It would take a person five billion years of non-stop exploration to spend one second on each of the possible 18 quintillion plus planets in the upcoming game No Man's Sky. At least, that's what Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray told IGN at Gamescom last week as he explained their choice to generate the game's universe based on a 64-bit number rather than 32-bit.
That kind of scale seems jaw-dropping, but even more so when you compare it to something a little more familiar. For example, Second Life sims...
If we apply the same rules to the current total number of sims in SL (25,852 according to gridsurvey.com) it would take just a hair over seven hours to spend a single second on every currently existing sim on the main grid.
Of course No Man's Sky is a procedurally-generated universe, with every planet providing mathematically defined combinations of the game's assets. It's certainly not fair to compare that process to Second Life sims which are essentially bespoke. But, even so...
Janine Hawkins (@bleatingheart on Twitter, Iris Ophelia in Second Life) has been writing about virtual worlds and video games for nearly a decade, and has had her work featured on Paste, Kotaku, Jezebel and The Mary Sue.