Gen­er­a­tion game


Pro­ce­dural gen­er­a­tion’s ap­peal is ob­vi­ous. A tech­nique that en­ables de­vel­op­ers to off­load labour-in­ten­sive pro­cesses to an al­go­rithm, which ran­domly throws to­gether ob­jects, char­ac­ters and even en­tire worlds from a set of com­po­nent parts, seems to ben­e­fit cre­ator and player in equal mea­sure, of­fer­ing big­ger, more var­ied games. Yet th­ese days we sense that play­ers are han­ker­ing af­ter some tra­di­tional, hand-crafted magic. To de­vel­op­ers, how­ever, the al­lure of the pro­ce­dural al­go­rithm re­mains. That’s cer­tainly ev­i­dent in this month’s Hype line-up. Lead­ing the charge is

Mid­dle-earth: Shadow Of War (p50), which reprises the de­light­ful Neme­sis sys­tem of its pre­de­ces­sor Shadow Of Mor­dor, one of the few games to truly sell pay­ing cus­tomers on the idea of pro­ce­dural gen­er­a­tion. Neme­sis felt like an idea that would be copied far and wide; that may not have come to pass, but there’s a good whiff of it in Ex­tinc­tion (p52). Iron Galaxy’s brawler pits you against a se­ries of colos­sal ogres, whose pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated looks change the flow and feel of ev­ery fight. And it’s a fun­da­men­tal build­ing block of Fort­nite (p42), Epic Games’ long-in-de­vel­op­ment game of block-build­ing and head­shot­ting.

Those for whom the very phrase is a turnoff, how­ever, need not worry. Ever since the launch of Des­tiny in 2014, Bungie has been work­ing to make its game less ran­dom and more pre­dictable, and while ex­pan­sions to the base game have steadily im­proved the whole,

Des­tiny 2 (p36) is a fresh start for both the game and its maker. It’ll still have RNG loot drops, ad­mit­tedly – those of you han­ker­ing af­ter some­thing purely hand-made would be bet­ter off head­ing straight to p56 for

Blood­stained: Rit­ual Of The Night. Castl­e­va­nia leg­end Koji Igarashi would, you’d ex­pect, hold lit­tle truck for the no­tion of let­ting an al­go­rithm help him de­sign an­other of his mad­den­ingly crafty cas­tle ad­ven­tures. His le­gions of fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

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