Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 5001–5050 | Cite as

Procedural content generation for platformers: designing and testing FUN PLEdGE

  • Laura Anna Ripamonti
  • Mattia Mannalà
  • Davide Gadia
  • Dario Maggiorini


Video games are a peculiar medium, standing at the crossing point between art and software application, and characterized by an active involvement of its audience. The complexity of the product generates a huge challenge for the companies that develop video games. In the development process, level designers play a crucial role: they are in charge of declining the theoretical framework developed by the game designer into game levels, which contain the actual gameplay scenarios. Hence, the final goal of any level designer is to valorize the game design by creating enjoyable gaming experiences while, at the same time, respecting several constraints. To lighten the burden on level designers, several semi-automated approaches to level generation have appeared in time, but the majority of these tools suffer from several drawbacks. In the present work, we tackle the issue of designing, prototyping and testing FUN PLEdGE, a general-purpose automated levels generator and editor for platform video games. Its main goal is to shrink development time while producing – unassisted – levels that are both playable and fun. Moreover, our tool provides the maximum freedom to the level designer, by avoiding to impose unnecessary constraints on the structure of the levels and by guaranteeing the possibility to modify and personalize by hand the generated levels. During this process, the generator assists the designer by suggesting corrections functional to the quality of the player experience. To prove the effectiveness of our prototypal application we have also developed and tested with players a platform game. In the same vein, we asked to a group of game developers to test FUN PLEdGE.


User experience design Video games design Procedural content generation User interfaces Artificial intelligence for games 


