Hello Games’ Sean Murray is steering No Man’s Sky’s debug camera from a few inches of dirt on the surface of a desert world up to a view of the planet from orbit. Up, then down. Up, then down. From the ground he swings the camera upwards, where another planet hangs low in orbit on the horizon. I can see hills, valleys and forests on its surface.
“That planet is being fully generated, just at a low level of detail,” he says. “The planet you’re stood on is also fully generated. When you’re stood on a mountain you can see forever - to the curvature of the planet.”
There are no loading screens or pauses as the perspective of the debug camera races from ground to space, from world to world, just a slight fading effect as terrain closer to the player is rendered at a higher level of detail. The reason there are no loading screens is because No Man’s Sky isn’t reliant on reading content from a hard disk. In fact, none of this data is contained in a file at all.