Die And Die Again: Cloudberry Kingdom

By Adam Smith on July 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

The princess is in another procedurally generated level. Cloudberry Kingdom is a machine with one purpose – to create anguish and despair. It’s a side-scrolling platformer, with enough spikes and spinning blades to reduce even the most Super of Meat Boys into kibble and tripe. Rather than being hand-built, the levels are generated by a ‘level design AI’, which responds to the player’s skill, ramping up the difficulty and filling the screen with death. It’s out on July 31st and I am afraid of it.

I’m fascinated by the cruelty of those last few seconds. Why would a person endure such horrors? I crawled through Amnesia’s prison in the middle of the night, headphones on, lights off, and I’d rather relive those dread hours than enter the Cloudberry Kingdom. It’s the promise that everything is possible that frightens me. A carrot at the end of a hallway full of laser beams. A wall of sticks blocking every exit.

We’ve spent years teaching our level design AI how to make levels at just the right difficulty for every player. No matter how good you get, the AI will always serve up another level that can challenge your skills. No matter how hard the levels get, they are always possible. The AI takes care to design levels that can always be beat.

As well as multiplayer, shown in the video, there are customisable heroes, but they’re more than cosmetic. Change a hero’s means of motion by adding a jetpack or strapping him to a wheel and the levels are designed to test his new physical abilities.

I think wizards made this.

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5 Comments »

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  1. JackShandy says:

    I saw the trailer and didn’t see the appeal – but holy shit, it’s all made by an AI that adapts to your abilities and skill level!? Why did I have to get this from RPS? Why aren’t they plastering it sky-high all over the gameplay trailers? Why don’t they make the actual story about beating this AI, have it chuckle as you fail or tell you it’s going to crank up the screws when you succeed?

    Anyway, I’m shocked.

    • Mike says:

      This was covered on RPS before, I think, but it’s been in development for some months now. The Kickstarter mentioned the AI quite prominently – it’s like any procedural generator, really. It’ll use a simulation of the player and a search algorithm (a bit like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlkMs4ZHHr8) to test the feasibility of a level, and adjust the reaction times/skill of the simulation to match how it perceives the player is playing.

      I’m really excited to see this tech in a fully-released game. For readers interested in more of this stuff, check out the Platformer AI Challenge (http://platformersai.com/) where people compete to produce level generators, human-like platformer bots, and more.

  2. MadTinkerer says:

    Before the end of the month!?! Finally! It’s like all the important games are coming out before autumn this year.

  3. Phasma Felis says:

    It looks like the basic idea, on the higher levels, is that there’s a moving bubble of safety and everything else is filled with death. The trick is figuring out what path the bubble takes and staying inside it at all times.

    Funny how describing it that way makes it sound easier. I suspect it isn’t really.

    • kwyjibo says:

      What that does make it sound like is incredibly dull. It’s essentially one of those electronic games where you have to guide a wire loop around a twisty metal structure. If you touch the structure, you die.

      I do think adaptive AI and procedural generation is cool. But the masochistic setting is nothing more than something for the trailer.