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Developing a Procedural City

When MPC was asked to create a massive CG city for the film Alien: Covenant, they looked to leverage procedural generation as a means for iterating on the overall shape and structure of the city, in place of a prohibitively large team of environment artists.

September 29, 2017

Presentation at CppCon 2017

After evaluating all the practical third party options, it was ultimately decided that the best option was to build a custom tool to procedurally assist artists’ city-building skills. This allowed for rapid iteration on the overall look of the city by striking a balance between manual and procedural techniques.

The core algorithms were written in C++ for speed. The user interface was written in Python to accommodate quick feature changes, and a dash of Fabric Engine’s KL helped with model import and rendering. This multi-language approach allowed the consistent application of the “best tool for the job” rule, which is a common pattern at MPC, allowing flexible teams with experts in a variety of skillsets.

This talk will detail the history and development of MPC’s city building tool, “Machi”. Alan Bucior, Lead Developer of Machi, reviews the algorithms for city layout and building placement, discusses how to implement algorithms in an artist-driven manner, and shares various insights gleaned through the development process and discussion with stakeholders.

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