As we were concepting the idea of Project Pulse (Pulse), we were actively toying around with the idea that we could use procedurally generated environments to create a larger amount of replayability, much like roguelikes (without all of the roguelike elements like permadeath). We knew that designing such a thing would be difficult, but that if we ultimately needed to abandon it, we could use the modular assets we had created for it to manually sculpt a world.
But with a bit of patience, we were able to make procedural generation work. This wasn't without trial and error, though, as the development of procedural generation in Pulse has continued all the way to this very day in development, and will likely continue to be refined all the way up to the point of completion.
As I designed the system (alongside our awesome Art Director, Naomi Masterson), I realized that the most important and difficult section of procedural generation would be the roads. Roads are essentially the arteries of a city, connecting everything through a common means of transportation. They shape and mold the environment through their turns, connection points, joints, and the like.
Early on, the concept was that of a road system that was alive and would grow much like the root of a tree. Later on this concept was scrapped, as the amount of R&D time that would be needed for such a thing would long outlast the time we had to complete our work. The gif below is what one of the first iterations of roads looked like!
More to come in Part 2.
- Alexander "Hawkins" Croom