The gaming world is ablaze at the moment with rampant discussions surrounding the joyous and utterly punishing adventures in the blood-soaked land of, Yharnam. Bloodborne is without a doubt an absolute sensation to play on the PS4 and it has hours upon hours of content for players to fight their way through. It also has a little bit of tech that everyone is discussing in the gaming world lately; procedural generation.
In Bloodborne, you can obtain chalices, which can be set upon grave stones in your safe zone, that create an underground tomb for you to wander around in. These are called Chalice Dungeons. These dungeons can consist of 3 to 5 layers, depending on the items that you have on you to create them. But the fascinating aspect of these places is that they are actually procedurally generated. You never know what enemies you may face, or what bosses lie in your way. It's super exciting! But it also has its issues.
As we all know, Hello Games' No Man's Sky will feature an entire universe that utilises the work of procedural generation. Once we arrive on a planet, the system in place creates the plant-life, creatures and surroundings just for you to see. You can then share the planet with friends and the rest of the world, as you can also do with the chalice dungeons in Bloodborne. It's extremely exciting, but procedurally generated games have always had their issues. Therefore, I think Bloodborne actually has some great insight into what could happen in Hello Games', No Mans Sky.
No Man's Sky, Procedural Generation & Bloodborne
From Software, and especially its director Hidetaka Miyazaki, are very exacting in how they create their worlds. Bloodborne, along with every other entry into the Souls series before it, is meticulously scripted. Every encounter with an enemy has been planned to surprise, or challenge you in different ways. Therefore, a procedurally generated version of the game feels strange.
The dungeons cycle through about 10 different types, so once you start playing them, you begin to have a pretty firm understanding of where you have to go (provided you play Bloodborne as much as I do I guess). Whereas when you play the campaign in Bloodborne, you have no idea. There may be different enemies blocking your way in these chalice dungeons, but the layout will be the same. It's here that we see the glaring issues that No Man's Sky could face with procedurally generated environments.
It's repetitive. The game has a series of options that it randomly picks, but there are limits to the options. For instance, every time I saw a coffin standing upright in a corridor in Bloodborne's chalice dungeons, I knew there was an enemy hiding inside. It was scary the first time, but after a while it was something I just came to expect and wasn't engaged with anymore.
Sometimes I would also walk into a room that had absolutely nothing in it. I'd fight monsters through corridors for ages and then finally arrive in a room, only to discover that the game hadn't created any rewards for my battles. It's a bit disappointing and breaks your immersion when you realise that the computer is making silly mistakes with the creator's design.
Could No Man's Sky Make These Bloodborne Mistakes?
No Mans Sky is an artistic piece that will be guided, monitored and directed by those at Hello Games. If they let the procedurally generating engine off their leash, it would start to create creatures, planets and plant-life that wouldn't fit to the vision that its creators have ordained (they'd also be pretty damn weird). That's why they built those probes; to monitor their universe. The have to make sure that the engine works within certain parameters.
Therefore, I fear that after a few hours with No Man's Sky, it will lose the engaging wonder that it'll no doubt have in its earlier moments. Procedurally generated environments go through a list of allowed functions. So we may actually start to see a lot of the same features that other planets had, just in different colours or something similar.
OR, Hello Games are well aware of this difficulty, and therefore have included, and are still including, such an array of options that it could be a real rarity that we come up against something we've encountered before. At least this is what I hope will happen! Though the dangers of procedural generation feel very real.
So what do you think gamers? Do you find yourself in the late hours of your adventures with Bloodborne? Do you feel the same way that I do about the Chalice Dungeons, or do you enjoy the procedurally generated environments? Be sure to let us know if you have faith in [No Man's Sky](tag:2684052)!