Viral tweet reveals how video game worlds are designed

Many modern video games feature huge expansive worlds with varied landscapes. That requires a massive range of textures for things like rocks, walls and foliage. But how do the artists behind them create so much variety without having to draw them all by hand?

A Twitter thread has gone viral after revealing the secret: a technique that allows the textures to build themselves. It's blowing minds on the platform, and it's a good read for anyone interested in getting into game development (see our pick of the best PS5 games to see such worlds in action).

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Thomas @Stylized Station, who describes himself as 'the guy that explains how things work in video games', notes that creating the textures for video game landscapes individually by hand would take months of work. But video game artists have a technique that makes it much quicker: procedural texturing.

Procedural textures are 2D images generated using an algorithm that contains information on the nature of the material (colour, shine, bumpiness etc). Thomas notes that they can be reused in infinite ways, so that once you've created a procedural texture, you can change its parameters and modify it to create, say 200 different rocks in under a week using software like Substance Designer or Blender.

Artists can specify the colour, size, shape and frequency of bricks in a wall, for example, and the number of rows and columns of material. And it's a non-destructive workflow, allowing you to go back in the creation process and change parameters.

The thread's already picked up thousands of likes and retweets. "These threads are my new favorite thing on Twitter! Fascinating and always insightful," one person responded. "Love the insight and the context on how things are made," someone else commented.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.