Improving Procedural Environments - Pt. 1

As a procedural systems designer, you start to realize that different things you have created can very quickly take on lives of their own. In certain cases this is good, in very offshoot cases this is horrible. Either way, it's one of the intended (and unintended) features of creating something that can (in a way) create itself.

One of the biggest purposes of a procedural systems is to create something complex and replayable so that you don't have to create vast and complex environments for every single playthrough of a game. Typically, if the system is designed well, you don't have to worry about a strange environment or something that is unbelievable as a playspace, because of the fact that you have designed it.

Yet, when you design something so complex, you will end up having to continuously improve it over time. For example, Naomi and I are currently concepting out a better wayfinding system for the environment as a whole. Most players seem to have trouble navigating to the boss, or even navigating around at all. They often seem to wander meaninglessly, killing slimes as they dash along.

To improve the system, we are investigating a number of solutions. One example is a sort of pre-designed minimap that uses block-data from the procedural environment to represent a relative idea of where the player is. Another discussed idea was more identifiable landmarks placed throughout the map more often. Either way, a combination of UI and general environment alteration will most likely be the solution.

- Alexander "Hawkins" Croom

Multiplayer playtesting with the development team

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