I’ve no intention of playing Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress, or as it’s more commonly know - Dwarf Fortress. That said I’m blown away by the sheer intricacy of the project and its roadmap for future development.

dwf5

On the other hand its visuals are… interesting.

But what it makes me think about is the idea of modular game design. I seem to recall reading an article about procedural content generation and how in theory it could mean that game graphics would improve with hardware upgrades.

That may seem a silly thing to say if taken the wrong way so let me first ensure we’re all on the same page here.

If a game comes out this year there is an upper limit on how good it can look. Once all the settings are cranked to maximum then that’s how pretty it goes, no further. Run it on a super computer powered by dreams and liquid cooled by unicorn blood and it’ll still never look better than that.

This article (which annoyingly I can’t find) talked about how a game would essentially scale to whatever hardware one threw at it. Whether it’s really feasible or not remains to be seen but it’s an interesting idea.

Would you like an example of procedurally generated content?

Here:

How cool is that?

So back to modularity. What if the underlying game mechanics were built as a separate, even modular entity of their own? As graphics technology improved one could just switch out the parts and the game would stay current, visually at least. If built cleverly enough a sort of modularity might even be feasible with the mechanics.

So for example if Introversion’s City Generator tool created the environment to play in that’d be cool. But further down the line what if more detail was desired? A new version could be created that’d just replace the old one, the mechanics staying the same. It could even be sold using a DLC model, in theory.

It’s a similar principal to HD versions of old games, really, but I’d be interested to see what it could do for more cerebral games where the underlying mechanics are the interesting bit.

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