  1. 1.
    Andrade G, Ramalho G, Santana H, Corruble V (2005) Automatic computer game balancing: a reinforcement learning approach. In AAMAS’05: Proceedings of the fourth international joint conference on Autonomous agents and multiagent systems. New York, NY, USA: ACMGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andrade G, Ramalho G, Santana H, Corruble V (2005) Challenge-sensitive action selection: an application to game balancing. In IAT’05: Proc. of the IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on Intelligent Agent Technology. Washington, DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bates B (2004) Game design (2nd ed.). Thomson course technologyGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bartle RA (2003) Designing virtual worlds. New Riders Publishing, Indianapolis (Indiana)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bleszinski C (2000) The art and science of level design, Session #4404 at GDC 2000. San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chen G, Esch G, Wonka P, Müller P, Zhang E (2008) Interactive procedural street modeling. ACM Trans Graph 27(3):103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Compton K, Mateas M (2006) Procedural Level Design for Platform Games. In Proceedings of AIIDE 2006. Marina del Rey (California)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Csikszentmihalyi M (1990) Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. Harper and Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Dormans J (2011) Level design as model transformation: a strategy for automated content generation. In Proceedings of PCGames 2011 June 28, 2011, Bordeaux, FranceGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ebert DS, Musgrave FK, Peachey D, Perlin K, Worley S (2003) Texturing & modeling: a procedural approach, Third Edition, Morgan KaufmannGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    ECMA International (2012) Common language infrastructure (CLI). Standard ECMA-335Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Farnell A (2010) Designing sound. MIT PressGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fisher J (2014) How to make insane, procedural platformer levels. Gamasutra. Accessed 1 June 2016
  14. 14.
    Fullerton T (2014) Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games, 3rd edn. CRC Press, Taylor & FrancisGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hastings E, Guha R, Stanley K (2009) Demonstrating automatic content generation in the Galactic Arms Race video game. In Proceedings of Artificial Intelligence for Interactive Digital Entertainment ConferenceGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hastings EJ, Guha RK, Stanley KO (2009) Automatic content generation in the galactic arms race video game. IEEE Trans Comput Intell AI Games 1(4):245–263, New York: IEEE PressGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hastings EJ, Guha RK, Stanley KO (2009) Evolving content in the galactic arms race video game. In: Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG’09). Piscataway, NJ:IEEEGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hudlicka E (2008) Affective computing for game design. In GAMEON-NA’08: Proceedings of the 4th Intl. North American Conference on Intelligent Games and SimulationGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hunicke R, LeBlanc M, Zubek R (2004) MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research. In Proceedings of the 2004 AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game Artificial Intelligence. San Jose, California, July 2004Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hunicke R, (2005) The case for dynamic difficulty adjustment in games. Proceeding of ACE 05 - 2005 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in computer entertainment technology, p 429–433Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Iyer V, Bilmes J, Wessel D, Wright M (1997) A novel representation for rhythmic structure. In Proceedings of the 23rd International Computer Music Conference, (Thessaloniki, Hellas, 1997), International Computer Music Association, 97100Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Koster R (2004) Theory of fun for game design. Paraglyph PressGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kremers R (2009) Level design: concept, theory, and practice. Peters/CRC Press, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lee S, Jung K (2006) Dynamic game level design using gaussian mixture model. In: PRICAI’06: proceedings of the 9th pacific Rim international conference on artificial intelligence. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 955–959Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Maggiorini D, Nigro A, Ripamonti LA, Trubian M (2012) The perfect looting system: looking for a phoenix? In Proc. IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG 2012)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Maggiorini D, Nigro A, Ripamonti LA, Trubian M (2012) Loot distribution in massive online games: foreseeing impacts on the players base. In Proc. of ICCCN 2012Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Maggiorini D, Mannalà M, Ornaghi M, Ripamonti LA (2015) FUN PLEdGE: a FUNny Platformers LEvels GEnerator, Proc. of CHItaly 2015 11th biannual Conference of the Italian SIGCHI Chapter, Rome, Italy — September 28–30Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Mark B, Berechet T, Mahlmann T, Togelius J (2015) Procedural generation of 3D caves for games on the GPU. In Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games (FDG)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Marks J, Hom V (2007) Automatic design of balanced board games. In Proceedings of AIIDEGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    McEntee C (2012) Rational design: the core of rayman origins, gamasutra. Accessed 1 June 2016
  31. 31.
    Missura O, Gartner T (2009) Player modeling for intelligent difficulty adjustment. In: DS’09: proceedings of the 12th international conference on discovery science. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 197–211Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Müller P, Wonka P, Haegler S, Ulmer A, Van Gool L (2006) Procedural modeling of buildings. ACM Trans Graph 25(3):614–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Parish YIH, Müller P (2001) Procedural modeling of cities. Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH 2001, p 301–308Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Perlin K (1985) An image synthesizer. Comput Graph 19(0097–8930):287–296, SIGGRAPHGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Persson M “Notch” (2011) Terrain generation, Part 1 Accessed 1 June 2016
  36. 36.
    Prusinkiewicz P, Lindenmayer A (2004) The algorithmic beauty of plants. Springer-Verlag, electronic versionGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Pygame Accessed 26 Feb 2016
  38. 38.
    Schell J (2015) The art of game design: a book of lenses, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis GroupGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Schwartz M, Müller P (2015) Advanced procedural modeling of architecture. ACM Trans Graph 34(4):107Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Shaker N, Yannakakis G, Togelius J (2010) Towards automatic personalized content generation for platform games. In Proceedings of AIIDE 2010 - 6th AAAI Conf. Artif. Intell. Interact. Digital Entertain., Stanford, CAGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Smith G, Gan E, Othenin-Girard A, Whitehead J (2010) PCG-based game design: enabling new play experiences through procedural content generation. In Proc. of PCGames 2011 June 28, 2011, Bordeaux, FranceGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Smith G, Othenin-Girard A, Whitehead J, Wardrip-Fruin N (2012) PCG-based game design: creating Endless Web. In Proceedings of the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG ‘12)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Smith G, Treanor M, Whitehead J, Mateas M (2009) Rhythm-based level generation for 2D platformers. In Proceedings of the 2009 Int’l Conference on the Foundations of Digital GamesGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Smith G, Whitehead J, Treanor M, March J, Cha M (2011) Launchpad: a rhythm-based level generator for 2D platformers. IEEE Trans Comput Intell AI Games 3(1):1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Smith G, Whitehead J (2010). Analyzing the expressive range of a level generator. In Proceedings of the 2010 Workshop on Procedural Content Generation in Games, New York. ACMGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Smith G, Whitehead J, Mateas M (2011) Tanagra: reactive planning and constraint solving for mixed-initiative level design. IEEE Trans Comput Intell AI Games 3(3):201–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Spronck P, Ponsen M, Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper I, Postma E (2006) Adaptive game AI with dynamic scripting. Mach Learn 63(3):217–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Sweetser P, Wyeth P (2005) GameFlow: a model for evaluating player enjoyment in games. Comput Entertain (CIE) Theor Practi Comput Appl Entertain 3(3):3–3Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Tatham M, Morton K (2005) Developments in speech synthesis. John Wiley & Sons, LtdGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Thorn A (2010) Game engine design and implementation, 1st edn. UK Jones & Bartlett Pub, LondonGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Togelius J, De Nardi R, Lucas SM (2007). Towards automatic personalised content creation in racing games. In Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence and GamesGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Togelius J, Kastbjerg E, Schedl D, Yannakakis GN (2011). What is procedural content generation? Mario on the borderline. In Proceedings of PCGames 2011, June 28, 2011, Bordeaux, FranceGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Togelius J, Schmidhuber J (2008) An experiment in automatic game design. In Proceedings of CIG’08: IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence and GamesGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Toy M. et al. (1980) Rogue (PC Game)Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Unity Technologies. Accessed 26 Feb 2016
  56. 56.
    Yannakakis G, Hallam J (2009) Real-time game adaptation for optimizing player satisfaction. IEEE Trans Comput Intell AI Games 1(2):121–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Anna Ripamonti
    • 1
  • Mattia Mannalà
    • 1
  • Davide Gadia
    • 1
  • Dario Maggiorini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversità di MilanoMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations