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DOTMOS » Procedural content generators vs human feelings

Procedural content generators vs human feelings

Cross post from gentlymad.org

A Poem:
All games play mad, small consoles.
Gentlymad, developer, and gentlymad.
Travel madly like a big console.
All games play small, small games.
The console rises like a big game.

made with http://thinkzone.wlonk.com/PoemGen/PoemGen.htm

As you can see, procedural content can be pretty unsatisfying sometimes. In fact, when it comes to text or speech, pretty much all generators produce mediocre content at best. Why is this the case? Humans have developed a clear schemata of how a sentence should be build. Clearly one just has to translate this grammar to code and all writers, may that be storywriters, songwriter and what not, will loose their jobs.

That is, if you like poems like the one above.

What’s missing is the heart and soul of the writer, his feelings, or more generally put: human nature. And nature is the key here. As you might know, there are numerous texture generators that work astonishing well. There is even generators for whole trees or plants in general, which also work well.

Why is that?

Because humans have found ways to describe natural patterns through algorithms. They have partially deciphered nature and can therefore recreate these parts, may that be by cloning, manipulating DNA or … by code.

Which brings us back to the beginning:

To create authentic text or stories procedurally, which should also create strong emotions on the reader-side, we first have to decipher human feelings. Grammar is only the way feelings and thoughts are structured when they are in written form and is not really related to the content itself. “I love you” and “I hate you” use the same grammar but transport opposite content and feelings.

Only if we find a way to express feelings in an algorithm, this would help us in creating better procedural content. Text was only an example. The texture and vegetation generators mentioned earlier would also benefit from this. When creating a tree you generally have the option to set total number of branches, size of leaves, bark texture, gravity, etc. But you can not tell the program to create a “mystical tree” or “an old, gentle tree that somehow makes the viewer feel safe and comfortable”. Of course you can tweak the number of branches, leavesize, etc. until you get what you want, but that takes time. Having sliders for “happy/sad”, “appealing/disgusting”, “good/evil” etc. might generate more appealing content in a faster way. It would transport feelings instead of just looks.And isn’t that what art should be? Creating an emotion when consuming it?

What do you guys think? Adding feelings to procedural content generators: Yay or nay? Sliders for feelings instead of or in addition to pure data sliders?

Of course it wouldn’t be as trivial as stated, but the general idea seems appealing…