❛THE BASIN❜💦— Creeks, Rivers & Waterfalls

Original Discussion…

Consider early concept art for No Man’sSky…

So, I then greatly expanded this discussion with conceptuals of how this could work. - Consider…

However, we kept getting hung-up on, ‘DIRECTION OF FLOW’ - So…

Continued Discussion…

The reason why vast procedural basins of flowing water, visualized as streams of creeks and rivers, giving way to majestic waterfalls, (including geysers, whirlpools, and much more :squid::whale:), is entirely possible within NMS, is for the same reason that vast procedural basins of ’dried riverbeds already exist in the game,' which is for the very same reason that vast procedural networks of cave systems, have since early launch, existed in the game.

‘Dried Riverbeds’ appear somewhat similar to ‘Cave Systems.’ - Observe…

So… all they lack then, is water, flow and the related procedural system(s).

These riverbeds, which stretch along the surface, exist because they were seeded to exist. And therefore, they exist in much the same way that vast procedural cave systems are seeded to exist. Such is the way of NMS, and so you are able to return, and I too can come and visit. Is this not true? - So…

How do you know which way a river flows, without first knowing, where it begins or ends? :man_shrugging:

By rephrasing the question. - Consider…

How can the game files come to know, which way a river flows, without first being seeded? :man_shrugging:

You see, “NMS has knowledge of the terrain in advance”, (which is precisely the key to how riverbeds, and cave systems, exist in the game), just as it has knowledge of everything else in advance. How so? It’s elementary. - Observe…

You code, meaning manually program, and/or procedurally…

You seed :dna: the permanent memory (or game files) with knowing, so that the temporary memory (RAM) can then recall, thus knowing, at a later time. How? Because there are two different types of knowledge, there is knowing and then there is knowing, such is all one in the same knowledge, but their purpose and function is not the same.

The RAM need not (know or) recall everything at once, :brain: (such as an entire planet-wide procedural basin of flowing water), because everything is already coded and seeded (in the game files), :brain: the game already knows. In other words, first the game is programmed and seeded with permanent knowledge, (be it game assists, images, raw code, procedural systems, seeded placements, etc.), and then that knowledge is accessed in the form of temporary memory, meaning temporary knowledge.

Our brain works in much the same way, and ‘seed codes’ are like the life blood DNA behind an infinite universe, with procedural generation providing intricate, permanent and large-scale randomization.

Temporary memory overload? No. Because the game accesses only what it needs, and only when it needs it. Right? Therefore, the game can in fact know which way a river flows, because it was first seeded :dna: into the permanent memory (the game files), to then be accessed later in the form of temporary memory.

So the real question is…

How do you ‘SEED’ which way a river flows? How do you determine which way it begins or ends? What factors or procedural systems do you base the programming on? How do you program the permanent knowledge to be accessed later as temporary knowledge? How do you add flow, direction and intensity, what logic will be involved? These are the challenging questions that face our Hello Games!

OPTION 1: :sunglasses: QUICK & DIRTY

Do you base the flow on the direction of the sun? So that in the morning it’s flowing fast one way, by high noon it’s slowed to a stop, and by evening it’s once again quick flowing, but now in reverse?

OPTION 2: :nerd_face: CLEAN & NERDY

Or do you base (the speed and direction of) flow on the tilt and angle of the terrain? So that steeper sections of the riverbed flow faster and level sections flow slower?

But with the primary, or overall, (direction of) flow…

  1. Being based on procedural, (meaning random choice, or seeding).

  2. And/Or based on a newly revised system of riverbeds, where you don’t have riverbeds going up and down, and up and down, and up and down hills, over the terrain…

But instead have riverbeds that are seeded to logically follow the direction of how the landscape, or terrain, cascades downward, (in the crevices), and therefore not have riverbeds then suddenly cascading upwards…

Unless of course (back to ‘OPTION 1’) we want some super alien anomalies, like rivers flowing upwards, (meaning uphill), and reverse waterfalls, (including gravitational solar tides; and/or lunar tides, if introducing the related lunar rotation, of moons), and/or who knows what else.

Because personally, I think the combination of such would be very interesting! :smiley:

Of course, knowing Hello Games, they’d probably go for CLEAN & NERDY, :nerd_face: while opting for some QUICK & DIRTY :sunglasses: starting out, or ultimately settle with the results found somewhere in-between. That is, until throwing it all out and starting from scratch, again. Only to repeat such madness, :crazy_face: once more. And so on, and so forth, in an endless programmer’s loop, :infinity: of excellence. — Behold! The Basin!

