I’m making Procedurally Generated Spaceships again. I’ve been doing it for 12 YEARS NOW! Yikes! I suppose I’m getting good?

I was working at Interplay when I first got the idea. I was using a copy of Max2, and trying to….generate geometry that I could load into it. It could (slowly) read and write DXF, which was human-readable, so I experimented with that. From there I realized that I could make simple "ship parts" in Max2, save them as DXF files, load them into MY program, randomly shift and scale them, mirror them left to right, output the whole thing as another DXF, and load the results back into Max.

The results were astounding. I was just jamming simple shapes together, but my "hit" rate was 50%! In no time I had a sheet full of cool looking space ships! I haven’t really gone to a new level with this technique, but since that day I’ve refined my technique and learned many lessons.

EVERYONE who sees my ships and my tools is wowed. I once showed an earlier ship generator to an ex-producer at Origin, and he said, "Now I hate every artist who worked on Wing Commander." I don’t think he really did, he was just seeing me generate 2 ships per second, and remembering when ships took months to get built.

In fact, about 4 years ago I gave a lecture on Procedurally Generated Content at the Austin Game Conference and the Texas Indie Game Con. I’ll have to dredge up that Powerpoint and share it.

Although I haven’t gotten rich off it, Procedurally Generated Spaceships seems to be my BIG IDEA. Perhaps I need to take it to the next level. Hmmm….

Leave a Reply