As I mentioned earlier this month, I’ve been encouraged by the interest in my planet generator experiment. In particular, I was surprised and excited by the wide diversity of interest outside of strict gaming and game development circles. This interest led a friend to suggest the possibility of developing a fully functional professional tool based on the experiment that had been predominantly intended for use in a strategy game.
After recovering from this month’s Ludum Dare game jam, followed by research, planning, and some early development, it appears that I’m definitely proceeding with this project. In terms of determining core features and priorities, I’m taking fantasy/sci-fi authors as my primary target audience, to aid them in their worldbuilding efforts. But the intention is that the software will be quite engaging for worldbuilders and map aficionados in general, as well as for those interested in procedural generation.
I’m presently working on implementing a rough vertical slice of all functionality. This vertical slice will include a Lua-scripted module system which will support the combination of various generators for different content, such as geological, hydrological, meteorological, ecological, cultural, and political data. A minimal selection of basic generators for some of this content will be developed. Presentation will also be designed to be flexible, to enable the visualization of different types of data, different styles of display, and different geometries (such as various map projections; that was a frequently requested feature). A few basic methods of exporting data and images will be implemented, since I am sure that people will want to use the results of this tool in ways that other software will handle far more effectively than anything I could develop. Finally, I hope to include some measure of control over tweaking specific aspects of the generated planet after the fact, for cases such as when a continent is almost perfect for a desired plot point but simply needs a little help to conform to an author’s vision.
Once that rough vertical slice is completed, I’ll be going back through each section to expand the available features and add plenty of polish. For example, I’d like to provide a few different elevation generators with plenty of configurable parameters. The tectonic plate system is likely to remain my favorite, but plenty of other algorithms exist to generate topology with a wide variety of characteristics. Presentation will certainly have plenty of room for expansion, also, as there are an untold number of map styles in existence, plenty of data to visualize, and a number of useful map projections. Export (and possibly some import) capabilities will similarly benefit from making multiple options available.