Novelty Maker: A PCG Game that Optimizes Novelty (Summer School 2019)

Procedural content generation (PCG) promises to reduce production costs and increase the replay value of games. However, to actually engage and retain players, PCG needs to be long-term engaging. Currently, PCG systems deploy automatic difficulty balancing to keep generated content engaging. However, emerging evidence suggests that novelty and variety, spurring curiosity, are independent and probably even more important contributors to player engagement and retention than difficulty. In this project, we therefore want to see if we can create a PCG system for a simple platformer game (Super Mario Bros.) or strategy game (Polytopia) that can balance the difficulty and optimise the variety of produced level sequences at once.

Specifically, we are interested using Rational Level Design to identify core gameplay beats or mechanics (shooting, jumping) and generate levels that vary the occurrence and sequence of beats relative to the prior play history of a player, using novelty search metrics to assess and filter a generated level pool.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Davy Smith or Sebastian Deterding for more information.

Required skills

We are looking for excellent student candidates for two different roles.

Role 1

Suitable for a candidate with a computer science background.

  • [Essential] passion for games
  • [Essential] computer science background
  • [Desirable] experience with PCG systems

Role 2

Suitable for a candidate with game design/HCI background

  • [Essential] game design/HCI background 
  • [Essential] experience of playtesting/evaluation 

How to apply

For more details on the summer school application process (including eligibility and funding) please see the overview page here.


Sebastian Deterding
Ed Powley
Davy Smith