Procedural Content Generation: The future of Gaming?

July 12, 2011

Graphics are often the redeemer or condemner of a game.

If a game has great gameplay but sub-par graphics, it often leaves players feeling cheated, missing something they feel they were entitled to.

Yet if a game has mediocre action but amazing graphics, players will come away with an inflated sense of the game because they were immersed that much easier into the game.

The line is fine, and the difference good graphics can make is, to most gamers, quite substantial.

With that in mind, it makes what MCeperoG is doing on his blog that much more interesting.

His project is called Procedural World, and essentially is based around a computer designing a world that looks so realistic, on first glance it appears to be a photograph.

Procedural content generation involves creating a number of algorithms for an environment which can be manipulated upon game creation, ensuring that there are many possibilities for the world that is created.

This all means that from a few simple codes, infinite levels can be created, saving on cost for the development of a game and also on the size of the game.

With only a single set of data points for objects to be based upon, yet infinite variation, there is no need to painstakingly design every tree and mountain range.

And when the results are as stunning as those found on the blog of MCeperoG and many others, it begs the question of why anyone would want to design by hand.

There is of course a drawback.

It is said that PCG uses a lot of processing power, but with the development of faster and faster consoles and computers, this is less and less likely to be a problem in the future.

This type of creation is even more stunning when considering how graphics used to look.

Picture 8-bit Mario attempting to evade everything on his way to his next level, and compare those graphics to these. It really is difficult to comprehend how far we have come in such a short space of time.

While it hasn’t really exploded into popularity yet, I can easily see the design method becoming more and more popular with companies trying to cut costs, and with the success games such as Minecraft and Diablo have had, it will not be long until a major level based game creator attempts to use it throughout their game.


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