No Man’s Sky is always expanding with a wealth of new features. But in what seemed like a typical update today, they’ve thrown in a festive addition: a full music synthesizer. Now, players can add music to their base through the ByteBeat Device, a music synthesizer with a few neat tricks.
You can pick up the blueprints for the ByteBeat device and put it in your base. Then, interact with it to create music. It looks that easy! Once you’ve got your rhythm down, you can sync it up with other ByteBeat Devices, as well as devices in your base. If you really want, you could just make a holiday light display, but there are definitely probably other uses with other in-base devices.
Equally intriguing is the actual “bytebeat” genre itself. Yes, it’s a genre on its own, not just the name of the aesthetic of the noise. According to Vice, “bytebeat” originated by sheer chance when Ville-Matias Heikkila, known as “Vizhut,” and his friends were toying with the C programming language. They discovered they could make noises by using code that could, non-stylized, require literally only one line of code.
After putting it up on YouTube, they and other artists continued to experiment with the aesthetic. There are even online synthesizers and apps you can use to toy around with your own bytebeat noises.
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No Man’s Sky’s ByteBeat Device is one of the first large-scale formalizations of the bytebeat process and genre. The differences here are immense as opposed to other solutions. The entire device looks and acts like a “digital audio workstation” (known as a DAW) on a near-professional level. I’d even argue its tools are comparable to the best freeware and low-tier paid DAWs.
It’s got a melody sequencer, which means you put little dots and lines according to timing and pitch, as well as adjusters for basic necessities like BPM, volume, and key. There’s a waveform editor, which allows you to tweak literally sound itself. And there’s an arpeggiator, which… well, it plays notes in a manner that’s too strange to explain without music theory basics down. The point is, for a free update in a video game, it’s pretty damn powerful.
As someone who’s dabbled in music, I’m not kidding when I say there’s some ridiculously good potential in this — provided, obviously, video game-like synth is up your creative alley. For one, it appears extremely accessible to newcomers, which is a big plus in any DAW.
Plus, this is massive step in Hello Games’s long-term goal of making No Man’s Sky a fully livable experience. Obviously, there are already bases, but as the ByteBeat video shows, people have made full artistic installations on their planets. Much like Minecraft or The Sims, creation options keep players hooked. With the BitByte Device, content creators and casual players get one more avenue to return to No Man’s Sky.
Is original music the next step in long-term player retention? Or will the ByteBeat Device churn out more and more YouTube videos of remakes of popular songs? Honestly, both aren’t bad options.