Procedural generation of data

proceduraldetailSo as mentioned elsewhere, I’ve begun working on an update to MMORPG Tycoon.

MMORPG Tycoon was always about three things for me.  One was a game concept I had been tossing around for ages, called “Bunnies Can’t Die”.. up until Rayman: Raving Rabids came out and killed that title stone dead.  I’ll talk more about that project in some future post.  Maybe I’ll even post a screenshot, if I can dredge one up from somewhere.  But suffice to say that it was fundamentally about a game with lots of creatures on screen.  10,000 on screen at once, in fact.

The second thing behind MMORPG Tycoon was a question to myself:  Why do so many people get hooked on MMORPGs, when fundamentally there isn’t anything in them?  With the exception of small amounts of story, fundamentally you’re playing the same game over and over again ad infinitum;  why is it that people don’t get bored with MMORPGs the same way that they get bored with most other games, even though to a casual glance, MMORPGs seem to be far less interactive and much shallower than single-player games?  (I expect that I’ll explore this topic in a lot more depth in future posts)

The third thing (which I guess I kind of spoiled by the title of this post), was the challenge of procedurally generating a lot of content for a game;  not something which I’d done, before.  In the first release of MMORPG Tycoon, there was a fair amount of data procedurally generated at the start of each game;  your competitors and how well they were doing, the 10,000 potential subscribers in the game universe, the general map framework you had to work within, the initial map set up by the people you had ostensibly bought the business from, the initial set of classes and monsters and so forth.

For MMORPG Tycoon 2 (or whatever it ends up being named), I’ve been focusing on these second two parts, but am still in the early phases of both.  I’m slowly narrowing in on what I want the game to really be focused around, and I’m also slowly building up tools to procedurally generate all sorts of content.  So far, this content has mostly been 3D mesh for use in generating props, roads, vegetation, buildings, etc. on the fly.  No textures being applied to things yet, so it all has a slight “shiny plastic” look to it at the moment, but that’s only temporary.  The squiggly thing in the shot above is a decorative prop which the current game testbed generated for me a few minutes ago.. it begins to give an idea of the sorts of shapes that procedural mesh can create!

Anyhow.. this is really just a quick note to reassure everyone that I’m still alive and still working on things;  between illness and real world paying work, I haven’t been accomplishing much during home time, the last few weeks, but I’m hoping that both illness and work will ease up again soon.