In computing, procedural generation is a method of creating data algorithmically as opposed to crafting it manually. Usually a lot of manual artistic effort goes behind the creation of environment and prop assets that appear in animated films, VFX sequences and games. However, with the advent of more powerful hardware, generative algorithms are now heavily used to automatically build models, textures, lighting and animation. The advantage of procedural generation is that it affords easy creation a large variety and volume of output that support large open worlds with rich detail. This means hyper-realistic films and highly replayable games. It also means that the artists can stop doing mechanical grunge work and take their creativity to an entirely different level!
Procedurally generated elements have appeared in earlier video games: The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall takes place in a mostly procedurally generated world, giving a world roughly twice the actual size of the British Isles. Soldier of Fortune from Raven Software uses simple routines to detail enemy models, while its sequel featured a randomly-generated level mode. Avalanche Studios employed procedural generation to create a large and varied group of detailed tropical islands for Just Cause. No Man’s Sky, a game developed by games studio Hello Games, features a universe containing 18 quintillion planets, all procedurally generated on the fly as the player encounters them, including their terrain, weather, flora, and fauna, as well as a number of space-faring alien species.