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Composing Video Game Levels with Music Metaphors through Functional Scaffolding

Georgios N. Yannakis, Julian Togelius, Amy K. Hoover
2015 Computational Creativity & Games Workshop (CCGW)  
Artists and other creators naturally draw inspiration for new works based on previous artifacts in their own fields. Some of the most profound examples of creativity, however, also transform the field by redefining and combining rules from other domains. In procedural content generation for games, representations and constraints are typically modeled on the target domain. In contrast, this paper examines representing and generating video game levels through a representation called functional
more » ... alled functional scaffolding for musical composition originally designed to procedurally compose music. Viewing music as a means to re-frame the way we think about, represent and computationally design video game levels, this paper presents a method for deconstructing game levels into multiple "instruments" or "voices," wherein each voice represents a tile type. We then use functional scaffolding to automatically generate "accompaniment" to individual voices. Complete new levels are subsequently synthesized from generated voices. Our proof-of-concept experiments showcase that music is a rich metaphor for representing naturalistic, yet unconventional and playable, levels in the classic platform game Super Mario Bros, demonstrating the capacity of our approach for potential applications in computational creativity and game design.