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Never The Same Twice: Procedural World Handling in 'Returnal'

Ethan Watson  (Technical Director, Housemarque)

Location: Room 2014, West Hall

Date: Friday, March 25

Time: 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Programming

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: Yes

Procedural world layouts are a common thing in many games these days. Games at a AAA scale though? It's a fairly uncommon thing. Does that mean it's a difficult thing to do? Well not necessarily, but there's some very real problems that need solving. This talk will go into detail on how Housemarque built on its successes with previous top-down procedurally generated games and adapted it to their first third-person shooter; some of the technical challenges that needed to be overcome such as the best way to load the environment and its many permutations; and lessons learnt for how to do things even better in the future.


Methods in how to handle procedural world generation; how to handle loading such layouts; how it's handled in our chosen engine; how procedural layouts dictate the other kinds of tech you'll need to write; thoughts on how to improve any potential future implementation.

Intended Audience

This talk is primarily aimed at programmers. An intermediate skill level will be beneficial, and only general knowledge on how to construct a third-person shooter will be required to understand the bulk of the content.