Today we're going to provide a first look at Hytale's world generation system: the technology that underpins every area you'll explore as you progress through adventure mode. As you might expect, there's a lot to cover - so let's get to it!
First, however, a quick note: in order to focus on worldgen and avoid spoilers, we've disabled creatures and enemies in most of the screenshots below.
The world of Orbis
This piece of concept art is one of the first we produced when development of Hytale began. It depicts four of the zones that make up the planet of Orbis, which is where the bulk of Hytale's storyline takes place.
As you can see, each zone is unique. Our world generation system draws from a different set of rules for each one, and each has its own set of biomes. If you look closely, you'll get a sense for how underground topography changes from the winding caves and dungeons of zone 1 to the subterranean forests of zone 4!
Generating a zone
Here's an example of zone-based worldgen in action. You're looking at a top-down view of zone 1, comprising several different biomes: forests, lakes, hills, ravines and more. Our worldgen system ties these together seamlessly along with topographical features like ponds and rocky outcrops. You can also see a handful of generated points of interest.
Each zone has its own set of blocks and distinct content, including furniture sets, NPC races, creatures and critters, plantlife, weather, and geology. Exploring a cave in Borea will be very different from exploring a cave in the Emerald Grove!
Coastal Areas and the Deep Ocean
Zones have different coastal features, too, including specific biomes for the shoreline. Above you can see a mountainous coast in zone 3, whereas below you can see the sands of zone 2.
These unique worldgen elements continue underwater, with secrets to find if you're brave enough to venture beneath the waves.
That's not all, however! Venture far enough from land and you'll encounter the ocean shelf: a sudden drop-off at the edge of each zone that leads to the deep ocean. The deep ocean is, effectively, a zone all by itself: it holds many dangers - and rewards - for intrepid explorers to discover. You’ll have to prepare carefully in order to survive in the depths!
Beyond the oceans lie the infinite lands. Hytale's storyline won't take you out that far, but our worldgen tech will ensure that there's always something for you to find beyond the edges of the world.
Generated caves and dungeons
World generation applies to underground areas too, including caves and dungeons. While these will play differently in each zone, there are a few universal principles that govern each.
Caves are full of secrets and creatures to encounter, and will be an important source of resources. They are entirely procedurally generated, based on rules that differ from zone to zone.
Dungeons are a little different. They comprise multiple chambers and encounters joined by connecting passageways, often culminating in a “Final Room”, providing challenges and special rewards tailored by our worldteam.
Dungeons are just one example of how prefabricated content is incorporated into Hytale’s world generation. We’ve created thousands of prefabs - 3,785 so far! They run the range from environmental features like trees and rock faces all the way up to ruins, buildings, and special encounters. These are distributed throughout the world at random and sometimes appear only once, but may feature hand-designed challenges, objectives, and rewards.
Each prefab is custom-built, and is the equivalent of a blueprint for a particular piece of content. In addition to their visual design, they can have their own triggers and events attached too.
Above you can see concept art for a specific kind of prefab: the entrance to a portal dungeon. When you meet the criteria necessary to unlock one, you'll enter a hand-designed encounter with its own rules and terrain. You'll be limited in what blocks you can break within these portal dungeons, challenging you to overcome obstacles using your other skills.
Depending on where you find them, portal entrances can take several different forms:
What you find on the other side will vary massively. Here's a glimpse at an early portal dungeon - the Temple of Gaia - along with one of its component parts, the Garden of Elements.
Happy little accidents
You've now got a sense of the broad principles that govern world generation in Hytale - from unique zones to hand-designed dungeons. All of this is governed by a set of rules, and some of our favourite environmental features come about when two contrasting sets of rules collide. We call these happy little accidents: moments when the principles we've laid out for a given zone combine in surprising ways.
We've discovered rivers that carve their way through mountains and dungeons that have been split in half by a ravine. Swampy terrain might creep halfway up a mountain, or you might be exploring a cave only to discover a lost mine deep within. These small touches help ensure that every world - and the adventures you have there - truly feel different.
What’s more, all of the world generation systems we’ve created will be fully customizable by content creators. You can tweak worldgen rules - or write your own - through configuration files. You can also build and share your own prefabs and dungeons, including instanced portal dungeons. You can create and configure your own blocks, environments, and even NPCs. Combining all of these options together gives content creators the power to craft biomes, zones - and ultimately worlds - of their own!