Procedural game environment generation in independent game development: case study and simulation approach
The evolution of game development techniques and digital distribution platforms has not only boosted the power of mainstream game developers, but also provided a global opportunity for independent game developers. Various indie titles (e.g. Minecraft, Terraria and Starbound) show reliable sales records encourages more and more independent game developers to use procedural game environment generation (PGEG) techniques in their own game products. One of the key factors in improving a game product’s popularity and life cycle is to provide a unique gameplay experience for each player. Procedural game environment generation has the ability to create unique worlds while greatly reducing the resource requirement during the development process. Although the characteristics of this technique appeal to millions of indie developers who have a low level of available resources, previous studies have focused only on procedural solutions for generating specific game environments; the study of flexible and fast PGEG frameworks is still a not well-explored area. According to previous research and practical case study, one of the most important factors in a PGEG system is performance. A PGEG framework is proposed and implemented along with a game prototype simulation in this thesis. The simulation approach uses the core features of the framework and a combination of Perlin noise and other procedural algorithms to generate a 2D town as the game environment. Players can control a small character to explore a real-time generated world with a smooth experience. Although the elements and structure of the prototype world are simple, a series of evaluation tests prove the viability and flexibility of the framework. Many objects could be rendered in a single frame using the optimized render system in the framework. The multi-threading procedural system and block system provide a simple but effective way of using various combinations of procedural methods to generate virtual worlds while maintaining good control of visual issues and system consumption. The stability and effectiveness of the framework mean that there is more computational power for practical game development. Throughout the evaluation and discussion, the framework is proven to be suitable and valuable for independent game developers who intend to build games based on PGEG. Additionally, recommendations for future developments are pointed out. They include developing more simulations among various procedural algorithms and generating a three-dimensional environment for further evaluation.