Shamus Young’s “Pixel City” feels like flying in a helicopter into the art from Ghost in the Shell, or discovering a metropolis inside your computer. The latest work from an undiscovered YouTube talent, the software itself will be released under an open source license. I don’t need to tell you this could inspire other experiments for urbanist visualists wanting to work with real-time landscapes.

It’s also interesting that the process itself becomes part of the artwork: it’s by understanding how each element is pieced together that you really connect to the meaning of the whole.

This is a demonstration of a program I wrote to generate and fly through a dynamically generated city. You can read the step-by-step of how it was made at my website:

  • The program was built on vanilla OpenGL, Windows, using MS DevStudio 6.0
  • Building the city takes about 5 seconds.
  • Took about 50 hours of coding time.
  • Runs on older hardware. The goal was to have the program work on Windows machines less than 5 years old.
  • To be released as a Windows screensaver.

The music is "Around" by Oursvince, used under the Creative Commons:

The link on his website also discusses other reflections on digital cityscapes, so well worth reading.

  • Andy Best

    I think that the really interesting part about this is that it is entirely procedurally generated. I've been interested in procedural generation since I played .kkrieger (

    The city demo is really impressive for such a short amount of development time and shows what is possible without having to use a large amount of disc space to store textures and models.

    I think that there is a beauty in using assets that are 100% generated at runtime. The video has certainly given a lot to think about!

  • Jelco

    I owe it to my fanboy behaviour with regards to Introversion to mention their upcoming game Subversion, which makes extensive use of procedural generation for all kinds of things. No-one really knows what kind of game it's going to be, but it sure is looking interesting. We're talking full city generation from city level all the way to the level of a desk in an office. Pixel City was linked a couple of months back on the forums so I'm familiar with it, and from what I've seen of both Pixel City and Subversion I can tell you that while the former pays more attention to dressing ('painting up' the city as it were) as opposed to Subversion's cold, minimalistic style, the latter definitely uses better algorithms and the city layout seems a lot more realistic (and a lot less uncanny-valley-like).

    Take a look at if you want something interesting to read. :)

  • Stefan Muller Arison

    For those interested in procedural urban / architectural modelling, you may have a look at the research of Pascal Muller and his collaborators (starting around 2000):

    His work resulted in a commercially available product called "CityEngine":

  • Joahnsonn

    CityEngine looks cool…i've searched on youtube for "procedural city" and found this one


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