Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Fantasy word generator and generated novels

In yesterday's post, I mentioned stumbling across a small fantasy map generator.  There's also a word generator associated with it, used to create place names.  The approach in that word generator is based upon patterns (e.g. CVC for consonant-vowel-consonant) and partially-overlapping sets of letter/sound types (consonants, vowels, sibilants, ending).  This is a different approach than taken in the word generator I mentioned in a couple of posts last fall - that used statistical patterns derived from a corpus of words used as input.

Apparently, both the fantasy map and word generators are ports from Python to JavaScript of code used in NaNoGenMo 2015, the National Novel Generation Month.  That particular effort was known as The Deserts of the West and produced not so much a novel as an atlas and travel guide, along the lines of a gazetteer.  The concept of NaNoGenMo appears to be analogous to NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo promotes writing a novel in a month; NaNoGenMo promotes writing code within a month that can generate a novel.

When I discovered NaNoGenMo yesterday evening, I investigated a little, and the novels produced by NaNoGenMo aren't particularly interesting to me in a literary sense.  (A few were better than some of what I was subjected to in college English classes, though.)  I do not think actual authors have anything to fear from the output of these programs.  However, they were of some technical interest.  They did produce proper paragraphs and sentences.  Many of them were even fairly coherent.  I just didn't find any particularly interesting as reading material.

On the other hand, I find the gazetteer approach of The Deserts of the West fascinating. That is, both the concept and the output intrigue me.  I may investigate them more thoroughly at some point.  In a way, they seem to be nothing more than an expansion on some of the tools and tables used in role-playing games, be they pen and paper or computer.

OK, that's it for my lunchtime post.  Time to finish eating and get back to work.

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