Crytek is currently calling on fellow developers to create software that will allow a game engine to render cities using freely available (open) street data. The call is part of a Digital Innovation Contest provided by IC tomorrow that includes challenges presented by Intel, Sony Computer entertainment Europe, Google and Pinewood Studios.
According to Crytek, content and worlds generated algorithmically rather than manually are much cheaper and more efficient to scale than manually hand-crafted versions. One of the long-term goals in the gaming industry is to have procedurally generated content and open-world environments within a game, especially titles that are based on real-world geography.
By using pre-generated content based on open data, studios are not spending their financial resources on "re-building" virtual items and environments, and can allocate that paid manpower on other features, thus speeding up the overall development window. The way to make this happen could be by using open street map data as a source material, and that's where this challenge comes in.
"The heart of this challenge is to progress the objective of generating CG game worlds from open street map data in a game engine," the company states. "This could provide game developers with the chance to create even larger worlds more quickly, and at a lower cost. Whilst open street map data is not at all detailed enough for many gaming applications, it could provide a starting point for procedurally generated content."
"This challenge therefore seeks innovative digital applications that can help to more easily render open street map data in a game engine," Crytek adds. A successful solution will be able to help integrate open street map data with existing games engines like Crytek's own CryENGINE 3 Sandbox. The solution should also have the ability to access www.openstreetmap.org and/or www.skobbler.co.uk.
"Why do we have to use people to make a city when there's consistent open source street data out there which is very detailed, it's got buildings, lights, it's got streets – material data. Why can't we just press a button and instantly see that?" said Crytek’s technical director of R&D, Jake Turner.
Crytek is seeking technical solutions that are non-gaming applications, the company said. Any size of open street map data can be considered, and any geographical location can be considered. The solution will likely be trialed by Crytek for three months, and could possibly have the opportunity for an even larger exposure to other engine providers.
For more information about the Digital Innovation Contest, head here.