Fuel for Five

  By Shamus   Jun 28, 2010   62 comments

Fuel is just $5 and change on Steam right now. That’s the game where I talked about procedural content:


Link (YouTube)

If at the time you thought, “That looks like it might be interesting to explore, but I wouldn’t pay full price for it.” then now is your big chance. I admit I have a bit of soft spot for this game because of the procedural content. I really hope the Asobo tech doesn’t end up collecting dust because this game sold poorly. The gameplay might have been off, but their world generating system is a lot more exciting to me than the next generation of bling-mapping.

202020262 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.


  1. somebodys_kid says:

    Am I just a sucker for slick marketing or is the trailer on the Steam page for Fuel awesome?

    And yes, I did buy it.

  2. GreyDuck says:

    Dagnabbit. I have zero dollars on hand until payday… which is the 6th of July this cycle. Sigh.

    • sauron says:

      Well, steam has a gifting option and I’d be more than happy to help out a fellow d20er (or maybe two if necessary ). Post a steam I’d or set up an alternate means of getting it to me and I’ll get back to you when I am at a actual computer.

      • Blanko2 says:

        just to be clear, i dont want you to gift me the game.
        im just posting to say that, that is a ridiculously nice thing to do and i think you deserve some praise for it.
        praiiiise

        • Sean says:

          @sauron: So are you going to give out 9 copies of FUEL to the Mortal Men? And um, like 3 copies of Portal to the Elves?

          Seriously: Here, here. Praise for you. Thank you for making the internet (and the world at large) a nicer place.

      • Sauron says:

        Alright, I’ve sent Grey Duck an email through his website, so he should be receiving his soon enough.

        So, this is almost certainly dangerous, but I’ve got a bit of spare cash and a paycheck coming in two days. Anyone else need a copy of this?

    • Axle says:

      Just think of all the money you are saving right now, by NOT buying all these cheap games you will never play (let alone – install).

      You are a very lucky person!

      And sauron – you are a realy nice person ( and not the evil eye thing people think you are ).

  3. Joe Cool says:

    Picked it up a month or two ago for $3.70 or so on Steam. The massive world is a lot of fun (for me) to simply drive around in. I like that sorta thing. Although, as you say, it would be awesome if they had guns and quests.

    About ten years ago, my brother and I had the idea for a procedurally-generated galaxy. The idea would be you should be able to fly anywhere in a galaxy, fly to any planet, fly into the atmosphere, land on the ground, get out and run around. I keep seeing bits of that idea implemented here and there, but I have yet to play my dream game.

    • Ross Bearman says:

      You seem to be describing Infinity: The Quest for Earth quite accurately.

      It’s under development by a very small group of developers, but the progress is quite astounding.

      Wiki Page
      Official Site

      EDIT: Just saw there is a new tech demo available for Infinity, it completely blew me away, if you haven’t already seen it Shamus, I highly recommend it. When he breaks through the planets atmosphere, it’s incredible, especially the second, Earth-like planet.

      http://www.infinity-universe.com/Infinity/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=113&Itemid=93

      • WoodenTable says:

        Oh WOW. That’s… that’s one of the most absolutely incredible space-travel scenes I’ve ever seen. I hope the end product has no interface, like in the video (or at least the option to not have one).

        Seriously, just… wow. The halfway-point in the video where it descends down to the planet is breathtaking… And the their site says it’s an MMOG, so there’ll be other people flying around too. I wonder what kind of player population density they’ll be able to support.

        Wow.

        • Caffiene says:

          I love Infinity, particularly the dev diaries. Some quite in depth discussion there, for anyone who has a grasp on game programming.

          One of the devs is an active poster on gamedev.net and cross posts sometimes to a journal there as well, but I cant for the life of me remember what name he goes by… I had it bookmarked, but the PC with the bookmark on it is awaiting life-saving surgery.

      • Rosseloh says:

        Oh my.

        That right there? EXACTLY what I’ve been wanting for years.

        Thanks for the link/info, I hope this thing turns out as good as it looks!

      • Joe Cool says:

        If you can’t get out and run around, then it’s not our game.

        However, I am intrigued. It appears to satisfy a base desire of mine with the ability to fly out of a planetary atmosphere and into space.

      • Irridium says:

        Wow… just wow.

        That really looks amazing. I really hope that game gets to see a proper release.

