Geek Trivia

Which Video Game Was The First To Feature Procedural Generation?

Starwing Commander
Super Mario Bros.
Douglas Adams Originally Wrote For Which Sci-Fi Series?

Answer: Elite

Procedural generation is the process by which game content is generated via algorithms instead of manually by a design team. Where as early video games like Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros. had a fixed number of levels with fixed layouts as created by their designers, procedural-generated games features levels that were created fresh by algorithms each time the player started a new game.

The first example of procedural generation in a video game was with the 1984 release of space exploration/combat game Elite. The game was originally intended to have 282 trillion galaxies (each containing 256 solar systems) but the publisher, Acornsoft, thought that players would find it impossible to believe such an array of galaxies could exist in an early generation 8-bit computer game and would be potentially overwhelmed. As a result, they scaled the generation code back so that it would create 8 galaxies (again with 256 solar systems to explore) at the start of the game.

As video game consoles and gaming computers have increased in power, procedural generation has largely fallen by the way side; developers can now create and store more game data (and avoid relying on on-the-fly generation of new content). That said, several notable modern games use procedural generation to create fresh game content including games in the Diablo and Torchlight series of RPG dungeon crawlers, racing games like Fuel and Grand Turismo, and roguelike-explorer games such as Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon and Shiren the Wanderer.