Procedural generation can matter much less when core gameplay engagement is better

Procedural generation can matter less when core gameplay engagement is better. A game that has a strong narrative and is focused on player choice will be able to overcome the shortcomings of procedural generation.

Procedural generation algorithms have been a common topic in gaming for a long time. The procedural generation algorithms are a way to create content without having to rely on artists.

Gamingtodaynews1f - Procedural generation can matter much less when core gameplay engagement is better

The article’s substance


Thesis

I’ve created a hypothesis on gamers’ overall perspective of procedural generation based on my experience and observation of other players (reviews, comments, etc.) that I’d want to receive input on and discuss:

  • The less procedural generation matters, the more interesting the core gameplay is.

The reverse is also frequently true: the less interesting the main gameplay is, the more procedural generation matters when it is included in a game.


What does it matter?

  • It helps me realize that if I have a wide complaint about proc gen-related things in a game (e.g. level or item diversity or quality, etc. ), my problem is usually not with proc gen but with something else in the core gameplay.

  • The same may be said for at least some other players. Recognizing this idea and asking ourselves, “Is proc gen truly the problem here?” may help us improve our game evaluations and discussions.

  • It may also help us understand why games using proc gen get mixed reviews or perceptions, particularly in genres where it is frequently used, such as roguelites.

I’ve discussed the idea directly or indirectly in a few of my comments in this and other subs, but I felt it was worth addressing here because I couldn’t locate a post about it.


Exceptions & Definition

  • Theoretical Framework: See the thesis statement above.

  • Procedural generation is a technique of generating data algorithmically rather than manually, usually by combining human-generated materials and algorithms with computer-generated randomness. See Wikipedia for further information.

  • Having positive attention or interest, or being engaged and devoted is what it means to be engaging.

  • Gamers with an innate prejudice towards the mere notion of proc gen are an exception to the principle. This comprises gamers who dislike chance or unpredictability, as well as those who favor story-driven or handmade game components (as these two tend to go hand in hand). The latter is something I can comprehend.

  • Another potential exception is a game with a poor balance or procedural generation. However, subjectively defining balance may be problematic since not all games are intended to be strategically balanced, and others will balance things to make things more difficult for players. We might argue that balance guarantees that nothing is seen as powerful or underpowered by players, but then what is the purpose of having different power levels in so many games?


Exercising the theory in practice

  • Consider titles like Warframe, Risk of Rain 2, Slay the Spire, and Deep Rock Galactic(?) that have received positive reviews and have high player counts on Steam. Because to their basic gameplay loops, they have a lot of players and rave reviews, although their proc gen levels aren’t especially innovative.

  • The video game No Man’s Sky is a well-known illustration of the idea in action: There wasn’t much to the main gameplay loop (and some say there still isn’t), so many concentrated on NMS’ procedural generation, which wasn’t enough to “carry” the game for those who didn’t enjoy it. Gather resources, fly to another planet & system, acquire more resources to upgrade & purchase more things, fly to another planet & system for those who haven’t played it yet. They’ve introduced a variety of new activities, such as learning lore, building bases, and interacting with other players — However, such features do not necessarily improve the main gameplay loop; they are just additional activities that may appeal to certain players.

  • Warframe is a good example, since I’ve played it for hundreds of hours. As a looter shooter, it features proc gen levels through groups of pre-made room settings, as well as proc gen drops. This is an example of how, rather than the game being pure fun (if you aren’t a sucker for space ninjas like I was) or having incredible mechanics, the “engagement” that Warframe carries is often measured more by getting the player committed, but even that often still overcomes the simplicity of the proc gen: It includes FOMO events and drops, rare treasure that takes a lot of runs to acquire the last component to create, and so on.

  • Roguelites have “randomly produced” (read: proc gen) levels or dungeons as a fundamental feature. Many games depend on a player’s own incentives to experiment with various builds or strategies until they progress, improve, or “beat” a playing. I see the idea play out for individuals that need just as much or more external incentive than internal motivation (like myself with certain games).


Questions for discussion

  • Do you agree with the theory and the exceptions that it contains? Why do you think that is?

  • How often do you believe procedural generation gets a poor reputation when it isn’t the gamer’s main gripe?

  • Is game or procedural generation balance really in the eye of the beholder, or is there a more subjective, genre-agnostic definition, or does the notion of balance have to be more genre specific?


What is the significance of the formatting?

I utilized all of the formatting I could to avoid a “wall of text” effect the last time I had a lengthy article, but I still received some complaints that I didn’t format it properly. So here is my effort to enhance my header layout. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read.

Original source: link


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  • Procedural Generation in Other Forms

    Is there a game that does more than simply ‘World Gen’ using Procedural Generation? I know some Rogue-likes do this (kind of), but I’m curious if anybody has attempted to create an RPG with a randomly generated leveling system. Figuring out how to play a new game is one of my favorite things about it.

  • If we want this game to function, we need a stronger core gameplay loop.

    So my greatest criticism about Stellaris is what I refer to as the “mid-game lull.” Midgame is defined as the point in the game when the galaxy has been explored and/or you are landlocked. In this game, exploration is freaking amazing. It gives you genuine options and is, on the whole, a lot of fun. When the exploration is done…

For the game Gaming News, I wrote “Procedural generation may matter considerably less when fundamental gameplay involvement is greater.”

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Spore procedural generation is a term used to describe the way in which a game’s content can be generated. The idea being that core gameplay engagement is better than procedural generation. Reference: spore procedural generation.

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