        Looks like the game of my dreams…

      • Blanko2 says:

        YES!
        that is FANTASTIC!
        looks like a game that i will really like
        the only annoying thing is that ever looping song.
        doo dun dee
        doo dun dee.
        but the visuals and the sounds and … wow.

    • Someone says:

      I know you can get out and run around on planets in Parkan and Precursors. I think you could fly around in the atmosphere in Elite 2, though im not sure.

      Procedural content like this can actually help with that sort of thing in space sims.

  4. Legal Tender says:

    I’m going to copy this from two threads ago in the hope it catches your eye, Shamus.

    “Is there any chance you could write a series similar to Yahtzee’s Fun Space Game: The Game? See, I really, really enjoyed the one about building the city scape as well as the, uhm, the procedural wossname one (racing game?) AND the one about that early effort of yours creating landscapes.

    I have zero knowledge of programming but I would love to read you go on about how you would conceptualize (with coding in mind) a true-er RPG experience. I’m thinking it might all be a bit out of the scope of 20D but I would still love it nonetheless :D

    /now at 27 I missed Deus Ex when it came out but ever since I got into gaming I’ve been waiting for a game that really lets me go all ‘ha! I’m a master pie maker. I shall solve this quest via the might of pie. Harrumph!’
    //that last bit was hyperbole, of course. But you get my drift.”

    • Shamus says:

      Can you give me a link to that series?

      • SatansBestBuddy says:

        It isn’t a series so much as an occasional blip at the end of his weekly article.

        He hasn’t posted any progress in quite a while, but I’ve heard from elsewhere that he’s busy with at least three different games, plus running a bar, so he’s probably too busy to make much actual progress to comment on.

  5. Bobknight says:

    this is really fricking cool. question though, from what I can understand of the procedurally generated content… wouldn’t the vast majority of the content be(by definition) random? or do you mean that instead of specifying each individual ‘box’ they just point to an area and go ‘mountain here.’ or ‘desert here’ and use the appropriate algorithm for each one? If that is true, wouldn’t he algorithm become increasingly/impossibly more complex if you want to put any kind of detail(the kind of detail that most RPG/sandbox games demand) in it?

    I mean, how does this help to make something like fallout?(where you have the dead janitor on the ground with his two bits of meat and a can of beer)? Would the resulting game world be merely a HUGE collection of randomized terrain that has absolutely nothing on it?

    • Shamus says:

      There’s a huge spectrum of possible setups between “totally random” and “painstakingly hand-crafted”. One end is boring and generic. The other end is ludicrously expensive.

      Hang on. I just realized I’m writing a post. I’ll get back to you on this…

    • wtrmute says:

      The basic idea here is that we have a backdrop that is procedurally generated — and here procedurally generated doesn’t mean “totally random”, but we use a series of numbers which looks (but really isn’t) random as input — to generate a basic world that has verisimilitude (looks reasonably natural), and on top of that the content creators apply a series of operations to create stuff.

      So one would generate a world that would have mountains and valleys, plains and rivers, oceans and lakes, and then the artists would come in and create the starting town somewhere they thought was good. Maybe they’d use another algorithm to procedurally generate hovels, and perhaps even outposts, since those aren’t usually very important and can be kind of generic. The villain’s stronghold, however, would probably have a lot of hand-crafted content. The point is that the artists need only to create the details, not the bulk of stuff, and place every darn tree and rock everywhere.

  6. ngthagg says:

    A sidenote: has anyone seen the term bling-mapping picked up anywhere else? I realize it’s a term that will only appeal to the crusty old geezer category (ie, 23 and older) so it won’t be big on most forums. But it’s a great term.

    • Drue says:

      I could swear I have heard it elsewhere but I can’t remember… being an old geezer of 25 myself I think my memory must be going.

      • Kell says:

        Well I’m a really old geezer of 36, and since reading an early coining of the term by Shamus, it’s been well-used in my vocabulary. I rant and enthuse about game design as a medium a lot, and never has there been a more succinct, nor tragically neccessary, term than “bling mapping”.

  7. eri says:

    I got it during the Codemasters racing sale they had a couple of months ago. I enjoyed the game for a few hours, and yes, the technology is extremely impressive, but unfortunately it’s proof that you need to have a fun game underneath for technology to mean anything. In the case of FUEL, the limp handling, repetitive events, poor map system, buggy AI and uninspired visuals and audio all combine to make something that I wouldn’t recommend playing.

