Since No Man’s Sky’s release in 2016, the game’s developers have been adding updates and new features — now there’s multiplayer, base building, and a virtual reality mode, among other things — that have kept the game fresh and kept players coming back. The latest addition is a fully featured audio application that players can use to make their own music for use in their planetary bases. It’s called the ByteBeat Device.
“ByteBeat formulas are made out of simple waveforms that are manipulated through maths — but by default, the device handles all of the mathematical heavy lifting, procedurally generating random presets for you to play with,” developer Hello Games wrote in the patch notes announcing the synthesizer’s addition to the game. “Dedicated audiophiles have the option to explore deeper, manually sketching out note sequences, rhythms, and even manipulating the raw sounds.” It’s a fascinating new way to interact with No Man’s Sky, which already has an appropriately moody soundtrack courtesy of the English post-rockers in 65daysofstatic.
It also has an equally fascinating history: the ByteBeat Device was named after bytebeat music, a term coined by the Finnish artist and programmer Ville-Matias Heikkilä, who goes by Viznut online. Heikkilä discovered the genre in 2011, when he was experimenting with writing programs in one line of C code that were able to output raw audio data that a computer could parse. His experiments worked better than he had initially predicted, and spawned a small, collaborative scene.
Though players in No Man’s Sky will have a different experience than the ones exploring the code behind bytebeat music, the collaborative element will be much the same: according to Hello Games, all ByteBeat creations will be “fully shareable.”