Oooh, a nigh on dead genre is up for a revival from the game studio Celsius who has brought out titles such as Red Nova. It's a passion project apparently, designed to let players wander through 100,000 light years of procedurally generated space. You may do so as either a merchant or a pirate.
Kotaku reveal LINK
TouchArcade reveal LINK
Hmmmmm. Hate to be the glass half empty kinda guy but I've seen hundreds of these elite inspired "limitless space" games attempted over the years. Some of them even look pretty sexy:
The problem most of these companies seems to have is that after a while making all this crazy procedural auto generated technology they realise, it isn't all that fun to play a game that's created almost entirely by a computer. There's no real story, no real character, no pacing ect. Sure the idea of flying around millions of stars sounds cool because we're curious beings and exploration is fun, but if it's all procedural then it doesn't take long to see the patterns underneath and after that you've nothing left to explore.
Will Wright knew this when making Spore thus the sharing of user created content throughout the game to try and keep it feeling fresh and exciting, but even then people lost interest fairly quickly.
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Last edited by Drac; 29th September 2011 at 04:26 AM.
Just because it is procedurally generated doesn't mean you can't splice in pre-written story elements or as you mentioned player created content as well. All it would take would be hooks in the procedurally generated locations that could tie in structures and what not. A starbase here, a secret bunker there. Some story to go along with and lead you into finding these things and what is going on in the universe. The fact that it is procedurally generated would just mean that if you played through again you'd actually be starting over and not just reliving the exact same game.
I think a good example of procedurally generated environments working extraordinarily well has got to be Dwarf Fortress. Random terrain. Random civs. Then 1000 years of history.
Also, the Distant Worlds universe keeps you engaged because of the combination of resources and the diverse races you need to interact with. That is one game where you really feel you are in the middle of living historic environment.
It's a shame these lessons aren't taken into other games.