"Another big benefit [of procedural content creation] is that you end up being able to do stuff you simply couldn't do otherwise," Guay continued. "It opens up innovation fields. If you're creating things through code, you have a deeper understanding of what you're doing, and you can bake in some limitations."MIGS: Far Cry 2's Guay On The Importance Of Procedural Content (via /.)
"Our artists needed to be able to build not a random tree, but a type of tree," he said by way of example. "It's actually much closer to building a particle system than building traditional art assets. Artists play with parameters more than they play with vertices."
Creating those tools allowed artists to define trees based on characteristics gleaned from extensive photo reference, more than to create a number of discrete tree variants based on those references...
When a team member made a seemingly minor after-hours change to the ecosystem, it ended up increasing the asset density of the game world by 25 percent -- resulting in more than a few headaches.
"If I'm tweaking a jungle procedurally, maybe I'll just tweak it in my test map," Guay said. "But when I integrate it into the game, somewhere in the 50 square kilometer game world, maybe in just three small areas, it might cause problems, and we won't find those problems until QA uncovers them."
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.