The Power of Procedural Generation

What Are the Different Types of Procedural Generation?

Procedural generation is often associated with video games that use an algorithm to generate content instead of the game developer hand crafting it. This is a technique that has become popular among indie developers because it allows them to create a large amount of game content on a limited budget and time-frame.

Video Games

Many games use procedural generation to create unique gameplay experiences. It’s particularly useful for games that have a lot of content, as it can save developers time and money by generating levels on the fly instead of constructing them manually. It also makes the game less memory-intensive, as the game doesn’t need to store every object or texture.

One of the biggest uses of procedural generation is in games like Minecraft and Terraria. These games have immense replay value because the game’s world constantly changes each time it’s restarted.

Similarly, platformers like Spelunky use procedural generation to create different levels for each playthrough. This can add a sense of mystery and exploration to the game, as players never know what they’ll encounter next. This type of algorithm can even help games adjust their difficulty to individual player skills. This is a feature that might be seen more often in the future, as developers look for ways to make games feel more personalized.


In films, procedural generation is often used when it’s necessary to generate a large number of nearly identical objects. For example, if a movie needs to show a warehouse full of different types of merchandise or an army of soldiers marching through a valley, an algorithm can quickly and cheaply create many similar examples.

An example of this is MASSIVE, software developed to generate the huge armies in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. MASSIVE was able to model fighting armies much faster than it would have been possible for the film’s VFX technical directors to do by hand.

Procedural generation is also sometimes used in the loot systems of Rogue-like games, where new weapons and equipment are generated for players based on their performance during quests and other random factors. This type of system helps to keep players on their toes and prevents the game from becoming too easy by introducing new obstacles and challenges at regular intervals.


Procedural generation in video games allows the computer to make things instead of having an artist do them manually. This can apply to textures and 3D models as well as entire worlds for a game. Some examples of this are Diablo and Minecraft, where new levels or artifacts are generated as you play.

This type of programming can also be used to generate animations for characters. This reduces the reliance on hand-crafted animation and may give the character a more unique look. Moreover, it can allow developers to add more movement options without the need for lengthy animation sessions.

This method of programming can be found in early video games like Rogue, which is considered to have started a new genre of video games known as rogue-likes. These games use algorithms to generate dungeons and the environments around them. More recent games such as No Man’s Sky use similar techniques to generate planets and wildlife.


A procedural generation technique that allows the player to experience new levels and encounters when they start a new game. This is often used in games that are designed to be extremely difficult and require a high degree of skill from the player.

In roguelikes, permadeath and procedural generation aren’t just features; they’re the genre’s beating heart, propelling it into the spotlight as a unique gaming experience where unpredictability meets consequence. These mechanics help make each playthrough feel like a fresh start, with every decision and challenge carrying its own weight and depth.

While this approach is great for roguelikes, it won’t work for every game. For instance, players might not want to be forced to restart a game after each fatal misstep, which could make the process seem monotonous. Luckily, some developers have found ways to mitigate this issue, such as increasing the number of monsters encountered on each reload or allowing the player to choose which level they want to begin at.

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