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City Map Generator – Create procedural American-style cities in the browser (probabletrain.com)
231 points by jsiepkes 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments

Oscar Stålberg created this 'game' https://store.steampowered.com/app/1291340/Townscaper/

He also has some great talks on YouTube about generating city maps with cube marching and wave function collapse.

His online map generator: http://oskarstalberg.com/game/CityGenerator/

What I like about his approach is that it looks very natural European instead of American.

I did an undergraduate project based on the same paper as this (not nearly the same quality, but similar enough if you squint).

The procedural method used for this kind of generation is really powerful -- you usually see L-Systems being used to create basic sort of fractals but these sort of implementations can become pretty smart. For example, you can provide a height map of the terrain, and make it so that the roads find smooth paths down hills.

And then that's before you realise that the buildings themselves can be generated via rules which describe how to make buildings. And then, the layout of rooms in a building, and the layout of furniture in each room. There's some really impressive potential here if a group of people were devoted enough.

Another good paper is: http://peterwonka.net/Publications/pdfs/2006.SG.Mueller.Proc...

I made a project like this too! Except it's not finished yet. Basically trying to turn the procedural buildings into a roguelike or something similar. https://andrewmanq.github.io/2020-05-28-new-buildings/

Nice! Those fake windows are a really cool idea

amazing models, especially cool is the pompeii one based on real footprints.

Following the the BLM protests on the police scanner recently, I spent a day studying maps of Manhattan. What comes to mind here, is how some old roads remain like Broadway -> old postal road, that were laid in past times when the patterns of settlement were different from now. And also how parts of the grid have be repurposed into pedestrian only areas, as urban theory / demands has moved on from when the grid was made. It would be neat if something like this could generate patterns on top of patterns, to get these kind of historical layers.

Broadway is a great example of something having very long-lasting effects. It’s much older than a postal road, being originally formed as a footpath used by the local native tribes to travel up and down Manhattan. It roughly followed a ridge line that is not very evident in lower Manhattan today but becomes much more obvious when you get up to northern Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.

I remember reading it was a deer trail from long before humans arrived. Dilophosaurus trail before that, probably.

In the demo pics there are radial/circular subdivisions. I find this odd, given that it's supposed to be an "American-style" generator. I've personally never seen any american city that has radial subdivisions.

There are circles in cities, but not (to my knowledge) circular sub-divisions as depicted on the site. That's something I associate with Europe, not America.

In most of America, including Washington D.C., the circles are very quickly ironed back out into grids.

What about some of these retirement communities like Sun City, Arizona: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sun+City,+AZ/@33.6291865,-...

Gotta say that design is pretty cool looking. I like how they put a golf course on the perimeter!

I'd chalk it up there with the "deigners" who draw swoopy lines for parking lots that look great on a map and are a nightmare to use.

Well-found! I had no idea those existed, but they do seem to fit the radial nature of the procedural designs.

Of course, they're much, much, much less dense than the designs, but the generator is still neat. Just not very "American-style" IMO.

Apple Maps link: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=33.6292+-112.2934&ia=web&iaxm=maps

These look pretty cosy.

This site claims to create American-style cities, but includes images with radial circles that extend about seven blocks, which is not at all something most people associate with American cities, but do associate with, say, Spain.


The urban density in these images is also more commonly found in Europe than America.

Which is fine! It's a generator for European-style cities, and it's neat! But so far, only low-density western desert cities have anything like 7-ringed wedges like this, and I suspect that most people, like me, didn't know those existed there before this thread.

There are circles in cities, but not (to my knowledge) circular sub-divisions as depicted on the site

There's plenty of them in the western edge of Las Vegas.

Those are just traffic circles with some spokes.

The generated maps show concentric circles, which is super-unusual in the US. I don't think I've seen it anywhere.

I'm actually curious if it's a common pattern in some other country.

Not very similar. Those DC "circles" just crosscut a rectangular array. The area itself does not appear radial.

DC is modeled after the square and compass symbols


Gotcha. It was the only city that immediately came to my mind as at least having circles embedded in it.

> What's it all about? No one knows what Woodward was really thinking, but with the geometrical mania that blossomed with the birth of the United States, it should not be surprising to find a backwoods judge thinking along the same lines as architects of the Italian Renaissance.

