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Cell HD: emergence
alloplastic  [developer] Jan 30, 2013 @ 10:11pm
the future of voxels
Figured I'd try out this discussion feature... and see what wisdom can be drawn from the Greenlight community.

To refactor a topic from the comments -- we are keenly interested in the ultimate role voxels will play in gaming, having just built a voxel-based engine. The (unexpected to us) release of Minecraft during the development of Cell has turned cube-based games into a fad and now even something that's becoming a little tired. Do these games have more places to go, or have the killer concepts mostly been uncovered?

We promote our colored boxes as "dynamic voxels" because we think that they are different from the voxels used purely as a rendering technology, or as "destructible" geometry. We're shooting for gameworlds in which every speck of color is a simulated material: air, water, metal, fire, blood; etc., running at many frames a second. We're itching to leave DX9 and the Xbox 360 behind in order to build a very high-res environment with compute shaders. One possible game might be a straightforward space combat game (something a little more comprehensible to players than Cell) but one in which ships' hulls melt, asteroids crumble, nebulae swirl; etc.

Would per-voxel dynamic behaviors add enough to a game like that? Or would they be just too much detail, when equally satisfying -- and probably more understandable and predictable -- behaviors can be simulated with standard techniques?

This sets aside the notion of player-generated content -- e,g, deisgning your own ship, or engineering a weapon by arranging colored boxes. This was our initial impetus behind pursuing "cellular automata." We have to agree that it's the key to the explosion of games like Minecraft, and should be core to anything we do in the future. But what other game types are people looking forward to? Would Mineraft be any better if the lava and water were made from infinitesimal voxels running at 30 FPS? Would Call of Duty be more fun in such a space?
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Showing 1-7 of 7 comments
Gorlom[Swe] Feb 1, 2013 @ 9:22pm 
I'm eagerly awaiting the day when voxels are used to mimic 16 bit pixle graphics (but three dimensional). Doesn't sound like what you want to do with it though :p

I'd like to see a JRPG (like Breath of Fire 2 kind of thing) with voxels. ^^
alloplastic  [developer] Feb 2, 2013 @ 5:57am 
Yeah, I guess I'm dreaming of the photo-real voxel world because I've found that the blockiness of "Cell" is barrier for a lot of players. The engine is "update bound," meaning that it's the calculations of gamestate for every voxel that limits how big the world can be, but high-minded descriptions of "massively reactive" gamestate are not an immediate selling point for the general public.

That said, what I'd like to build is a fully open, customizable platform where anyone could build a world, characters, weapons, items; etc., which would enable "dynamic voxel"-based RPGs.
Psycho Apr 24, 2013 @ 4:07am 
I think you're really onto something here. I've just played the demo through several times, and I'm really impressed with the dynamic nature of the automata engine. Yes, I'm sure you've seen nearly enough voxel based games that feature destructible props and environment. There's at least two space-based voxel construction games in Greenlight that I know of.

Still, if you'd like to have a go, and add you own spin on it, then go for it.

What I think you bring to the party (so to speak) is more advanced particle interactions, and iterations. The first play or too, I failed, because I was too busy watching the engine, to see what it would do next.

I think this has great applications for organic microcosm-style games, where there may be multiple species that act and interact in different ways. The three-dimensional control is also quite unique and this lends itself to all sort of play styles, with the player helping, hindering or channeling species in order to achieve game goals. Imagine instead of simply zapping 'bad cells', your instrument was able to add or remove microorganisms from a palette of many.

With this, you could do a Darwinia-style puzzler, where you don't get to affect enemies, but must use proxies you can't control directly, A Waking-Mars-style gardening project, but in three dimensions, a Populous-style god game, or (my favourite) a mind-boggling 'micro' RTS, where each voxel is it's own unit, and reacts to those around it. Imagine how much improved the greenlight game Growth would have been if it used something like this engine.

Beyond that, the material becomes more esoteric, you could create simulations and puzzlers based upon three-dimensional, dynamic organic 'locks' that operate in natural rhythms, and are affected by nutrients, disease and damage. Moving on from there you have an excellent ability to demonstrate Brownian motion , fluid dynamics, turbulence and so forth.
alloplastic  [developer] Jun 29, 2013 @ 10:01am 
Hi, Sgt. Psycho.

Thanks for the thoughts... and sorry for my slow reply.

Yeah, the RTS space was where I was headed when I started making the engine -- a game type involving just a little more strategy and planning. I knew that this stuff would start to get really interesting only when players could create their own tools, structures; etc. I have plans to open up the engine in that way... probably as a game creator first and then games second. The sooner I can get other people involved, the faster the potential will be realized, I think. Just need to find the time to take those initial steps to create a platform...
Psycho Jun 30, 2013 @ 3:12pm 
No problems, I hope you get a lot of success with Cell HD. I suspect that many punters won't 'get' it and just take it as a basic 3D shooter or write it off as 'yet another MInecraft clone.' This would be disappointing as it's quite innovative in it's own right, and has the potential to lead to some quite groundbreaking gameplay.

This is one game for which the often over-used term 'emergent gameplay' actually applies.
ziel0nek May 8, 2014 @ 12:53pm 
Valar Jul 30, 2014 @ 4:12pm 
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