• Category Archives Survival
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  • Procedurally generated awesomeness

    Have you heard about No Man’s Sky? Currently in development at Hello Games, it is an exploration game involving space travel between colorful worlds. Players will be able to travel between and explore different planets, solar systems, and galaxies within an infinite universe. There will be countless creatures and terrains to discover and explore. The possibilities within this game are theoretically infinite.

    Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Creating a space exploration game would traditionally involve imagining, coding, and designing every star, planet, creature, and everything in between. The possibilities within the game would be limited by the imagination, time, and budget of the development team. So, what makes No Man’s Sky different? Procedural generation. I’ll embed an IGN video interview with Sean Murray, Founder of Hello Games, in which he discusses the technology that makes this infinite universe possible. The short of it is that they have developed an algorithm that creates the universe using mathematics. Rather than creating each planet and creature individually, they have developed base assets that the game draws from and morphs into seemingly infinite variants.

    The possibilities of this excite me to no end. I recall my brother and me playing Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity on our Windows 95 PC back in the 90’s. That game gave the player free will in terms of what destinations to set for the Enterprise. However, these destinations had no gameplay behind them unless they were connected to the main story. I remember understanding then that it was limited by what the developers could program into the game and wondered at the possibility of going beyond this limitation.  I wanted so badly for each of those random new worlds to which I traveled to offer a new and unexpected adventures and alien races. It looks like twenty years later, No Man’s Sky is going to offer that!

    I am left wondering what else this means for the advancement of game design. Clearly, levels and worlds can be left to the system to generate according to the rules set. No Man’s Sky has even found a way to alter and mutate creature design so that artists do not have to design 1,000’s of individual creatures. Is it possible procedural generation (or a process like it) could advance to a point where designers provide even smaller building blocks (think atoms), and the system practically generates the art (according to the rules set, of course)? Even more of a challenge: could procedural generation move beyond level and creature design and revitalize the stories and AI we encounter in our games? That may be a “square peg in a round hole” -type of issue, so who knows what innovations in game design will bring. All I know is I am eager to see what comes and extremely excited to experience the seemingly endless possibilities of No Man’s Sky.

  • Don’t Starve Diaries

    It is finally here – the Don’t Starve project I have hinted at. It is a series in which the character narrates highlights of their day in a format similar to diary entries. This first part to the series is the Don’t Starve universe through the eyes of Wolfgang the Strongman. Wolfgang is portrayed as a circus strongman of Russian descent who has more brawn than brains. The game portrays him as scared of the dark, so I find it a nice juxtaposition of his strength to be scared of many things, but not to the point he can’t try to survive.

    It is fun to do – I get to play some Don’t Starve and then boil it down to the most interesting parts and provide some goofy narration on top. It needs some work, but I am hoping that simple act of creating these videos will provide practice and refinement of my editing, storytelling, and voices and accents.

    Wolfgang’s story is being told in the vanilla universe, but I recently picked up the Reign of Giants DLC and will tell future stories with that turned on.

    I certainly welcome feedback, as I would like to make this series as good as it can be.

  • Let’s Play Don’t Starve

    I have started a Let’s Play of the fantastic indie survival game from Klei Entertainment, Don’t Starve, on my YouTube channel. I am only a few hours into the game, so this Let’s Play is centered around playing the starting character, Wilson, and putting my learning process on display. It is really quite fun. If you don’t know much about the game, you can also check out my Don’t Starve first impressions video. So please, join me every Don’t Starve Saturday for another episode! Here is the first one: