Procedural generation relies on mathematical algorithms, randomization, and predefined rules to create diverse content such as levels, maps, characters, textures, and more. Procedural generation offers several advantages, including scalability and the ability to generate content on the fly, making it a valuable tool in modern media and entertainment.
The concept of 3D procedural generation has evolved over decades, with early examples dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. It gained prominence in video games through titles like Rogue and became widely recognized with the release of Minecraft and No Man's Sky. In recent years, procedural generation has continued to advance, becoming an integral part of creating dynamic and diverse content in various digital media and software applications.
Procedural generation offers game developers a versatile toolkit for dynamically creating a wide range of assets. These assets encompass everything from lifelike terrain, level layouts, textures, and 3D models to characters, items, and quests. Procedural generation in games even extends to crafting immersive soundscapes and adaptive user interfaces. This approach enhances gameplay variability and optimizes development efficiency. The specific assets generated are tailored to the game’s design and genre, embracing a fusion of procedural and handcrafted content to deliver diverse and engaging player experiences.
Procedural generation is a vital tool for VFX pros tasked with bringing fantastical visions to life and the big or small screen. In the film and TV industry, procedural techniques are applied primarily in visual effects, where they assist in generating realistic simulations of natural phenomena like combustion, snow or particles, crowd behavior, and virtual environments.
Additionally, algorithms can contribute to soundscapes and music generation and—in some experimental cases—can explore generating scripts. However, the use of 3D procedural generation in the entertainment industry remains a supplement rather than a replacement for human creativity and storytelling, serving to enhance specific aspects of production while preserving the artistic and narrative elements that define movies and television.