Is this sarcasm? Am I being wooshed? The street plan is the same obvious Masonic imagery that's on the back of every Federal Reserve Note. Take a look at the incredibly beautiful Detroit Masonic Temple and imagine it as the "Eye" in the Eye of Providence that would have been the street layout:



And look where it is in Detroit compared to the tiny bit of the street plan that was implemented: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Masonic+Temple/@42.3351973...

Really cool; thanks for the link!

Boston (https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3591352,-71.06249,15.28z) is close to round. You don't get grids until you get out of the colonial era city.

These cities were originally part of the colonies of the British empire. So I would say they aren't necessarily completely "American". I'd look more central to western US cities to see how American style city planning is done.

What you have are different eras. Older is usually more chaotic. Look at New York below 14th St., then contrast with above which came later.

You can draw another line when car culture became common. Before then, it was grids accessible by streetcars. After, the cul de sac style and similar becomes common.

In my case, the peripheral road around a circular subdivision carries on into the river: https://imgur.com/a/173tCV3

Oh my goodness I love this. My husband once told me that when I died he would upload my brain into a machine that was constantly playing Cities Skylines. This looks to be focused mostly on urban grid design; have you given thought to what a suburban generator might look like?

What have you done to deserve such torture?

Rather than procedural, I wonder what it would look like if you wrote software to mash the vector data for several different randomly-chosen cities' openstreetmap data together.

Taken a step further, train an AI on existing cities and have it imagine a new one. Ideally, you could sketch a basic outline (this part is waterfront, this part is the downtown, this is on a hillside) and it would fill in the details.

Curious that the author no longer credits the paper that a lot of the ideas are based on: InteractiveProceduralStreetModeling, Chen et Al 2008 http://www.sci.utah.edu/~chengu/street_sig08/street_sig08.pd....

One should give credit where it is due.

It's cited in the first sentence of the "Implementation details" section [1] of the website

> Algorithm - Road Network

> This generator is based on the paper ‘Interactive Procedural Street Modeling‘.

[1] https://maps.probabletrain.com/#/algorithmoverview

Distributed City Generation with Robust-First Computing and the Moveable Feast Machine:


>Robust-first Computing: Distributed City Generation: A rough video demo of Trent R. Small's procedural city generation dynamics in the Movable Feast Machine simulator.

Nere's a paper about how it works:


>Local Routing in a new Indefinitely Scalable Architecture, by Trent Small.

>Abstract: Local routing is a problem which most of us face on a daily basis as we move around the cities we live in. This study proposes several routing methods based on road signs in a procedurally generated city which does not assume knowledge of global city structure and shows its overall efficiency in a variety of dense city environments. We show that techniques such as Intersection-Canalization allow for this method to be feasible for routing information arbitrarily on an architecture with limited resources.

More info and links about David Ackley's work on Robust First Computing and the Moveable Feast Machine:


>A "Moveable Feast Machine" is a "Robust First" asynchronous distributed fault tolerant cellular-automata-like computer architecture. It's similar to a Cellular Automata, but it different in several important ways, for the sake of "Robust First Computing". These differences give some insight into what CA really are, and what their limitations are.

>Cellular Automata are synchronous and deterministic, and can only modify the current cell: all cells are evaluated at once (so the evaluation order doesn't matter), so it's necessary to double buffer the "before" and "after" cells, and the rule can only change the value of the current (center) cell. Moveable Feast Machines are like asynchronous non-deterministic cellular automata with large windows that can modify adjacent cells.

if you are migraine-sensitive or have vision/neuro issues, proceed with caution. Contains high contrast overlapping patterns on a blank generator page (no immediate animations though fortunately)

That's the new Grand Theft Auto sorted then!

Nitpick: I don't know of any American cities on the coast that have a road between housing and the sand. Certainly not a major road.

What about the Great Highway separating Ocean Beach from homes in San Francisco?

I don't know of any American cities on the coast that have a road between housing and the sand. Certainly not a major road.

Galveston, Texas.

Seattle, until recently. Though that wasn't sand, it was piers.

Rockaway Beach in New York City is definitely like that:


Hilly areas also often have railroads along the water since that is the flattest terrain.

love and RNGesus bless you!

Quite difficult to use because there are no control buttons there. Specifically for zoom control, two options are required for that. Also there are no instructions on how to make a map for a particular location that we want. And there is no description (tooltip) on every feature, new users get confused.

holy moly the white on black plus characters in the map's baselayer gave me huge headaches, I had to leave the site ASAP

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