Make It So: Procedural Jogging

The exercise treadmills at my apartment complex are pretty neat – beyond a variety of options (including a game of Solitaire), they have an option to show a video that simulates walking at a location. Basically it gives you something to look at beside your heart rate, has interesting historical notes, and provides an interesting experience. Running indoors can be a might boring, and it’s an appreciated addition I take advantage of because, hey, when am I going to get to jog through scenic parts of Germany.

But it’s the same few tracks. So one day while using the treadmills I began thinking about how it could be more interesting. This conflated with my love of procedurally generated environments, including “walking simulator” Proteus and the amazing environments of the upcoming “No Man’s Sky.”

Then I asked why can’t someone create a Procedural Environment generator for these Treadmills?

Imagine this. You can select from some common setups, or tweak them from the start, and then have the display screen walk you through a generated environment. Maybe you want a desert or a forest, a sci-fi landscape or a fantasy land – set it up and explore as you exercise.

There you go. Every Treadmill trip is a new experience. One day you may walk across a ruin-filled desert, the other up a green mountain path. Maybe you’ll take a run through the Dwarf Kingdom or across an unknown world. Every time it’s different even if you choose the same basic settings. ┬áIt’d add a lot to the experience.

Now imagine taking this farther.

Perhaps you could have generated narratives, notes, or events. A bit of history-that-never was pops up here and there. A little note about the properties of an imaginary plant appears. A starship streaks across the sky and crashes nearby. The trip can feel like you’re in a real, living place.

On top of this, perhaps add a bit of gamification. Every now and then you may find an option to climb a stairway or open a door or turn left or right. The trip becomes even more engaging as you have power to affect what you see next – and you never know when the next option will pop up.

Finally, perhaps you can save your experience to share with others, even if it’s just writing down a code. Other people can see the same sites you did – and if there’s options, you can re-explore an old new world differently.

Go on people, Make It So.

  • Steve