I've been fascinated by random tables since i got the AD&D DMG (jeff easley cover) for christmas long ago
For this creator interview I've got a Q&A with donjon of donjon.bin.sh, one of the best known generator sites.
Generators Q&A with Donjon
How did you get into creating random generators?
Simply by being both a D&D nerd and a computer nerd, with a fair bit of laziness for good measure. I've been fascinated by random tables since I got the AD&D DMG (jeff easley cover) for Christmas long ago, and later doubled down with the armory's 30 sided dice gaming tables. And I've been programming computers since the apple IIe.
Of the donjon generators, the random dungeon generator is the oldest, with the first version written in 1999. I wrote it because I got tired of having to do up a new map for my D&D group every week, and it seemed simple enough to plonk rooms into a CS 101 recursive maze algorithm. The first version simply created maps as HTML tables of black and white cells. Random room descriptions and contents were added sometime around 2006, when the dungeon generator spent a brief stint on the dire press website, and i got guilted into generating maps as proper images in 2009.
Most of the donjon generators have a similar reason for being. I wanted something for my own campaign, and was too lazy to keep doing things the hard way.
What generators are you most proud of creating and why?
The fantasy world generator probably represents the single largest investment of time and effort, but I hesitate to say i'm most proud of it. Its a horrible mess of code, written in at least two different languages frankensteined together, and i've had to take it down because it was eating my server's CPU alive.
Otherwise, I'm quite fond of the scifi star system generator. A lot of research went into getting the numbers generally plausible, and I've been pretty happy with the results.
What other random generators have you seen that you wish you had created?
Oh, so many. most recently, watabou has a medieval fantasy city generator which i'm awed by, and desperately want to steal and hack apart.
How do you use random generators in tabletop RPGs?
Whether by design or lack of planning, a lot of my campaigns spend a lot of time in sandbox mode. so having random generators to create a town, inn, npc, or dungeon on the run, without having to rely on my own brain (since it tends to fall back on anime and doctor who cliches), is of tremendous value.
What are your next big projects (generators or otherwise) that you can talk about?
As mentioned above, the fantasy world generator is down until I've been able to at least rewrite it into a saner run architecture. I've also been taking the opportunity to explore other procedural terrain algorithms which might be more efficient.
Where can people find you on social media?
Just twitter @donjonbinsh
Have a look through the generators on donjon.bin.sh. I know several Gamesmasters who rely on them when their players go off the planned scenario.
Check out another Creators Interview with Morrus of EN World or look through the full list.