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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Procedural Generation

No Man's Sky had a hype train like no other, but only because the idea of procedural generation made the world tantalizing.

Procedural generation in video games means that the audio, visuals, the structures, and even the gameplay can be created at runtime by code.

There's no need for expensive tools, hundreds of hours of work in pipelines that get clogged regardless of effectiveness or efficiency, or workaround solutions to simple problems.

The idea is that someone with a cursory knowledge of a concept, for example - stone - can write code and use mathematics to create this:
 Computer programming is largely language and math-based. That means we can reduce extremely large systems and environments down to their simplest form. Don't let the word 'database' intimidate you, because they're just rows and columns of information, just like a regular excel spreadsheet. Those cells of data can be interpreted into something as simple as the size, orientation, color, and roughness of each of the stones shown above.

Even something as complex as animating an animal can be solved using a procedural approach. The model composing that animal has to be rigged with joints which represent bones. Each of those bones only has a certain range of motion, and then has muscles attached to points, which further modify how the bone can move. After the entire model is fully rigged, a bit of code can determine how that animal walks, runs, turns, etc. based on how those bones and muscles interact.

So instead of dumping money into arbitrary problems that we can't solve with the tools that are currently popular, why don't we dump some money into solving those problems with new tools that were either previously underrated, misunderstood, or simply undiscovered!