The best part of the infinite world of No Man’s Sky isn’t its size. It is the fact that the generated infinite universe is actually teeming with countless species of alien life. There are literally an infinite number of things to explore and experience in No Man’s Sky.
No Man’s Sky was launched on August 9 for Playstation 4 and on August 12 for the PC. But No Man’s Sky players have already managed to take advantage of the vastness of No Man’s Sky world by, reportedly, discovering around 10 million different alien species.
Sean Murray confirmed the news through Twitter. That number is certainly significant enough to consider if No Man’s Sky really has more species of living beings than are present on Earth.
To answer this question, one has to take into consideration the fact that humans still haven’t discovered the whole of planet earth.
In other words, our knowledge about planet earth is a little less than exhaustive. You can bet that earth still, after millions of years, has some hidden treasures left for us humans to hunt down and discover.
To Sean Murray’s credit, he did quote the right number of discovered species on earth. But is that number really a static one given that humans still know more about the moon then they know about the oceans?
There is no way to make sure that humans won’t find new species of living beings on earth. A study which was co-authored by a member of a member of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) tried to find the exact number of species that have been discovered on planet earth.
They found the number to be near 8.7 million as far as discovered species on earth were concerned.
The study was made public in 2011, and it broke down the discovered species to 6.5 million on land and 2.2 million under water. Of course, 8.7 million is, as big a number as it is, still 1.3 million short of the 10 million species No Man’s Sky players have managed to discover.
That 10 million number, most definitely, would have at least doubled since NMS (No Man’s Sky) also launched for PC on August 12.
With that said, the study that was conducted by UNEP did come with a caveat: 91 percent of all species under water and 86 percent of all species on land have not been discovered, described or cataloged.
Additionally, the research also did not take into account many life forms such as viruses and microorganisms which were not considered to be “species” within the scope of the study.
The study was restricted to “five known eukaryote kingdoms of life”. These five eukaryotic forms of life include animals, protozoa (don’t sweat it since this is a story about NMS), fungi, plants, and chromista.
However, another study that was conducted in 2013 found the number of discovered species to be close to 1.5 million rather than 8.7 million (or 10 million as was the case with NMS) and put the total number of the living being species, on earth, to be around five million.
As you can probably guess, the estimates for the number of species on planet earth vary wildly. Needless to say, these scientific studies don’t take into account the number of species that have gone extinct.
So this “discovered species” number would have been a lot higher if the studies were conducted before, say, the industrial revolution assuming scientists had the same technology available back then.
Can NMS match or even exceed the number of discoverable species on earth?
Well, probably yes, since researchers at Indiana University published a study in May which put the number of discoverable species close to one trillion.
One trillion is an unimaginably large number but consider the fact that NMS has 18 quintillion planets.
Even if 10 percent of those planets have life on them, then that takes the number of planets with some sort of life on them to 1.8 quintillion.
Assuming each planet has only one species of life, which is insane since each planet would at least have somewhere between 200 to 500, then that number still dwarfs the one trillion of planet earth.
Researchers at Indiana University, who published the “one trillion number” study, said in a statement that their database (database of animals, plants, microbial species) included about 5.6 million species that were collected from all corners of the world.
But their database did not have species from places such as Antarctica.
The researchers explained that they crossed the database with universal scaling laws and genetic sequencing technology so they could account for the unadulterated number of microbial species which weren’t included in any recent scientific study.
Jay T. Lennon, who is an associate professor of biology and also co-authored the research, said that older estimates were based on attempts that undersampled the diversity of microorganisms to a great extent.
Laws such as the universal scaling law helped researchers to predict the “correct” number of plant and animal species that are present on planet earth. Researchers were also able to estimate the number of microbes based on how they scaled with the area of earth’s landscape.
Kenneth J. Locey, a postdoctoral fellow, and a co-author said that up until now, scientists didn’t know if aspects of biodiversity could scale with something as simple as an abundance of organisms.
He also told reporters that the relationship between biological diversity and abundance of organisms was not only simple but also very powerful as it resulted in the estimated number going beyond one trillion species.
But real life isn’t like NMS. In NMS, players (counting just the ones who bought the game on PS4) managed to discover 10 million species inside 24 hours of the launch date.
These players also did it in space rather than just on a boring old planet. According to UNEP, if the scientific community were to embark on a mission to discover all remaining species on planet earth, then it would take 300,000 biologists close to 1200 years to complete the task.
So if you don’t want to wait till then, you’re better off playing NMS on PS4 and discovering as many species as you like by cruising in your spaceship.
That wouldn’t be the case if you bought NMS on PC (or even on PS4 as new issues have been reported) though. Players who have bought the game for PC (after it was launched on August 12) have reported significant issues which include the game crashing randomly and not saving progress.
If you just hop over to the Steam page for No Man’s’ Sky, you would find that the game has garnered “Mixed” reviews so far.
If you look a bit more carefully, NMS has about 7000 upvotes and an equal number of downvotes.
Most of the downvotes have been because of the bugs and crashes that have marred the game since its launch on the PC platform.
It is safe to say that NMS, though an ambitious space-exploration game, has not had the best of launches.
The PC version of the game is still struggling with performances issues which include low frame rates and screen freezes.
Sean Murray, through a blog post titled “issues”, explained that NMS issues are due to an increase in the number of players and average play length per session.
He said that the response from the gaming community has been far more than the Hello Games team had expected.
It is true that Hello Games was made by a developers team that consisted of about ten members according to the founder of the studio. But Sean Murray, Hello Games’ founder, did add that his team of developers was working quickly to adapt to a greater than expected demand.
He also apologized to anyone who had bought NMS and experienced severe performance issues.
To solve the problem, Hello Games has announced that the studio has hired a new quality assurance team that is, in fact, larger in size than the entire Hello Games current staff.
This QA team is in addition to the one that has been provided for NMS by Sony who published the game.
Stay tuned for further news on patches and fixes for NMS.
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