[MUD-Dev] Procedural content generation

Travis Nixon tnixon at avalanchesoftware.com
Fri Oct 12 13:48:17 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


From: "Brian Hook" <bwh at wksoftware.com>

> As I've mentioned in the past, I'm doing procedural content
> generation for a game I'm working on.  A friend of mine made an
> interesting observation:

>   "You don't explore procedurally generated universes, you reveal
>   them.  And that's a different experience than exploration."

> Subtle distinction between the two, but he made a very good point.
> His argument against procedurally generated content is that, no
> matter how good you make the generator, in the end it's still
> random and will feel random.  It won't have the flavor, depth and
> cohesiveness of hand-made content.  The individual pieces don't
> fit together to form a higher level structure that the player can
> identify and relate to.  

Although I think it's patently silly to make the claim that
generated universes will NEVER have flavor, depth, and cohesiveness,
I certainly agree with the fact that it's not possible right now.
At some point, though, we will really understand the processes we as
humans use to create those things.  And at that point, it will be
possible to get a computer to do them, if a powerful enough computer
exists at that point.

However, even with today's knowledge and technology, and given the
right tools, it ought to be possible to add that "human touch" to
things that are algorithmically created, by giving direction where
it's needed, filling in blanks that the machine cannot, and so
forth.

Which, now that I'm reading the rest of your message (I started
replying after the first paragraph), is exactly the sort of thing
you're talking about, although I lean more towards option 3,
defining the high level aspects and generating from there. :)

And btw, your friend is wrong.  You most certainly can explore
generated universes.  It just takes a good generation algorithm.
One capable of generating backstory and history along with the
planet.  Get him to rephrase to: "you can't explore procedurally
generated universes that we know how to generate right now".

:)
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