So, I’ve been dabbling with something new.

Don't say it... I know what you're thinking... craft

Height-mapped terrain with a look similar to baked Ambient Occlusion.

Up close, showing the results of a lot of work, that doesn’t look like a lot of work

One of the frustrating conclusions I came to whilst working on “Alone, The” was that content creation was way, far far, too much work. I went in to the project with some strong ideals about procedural content being lifeless and uninteresting. I still somewhat believe that, but when reality kicks in, you realize one can not make a seriously large game alone at a decent pace without being somewhat procedural. On the flip side, procedural generation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less work, just that once you build one version of something, you can get many similar variations for cheap.

That said, I have very little experience in procedural generation. Smiles and other puzzle games I’ve worked on were the majority of my experience until recently. Essentially, randomly generating a grid of tiles, then either tweaking the map due to some rules, or throwing it away and generating a new one if it’s just not suitable.

So I’ve been spending some time recently experimenting.

Some early random island generation work, and a broken water/wave/precipitation simulation

I do have some ideas where I’m going, but I’m playing things quite loose at the moment. If PuffBOMB and Smiles have taught me anything, its that your initial idea is hardly ever what you end up with. Often times, it’s radically different.

That said, I haven’t quit “Alone, The”, but rather have admit that I’m not ready for it. It’s a project that’s a culmination of way too many things, things I haven’t technically done before. I’ve been working on the tech for a while, and made a prototype earlier in the year to start testing some gameplay ideas. I’ve taken books of notes and ideas, and even with this alternative project, it isn’t going to waste. I might even be making the same core game, but without the story and with a different look. Whether it’s a real time action game with fancy physics or a turn based game on a tile grid, rock still beats scissors.

So, this new project of mine is a Sandbox. Not a Sandbox for you (not yet), but one for me. I may let you play in the Sandbox, but the Sandbox is just a scatterbrained host for where the project is going. I definitely have some ideas, but I’m not going to let a design doc take it somewhere it doesn’t want to go.

My main focus right now is making it “pretty”. I’m dabbling with the Simulation side, even implementing some mechanics, but looking at my immediate schedule (travel and some shows in September, November), I want some eye candy. Even if people can’t sit down and play it, I want them to be able to look at it and say “hello, wow, what are you?”.

I should be formalizing the project soon. I have a name for it. It’s kind-of a crappy name, but again, it’s my Sandbox and not your Sandbox. I am making something in my Sandbox, and when it’s ready, it’ll be released to the wild.

So, feel free to follow along. A little bit of pressure is good for me. 🙂