How Hello Games Handles Procedural Generation in No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky is an upcoming science fiction game for PlayStation 4 and PC and is being developed by Hello Games. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this game is the fact that it relies heavily on procedural generation, everything from the planets, vegetation, and even the wild life is procedurally generated and provides a completely unique experience on every planet that you visit. Procedural Generation is certainly a popular topic in the game industry as it opens up completely new possibilities in a video game where structure is really a thing of the past, and the ability to provide every player with a completely new visual experience is undoubtedly an interesting concept. But what does procedural really mean? And how are developers able to keep consistency with the art style, among the chaos that Procedural Generation can often bring. Today at GDC 2015 Art Director Grant Duncan discussed the various tools and techniques they used to bring art and technology together. During the talk Grant Duncan spoke about the perception of Procedural Generation and how many people don't know exactly what Procedural Generation actually means, because it doesn't just mean random elements in the world, and it's not completely different every single time. Rather than artists creating the things that make up the world, it essentially is created by an algorithm and a set of rules that dictate what you end up with in the game. You take all these random elements, creatures, trees, rocks, props, terrains, sky's, you then turn the algorithm on that applies all the rules that you applied to the universe and it generates what you see on screen. Artists at Hello Games would create a base template to work from, which resembles the workflow below.
- Artist creates a base template
- Can be handmade or generated art
- The Variation is then generated