Procedural Generation

Video Games / Events

This is a draft – frankly, I’m only writing it because the hunter dog in me has sniffed out a new rabbit.

Or is it a side effect of the fever ?- well, it doesn’t matter : I smelled something and I’m going to have to explain what and why.

The procedural generation is not exactly new. In short, it’s about putting fantasy into identical, uniform creations, surely beautiful but sad to cry. That’s what it’s all about – and in the early dingoes there were the engineers of the Jacquard looms – who unrolled miles of identical fabrics. Random patterns. The machine is in the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris. Okay, we don’t care.

If you’ve played Elite Dangerous, or No Man’s Sky, for the better known, you have an idea of what the use of automatic planet creation is like, as these games take you on a journey through the infinity of planets – which is, after the first emotion, quite boring after all. This is typically the kind of games where you will spend hours going from one planet to another.

With a little patience and a lot of love for your future game, you too can create “a planet with asteroids around it” – in any quantity you want.

Once you have your bases, your blocks, you can dress them up and it makes nice things like this for example :

This has a huge advantage: you don’t have to program planet by planet, sheet by sheet, each of the universes in which you create the game.

This Procedural Generation process was used to create Minecraft, and for an adventure version of Minecraft: Minecraft Dungeon.

There, the levels are randomly generated.
This means that when you die and play the level again, you won’t play the same level. It will have changed. There will be other courses – other rooms – other enemies. The core of the level will be the same – but not everything else.
So it is impossible to play it in “speed run” knowing the level by heart. It will be a “speed run” in improvisation. That’s not entirely new either, and older players will remember the “Rogue-like” computer’s games of the 80-90s, where to avoid boredom for the player, each “death” generated a new environment.

And the question I ask myself is: can I do the same – but on a stage?

For the record, a random block is more or less that :

Once you have several kinds of blocks (it’s like a giant virtual lego, with different pieces to assemble) – the algorithms assemble them randomly and you get a random set.
Since everything is virtual, nobody is limited to the scenery and you have the same principle for NPCs (non-player characters, the characters created by the game), for weapons, for treasures etc…

I know why I’m interested: it’s what I like about it : avoid boredom – the repetition – the ‘I’ve already seen the level/performance‘.

If it’s obviously not a question of doing anything and surprising artists as one plays at surprising players (because artists have only one life, whereas the player has a small infinity of different lives), we can still keep this principle for all the moments when there will be on stage an interaction between a video game and a performance.

This is useless in the case of a ‘one-shot‘ – but if, for example, Altair sells the tournament principle associated with a show, it would be a good idea to use this tool, in order to surprise the players – and possible fans who would have travelled from one theatre to another.

If I start to be totally sadistic – and I think back to my splendid Impossible Festival – I tell myself that I thought of it to take place over 5 days, with huge game phases … especially in virtual in Altair Twin – and that if I want to hide a code, using this tool is quite a good idea.
With this, players won’t really be able to get their feet on the ground, and it will only make the games more interesting.

It can therefore be used for the packs; for the Impossible Festival and, of course, for all Festivals that allow to propose meetings between the Pros and the Public.
For it to be really effective, it would be a matter of using this tool often – but not always – and even less by warning when we use it or not. Otherwise it would be absolutely no fun at all.

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Featured Image : Procedural Generation Jam by Rock Paper Shotgun

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