    I’d tell the developers to take that technology and spend it on something interesting, like a god game, or a role-playing title, or a flight sim… anything more interesting than a phony XTREEM racer.

  8. Ben says:

    The first time I played Fallout 3 and found a motorcycle brake and fuel tank, i thought: “Fuck yeah, I’m going to build/drive a motorcycle, like the car in Fallout 2.”
    Imagine my disappointment when it turns out that they were just parts for a weapon. Which is interesting, but not nearly as awesome as driving a motorcycle though the wasteland and turning molerats into street pizza.

    • eri says:

      Somehow I think that would have made the game even more lulzy. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, especially considering how many broken down motorcycles there are everywhere…

  9. Don Alsafi says:

    That’s the game where I talked about procedural content

    Could we get a link to that again? (Offhand, I don’t really know what “procedural content” means.)

  10. Ian says:

    I was going to pick this up until I saw this:

    Initial activation requires internet connection; Online play requires log-in to Games for Windows – LIVE; software installations required including Sony DADC SecuROM, Games for Windows – LIVE.

    Forget that. It’s bad enough having one piece of DRM (Steam) in play, let alone three.

    I think I’m going to grab another Indie game now to make up for this. ;)

    • somebodys_kid says:

      Oh MAN! I did not see that when I clicked the shiny “purchase” button. First you have Steam (which I don’t mind), followed by a SecuROM CD Key check (which is curious given the notable absence of a CD and also curious given the existing DRM protections provided by Steam), followed by GFWL screens (which are an affront to humanity and common decency). Wow.
      It was only five bucks though so I’ll live.

    • Guts says:

      Hmmm, I noticed that blurb as well. Unfortunate, since I was all excited and ready to purchase the game. Now I’ll have to think about it for a bit to decide if the game is worth having to navigate several layers of DRM.

      • Ian says:

        Yep, I know the feeling. I absolutely love racing games, so I was very curious about this one. I literally had my mouse pointer over the purchase button until I saw “3rd party DRM: SecuROM” on the sidebar. Then I scrolled down and things got a lot worse. :x

        I dunno, I just don’t see the point of having more than one layer of DRM. I tolerate Steam (I’ve only had minor issues with it) but I just hate what SecuROM in particular has become.

  11. SatansBestBuddy says:

    I’m tempted, very tempted, but I know the game underneath isn’t interesting to me, as I’ve already played the demo, so I’ll ask; is there a strong modding community around this game?

    I can’t imagine the kind of cool stuff a talented group of modders can do with procedural content, but I’d be interested in checking them out if they exist.

  12. ehlijen says:

    I read the title and the first few words and I thought:
    “Voot! America is starting to charge sensible prices for petrol! Climate protection, hurray!”

    Then I read the rest of the article. Still good news, but I feel a bit silly now…

  13. Nasikabatrachus says:

    Ever since I saw Shamus’s video about Fuel, I’ve been fantasizing about a fantasy epic game taking place in such a procedurally generated world. I imagine Hyrule field as a vast, rolling plain like the mongolian steppe, dotted by the occasional lonely tree and village. Unfortunately I will probably have to wait until I am far too old to spend any time playing video games to see this.

    By the way, for a comparison not included in the video, a 118 square kilometer box is able to hold roughly two Dallas/Fort-Worth sized cities, with some spare change. I estimated this using google earth’s ruler function. I should really go drive up some local mountains or something.

    • SatansBestBuddy says:

      I suggest you play Shadow of the Colossus without getting on your horse, and imagine that map roughly twenty times bigger than it already is, then reconsider whether that would be a good fit for Zelda.

      Also remember Wind Waker, and it’s 8km x 8km world of mostly ocean and little else.

      Truth be told, the numbers sound impressive, but the actual running around is pretty dull unless you’re, say, in a car that can go fast enough to make travel quick and easy.

      • Nasikabatrachus says:

        But see, I’m the kind of person who liked the size of Wind Waker. I know the developers made a point of 50+ hours of content for the Twilight Princess, but I must have spent at least that much time wandering around in the boat island hopping and enjoying the scenery in WW. I even tried swimming from island to island, unsuccessfully of course, and moving from island to island at the lowest speed I could. Anyways, the Zelda reference in my comment was just a stand in for a more broad fantasy setting, which easily lends itself to flying around on giant birds and teleportation (which I will of course eschew because I’m weird).

