Back in 2019, PUBG creative director Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene shared a teaser video for his mysterious next project Prologue, and now, following news of his departure from PUBG parent company Krafton, the developer has revealed more.
Prologue started life at Krafton’s Amsterdam-based PUBG Special Projects, and will continue to be developed at Greene’s new studio PlayerUnknown Productions, with Krafton investing in the new company with a minority stake.
Setting the scene for Prologue in a new video shared on Twitter, Greene explained, “I’ve held this deep fascination with sandbox-style open-world games and the freedom they give their players but I always just wished they were a bit bigger, so that’s our mission as a studio – we want to create realistic sandbox worlds on a scale that’s seldom attempted.”
— PLAYERUNKNOWN (@PLAYERUNKNOWN) September 3, 2021
That, Greene elaborates, means worlds “hundreds of kilometres across with thousands of players interacting, exploring, and creating” – an ambitious goal with one obvious problem: “We simply don’t have a way to fill these massive worlds with content – assets, game mechanics, locations, and similar things – in a reasonable amount of time.”
The solution to this, says Greene, is to “get machines to pitch in and help”, and, to that end, the studio has created a neural network capable of learning and then generating “massive, realistic open worlds at run-time”.
While some might balk at the idea of even bigger open-worlds beyond the time-sinks we have today, Green reckons “coming across a beautiful corner tucked away in a vast wilderness…has real meaning when thousands of players haven’t passed that way in the last hour.”
All of which brings us to Prologue – supposedly due to release “soon” – which is designed as a “simple introduction” to the studio’s accomplishments with machine learning. It will challenge players to find their way across a run-time generated wilderness, using found tools and gathered resources to survive a journey “where harsh weather is your constant foe”.
“There will be no guidance,” explains Greene, “no path for you to follow, just a world, a spot on the map to reach, and the tools needed to get there.”
Prologue is explicitly being released as a tech demo rather than as a complete game, and players will be able to pay what they want for it. “If you like what you see,” says Greene, “enjoy the experience and want to support the team, that’ll be entirely up to you.”
There’s no word of a release date for Prologue – which Greene calls the “first step on a multi-year journey towards creating what we hope will be rich and interactive open worlds” – but more details are set to be shared in an interview with Venture Beat this weekend.