This weekend, the trailer for No Man's Sky lit up the indie gaming scene. Why is it so special? Because the developer, Hello Games, appears to have completely nailed three things. First, it looks like a straight-up fun space sim. Second, it has a gorgeous look inspired by paintings by legendary science fiction artist Chris Foss. Thirdly, most excitingly, the whole game world is procedurally-generated. A sandbox universe of unpredictable, explorable wonder, but with top-knotch graphics and a decisive sense of style.
Indie Statik warns about the traditional problem with procedurally-generated games, going all the way back to Elite: an underlying sameness to all the apparent variety.
Procedural generation is great for natural features–caves, trees, geography–but is often a poor substitute for design when it comes to man-made things like cities, buildings and dungeons. I'm going to be there on day one with No Man's Sky, though.