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Procedural Generation in Game Design
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1 Reddit comment about Procedural Generation in Game Design:

u/thebracket ยท 5 pointsr/roguelikedev

Procedural generation is one of my favorite topics. From playing with early Life on my old BBC Micro to reading Short/Adams - Procedural Generation in Game Design, I find it fascinating how much you can make with guided randomness.

Nox Futura is all about procgen. It set out to be Dwarf Fortress in space, and has turned into its own thing. It does procgen on many levels of the design:

  • When the world first generates, it starts with a Simplex noise heightmap of the world (and a second heightmap for humidity). It then divides up the world so a percentage is under water, calculates some tile types (forest, plain, marsh, hill, mountain, plateau) based on altitude/humidity/slope, and finally uses Marching Squares to denote coastal areas. This in turn is divided into regions via cell noise, and region biomes are derived from the most common terrain types within the biome area (along with latitude, altitude, humidity). The result is something like this and this.
  • At that point, it randomly generates civilizations and places them on the map. Civs are generated from data files of available types, given random names, and some resources. They then basically play Civ with each other to develop the world.
  • Once you pick a starting area, the game zooms into the original altitude noise and builds local terrain. It randomly places different rock types, soil types - and from that vegetation. The starting ship is then placed (not procedural). It gives a very Minecrafty looking world.
  • Settlers themselves (your characters) are also procedurally generated. They get stats, a profession, 20-30 years of history. From that, game stats are derived. I quite like the result. How the settler appears is also generated: layers of voxel models are applied to one another to give an appearance that matches the generated data.
  • If you land in settled areas, the world reflects what the civs have already built.

    After that, game play is player driven - so the procgen aspect is to support (or kill!) the player, rather than making new stuff (more with civs is the next step). So gravity, machines, fluid dynamics and so on. It's more physics simulation than procgen at this point.

    In One Knight in the Dungeon, I set out to make a more traditional roguelike. That meant procgen takes a slightly less all encompassing role, but it's still very important.

  • I started out with a simple harness to test that procgen would work at all in Unreal.
  • I quickly needed a way to turn REX Paint prefabs into map areas.
  • I wound up needing a quick and dirty ASCII test bed for testing level designs. This shows an early attempt at making something like Nethack.

    Currently, I have several map design techniques in One Knight:

  1. Prefab glue. This loads REX prefabs from a list, figures out where the exits are (they are marked in the map) and randomly arranges them into a big mess of pre-made level parts. It can add corridors, but the only thing procedural is how to arrange things. It will redo map chunks until the exit and entrance work, tries to have one major route through the dungeon (with side exits but minimal going back on yourself), and try to keep allocating until it has reached a target amount of XP for a level.
  2. Nethack like, which pretty much implements the Nethack algorithm. It's not very smart otherwise.
  3. Cellular Automota, which gives great organic-looking maps.