Dan Mar­shall


Does the pro­ce­dural tech ever throw up un­for­tu­nate sce­nar­ios where play­ers re­ally can’t reach some­thing?

In the early days, right at the start of the game you could get your­self trapped. It was gen­er­at­ing lev­els where you could drop down into a room, but un­til you got the dou­ble-jump boots you couldn’t get out again. I took it out, and it im­me­di­ately killed a re­ally ex­cit­ing sen­sa­tion when you’re play­ing it. Be­cause you’re ba­si­cally naked in those first lev­els. You’ve got no spe­cial tools, and there’s some­thing re­ally nice about study­ing your en­vi­ron­ment and mak­ing sure be­fore you get into a room that you can def­i­nitely get out of it. You’re sup­posed to be a thief and be in­tel­li­gent about the way you ap­proach things. In the end, I left it, and put in a lit­tle tu­to­rial box that says, ‘Look, you can get your­self into a po­si­tion you can’t get out of, so be care­ful’.

Founder, Size Five Games

Are you a big fan of pro­ce­dural gen­er­a­tion?

Well, the games I’m start­ing to en­joy more and more th­ese days tend to be pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated. I think there’s some­thing ex­cit­ing about not play­ing the same game ev­ery time. Put it this way: I’d rather play Sonic The Hedge­hog with a ran­domly gen­er­ated Green Hill Zone than play the same old level.

Do you find it an eas­ier ap­proach?

I don’t think it’s eas­ier, it’s just dif­fer­ent. When you’re do­ing some­thing that’s pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated, you think, ‘Oh, it’d be so much eas­ier if I was hand-craft­ing ev­ery­thing’, and when you’re do­ing hand-crafted stuff, you think, ‘Hmm, it feels a bit flat’. I think we’ll look back on pro­ce­dural gen­er­a­tion and re­alise what a turn­ing point in videogame de­vel­op­ment it was. It’s some­thing that books and TV and movies can’t do, some­thing that can re­ally de­fine videogames even more as a stand­out medium. game, it’s not a huge bur­den to restart it,” he be­gins. “Like when you restarted XCOM and you blitzed through those first few lev­els, be­cause you sud­denly un­der­stood flank­ing and you un­der­stood how to use grenades and all this sort of stuff. It was sup­posed to be that kind of thing.”

He’s right to in­sist that the 100-day limit is vi­tal – and, more im­por­tantly, that it’s ac­tu­ally rather gen­er­ous. One player on the Steam fo­rums has recorded a com­ple­tion time of 13 in-game days. Ad­di­tion­ally, you can pur­chase an upgrade that

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