Shiny Day - Elyria is Big (Part 2)

On this shiny day, let’s talk about people. People need a lot of stuff. They need room, they need food (so… much… food…), they need water… and like, for some reason they want stuff like minerals and wood to “build” with. Worse, they just make more stuff with it all!

Nah, I’m just kidding, people are great.

But the point is valid: When you’re trying to build a world for people, especially one that people are meant to virtually live in, you can’t just make a space and make it look it good, you must consider all the stuff the people need. And when you’re talking about a big world, we’re talking about a LOT of stuff.

I probably don’t have to tell you that Elyria is a big world -- I mean, I've said it before -- but even knowing that, I bet that you’ll be surprised when you’re standing in it. We know this world (all 4 worlds) pretty well, but we’re still constantly startled when we put the camera at Mann level and realize that “little valley” we were looking at is actually big enough to fit Los Angeles in it. Earlier today I was complaining that larger versions of the map had taken away the pieces of coastline that I liked in the lower fidelity maps… Bless the art team’s heart for humoring me, too. They just zoomed the map in to show me that not only were they still there, but at full res they were significantly more nuanced. Actually, I happen to have a color map here, let me show you.

A coast somewhere in Elyria

(A color map includes no height information, like squashing a relief map)

Do you see that cape there? When I had this color map zoomed all the way out so I could see the whole continent, I was looking at this little nub and thinking “ahh man, did we lose that feature?” but as you can see, zoomed in to a decent resolution, not only is it there, but it’s actually projecting out of a little bay, a detail that wasn’t apparent in the map voting stages. That’s kind of eye opening – especially when you realize that, even in this image, each pixel here actually represents a parcel of land. And this is a tiny slice of the starting continent; there are more for players to find via exploration when the game launches, each as large, or larger. Not to mention myriad smaller islands. I’ve seen the numbers and I felt like I grokked that, but seeing it is a different thing.

This is true about other aspects of the world as well. Each version of Elyria that a server experiences began as a map and a projection, based on the conditions of that map, of where people would live, what resources can be found at each point in the world, and how they would live. An algorithm crawls every meter of the world and analyzes it deeply to determine how many lives it can sustain, based on what resources are there, access to water, the presence of competing elements in the environment, and more. This is used to generate a likely distribution of the population based on conditions. And, once that’s done, the results are fed into yet another algorithm that looks at places to build settlements, determines how large a settlement can be created, and then how sustainable said settlement would be and it begins to allocate the populace to those settlements. Yet another algorithm then looks at each settlement to determine if a sustainable industry can be founded there and does what it needs to do to set it up, allocating settlement resources and people and generating their backgrounds and history based on those results.

To get back to talking about the sheer scope of Elyria for a second: I had an idea of what results this process would create. But that idea was based an idea that Elyria is a lot smaller than it really is. So, the first time I saw a log entry like this while the process was running, my jaw dropped:

A log entry in an early run of the world generation process

I’m telling you, Elyria is BIG! And this is me saying so after already having said it once! It’s like really, really, big! It’s just this big, massive, gigantic, really big thing. Actually, that’s not fair. It’s not a thing; it’s a world. And bringing it to life is probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever participated in. It manages to strike me with awe at every turn, even though I’m one of the ones writing its brain, laying out its bones, and filling its lungs with breath.

Until next time, stay shiny my friends!

  • Snipehunter
5/10/2019 1:46:55 AM #1

That world generation sounds seriously amazing. I've only heard of rogue-likes like Dwarf Fortress coming close to that. I can't imagine how much design and work made into making a series of world generation algorithms.

What do the units refer to? What is one sand or one farmland? lol

5/10/2019 1:47:20 AM #2

Well, its a thing.

Count of Raberre's Rest

5/10/2019 1:48:15 AM #3

The bigger the better! Woot!

5/10/2019 1:48:39 AM #4

Dwarf fortress's infinite span is only there unlike elyria to cause the player untold sadness

5/10/2019 1:49:25 AM #5

Almost as big as Skyrim's opening scene.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

5/10/2019 1:49:26 AM #6

So, what you're saying is...size matters?


5/10/2019 1:49:33 AM #7


Proud member of Vandiir, Magistrate of Fates Haven

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5/10/2019 1:50:08 AM #8

wow oh wow!

5/10/2019 1:50:17 AM #9

A short video showing perspective would be awesome. Maybe show an elyrian then slowly zoom out and give a birds eye view.

5/10/2019 1:53:02 AM #10

Posted By Bur at 6:50 PM - Thu May 09 2019

A short video showing perspective would be awesome. Maybe show an elyrian then slowly zoom out and give a birds eye view.

That would be a very slow zoom out. And Unreal would start culling out the world before you could really get a sense of the scope, I'm afraid.

  • Snipehunter
5/10/2019 1:53:12 AM #11

2/10, need more detail of scale and references on how big the world is.

5/10/2019 1:56:53 AM #12

So excited to see what are little piece of the map looks like up close.

-Wayland Ade'Braeden, Judicator of IronCall, Tritea Duchy of the High Seas.

Friend Code: 2D1330

"The wave returns to the ocean..."

5/10/2019 1:56:58 AM #13

Oh, something I forgot to mention: That log entry there is old. It's not precisely reflective of the current numbers, and there's even a bug in the display from when I snipped that shows incorrect percentages. That said it is in the ballpark.

Hope that helps! :)

  • Snipehunter
5/10/2019 1:57:08 AM #14

Posted By Snipehunter at 8:53 PM - Thu May 09 2019

Posted By Bur at 6:50 PM - Thu May 09 2019

That would be a very slow zoom out. And Unreal would start culling out the world before you could really get a sense of the scope, I'm afraid.

I see, all good just a suggestion. The post just kinda made me think of those videos that try to give an idea of how large our Universe is lol. But I really appreciate the response.

5/10/2019 1:58:24 AM #15

Beautiful. I too, wish to see this world come to life.