Here's Far Cry 2 technical director Dominic Guay talking about the importance of "procedural content generation" for massive online games -- basically, using software to create worlds that had previously been hand-built by artists. It makes a lot of sense, but what fascinates me is the narrative possibilities for fiction about games: these procedural systems have or will shortly attain a level of complexity that makes it impossible to predict their outcomes. It's the Halting Problem
-- worlds where software off the rails could generate impossible situations, upside-down worlds, treasure heaps, cowardly monsters and brave grass. I'm thinking especially of abandonware worlds where only a few players remain and the gamemasters have stopped paying close attention. What odd maps might be drawn as the die-hards explore the outermost reaches of these worlds?
"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
"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."
On the crowdfunding site Massdrop, board-game fan Cassidy Williams is taking preorders for a $160 Scrabble-themed mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches (if you've got a mechanical keyboard kicking around that you'd like to convert, you can get the $47 keycap set instead).
Tim Harford (previously) turned me on to Martin Lloyd's Amazing Tales, a storytelling RPG designed to be played between a grownup games-master and one or more kids.
Back in 2012, we published a feature about Frank Cifaldi, one of the world’s leading collectors of rare vintage videogames and related ephemera. Since then, Cifaldi founded the Video Game History Foundation, dedicated to preserving this vibrant art form’s history and culture for the ages. (Vice)
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As more companies aim to reel in costs and boost productivity, project managers are becoming an essential part of many operations, and they’re paid handsomely for their expertise. But, while demand is high, you’ll have a hard time getting your foot in the door if you’re not toting the right certifications. The Official Lean Six Sigma […]
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