Procedural Generation of a Cityscape – Proposal

Outline

My project will attempt to use PCG (Procedural Content Generation) to create a city-like environment. I will begin to explore different algorithms and methods and analyse the generation time as well as the representation of a feasible city landscape.

The city should be generated at runtime and each execution should generate a different city for the user to explore. The end result will be a full formed 3D environment that is able to be explored by the player in a first-person perspective.

Rationale

Procedural Content Generation has been an aspect of games that has interested me for a long time. It has been a part of games for a long time ranging from level generation to difficulty scaling to item stats.

Having PCG incorporated within a game gives it more of a mystery and extends the level or replay ability for the users.

Areas for Investigation

There will be numerous areas for me to research over the time of this project.

  1. What algorithm/method will be the fastest to generate a city landscape?
  2. Alongside the speed of generation, I have to also consider which algorithm will give me the most realistic layout of buildings that it actually seems like a modelling city rather than a generated one.
  3. I must investigate whether generating the whole city upon game start will be more beneficial to the player or if it will carry on to generate as their location becomes closer to the edge.

Knowing the best approach based upon these three questions will be beneficial to my project making the generation ideal and the game more enjoyable to the player.

Background Research

So far in my project I have done background research on Procedural Content Generation in general and the algorithms that are used most commonly. My starting point will be to explore the use of L-Systems to generate the city. I will also see how a grid based system could be of use in this circumstance.

I have also had a look into existing games that already use PCG such as Path of Exile, Diablo, Doom 2 where the levels are generated. Games like Minecraft and Terraria where the initial level is generated upon start and extended as the player explores. The Left 4 Dead series uses PCG to place items, Borderlands goes a step further with this and also uses PCG to generate the stats placed on the items found by the player. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind uses Procedural Content Generation in a less prominent way to create the water effects on the fly.

Literature Review

Journals or Surveys that investigate the wide variety of uses of Procedural Content Generation in games [5] will help me to better understand why they are such a key part in today’s industry.

For the generation to feel like an authentic and realistic city, trying to understand different layouts for real cities [6] would be a huge benefit and could be used in the generation rules.

Any other journals or websites that can give me any knowledge about Procedural Content Generation in games [3][7] will be a huge help or how Procedural Content Generation can be used to render whole cities. [1][2][4] This will give me a starting foot and to see what different approaches have already been taken.

Methodology

To start the project I will begin to develop the Procedural Generation method so that it generates a 2D city layout without actual buildings. Once this has been successful and I have explored different approaches and algorithms, I will build upon what I have with the chosen method and transform it into a 3D cityscape.

The development method I have chosen is ‘Agile’ with 2 week iterations. I have chosen this method as I have experience with it in industry and have a good understanding in how to use it so it will benefit me with my product. Using Agile development will allow me to keep track of key areas that need to be done and gives me an idea of how fast I am working through features.

My product will be created in Unity using C#.

Research Ethics

There are no ethical aspects of my project that I will need to address and there should be no clearance needed in this area.

Project Plan

My product will have a few different stages of development for me to focus on. The first is the 2D rendering with the chosen method, the second is the 3D rendering build on top of the 2D aspect. Finally there is the user input and UI elements.

So I have enough time to complete the project I will aim to have the 2D city layout and a solid method for generation completed and the conversion to 3D started by late December with full 3D rendering completed by February.

Two days a week will be spent on the project, with every other day of the week being focused on a different module that I am also studying. Sundays will be left clear of work as it is American Football game day which will require my attendance.

Project Deliverables

My project will be a 3D procedurally generated cityscape that can be explored in first person. The city will be generated and rendered upon application start and each successive restart will generate a brand new layout for the city.

References

[1] LECHNER, T. & WATSON, B. & WILENSKY, U. & FELSON, M. (2004) Procedural Modelling of Land Use in Cities [Online] Available from: https://ccl.northwestern.edu/papers/ProceduralCityMod.pdf

[2] PARISH, Y I H. & MÜLLER (2001) Procedural Modeling of Cities [Online] Available from: http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~sequin/PAPERS/Parish_Mueller_Cities.pdf

[3] PCG BOOK (2014) Procedural Content Generation in Games [Online] Available from: http://pcgbook.com/ [Accessed: 23rd October 2014]

[4] GREUTER, S. & PARKER, J. & STEWART, N. & LEACH, G. (2003) Real-time procedural generation of ‘pseudo infinite’ cities [Online] Available from: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDAQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fprocedural.googlecode.com%2Fsvn-history%2Fr118%2Ftrunk%2Farticles_cities%2Fgreuter-03-real-time.pdf&ei=I4BJVI6rAsqS7AbP04DIDQ&usg=AFQjCNHY4zGOqb93SESqBV98V1poVwOdwQ&sig2=bmDP0kIkAj_wEOZQxllMWQ&bvm=bv.77880786,d.ZGU

[5] HENDRIKX, M. & MEIHER, S. & VAN DER VELDEN, J. & IOSUP, A. (2013) Procedural content generation for games: A survey [Online] Available from: http://www.pds.ewi.tudelft.nl/~iosup/pcg-g-survey11tomccap_rev_sub.pdf

[6] MOTHERBOARD (2014) There Are Only Four Types of City in the World, Says Math [Online] Available from: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/there-are-only-four-types-of-city-in-the-world-says-math [Accessed: 23rd October 2014]

[7] GAMES BY ANGELINA (2013) The Saturday Paper – A World Just For You [Online] Available from: http://www.gamesbyangelina.org/2013/07/the-saturday-paper-a-world-just-for-you/ [Accessed: 23rd October 2014]

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