Frequently asked questions
- What are voxels?
- What does a voxelized world allow players to do?
- Is this only on campaign worlds or on the eternal kingdoms as well?
- What does “procedural world” generation mean?
- What kind of things can be created algorithmically?
- Why is this important for Crowfall?
What are voxels?
Imagine a world made of bricks – like Minecraft – only with bricks that are much, much smaller. So small, in fact, that you can’t see them. Small enough that you can carve a sphere out of a surface and leave it perfectly smooth. You can take a chunk out of a wall or a hill without it looking angular and blocky.
Voxel Farm is a technology library that does two things:
It allows you to create things out of voxels, which means that things can be easily broken apart and put back together in real time.
- It includes a library set for generating worlds procedurally. More than worlds, actually: castle walls, towers, buildings, rocks… you name it!
This technology, when mixed with a real time physics simulation, opens up a whole new world of potential gameplay.
What does a voxelized world allow players to do?
Blast holes in walls. Collapse towers on your opponent. Dig a tunnel beneath a castle wall, so that you can dig your way up into the courtyard and siege from within.
Voxel technology gives the players the ability to (literally) move mountains.
To see what’s possible, check out the Voxel Farm destruction demo, here.
Is this only on campaign worlds or on the eternal kingdoms as well?
We are using this technology for every Crowfall world.
In the campaign worlds, the implications are obvious. If these worlds are going to be destroyed eventually anyway, why not make them fully destructible?
For the Eternal Kingdoms, the technology gives you the ability to customize your kingdom or province in unique and interesting ways: construct a blacksmith shop, design a marketplace, build walls and towers and design a castle.
All of this is possible -- provided, of course, that you win enough materials in the campaign worlds.
What does “procedural world” generation mean?
Most online games use 3D environments created by hand. This process is incredibly expensive and time consuming, as it requires the coordination of numerous artists and designers working for months to create every single area in the game.
Generating a game algorithmically means that this process is automated. Instead of having each world created by a team of artists and designers, these individuals create assets (like trees and rocks and buildings) independently, as part of a “world creation toolset.” Engineers then “teach” an algorithm to create a multitude of worlds using (and re-using) those parts.
Algorithmic terrain creation isn’t great for theme park games where the areas are created to match particular, pre-written storylines. However, it works GREAT for simulation and strategy games (like Minecraft or Civilization) where your decisions – and the decisions of other players – form the foundation of the experience.
What kind of things can be created algorithmically?
Terrain generation can be done algorithmically, resulting in realistic looking worlds: oceans, continents, mountains, lakes, hills, valleys and rivers.
Subterranean areas can be included, as well -- veins of iron or copper, twisting caverns and underground lakes and rivers. It can even be used to generate an endless landscape filled with ruins.
A great example of what can be accomplished with terrain generation can be found here.
Structures can be created algorithmically, as well. You can use “grammars” (sets of rules) to create walls and towers out of bricks, and castles out of walls and towers. See what kind of buildings can be “grown” algorithmically by checking out this video.
…and to see the real-time architectural tools in action, click here.
The two systems can even be used in conjunction, allowing you to build a continent and then “grow” villages, castles and towns in places where they would be most likely occur.
Why is this important for Crowfall?
Crowfall is a mix of an MMORPG and a strategy game.
Remember that feeling you get the first time you log in to a new game, that rush of exploration and mystery? The sense of excitement that comes during first turn of a game like Civilization – the urgency to explore, to expand, to conquer? That’s the emotion that we want every time you enter a new campaign world.
One of the things that can make a strategy game grow stale is knowledge of the game board. If players learn that the key to winning is to always “take control of point A” and “avoid the choke point at B,” it makes subsequent games less interesting.
By using an algorithmic approach to dynamically create new game worlds at the “push of a button,” Crowfall can keep the players constantly guessing and keep the game feeling new.