I’ve set up this scheduled post to let you know that you can watch me give a short talk at Eurogamer’s Rezzed event right now by clicking here to watch via their Twitch stream. There’s already been some great talks at Rezzed today, so I hope I can keep up with their level. I’ll be showing some lesser-seen games, demoing some of ANGELINA’s new Unity tricks, and talking about the questions of the future.
Phew! There’s a lot of exciting things coming up. I just wanted to write a little post to let you know:
March 28th, Birmingham, UK - I’m honoured to be giving a Developer Session at EGX Rezzed, a big games event organised by Eurogamer. Come see me at 5pm on the Friday where I’ll be talking about ANGELINA and showing off some games that I rarely or never show people!
Mark Riedl – March 31st, Goldsmiths, London – We’re very fortunate to have Mark Riedl coming to talk at Goldsmiths this month. Mark is a hugely important researcher in interactive narrative and virtual worlds, and you’ll have seen some of his supervised work in previous Saturday Papers. Come and see him talk about his research! Full details of the talk are here.
April 7th, Utrecht, The Netherlands – I’m talking at Indievelopment, a day of talks about videogames. I’m going to be giving a talk called Generate Everything and it’s going to be great. I’m very excited about this. More info over on their site.
If you see me at any of these events, come and say hi! I’ll probably be carrying around floppy disks which you’d be most welcome to, and it’s always nice to meet new people. Both of my talks will be recorded and put online too, which I’ll link to later.
As you may have noticed, the last few weeks have been quiet over here. Things are really busy – lots of talks coming up, I’ve started writing my thesis, and there’s lots of little side projects that are filling in all the crevices with task-based rubber cement. At times like this, something has to suffer, and in this case I’m going to have to put The Saturday Papers on hold for a little while.
The good news is in that time there’s going to be some great conferences, so when we come back I’ll have plenty to tell you about! I also have some little projects in the meantime that will be of interest to anyone who liked The Saturday Papers. It shouldn’t be more than a couple of months, but I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out the ongoing work on The Procedural Generation Book and of course the archives of The Saturday Papers past. Thanks to everyone who continues to read, comment and share – we’ll be back soon!
Is there anything that can’t be generated? In the past, games have tried their hands at generating level designs, monsters and items, world histories, musical scores, artwork and puzzles - it seems like there’s nothing we couldn’t try to generate. I like that attitude a lot. I think that trying to generate every bit of a videogame we can think of can help us shine a light on new game mechanics, new ways to approach game design, and new ways of thinking about game creation. This week we’re looking at a system I put together just over a year ago for generating simple game mechanics for platform games.
-  There are many other examples for this list – these were just the ones that leapt out at me. ↩
One of the nice things about procedural content generation (PCG) is that it encompasses a wide collection of designers and programmers, who all use it for different purposes and at different stages of their game and its development. That’s how we get the amazing variety of approaches, applications and tools that you see in games today, and the research we’ve covered in this column. What similarities can we see? And how might that help us think differently about the systems we already use? This week on The Saturday Papers: a study of procedural generators, and an interesting means of classifying them.
It’s been a while since I updated you all on what I’ve been working on, and since January is Official Paper Writing Month if you’re in Computational Creativity, I thought I’d write a quick post to tell you about something I’m submitting to the conference that you might find interesting. It’s more technology-related than games-related, but like all of the work I do, I intend to build it into ANGELINA someday soon! The work is all about getting ANGELINA to express opinions that aren’t yours, aren’t mine, and aren’t random. It’s about generating opinions that you could actually argue with.
I haven’t discussed my own research in this column yet, but you may know that I’m interested in automating the process of game design in its entirety. At the highest level, game designers produce mechanics that connect to our understanding of reality – gravity makes you fall, projectiles hurt things they hit, touching food heals you – and through this convey meaning that can be anything from representational to metaphorical and artistic. Can machines do this? This week on The Saturday Paper: a system that tries to connect the real world to game mechanics.
Last month, ANGELINA entered Ludum Dare for the first time. Ludum Dare is a game jam – a friendly contest where people get together to each design a videogame in a short period of time, normally from scratch. This was a pretty big landmark for the project, and marks the start of an exciting new phase for the research. I haven’t talked about it much since the results, but with the publication of a feature on Eurogamer today I can finally go into more depth.
When programming systems it makes sense to keep complexity and scale in mind. Don’t try and render 400,000 sprites all at once. Don’t try and send the entire world state to every player on the server. What about our design tools, though? Are we being too cautious when it comes to coding, and what riches might we be able to access if we jumped in the deep end from time to time? This week on The Saturday Paper: the power (and responsibility) of computing everything at once.
If you’ve been reading this site for a year or two, you’ll know that I like to post lots of screenshots and video whenever I’m building a new version of ANGELINA, even playable demos. This time I’ve been quieter, and the screenshots on Twitter have been fewer and further between. That’s because next week ANGELINA is going to be entering Ludum Dare - the first game jam entry we’ve attempted. It’s going to be a big debut for the new system, and I’m rather nervous indeed.