Open World details

How to build a continent?

To build an entire continent by hand would be practically impossible. That’s why we chose to use a procedural world generation. It isn’t universal, meaning it cannot be used to generate a variable shape of the continent on a variable world. It contains a lot of magic constants and tuning to generate the continent as close to the one described in the book as possible, and cannot generate anything else. It will use a seed – basically a random number – and based on this seed, it will always generate something slightly different.

If you use the same seed, the result will always be the same, down to the last tree. If you change the seed a little, the result will still fit the description in the book, but every city, every hill and every tree will occupy different locations. New seed will be generated for every new game.

What can player do with the world?

The players (and all the NPCs) can modify the surface of the world slightly – by digging holes, mines, flattening surfaces, removing existing foliage (trees, plants), planting seeds, paving roads. Flat surfaces can then be used to build houses and other structures – a lot of building pieces will be available. A lot of decorative objects (like carts, stands) will be available, so every town can have its unique feel and structure.

There will be several industries available that require inputs and produce outputs, that need to be transported. But don’t expect anything complex. This is just to let the NPCs occupy themselves with something and not just standing around. Still, you can probably earn some money by selling iron ore to the blacksmith.

More technical details

Let’s talk a little more about our procedural generator. It is nature-centric, meaning, if you use it to generate the world, it will generate only the surface (hills, rivers, canyons) and foliage (trees, grass, flowers) including the weather, day/night cycle and season cycle. No buildings, no paths, no grain fields. As if people and animals never existed. If you ask the generator: “Generate this portion of the map at these coordinates at this date”, the result is a beautiful natural scenery suitable for the Unreal Engine 5 level streaming.

But exploring that world would be boring. Therefore, it is possible to also include a history of modifications that you, the player, any NPC or animal has done to that portion of the map. Example: “Generate this portion of the map at these coordinates at this date, but take into account all trees have been cut at this date, then there has been hole dug at this date, the road has been paved at this date, this section was flattened at this date, …” By feeding it with all the information, the procedural generator can create a scene with all the modifications included. It still won’t include buildings, but it will try to simulate a “passage of time”. For example, if you pave the road in the spring and there won’t be any traffic during the summer, it will be overgrown by the autumn. If you plant barley seeds, they will start to grow.

To summarize, our procedural world generator not only generates the world but also simulates a passage of time as nature tries to take over every modification done by humans – we call it Beautiful decline procedural generator. Shout out to Abney Park.

It is important to note, that if you feed the generator the same input, it will always generate the same output – it is deterministic. After getting an output from the procedural generator, the buildings and other decorative objects are placed in the scene.

All the modifications will be stored in an octree structure, so it is possible to access them quickly for any specific world location. This octree structure, together with a dump of BMD database, will represent the full game state.

The number of modifications for every region will be limited. Some modifications can be grouped together, for example flattening the surface or removing all foliage. But a more complex modification of the surface will be limited – so no creating of new mountains or islands – sorry. Surface changes (except flat surfaces) require o lot of computing power, because practically every cached result (pathfinding, visibility, slope – foliage types, water flow) must be recalculated.

But you will be able to dig long holes/caves, even dig into some hidden underground dungeons.

FROZEN BY THE SUN - Single player story-rich AI generated game

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