Procedural Generation for Divination and Inspiration

Martin Pichlmair, Charlene Putney

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This paper presents a series of experiments that map the expressive space of specific procedural generation techniques with playful aleatory interventions. They are tools for inspiration based on divinatory practices. This paper connects these ancient procedural techniques to contemporary technologies like Twitter bots. We challenge the limits of these technologies in order to playfully explore the role they can play in everyday life. The first experiment, Nostrandomus, remixes ancient prophecies. The second one, Five Sparrows on a Vampire, generates proposals for dining experiences featuring recipes and accompanying eating instructions. The third tool, Haikookies, is a self-help inspired twitter bot that shares fortune cookie-style wisdom in haiku form. The final experiment, Tiphareth, is a set of partially procedurally generated tarot cards. Additionally, Ephemerald, a tool for streamlined Tracery-based [6] procedural content generation is introduced. The takeaway of this paper is that data curation is a fundamental component of working with generative systems. In other words, the human aspect needs to be present in order to create meaningful results.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFDG '20: International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games
Number of pages12
Place of PublicationBugibba Malta
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2020
Article number5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-8807-8
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Procedural Generation
  • Playful Aleatory Interventions
  • Divinatory Practices
  • Contemporary Technologies
  • Data Curation


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