This is something I thought up while tossing around a few plans for Down Under, the Abuse-like platform shooter I mentioned. I’m forcibly keeping myself off game development until A/Ls, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream.

Procedural generation is not a new thing.¬† It’s been around almost since the first video games, when systems didn’t have enough storage space to hold that many levels. And I’m frankly obsessed with it, even though I know very little about the complex world of terrain generation algorithms.

So I was in class, sketching out a long-winded terrain generation alg. for sidescrollers [read: Down Under], thinking about how this one would play out. I had been thinking of using triggers and scripted events to maintain “a stream of mercenaries” jumping on the player, guns blazing – and I quickly realized that if I implemented this new process, out went almost all the control I was expecting over the player. It wouldn’t be a speedrun campaign anymore.
So my next question is, why not both? Consider a game where the main level, say a path from A to B, is one created personally by the level designer. Now this path, this level, has many offshoots, which are other levels spawned by a terrain generator.

And these levels, of course, are much higher-risk, higher-reward than¬† A-B path; this would satisfy both speedrunners, explorers, not to mention introducing a voluntary and more natural difficulty system compared to the “Easy” “Hard” “Insane” selection. It’s logical – stick to the main level if you want to pay it safe; head out and explore if you want – but on your own head it is. Here there be dragons.