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Poll on procedurally generated worlds vs “static� worlds

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So I have been prototyping a crafting / survival / RPG style game for a couple of weeks now and want to just get a pulse on a topic related to the game from other people. The topic is how important procedurally generate worlds are to this kind of game. There are generally 3 different ways I general see this approached.

 

Everything is Procedurally Generated

 

One way it to procedurally generate everything from the land to the resources. Best example of this method would probably be RimWorld / DwarfFortress.

 

Static World / Random Resources

 

This is where the world will be static and you will know the layout of the area after you have played it for a while however the resources needed to survival / progress through the game are placed randomly throughout the world. The best example of this would probably be Project Zomboid.

 

The “benefit” I generally hear about procedurally generated worlds is that it helps prevent the game from getting boring because the world is different each time you play but then you have game like project zombie where I know certain people who can play that game over and over again regardless that it is a static world (at least as far as layout).

 

 

Just curious on what other people think, please leave and comment you wish.

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Personally i have a big problem with orientation in 3D games. If you create the same looking corridors and rooms but place them randomly each new game, i have almost no chance to get used to it before i die :)

Ignore this if you plan 2D or top down game.

 

But I'd prefer a game where everything is static, but i can experiment doing things in different order, or have to choose if i can use my key to open left or right door but not both.

So i could look for a more efficient play through and don't need to worry about a changing enviroment (which often is more annoying than a interesting feature).

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Usually procedural generation helps with the replayability, which is important for rogue-likes and survival sandbox game, but there are advantages to static maps. In the end there is no absolute best answer, it depends on your game and the type of gameplay it involves and how you expect people to play it.

 

If you are designing for short sessions (20-40 mins), it might be necessary to have some level of procedural generation and randomness to your game or it will feel repetitive. If you expect longer playthroughs, then you can use a static map. It also depends on the size of your map, the smaller it is, the faster the player will fully memorize it and start to feel like it's repetitive.

If your gameplay loop includes exploration or searching, then you need to have at least the resources be randomized, otherwise people will just learn the position of everything and you will lose a major element of your gameplay.

I would advise you to look at other games (3D survival games) and how they do it and how it works well with their gameplay (or how it doesn't). Subnautica is a good example to study for static maps and their advantage. The Forest is another.

 

Finally it depends on your technical proficiency, you will probably be able to do more interesting and interactive maps if they are static, while procedural generation might force you to simplify things. Static maps also give you more control over what the player does and feel, if your game is narrative-heavy for example, it's important to be able to fine-tune the map to control the player experience.

If you don't plan to make use of those possibilities that only a static map can provide, then there is little advantage to using a static map over a procedural one. If your static map would look similar to a procedurally generated one, then go for procedural generation and offer your player an "infinity" of variations. In the end a static map is just like a single output of a procedural generation system, the only good reason to use one is to do things that would be impossible with a procedurally generated map.

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For survival games the world can never be static imho. Static worlds mean the player can learn the layout and adept to it and a certain degree of randomness can mean the player wants to have another go, or perhaps hundreds of play throughs. in Diablo 3 you don't need many experience to recognize those big pre-made chunks, Diablo 2 does a better job at this but eventually gets repetitive as well. But too much randomness makes it look unrealistic, you have to find a balance in between and the type of environment you attempt to generate influences your options.

I did some prototyping for a dungeon map with small rooms and corridors and this worked well but still a bit chaotic if randomly placed in a maze. Eventually the trick is to create enough pre-made rooms and rules to make it look realistic and not repetitive. On the other hand, Diablo 3 seems to work for most people so why not go with a couple of big multi-screen chuncks randomly placed.

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For survival games the world can never be static imho.

Of course they can, some of the most successful survival games have been static games. Even procedural games like Don't starve have some static elements that will always appear on a map.

The “benefit” I generally hear about procedurally generated worlds is that it helps prevent the game from getting boring because the world is different each time you play

Procedural content does not help prevent the game from getting boring, what it helps with is making things forgetful.

It's noise as simple and plain as that, if noise was interesting we would be watching static on TV instead of shows. It's how you use this noise to make patterns that is important.

A game benefits from both static and procedural content, you should use both if you know how.

 

A thing to keep in mind is that it is possible to create fun games using only static content, yet it's near impossible to make a fun game using only procedural content with no static rules.

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Thanks for the input all. I have decided to go with using a good portion of procedurally generated content. While I am going to have a number of static maps / map sections, I don't think my game idea is going to have enough functionality the make a fully static world work all that well.

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It's all about preference and what you are trying to accomplish with your game, if you're trying to do something that will be infinitely replayable, then go for procedurally generated worlds. If you're looking for something a little more clear cut yet still deep, then do static worlds.

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