ProcJam 2015 Talk

Kieran and I had the pleasure of being invited down to speak at the opening ceremony for this year’s ProcJam (Procedural Generation Jam) at Imperial College London. It was an awesome event and I thought I’d do a little blog detailing what I remember of the day so I have it here for posterity.

Procedural Game

4:30am last Saturday morning, I awoke from my slumber to an obnoxious alarm and a cat sitting on my stomach waiting for food, it was at this moment I cursed not reading the event’s start times and booking us train tickets to get us into London for 9:00am. I crawled out of bed, checked my emails and then walked down the hill to find Kieran.

(At some point during that I also got dressed, can’t remember exactly when though.)

We got to the train station and had a wonderful first class voyage down to London. Normally Kieran goes in the standard class coach because he doesn’t have a railcard, but we just finished some client projects so I thought “why the hell not, we deserve some luxury.”

Once we got to London we had about four hours to kill, so we went in search of food: it’s surprising to me that in the capital city of the UK it was actually quite hard to find somewhere to get something decent to eat that wasn’t a Nandos or some other fancier restaurant. We eventually gave up and went to a Starbucks, then decided to head to the Science Museum and Natural History Museum. We had a great time walking around looking at halls of dead animals and awesome artefacts from the history of computer science. One thing we got kinda irritated about was the lack of inspiration in some of the interactive exhibits at the museums were, it was kinda disappointing and we spent far too long critiquing them and suggesting improvements to an invisible museum owner in the sky.

Eventually we got around to the ProcJam and it was AWESOME. So many inspiring people talking about making things that make other things. I got to meet Kate Compton in the flesh and have some really interesting chats with some of the developers behind No Mans Sky. I learnt more about Markov chains that I ever thought was possible, Kieran and I really want to make some Twitter bots using them in the near future.

We did our talk on the pros and cons of using realtime data to produce games, we discussed the development of Hashtag Dungeon and how it went from early PCG to UGC over time. We told everyone about the downfalls of using data like Wikipedia that fluctuates on a daily basis and real time weather data that is as unpredictable as… y’know: the weather. We also had the pleasure of discussing our newest game Satan’s Hole and the plans we have in the future for using procedural generation for creating hellscapes. I think most people enjoyed it and had a good laugh, and that’s what counts really.

I’ve seen some really cool stuff come out of this week. I’m super excited about the future of procedural generation in games and I’m looking forward to going back to the ProcJam opening ceremony next year to see what’s on offer!

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