The Procedural World of Survived By

Katherine Stull
05 / 09 / 18
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When exploring the diverse biomes of the Heartlands, you never know what you’ll find – that’s because Survived By’s terrain is procedurally generated.

Procedural generation is the use of algorithms to generate content in games. In Survived By, these algorithms determine how the environment is randomly constructed. This randomness ensures that the world remains interesting to explore, and helps populate the expansive world of the Heartlands. Trees, bushes, and other natural objects will appear in different locations every time. However, even this randomness is constrained to a set of rules that ensures that the environment remains logical. A snow-covered pine, for example, would never appear in the desert. Volcanic elements aren’t present in the snow-covered lands of Frozen Haven.

While it is also somewhat random, the terrain itself follows a set of rules that helps to determine its placement. If you were walking through the forest and happened upon a lake, it wouldn’t make sense for the terrain to move directly from grass to water. Naturally, there would be a transition from grass to mud (possibly to sand) and then water. Survived By applies this logic to the generation of terrain. The way that two biomes meet will be shaped randomly, but the transition between textures will be determined by a set of rules – if grass and water terrains are next to each other, dirt or sand will be generated between them to create a natural transition.

While most of the environment is procedural, major pieces of the map are created manually. The shape of each continent, the roads, and the placement of the tower will remain the same unless a developer reconstructs the space by hand. This ensures that players will have reliable roads to travel, and that land uncovered on the minimap remains consistent.

There is one more piece of the map that is created manually: stamps. Unlike the other randomly placed objects in the game, stamps are a collection of objects, buildings, or other scenes that are made by hand. They often tell a story or serve as major landmarks amidst the Heartland’s landscape. These buildings or sets are stamped directly on top of the randomized landscape and can be found in the same location every time unless they are moved manually by a developer.

                                                   

Before: Contains early versions of ground textures.                                After: Updated ground textures with new patches.

As the game has progressed through development, the environment as a whole has undergone several major changes. The layouts of the Tower have changed over time, and the roads have shifted to create more efficient paths between landmarks. There have also been significant changes to the assets that we use to generate these spaces. Many of the game’s terrain tile sets began as more complex, highly-detailed blocks. While they are more realistic, we opted for a softer and more simple texture to make our procedural objects pop. 

Consistent change is an important part of Survived By’s development, so it’s only natural that our environment is built to be ever-changing as well. Do you have any favorite games that use procedural generation? Let us know in the comments!


For more information on how we created Survived By’s dynamic environment, you can visit our Beginner’s Guide to Pixel Animation in Survived By. For a chance to join our Closed Alpha, register on our website!