World generator: procedural island stitching
After having started the game countless time I can tell you that it used to get quite repetitive. The same starting island with the same natural resources and fertilities, with the same water/cliff layout… yes, that often lead to exactly the same design of my colony. No longer! With the new world generator, where hand-craften islands are dynamically stitched together, the game’s replayability value just went through the roof!
Difficulty settings to tune your game
The size of your starting island, the types of fertilities, and even the layouts of the cliffs have a big impact on the difficulty of the game. The size of your island determines how quickly you have to start settling additional islands with the logistical challenges that brings along, and the same holds true for the number and type of fertilities on your land. And although having an extra cliff doesn’t seem very different, it might just be the difference of being able to build a 6×5 building.
Aside from how the world looks like there are plenty of other settings you could think of affecting the difficulty. To name a few: build times and costs, number of starting resources, starting with a settled island or just a few ships, tax levels, … and many more. That’s outside of the scope now though.
Letting the world generator make something playable
Now I could go ahead and create 10 maps and randomly pick one once you start the game. For most players that would do the trick, but at some point you’ll get the same map and it’s rather time consuming to create these maps as well. Instead, I’ve chosen for a very basic version of procedural generation where the human-generated assets are a hand-made islands of various sizes.
Procedural generation is a method of creating data algorithmically as opposed to manually, typically through a combination of human-generated assets and algorithms coupled with computer-generated randomness and processing power.Wikipedia
Although the numbers are still changing, you could imagine different lists (small/medium/large) with a number of designed islands in there. Based on the difficulty settings I would pick several islands that match the criteria. A large map with mainly small islands could pick 15 small ones and 3 medium ones, where a medium map with mainly large islands could pick 4 large ones, 1 medium and 2 small ones.