Procedural Level Generation provides tools and techniques for generating many game levels from a single specification. Instead of creating levels by hand, level designers make use of generators that automate the creation process. However, iteratively improving a level's design requires encoding generators of adventures, puzzles and encounters in notations that bear little resemblance to generated content. Raising the level quality is difficult, because it is hard to reason about bugs that can manifest inside generated content. We take the position that debugging requires special attention. We argue that advancing the area of PCG calls for tools and debugging techniques that speed up procedural level design and empower level designers. We propose exploring how Domain-Specific Languages can help in authoring a level’s design, validating the generator’s code, and debugging issues in generated content. We introduce Mental Maps, a visual language that expresses the spacial relations between rooms, objects and paths. We discuss how Mental Maps can serve as generator blueprints before the generation happens, and as debugging lenses for projecting issues afterwards.

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ACM International Conference Proceeding Series
17th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, FDG 2022
Software Analysis and Transformation

van Rozen, R.A, Samaritaki, G, & Dormans, J. (2022). Debugging procedural level designs with mental maps. In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, FDG 2022. doi:10.1145/3555858.3564252