Viewing entries tagged
Titan Souls

Built to Play 56: The Procedural

Comment

Built to Play 56: The Procedural

Back from PAX East, we discuss isolation in space, handcrafted design, and how abandoned buildings can set the mood.

On our trip to Boston we discussed both the fruits and failings of procedural generation. You might risk sacrificing distinct worlds for the illusion of replayability.  But, if successful, you end up with a nuanced environment that makes you want to dive deeper into its world and its mechanics. If you want our opinions in depth, we rant for about 40 minutes on two earlier episodes, however, we did end up talking to a few people about having a world procedurally generated versus handcrafted design and wound up the episode you're hopefully about to hear. 

Procedural generation, by the way, is a fancy way of saying that there's a bank of possible design elements that the game places at random. That can be story, levels, enemies, artificial intelligence or animation. The process isn't truly random, otherwise the game would be an incomprehensible mess. Usually there's a sophisticated algorithm behind the scenes that builds the game, providing it with rules for how the game should look. If done well, the randomized element should feel distinct without being too alien.

The most common expression of procedural generation can be seen in the roguelike, which generally randomizes its levels and makes you restart the game each time you play. Though, it's hardly the only kind of game to use that process. In this episode, we'll discuss one or two of those special cases that got the process right, while espousing some of the benefits of handcrafted design.

On episode 56 of Built to Play you'll hear the following segments:

  • Tom Jubert, narrative designer of FTL: Faster than Lighttalks about writing a world that feel infinite, and how not to break that illusion. (0:25 - 11:20)
  • In the news, Game Freak leaves the nest, virtual reality goes wild,  the PlayStation 4 lands in China, and the end is nigh, because there are no games coming out in November. (11:20 - 34:00)
  • Mark Foster explains the inspirations and design of Titan Soulsand how developers have reacted. (34:00 - 41:35)
  • Alex Jansen shows us how to be Loud on Planet X, and why Tegan and Sara want to fight off an alien horde. (41:35 - 47:00)
  • James Primate and Joar Jakobsson of Videocult discuss the importance of mood in game design, and how the beauty of decay led to a world of rain. (47:00 - 56:40)
NecropolisPax.jpg

THANKS TO THE FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE FOR "Is That You or Are You You" and "Oxygen Garden" by Chris Zabriskie, "Flying Pea v1" by Daddy Scrabble, "Rest johnny_ripper remix" by Alphabets, and "As Colorful As Ever" by Broke for Free.

We also used "Nightmares" by Patrick Ellis, Guns and Ammunition (Luke Lalonde/Born Ruffians Remix) by July Talk, and "hard-rain" by Barkenov on Free Sound.

BUILT TO PLAY IS A PRODUCT OF THE SCOPE AT RYERSON RADIO STATION IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN TORONTO. IT WAS PRODUCED AND EDITED BY ARMAN AGHBALI AND WRITTEN BY DANIEL ROSEN.

IF YOU LIKE THE SHOW PLEASE SUBSCRIBE AND RATE US ONLINE. IT HELPS MORE PEOPLE FIND THE SHOW AND GIVES US AN IDEA HOW WE'RE DOING. FEEL FREE TO COMMENT DOWN BELOW.

Comment

Bit of Play: PAX EAST OVER

Comment

Bit of Play: PAX EAST OVER

We wrap up the Penny Arcade Expo East with more talk about procedural generation and the future of visual novels. 

Procedural generation really struck a chord with us at this year's show, and in some ways we turned our head on it. Procedural generation is simply the process by which a computer remixes premade design elements or assets within a game. That could be a level, where the rooms in the level are shifted around between rounds, or through something as nebulous as animation, leaving you with wildly gesticulating. In our last Bit of Play, we took a much more negative opinion on the roguelike fad, a genre of game primarily known for its procedurally generated levels. While neither of us think that procedural generation can be a catch all solution to money problems, replayability or all that surprising play, it does have its uses. And just as we found games that seem to be abusing that concept, we also found ones that have put it to good effect.

Perhaps the direct opposite of procedural generation was the handcrafted narrative of the visual novel, a genre that hasn't changed much since its inception. The visual novel is quite literally a reading experience where you make choices between yes or no/left or right/sexy times or no sexy times. With mechanics so simple it's rare that you come across any that deviate from the traditional, and yet we found two on the floor that take the genre in new directions. Our first, VA-11 HALL-A gave you the role of bartender, and replaced decision making with cocktail creation. The drinks change the options from here or there to Martini, Daiquiri, or poorly made versions of both. We also saw Christine Love's new game, Ladykiller in a Bind, which makes conversations more active by allowing you to interject with choices throughout dialogue, or ignore them completely. Both games showed ways to make the visual novel a more active experience, and gave you some agency that visual novels often lack. 


THANKS TO THE FREE MUSIC ARCHIVE FOR "Baby Sleeping" by Natalie Skvortsova

BUILT TO PLAY IS A PRODUCT OF THE CJRU RADIO STATION IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN TORONTO. IT WAS PRODUCED AND EDITED BY ARMAN AGHBALI AND WRITTEN BY DANIEL ROSEN.

IF YOU LIKE THE SHOW PLEASE SUBSCRIBE AND RATE US ONLINE. IT HELPS MORE PEOPLE FIND THE SHOW AND GIVES US AN IDEA HOW WE'RE DOING. FEEL FREE TO COMMENT DOWN BELOW.

Comment