Robert Hornbek

Game Development & Exploration

Infinite Possibility

Posted by rHornbek on July 28, 2010

The videos I have here are two parts of a tech domo for the game Infinity, also know as Infinity Universe.  While they say they cannot promise anything you see will be in the final product, observing it in its current state is still fascinating to behold.

Flying around the space station is not all that impressive, but once the ship begins heading toward the planet things get really interesting.  Floating through the rings you can see they are made up of rocks that are both small and startlingly massive!  However, once you begin to descend onto the planet my mind was blown.

From what I know thus far everything in the game is procedurally generated, making it possible to create seemingly endless content.  You don’t know what ‘procedurally generated’ means?   A programmer would give you a slightly different answer, but here is how I can best describe it:

Instead of creating each object by hand you create the base components, then teach the program how to assemble them.  You add an element of randomness, accompanied by limitations and hit GO.  If you did your job right the computer can begin to produce a nearly infinite set of different objects.  This video shows how this guy procedurally generated cities.

I made mention before about procedurally generated content in my post about Spelunky and this process has been used dozens of times before in games, but Infinity has really taken it to an extreme.

Procedurally generated content is by no means a miracle tool and a lot of the time it is never perfect.  Hand made content can have a lot more character because it was built by someone with a vision.  A computer on the other hand cannot always fulfill that need.  This means even after something has been procedurally generated individuals need to go back in and add final touches.  Other times you may have given the computer too much freedom in the creation and it does not produce realistic or ideal results, which then required more intervention from people.

None the less, procedurally generated content is a fascinating tool in creating environments, items and all sorts of things.  I look forward to the day when we see effective procedurally generated lifeforms.  All of this gets me dreaming about StarScape yet again.

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