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Procedural content generation for platformers: designing and testing FUN PLEdGE

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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.

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We wish to thank Prof. Mario Ornaghi for his support and encouragement in dealing with Artificial Intelligence applied to video games. We also wish to thank Dr. Giacomo Cappellini for his precious help in dealing with several glitches in the code and in the data collection system.

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Correspondence to Laura Anna Ripamonti.



First experiment (2014): Questionnaire for playtesters

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Second experiment (2015–16): Questionnaire for playtesters

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Second experiment (2015–16): Questionnaire for game developers

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Ripamonti, L.A., Mannalà, M., Gadia, D. et al. Procedural content generation for platformers: designing and testing FUN PLEdGE. Multimed Tools Appl 76, 5001–5050 (2017).

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