Procedural Playthings: Dream Houses And Archipelagos

The day I don’t ooh and aah over procedurally-generated prettiness, you will know I’ve been replaced by a Snatcher, and you will know what to do. Today I’m being distracted from work by Oskar Stålberg’s Brick Block [official site], a browser-based procedural building generator.

Plop down blocks and they’ll merge to grow arches, windows, doors, balconies, and terraces decorated with cute details like plants, pots, and beehives. As a fan of dollhouses and miniature things, it is delightful. He’s made procedural archipelago and city generators to play with too.

Creating fantastic apartment blocks and dark arched alleyways is such fun, and the delicate lighting ties it all together so well. I hope you will enjoy playing with it.

His archipelago generator is great too, drawing spires of rock out of the sea with a gentle rumble as fish leap and birds fly by (click and drag to pull rock around). You might find it comforting to listen to this soundscape while poking about.

His city generator is far scrappier, the work of one day. Clicking and dragging lays down roads which populate with trees, buildings, and whatnot. It’s interesting to see the working as you add new bits onto existing streets, watching the algorithm figure out the final form. It’s not as pretty but hey, let’s procedurally generate everything while we’re at it.

Though I can hardly talk about procedural buildings and cities without mentioning Project Sprawl. And who even knows what Strangethink is up to with all those cats? Oh, there are so many more procedural things to coo over at the moment but I mustn’t get carried away or I’ll never finish work.

Anyway, also look at how Oscar turned these stumps and fungus into miniature towns populated by micro-people. They’re nothing to do with this, but are great. That’s all for now, honest.

[Thanks to my chum Pat Ashe for pointing this out.]


  1. Eight Rooks says:

    Now that’s the kind of procedural tinkering I can get behind. Thanks, Alice, both of these are pretty awesome (though Chrome doesn’t seem to like the archipelago generator) and his Tumblr is quite something too. Bookmarked/followed him.

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      keithzg says:

      Sadly the city generator isy the only one that works for me; link to just gives a mostly white page with merely the text “Unity Web Player | Castle” and “« created with Unity »”. link to gives nothing but a blank white page. Chrome 41.0.2272.76 (64-bit) and Firefox 36.0.1, both on Linux (Kubuntu 64-bit 14.04). I did notice the city generator is much smoother in Firefox.

  2. Llewyn says:

    How lovely. I want to build a whole town of those procedural buildings. And then move into it.

  3. Shazbut says:

    Alice, how about a Snatcher retrospective?

  4. pilouuuu says:

    Those creations look great. They remind me of Gaudi building. Who said games are not art?

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, I feel like whoever made this lives in Barcelona. #haventplayedityet

      • Rizlar says:

        Okay, now I’ve played it and am convinced that they live in Barcelona.

    • Stardog says:

      The same person who said paint by numbers books aren’t art.

  5. Jip says:

    Images look like a House Hlaalu skyscraper building generator

  6. Barberetti says:

    Sprinkle some bounce pads, rocket launchers, railguns and other assorted pickups about, and that top pic is a Quake 3 Arena map waiting to happen.

  7. Synesthesia says:

    wow, this guy is really, really good. Thanks for this.

  8. ninjapirate says:

    Thank you for sharing this!

  9. dsch says:

    The day I don’t ooh and aah over procedurally-generated prettiness, you will know I’ve been replaced by a Snatcher, and you will know what to do.

    Wait, what are we supposed to do?

    • April March says:

      Throw her into a freezing lake. The real Alice will survive.

  10. April March says:

    From one lover of random thingies to other, thank you, Alice. These were all brilliant.

    My tip to enjoy the city simulator a bit more is to click only on the corners. This creates the sort of sparse, twisting twin roads that you usually find near the edge of municipalities.

    • April March says:

      Ha ha, I clicked back to RPS from the Project Sprawl link and there was an ad for a condo… It wasn’t actually being generated on the fly but was scrolling in a way it made me do a double take! Life does imitate art…

  11. Kollega says:

    This is brilliant. And I really wonder when will some city-building game use procedural buildings like these. Clearly, the tech is there, but the only example of procgen buildings in city-builders that I’ve seen are so-far-simplistic buildings of Citybound.

    • Niko says:

      There’s a lot of interesting stuff with procedural generation is going on (see what Mark Johnson does with Ultima Ratio Regum – it’s incredible), and I guess it’s only the matter of time till those algorithms will be applied to larger scale projects.

  12. golem09 says:

    If they used something like that to build the next city of Assassins Creed for each player, increased the size by 10 times and threw out most of the collectables with it, I’d almost be interested in it. If the writing wasn’t so horrible.

  13. John O says:

    I have to say, i enjoy the city generator the most