The recent PS4 release of the highly anticipated No Man’s Sky has gamers spending countless of hours adventuring through space. As players explore the cosmos and journey their way to the center of the universe, one area of gameplay players will most likely not pay too much attention to will be the game’s soundtrack. Hello Games developers, however, have spent a lot time and energy on the game’s soundtrack.
It’s well known that No Man’s Sky contains a seemingly endless amount of planets – over 18 quintillion – and developers have previously stated that they use a complex algorithm to generate these planets; but developers at Hello Games have also extended this algorithm-generating-procedure to the game’s soundtrack. According to Digitaltrends, Paul Weir, the game’s studio’s audio director, worked alongside the English electronic band 65daysofstatic. The two worked together to create a specific library of sounds and musical element which resulted in the game’s unique soundtrack. Weir and 65daysofstatic sought to create a sound for the game that would pair perfectly with a specific gaming moment, which would enhance the game’s emotional impact in a different way.
Paul Weir calls this “pulse,” which is essentially a tool that allows a generated variation of the game’s soundtrack, using different musical elements. This allows Weir to string together hundreds of sounds 65daysofstatic composed, which he then sorts by key, tempo, instrument, tone, and other factors, to match the exact gaming experience a player will be having any given moment. Paul Weir calls this “Soundscape”:
It’s really a way of organizing lots of small, granular bits of sound [and] music components, and imposing a bit of structure and logic and control on top of them. We can define how they’re combined when they’re played in the game, and attach them to game parameters so that, depending on either what you’re doing or where you are in the game, it could be calling different bits of music. It’s combining individual small elements, so the exact mix of what you’re getting and how that plays will be different every time you play.
Logically then, when you’re in a relaxed environment – solitary or exploratory moments – the music will be a slower tempo, more relaxed, but once you start to become more active or engage in a fight, the tempo will quickly pick up.
If you start to walk toward a building, we will often start to introduce more melodic phrases – I think it’s fairly seamless – and what variations of the melodies will play, obviously, is randomized.
The game’s overall sound comes from 65daysofstatic’s soundtrack No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe. And as it turns out, Sean Murray of Hello Games was already listening to the band prior to them working on the game’s soundtrack; according to Digitaltrends, Murray played 65days’ music early in the developing stages of the game to help define a tone for the game. Weir, being a sound engineer, also created several original music for the game, yet his tended to be more positive, while 65days’ work leaned towards a melancholy sound fit for the loneliness of space travel. No Man’s Sky came out for PS4 yesterday, and will be out for PC this Friday, August 12th. Below is a video the game’s developers discussing the game’s soundtrack: