When a game developer says something like “procedurally-generated map,” we’re immediately going to think of games like Diablo 3 or No Man’s Sky, where every time you play the game you’ll see something new and different. In procedural generation, computers use an algorithm to randomly create something. It might be a creature in Spore, a planet in Deep Rock Galactic, or an entire galaxy in Stellaris.
Starfield will also feature procedural generation, but it won’t be quite the same. Whereas the games mentioned above generate a random map every time you play, Bethesda’s Creation Engine uses it to help make a hand-crafted map a little easier.
Talking at the Develop:Brighton Conference, Bethesda’s Todd Howard spent an hour talking about his history in gaming and what he has planned for the future. Two games stand out in particular, and both will feature a procedurally-generated map.
Those games are Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6. Along with many other enhancements to the Creation Engine, both Starfield and TES:6 will use procedural generation to create their maps before developers get them “massaged” into shape.
Starfield’s galaxy/universe map won’t be like No Man’s Sky’s. Everyone who plays Starfield will still wind up with the same map, but the way that map was created will have an element of procedural generation. The developers will essentially ask a computer to do all the heavy lifting, such as dotting the sky with millions of stars or a planet with billions of rocks. This massively cuts down on the time it would take a human developer to perform the same task, leaving just finishing touches to Bethesda’s engineers.
Starfield will be a single-player only game, so expect everyone’s map to be the same when the game eventually releases. But also don’t expect that to be anytime soon as Howard was awfully cagey when it came to even hinting at a targeted release window.
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