Code recreates Pfizer's 1956 effort to procedurally generate drug names

Procedural generation isn't just for video game landscapes and galaxies. The technique for creating vast amounts of realistic but uncannily superficial content goes back a long way. Pfizer used it to generate drug names in 1956, feeding code to an IBM mainframe and getting potential products in return.

James Ryan (@xfoml) posted excerpts from news article from the time (above), and it's fascinating to read how it's described for a mid-1950s lay audience to whom computers and their ways were utterly alien.

Based on the newspaper's description, Hugo (@hugovk) reimplemented the 60-year-old generator, and now you too can generate thousands of realistic but uncannily superficial drug names.

Some picks:

NEW DRUG NAMES

scudyl whirringom reenef entreeic suffuseeta duplexune nickelan raunchyata handbillal gammonasa pluckerel slawax

... IMPROPER FOR A FAMILY MEDICINE CHEST

loraliva crumpledol moralura burnishite smuttyevo sucklingify hagfishat cockpited moralux ballcockose shittyule cocklesex

From the full output list I like "coughedore" -- like a stevedore, but for unloading mucus.

I wonder how long it took Pfizer to realize that procgen is useless. Read the rest

Procedurally generated Tarot cards

Procedurally-generated Tarot cards by watawatabou: "This is my submission for Summer PROCJAM 2018 - Procgen Tarot: https://watabou.itch.io/procgen-tarot. The algorithm is based on my experiments with streets generation." [via] Read the rest

Procedurally-generated Space Invaders

Kjetil Golid wrote code that generates high-definition space invaders for all imaginary Earth-defense needs. The javascript library p5.js is part of the magic. Read the rest

Infinitown: endless 3D-animated city in your browser

Infinitown is a three-dimensional city that lives in your browser, complete with folks going about their business and clouds drifting lazily overhead. It goes on forever, as the name suggests, in endless procedurally-generated loveliness. [via]

There's something perfect about it: just enough suggestive detail to get the mind rolling, not so much that its shallows become too obvious, and a clean and colorful animation style. There's no game to it, but the creator, Little Workshop, published a traditional grid-based dungeon crawler with the same random map trickery and visual polish: Keepout. Read the rest

Explore an infinite, procedurally-generated Ikea

Ikea is a Swedish furniture retailer famous for its vast and disorienting store layouts. SCP is fictional universe depicted exclusively as reports filed with a secret government agency whose job is to secure and contain supernatural objects, entities and places — think Torchwood meets the OSHA Hazardous Materials Specifications Committee and you're all set. One of my favorite SCP stories is SCP-3008, concerning the discovery of a nascent civilization formed by shoppers lost in an infinite Ikea.

And now it is a game!

SCP-3008

A game set in the SCP universe based on SCP-3008 - an endless Ikea.

The good thing is: Food stores get restocked every now and then. You won't starve.

The bad thing is that the staff tries to kill you as soon as the lights go out.

Barricade yourself with furniture, battle the staff and survive as many days as you can.

You can already download a basic prototype. Lights out!

Keep an eye on developer N00MKRAD's YouTube Channel and Patreon page for updates. Read the rest

Randomly-generated doctor handwriting

Paavo Toivanen wrote code that generates uncannily human, but utterly meaningless and illegible writing. Toivanen's thoughts on generative art are worth reading.

Generative art should ideally retain two disparate levels of perception: the material and visual qualities of a piece of art, and then a creation story or script and the intellectual journey that led to the end result.

The creation story is what's missing in most generative art, especially when it's presented as a representation of nature. Read the rest

Procedurally-generated art by Joseph Pollack

Joseph Pollack creates digital artwork—or, rather, he codes software that does. Animated, too! Check out his github for a peek at the code. [via r/proceduralgeneration]

...these were made by a program I've been writing in C++ and OpenGL. ... If you've never done ANYTHING with 3D, I'd recommend starting with a basic 3D modeling program like blender, maya, or 3D max. Get familiar with digital modeling in general. You eventually realize there are really 3 main components to 3D Graphics: geometry, lights, and to a lesser extent, the camera. Try to understand why each of these are so important, and more importantly, how you can mess with each to accomplish a certain look or quality.

Once you get more comfortable with the concept of digital modeling (or if you already are), you get into more spooky territory. If you only care about making something interesting, you can get away with a pre-made game engine like unity or unreal. If you want to get your hands dirty and go the low-end, rewarding-but-frustrating route, you'll look at something like OpenGL or DirectX. Working with OpenGL is essentially programming on the CPU and the GPU, so it can be a real pain in the ass. For someone like me that started using it without a lot of programming experience to begin with, the learning curve can be brutal. Not sure I'd recommend it for someone that just wants to mess around with graphics. All of my code is on github, but since this is a one-man project, it's a hot mess, haha.

Read the rest

Watch genetically-evolving cars race in 2D

Genetic Cars is a transfixing simulation of procedurally-generated vehicles attempting to traverse rough terrain. Each round comprises genetic variations of the previous round's most successful car.

You can randomize the terrain and tweak mutation rates, gravity and other variables. (Moon gravity is chaotic fun; Jupiter seems, for some reason, more convincingly real than the default Earth settings) Read the rest

Computer-generated music with data from real artists

Chordi asks you to select an instrument and a chord pattern, then procedurally-generates thirty seconds of obviously procedurally-generated music. It's still "talking dog" territory—so fascinating that it doesn't matter how good it is—but it really does sound vaguely yet uncannily like a certain famous rock group jamming while drunk.

Recommended settings for maximally-unpleasant results: "Tango accordion", "Minor key". The source code is on Github. Read the rest

Create a whole landscape from your own webcam

Of course, when I turned the webcam on at first, it was pointing at me, and I found myself wandering into a swollen-cheeked land where some cloud formation of my own face, eyes slowly blinking, constituted the sky.

Procedurally-generated moths are wonderfully haunting, plausible

Straddling the odd line between science and nature, this amazing new procedural generator pays striking tribute to the dusty, incandescent bodies of moths.

"Random" content tips for game devs

The Indie Games Weblog offers 5 tips for using procedurally-generated content--think fractals and L-systems--in game development. Read the rest