Coca-Cola and the Galactic Arms Race

Jul 8, 2009 | Tech News

Galactic Arms Race (GAR) is an example of a game thats built around procedurally generated content, an emerging area of gaming popularized by titles such as Spore that have the potential to shape not only gaming but computing in general in years to come. Developed at the Evolutionary Complexity Research Group (EPlex) at the University of Central Florida, GAR is described as “Space Diablo”, “a multiplayer online video game and a research experiment in automatic content generation driven by player preferences. Unique game content, namely spaceship weapon systems, automatically evolves based on player….In particular, new variants of weapons that players like will be continually created by the game itself. In this way, the game never stays the same. GAR is the first video game to demonstrate that critical content can evolve as the game is played to satisfy its players.”

Their goal is to both lower the burden of content generation on developers and to make games more compelling for players by constantly evolving to the ways in which people play the game.

The video has some great examples of weapons that evolved from tactics that players employed and is fascinating in its ingenuity and diversity. Each weapon is essentially defined by it’s own Artificial Neural Network that can actually be visualized within the game to see how it came by it’s attributes.

From a gaming point of view this is an interesting offshoot from typical use cases of procedural content which are often used for generating landscapes and environments. If one considers how coveted new virtual objects are in MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft it’s easy to see how a more organic approach could lead to some really creative outcomes.

Outside of gaming, GAR got me thinking about how other kinds of software could benefit from procedurally generated content. Could online videos be auto edited based upon where people fast forwarded or stopped a video? Could you tweek a logo or a new product such as a shoe or a soda based upon input from many users until the perfect Coca-Cola or Trainer was developed. Imagine it constantly evolving each month and being released based upon their loyal fans input. Today you buy Coca-Cola for it’s predictable taste, maybe tomorrow for it’s unpredictable or evolving taste…



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