Square Enix's Luminous Productions studio are keeping their mysterious game Project Athia under wraps for now, but they have revealed more of the technology it's built on, the Luminous Engine. At a Japanese conference this week, the gang of former Final Fantasy XV folks gave a talk including a demonstration of its world editor, and they've kindly put it on YouTube for all to see. If you like tech demo videos where landscapes rise up and flora sprouts with a sweep of the cursor, you might enjoy their pretty little woodland.
I particularly like the way trees whip out then open up.
Luminous showed this during CEDEC2020, the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference, in a talk titled "Filling an Open World in a Natural yet Intentional Way - Luminous Engine's Approach to Procedural Generation". Obviously the full extent of what's going on isn't clear without the accompanying talk, which isn't yet public, but you can see lots of places where it seems the user changes the land or broadly paints an area then lots of contextually-appropriate little details spring into place. I assume that's what's happening, anyway. Point is: it's kinda pretty.
If you enjoy the magic of detailed levels magically rising out of simple layouts, do check out Oskar Stålber's lovely town-building toy, Townscaper.
I try not to talk too much about engines because while I know a little, I'm aware there's so much that I don't know. While it is relevant at times, engine chat is often an unhelpful part of games discourse - a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. But hey, if this procgen stuff helps make development quicker, easier, or cheaper for Luminous, cool, that's nice.
Project Athia is coming to PC and PlayStation 5, at some point. It's a fantasy action-adventure sorta game, and the announcement trailer showed some nice bits of moving with giant leaps and bounds across dramatic landscapes. I'm into that.