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Procedural Tips

November 23rd, 2012

So there’s a cool article on IndieGames.com now with tips on using proc gen elements in your game.  Maarten Brouwer of procedural platformer Cargo Commander goes into some great details about how to use procedural content beyond just having random elements, but really going into making it balanced and interesting to the player.  Very similar to what I wrote about a few days ago in making the program design the levels, not just randomise them.  Go read the article – it’s got some great insights and practical advice.

A big “but also” I’d add is relating to his first point on not worrying about connectivity.  Worry about connectivity!  Floodfill is a miracle tool that can ensure everything is connected, whilst also being a golden technique for procedurally generating content in interesting ways.  It can be used to make 100% solvable lock-key puzzles for instance.  It can determine the optimum point to place enemies and items, and inform the AI about the right way to behave in that area.  It can detect dead-ends, which can then be removed, looped up, or transformed into something interesting for the player.  Best part about floodfill is it’s quite a simple algorithm at its base, easy for any basic coder to learn.

Some take the attitude that 100% connectivity isn’t important. Personally I think if a human designer would never make such a level, why should an AI designer? There’s no excuses in design faults like this, no matter how much you brush them over. There are a wealth of procedural tools out there to help overcome any design problem, it’s just a matter of using them right.

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