This is the final log that is required for submission, though I intend to keep making posts on a semi-weekly basis in order to track my progress as the project goes on for the next month and a half.
Complete So Far:
The goal when I set out was to create a cycling game that procedurally generated the world around you as you cycled along its roads. I wanted it to create unique and strange environments that instilled in the player a sense of wonder and mystery as they explored.
In its current form my game is capable of generating new environments infinitely ahead of the player as they ride, proceeding in any direction. Though there are as yet few environments, the ones I have built are visually interesting to cycle through. The number of environment types will be substantially increased once the base game has been built (it is harder to test problems and make changes if you have already spent time making a lot of environments). The whole process went through quite a few iterations before I was able to get the terrains generating in a satisfactory and consistent manner.
Player movement was another key element in developing the game. I need the player character to move and control like an actual bike, in order to better bring them into the game world. The process of refinement is not quite complete (the player moves a little too fast currently), but the bike movement does at least feel natural. Your top speed varies depending on whether or not you are on a slope for example. Even without further tweaking, the controls are pleasant to use and successfully create the sensation of zipping through the terrain on a bike.
Creating Terrain features is the main focus of my work currently. One way of make my created environments more unique, and making it seem like I have more unique terrains than I have actually built, is to procedurally generate terrain features. This is things like trees, rocks, bushes, and buildings. Having a wide variety of terrain features that are placed procedurally means that even when a player passes through the same terrain, it will look different because of the unique arrangement of features. The development of this phase is still in its infancy though. A number of features have been built so far and the programs required to select them are mostly in place, but as yet the actual generation has not been successfully implemented
Still to come:
The main goal for the immediate future is successfully implementing the feature generation system. Once I have this (plus a few adjustments to complete the basic system) in place I can release my first playable demo. This is key in getting the feedback I need now, before work begins in earnest on the final write up.
The final development hurdle in the works is implementing the ‘game’ aspect of this procedural system. The game aspect I intended to build into the system was a sort of postal delivery, with letters that describe a path you need to take in order to reach a delivery spot (delivering about four letters over the course of the game). The development of this feature has taken a back seat to the more important task of generating the actual world, but now that the end is in sight it needs more attention. How exactly I will implement it though, and even whether or not it is necessary, will depend significantly on the feedback received from the first public demo. If players find that simply riding around is satisfactory, and they don’t long for more, that might mean the ‘gamey’ elements were not necessary to begin with. Other games in this same vein have described similar responses from their fans.
Beyond these two main goals, and working on the final write up, the main use of my time will be expanding the system. More terrains to ride through and more features to decorate them. The more of these available to the system, the more effective it can be in bringing the player in.