You see…

The question is not, “Is it possible?” Or, “How isn’t it?” The question is…

“How is it possible?” And, “How would you like it?”


Oh, for crying out loud! No, it’s not the same at all, because for dry river beds you don’t need a consistent direction of flow. But I’m not going to repeat myself again, seeing that I have already explained the problem about 3 or 4 times on this forum… :tired_face:


This has already been solved with several RPG world map creators. The rivers and streams will always flow into the larger body of water. Origins for a stream are land-based from springs, glaciers or areas of heavy rainfall (ect.). This may cause the need for a bit of geography adjustment to include varying planetary zones (colder, stormier, dryer areas for instance.) Couple this with the direction of gravity already in the game and I can imagine future beautiful base locations. (Of course, it would be easier just to proc gen spawn points for a flowing stream, which will look weird at times like everything else.)

If they do add flows to the game, I hope it will be expanded to lava for volcanic worlds, quicksand for dune worlds and goo for a new type of toxic worlds.


It’s a completely different problem if your map is bounded (i.e. knowable). NMS doesn’t have bounded maps. It doesn’t know where large bodies of water are. It doesn’t know where anything is until it looks at it (terrain-wise. Buildings are superimposed and the terrain is edited to fit in post. Can’t do that for a river that you don’t even know where it begins and where it ends).


I think this is the talk of Inness mcKendrick where he explains why some things are so difficult with procedural generation. Pieces of map don’t know what’s the next part of the map.

Could be this one too


Personally, flowing water is a nice but not needed for gameplay. I couldn’t care less.

Realism in a SciFi game is not even a requirement.


Personal opinon, no one has to agree and im okay with that:

I love No Man’s Sky. But its main feature is exploration, and it has a limited amount of it. Its infinite, but its much of the same. The story content is 99% just text. Base building isnt anything special as many games feature it(and some do it even better). Its combat is bare-minimum. All vehicles look the same after a short while. NPC’s are somewhat lifeless still.

There isnt much to do in the game after about 100 hours except base building all by yourself. The game was designed to keep players playing but base building gets boring when it could be done better in a different game. Quicksilver items? Just a slow-drip of base building parts and banners/stickers/titles with very rare cosmetic stuff.

In my opinion, rivers and waterfalls are needed in this game as exploration of its planets is its main feature. I’m not saying to have flowing water that uses gravity to take water from one place to another(although this would be ideal), but to have atleast one “lake” on top of a mountain and have a short waterfall and river leading to a larger body of water. Maybe even pre-baked like volcanos are(kinda ugly, in my opinion but atleast we got them).


@Crimsontine: I have changed the topic category to NMS - Origins


Well… well… weelllllll…

Yes and no. I mean, in the case of No Man’s Sky, more realism would be like having a meat lovers pizza - sorry, I’m a carnivore - as thick, meaty, saucy and cheesy as a lasagna. The game as it is, with all the goodies Team Mercury has been able to shovel in, is like having a meaty meat lovers with extra meat and cheese. But I crave that pizzasagna. As Jupiter Blues so eloquently put it, the awesome universe we’ve been given to explore to our heart’s content… it kind of gets samey samey with just a bit of exploring. Honestly, my time is mostly spent searching for the perfect paradise world, and ship hunting, and that’s about it. And situations that suit my fic, which has gotten to the point I’m having to resort to art.

My fic is a no holds barred hyper-expansion of our beloved parallel universe, and I’m just getting into the meat of it now. Nigel - sorry, Nijol :rofl: will be floundering through stuff that’s going to have him tearing his hair out. A lot of the aspects of this universe… well, frankly make no sense, and Nijol is going to be pounding his head into all of it.

The stuff I’d like to see, essentially my fic brought to life, is most likely better suited to a purpose built world like Mass Effect or Starfield, with some proc-gen added in to flesh out the galaxy. But I’m thinking that the team can probably give us a lot of what we wish for. Wishing and asking is free, and even if they can’t deliver most of it, it likely sparks notions for what they can. So I say, dream away, fellow Travelers. :wink:

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Why did I look further into this topic… :unamused: Now I will forever notice the missing water reflections…


Twitter is filled with NMS water-reflecting pics lately. I don’t mind touched up screens but, it can lead to unrealistic expectations. The floors in NMS are reflective, when it rains, plants and animals are now wet and shiny, so who knows? Maybe improved water is inbound.


Well, that at least would be doable, as long as the GPU can keep up. Since Prisms already introduced a lot of reflections, it might just be a matter of further optimisation for the PS4 and XBox to be able to handle them…