        • Blanko2 says:

          on this subject, yeah there are games that are good being large like that, i mean, morrowind has a world that FEELS huge and so does oblivion, and fuel and Gothic 3. they could even be made smaller and they still feel huge. the zelda games are also pretty good at that.

          thats in opposition to say, just cause 2, where the world is immense, but it just feels small, for some reason. unless youre stuck somewhere with no way to get around (which is also never) but in that case it just feels boringly large.

          san andreas and shadow of the colossus i think were on the border, where the world was large enough that you felt like you were in a huge expanse, but small enough that you rarely got exasperated getting somewhere…

          • Vipermagi says:

            I noticed the same in Just Cause 2. I generally can’t really travel distances there unless it’s another highway race… And then I dawdle around that finish line again. Played for some thirty hours now, I think, and haven’t seen at least 33% of the island(s).

            I must say, whenever I got bored of the area I was in, I could just hop on the dealer’s plane and go somewhere else and be happy again. The islands are varied enough to stay interesting to me.

      • Zukhramm says:

        I loved the ocean in The Wind Waker. Too many games are afraid to take time.

  14. Neil Polenske says:

    MESSAGE TO ALL YOU MODDERS OUT THERE:

    Interstate ’76
    Road Warrior
    Carmageddon MMO

    I said it before and it’s worth repeating.

  15. rofltehcat says:

    What? Wait a minute.
    Shamus wants us to buy something from steam. Now how could that happen?
    Only one way to find out and make sure it won’t happen again:
    You chain him to the bed while I go get an exorcist with my FUEL© dirt bike!

  16. Zukhramm says:

    I bought it for the PS3 som time ago and cheated my way to all vehicles and landing points. I have yet to complete or even participate in a single race.

  17. Matt K says:

    It’s not FUEL but I picked up Overlord 1 and 2 for ~$10 (which also includes the expansion which byitself oddly costs 2x what OL 1 cost).

  18. radio_babylon says:

    picked up fuel a few days ago, and finally had some time to play it this evening. i like it. i dunno why everyone panned the game. going to play around with the race editor some tonight if i get time…

  19. acabaca says:

    >14,00 km^2
    >biggest game ever

    Midwinter, released in 1989, had a playable area of 410,000 km^2, procedurally generated. It was less pretty but it was bigger.

  20. john alexander says:

    Well, when I first saw this Reset Button, I thought to myself “That looks like it might be interesting to explore, but I wouldn’t pay full price for it.” I’m in much the same boat as yourself; not a fan of racing games (except the really over-the-top cartoon ones, Mario Kart being a good example), so I passed.

    But five bucks? The demo was pretty sweet, though lacking in content, so I can shell out five bucks for FUEL.

  21. Kdansky says:

    5$ = 4.75€

    Though arguably, we’ve seen even less sensible rates.

  22. vede says:

    Shamus, if you thought that the idea of a massive procedurally generated world would be good in an open world sandbox game, then there’s an indie game making its rounds that as a game world that’s completely randomly generated, has underground caves with monsters to fight, and has a totally, 100% destructible environment with a total area of about eight times the surface area of Earth. It’s just alpha right now, so most of it looks pretty similar to other areas (but it still looks really cool), but it’s planned that it’ll have different biomes like swamps, wintery areas, volcanic areas, and all that, plus settlements with goblins and such scattered all about for the player to genocide. And multiplayer, too.

    There’s a video of a demonstration of the (well, one of the possible ones) game world here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NszGurDUlHc

    Just thought it might be something you’d be interested in, since you’re a fan of proc-gen stuff like in Fuel.

  23. Josh says:

    How do you get the game to render in wireframe mode like that? Is that something built in to the game, or do you need a 3rd party application for it?

    • Shamus says:

      There’s a command line switch that lets you start the game with a right-click menu enabled. (On the PC, of course.) I can’t remember it now, but if you Google for cheats you should find it.

  24. […] algorithms similar to the seminal Conrad’s Game of Life to make procedural music.  (Procedural content generation and gameplay is one of those quirky things that game devs are especially interested in, […]

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  1. By Musical Onions « Tish Tosh Tesh on May 3, 2011 at 8:06 am

    […] algorithms similar to the seminal Conrad’s Game of Life to make procedural music.  (Procedural content generation and gameplay is one of those quirky things that game devs are especially interested in, […]

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