A Man Did Not Make This Beautiful World. A Computer Did.

Procedurally-generated worlds, in which the computer is able to randomly design an entire area on the fly, are the future of game development.

They already exist in the games of today, of course. Minecraft, for example, procedurally-generates a new game world every time you begin a new game. But Minecraft doesn't look as pretty as this.

These screenshots are from a project by Miguel Cepero called Procedural World. It's not a game in itself, but as he states on his blog, the technology has very gamey applications, like making a "Dwarf Fortress universe with rich graphics" or a "nextgen Minecraft".

Things are obviously a little rough in spots, as this is a work-in-progress, but what's already been achieved is amazing.

Now, the computer obviously doesn't do everything. The programming has to be done by man. But once it's loaded in, all those sweeping vistas and towering mountain ranges are one-of-a-kind instances, creations of random chance.

Which is probably what makes them so breathtaking. It took billions of years of random events, not the hand of a video game artist, to shape the real world; it's probably for the best we let billions of random events shape our game worlds as well.

Procedural World [Miguel Cepero, via Edge]



    my university (RMIT) are looking into this and are wanting to combine this with auto generating goals/quests that adapt to your play style. Example, you are a sniper player, well the game will detect this and create a mission were you must snipe this target in a compound and the auto generating map will create a map that has a random compound surrounded by many random possible vantage points for the player to enjoy playing with.

    This is the future of games, we would have stuff like this now but developers are spending too much money and resources on graphics technology and not stuff like above and npc AI.

      I guess a random map generator for FPS' would increase replayability to the extent random map generators did for RTS'.

    For a work in progress that is still pretty awesome.

    It looks good but it world probs look more realistic if it used the cryEngine 3 ^_^

    Dwarf Fortress with a decent UI/UX would be fantastic.

    I think random worlds are cool, in some instances. But in general, I'll take a well designed, thought out dungeon over a random one anyway. Sure, random works, but nothing beats good level design. Even with super powerful technology.

    Wouldn't this open up a game to a plethora of bugs and stability issues for incredibly complex games? This is what Bethesda did with Daggerfall, leading to many random issues, which is why they now do all the terrain by hand.

    Its not like the graphics are amazing; they're very dotty, but as this is early days of a technology we will be seeing a lot more of... Incredible! Half the charm of Minecraft is knowing the world is stretching out basically infinitely in front of you and every new area you explore, only YOU have set eyes on.

    That same sense with graphics like this... Amazing stuff.

    Sadly the other half of Minecrafts charm is the creation aspect, and I'm not sure how it could be done without a world thats essentially made of lego!

    It would be awesome if this application allowed the exporting of texture / model data to be applied in to other mediums. Definitely not into this sort of thing myself but it would definitely be a handy tool for developers

    Wasn't there a game on the Amiga 500 that generated procedural fractal landscapes? It was a very snowy game and you used to ski everywhere. I just can't remember the name, but I remember at the time, the graphics and landscapes where awesome and the world was so huge.

      Yep - it was called 'Midwinter' :)

      There was also Midwinter 2, which was even more impressive (for its time).

        Cheers for that, just looked it up and it was Midwinter like you said. Good times.

    Minecraft works well because the blocks from which the world is built are the ideal size to be manipulated by players. Giving players the opportunity for creativity and agency in the world the way Minecraft has would be very difficult with an environment so detailed and complex.

    And just consider how much more playability randomly generated worlds/instances would give games like WoW, SW:TOR and the next gen MMO's we all know how boring it is to repeat daily quests but if every time you picked up the quest and say "Find 12 relics of a lost kingdom" the world was different the items were different and the possibility of finding something random and epic was there it would make it so so much more worthwhile.

    This definitely holds true in the Sci Fi genre as you could have a farm generating new worlds alot faster then level designers (and somewhat cheaper, not alot) to continue to generate new content.

    The only downside is you might get things that seem either improbable (like a building inside a cliff face) which lets face it would be awesome to find or areas that are frustratingly inaccessible (well thats life, ever been into a rainforest?)

    design the mechanic, not the level.

    give the player a set of tools and rules and let them decide what happens...let them play the game the way they want to.

    this is why the graphically-underwhelming (not really!) minecraft will be still gaining popularity when you trade in Crisis in six months.

    Procedural generation has already been used to great effect in games and tech demos.
    Frontier: Elite II packed a galaxy onto a floppy disk in 1993. Diablo had you playing a different dungeon every game. Kkrieger is the legendary 96k FPS (that's 96 kilobytes) from 2006.
    I hate to belittle this development, but it's an incremental step to generate a 3-dimensional landscape like this rather than a 2-dimensional map as seen in Diablo.

    The real innovation would be the combining the procedural generation of a world with complex geological/organic models (as seen in Dwarf Fortress), with graphics/physics/game engines that can present that world to players to create unique and compelling gaming/storytelling experiences.

    This is an interesting blog that I've been following which is currently focusing on this same concept. http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?s=project+frontier

    I'm working at RMIT today!

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