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Automated art generation?

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Would it be possible to create an (several?) algorithm(s) for automatically generating landscapes and characters if the algorithm(s) were supplied with some input from the user regarding what type of look the terrain/character should have? Or would this take too long time, even on modern computers? IMHO, if this could be done, it would eliminate the need for art in game development. I've seen some examples of games that have done this with levels and even characters (The Sims 2 comes to mind...), but all those were based on input from a "base" model AFAIK. Can someone post their opinion on this please?

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It is possible. And it already exists. Procesural textures, procedural planets, etc. are all generated by code. The problem comes when, for example you want to decorate a level. You can't just put randomly selected plants in randomly selected positions or corners. It just looks stupid. To define an algorithm to generate a decorating theme and make it look "human designed" you need to code a brain into the PC (which currently you can't do). Another solution (to generate characters for example) is "artificial selection". Say you have a code to generate a character and has lots of inputs, you start with random inputs and by selecting from samples you "modulate" the inputs to generate more samples until it comes close to something natural. Hope this helps,

JVFF

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I have some ideas on how to do good procedural generation of pretty much anything. A couple of friends of mine implemented a rough prototype using my ideas (and some of their own) to generate cities, but this is just an example of what can be done. Take a look here.

Of course you don't just throw buildings at random places, but you start by defining larger structures, like neighbourhoods, blocks, avenues, etc. All levels of the scene are designed following some patterns in the style of Christopher Alexander's "pattern language". Getting the result to be of good quality requires a lot of work and fine tuning, but it doesn't require you to simulate a brain, or anything esoteric like that. Decoration, garden design and even Feng-Shui correctness can all be implemented following similar ideas.

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You may be interested in this site:
http://www.grogra.de/

The same principles that are used to create a virtual barley may be used to create virtual trees, landscapes and so on. So provide the rules by which different kinds of plants grow, and you will create a natural looking landscape.

If you want to have special places, buildings etc. you have to perform some kind of manual evolution, similar to Dawkins Biomorphs. The system will generate different options and you select one. Repeat this until you find the desired result. This way you can find a solution in a huge problem space in just a few steps.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Afr0m@n
Would it be possible to create an (several?) algorithm(s) for automatically generating landscapes and characters if the algorithm(s) were supplied with some input from the user regarding what type of look the terrain/character should have? Or would this take too long time, even on modern computers? IMHO, if this could be done, it would eliminate the need for art in game development. I've seen some examples of games that have done this with levels and even characters (The Sims 2 comes to mind...), but all those were based on input from a "base" model AFAIK. Can someone post their opinion on this please?




The algorithm part is relativly easy compared to the pattern data that is needed to make cohesive patterns. Look at fractals -- most look like crap and it takes a human to pick and choose (parameters) those that have asthetic appeal (or if for terrain - that resemble realistic patterns).

Even with user input to guide a theme and then tailor the output to a desireable pattern there are still many layers of data whose formation have to be intelligently shaped/guided (you dont want to have to manually manipulate all the recursive details).

Most successful systems have precanned pattern templates to force the data to be acceptable. This isnt nessessarily high detail data, but can instead be sets of algorithmic patterns (ie- a selection of fractal coefficients preselected that produce nice contours and processing rules to remove/adjust obvious bad aspects (like smoothing passes).

Unfortunately building a general system to automagically create all the game art required (all the way down to the smallest details) is usually much more work than hand building the data or building a semi automatic system for a very specific set of desired patterns.


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