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.
For some developers, all this talk of procedural content generation is bittersweet. If you’re generating a world map, for instance, you probably don’t have too many requirements of it. A bit of land, not too many mountains – other than that, the randomness is part of the appeal. But what if you have very specific requirements? Well, then you’d need to test the content you generate to make sure it’s okay to give to the player. For many games this is a tricky and daunting task. How on earth would you automatically test a physics puzzle game, for instance? I’m glad you asked. This week on The Saturday Papers – a novel approach to simulation that can test real-time physics-based games (and more).
If you read The Saturday Papers regularly, you’ll know that there’s a lot of wonderful research going on related to games all around the world. You need a lot of things to do research – great students, great research leaders, grant money, time, luck, and more. But maybe most importantly, in our field at least, sometimes the one thing you need most is players. Today you can play a game and help out a bunch of great scientists with their experiments. Here’s how. Continue reading
One of the aims of The Saturday Papers is to introduce people to new academic research that I think might inspire, help or just excite them. It’s also a great way to link up academics with developers who are interested in putting new techniques or wild experimental ideas into practice in their own projects. Occasionally, though, there are unusual overlaps between the work of developers and researchers that are just too perfect not to point out. This week on The Saturday Papers, we’re looking at game description languages.
While it isn’t quite twelve months since the start of The Saturday Paper, it’s the end of the year and that always makes me want to start summarising things, so I thought I’d take a look at how The Saturday Papers had fared in the entries we’ve had over the last few months or so. I don’t want to name specific papers because it would imply that some work is more popular than others (which is the opposite really – it’s down to how I sell it, mixed with some good old Internet serendipity). With the names removed though, how about some numbers?
What does it mean to make procedural content generation a part of your game? We can think of lots of games that use procedural content generation as a game mechanic of some kind, but as someone put it at AIIDE this year, we rarely see PCG used in as fundamental a way as physics is used in Angry Birds, for instance. Procedural content generation as a mechanic – what might that look like? This time on The Saturday Paper we look at a game that offers an answer to that question, and the research that went into it.
Last week the annual AIIDE conference took place in Boston. AIIDE is a fantastic conference with a great mix of talks, and this time I was lucky enough to be co-organising a workshop as part of the proceedings. As part of our workshop’s schedule of events, and with some generous help from the Computational Creativity Group, I was able to organise the very first DAGGER – a get-together of academics and game developers with an emphasis on playing games rather than worrying about presentations or networking. I’ve got a few photos and a quick report on what we got up to…
Stealth games seem to be types of action game on the face of it – often third-person, three-dimension environments with enemies and doors and navigation problems to solve. But the pacing and mechanics of stealth games makes them more complex, adding in new dimensions to consider like how the levels and positions of obstacles change over time. That makes them hard to design for – but help is at hand. This week on the Saturday Papers: an open-source Unity tool that analyses stealth game levels in time and space.
The next International Conference on Computational Creativity published its Call for Papers this week, which is normally only interesting to researchers who like receiving emails that start with “Sorry if you receive this more than once”. However, I want to write a little something about it on here, because this year’s conference is going to be bigger than ever, and is branching out to be more inclusive, well-defined and full of potential than ever. If you’re a developer, researcher, coder, hacker or anyone else interested in the field, please read on!
Procedural generation systems – they’re just tools, right? They’re little bits of code we slot into games to solve a tiny problem for us. Don’t want to design levels? Randomly generate them! Players getting bored? Randomly spawn fetch quests for them to do! Some people are interested in procedural generation being more than this though, and one way this can be achieved is to get different generators to start working together. This week on The Saturday Paper: a world generator that takes its cue from a space of procedural stories.