Wave Function Collapse Explained

A simple guide to constraint solving

Since developing DeBroglie and Tessera, I’ve had a lot of requests to explain what it is, how it works. The generation can often seem quite magical, but actually the rules underlying it are quite simple.

So, what is the Wave Function Collapse algorithm (WFC)? Well, it’s an algorithm developed by Maxim Gumin for generating tile based images based off simple configuration or sample images. If you’ve come here hoping to learn about quantum physics, you are going to be disappointed.

WFC is capable of a lot of stuff – just browse Maxim’s examples, or check out #wavefunctioncollapse on twitter, or see my youtube video.

WFC is explained briefly in Maxim’s README, but I felt it needed a fuller explanation from first principals. It is a slight twist on a much more broad concept – constraint programming. So much of this article is going to explain constraint programming, and we’ll get back to WFC at the end.

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Wave Function Collapse tips and tricks

Dungeon generation with pathing

I’ve been experimenting a lot with constraint-based procedural generation these days. Specifically the Wave Function Collapse algorithm (WFC). I’ve even made my own open source library, and unity asset.

WFC is a very flexible algorithm, particularly with the enhancements I’ve designed, but at the same time, I’ve found it’s quite hard to actually get it to produce practical levels useful for computer games. The key difficulty is WFC doesn’t have any global structure to it, all it does it make the output generation look like the input locally, i.e. when viewing small rectangles of output at a time.

In this article, I share what I’ve learned to take your constraint based generators to the next level.

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Messing with Unity’s GUIDs

I recently released an addon in the Unity asset store. It’s actually two addons: Tessera Pro is a fully featured copy, with complete source code, and Tessera which has cut down features, and you just get a precompiled .dll.

I quickly discovered a big problem – if you upgrade from Tessera to Tessera Pro, then all your scenes become broken. You get this error, which is likely familiar to veteran Unity developers.

I’ll go into what’s happening in general, and how I dealt with it.

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Marching Cubes Tutorial

In Minecraft, you can dig in any direction – removing a block at a time with well defined edges. But other games manage to destruct terrain smoothly, without all the blockiness of Minecraft.

The following tutorial in Marching Cubes, a technique for achieving destructible terrain, and more generally, creating a smooth boundary mesh to something solid. In this series, we’ll cover 2d in this first article, follwed by 3d in the next , and Dual Contouring in the third. This last is a more advanced technique for achieving the same effect.

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