For a few, brief, tantalising months, procedural planet generation was the 'in' thing. An infinite universe of possibilities. Something totally wondrous just around the corner. And then No Man’s Sky happened, bringing procedural generation crashing back to down to Earth with a thud. Looking to resurrect the idea from the ashes is Cloud Imperium Games with Star Citizen. They’ve just shown off the procedurally generated planets in a huge new video and the results are rather more impressive.
What I particularly like is how there’s nowhere to hide here for CIG. This is straight up 30 minutes of gameplay taken from a randomised planet. It’s the real deal and expectations are set. The best bit is it’s even got a damn Mako look-a-like in it.
"It's absolutely artist driven," project lead Chris Roberts said. "We're using the procedural techniques to author planets on a global scale very quickly, but to give it a real sense of character. There are quite a few other games using procedural tech to do planets, and those achievements are impressive and cool, but I want to be able to say: I want to build this planet that looks like Hoth. I want to build this planet that looks like Tatooine."
I like what I see here, particularly the variations in terrain which look as if they're very natural rather than purely algorythmic. Star Citizen’s planets are still obviously going to suffer a little for being totally procedural, but they’ll also be kitted out with missions and things to do. I do hope they manage to squeeze in multiple biomes on a single planet as well, as I felt having a single repeating environment was a real downfall for NMS.
Also here’s the recently revealed Star Citizen development roadmap so you can get a feel for when certain activities are going to be available on these planets.
Star Citizen Alpha 3.0
- Piracy and smuggling
- Bounty hunter
- Quantum interdiction
- Mercenary covert ops
- Travel to multiple star systems
- Exploration and discovery
- Science and research
What do you make of Star Citizen’s procedurally generated planets? Can CIG find success where No Man’s Sky couldn’t?