- Generative AI is not a replacement, but rather a creative partner for game developers.
- AI has the ability to craft personalized storylines, tailoring gaming experiences.
- It doesn’t undermine the developer’s control but rather empowers their creative work.
In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and entertainment, one term that keeps popping up every now and then is “generative AI.” Now, this might sound like something straight out of a sci-fi film, a piece of tech that could threaten human creativity as a whole. But the truth is a lot farther than fiction, especially in the realm of game development where AI has been around since the 1950s.
I believe that it’s high time that someone dispels some of the myths and understands that generative AI can potentially be a game-changer for the gaming industry as a whole. In fact, some experts believe that generative AI will account for half of game development in 5-10 years. This is why today, I hope to prove how generative AI is not really much of a villain, but rather a valuable ally in the world of video game development going forward.
A Creative Partner, Not A Replacement
One of the most prevalent misconceptions about generative AI’s role in game development is that it aims to replace human creativity. However, it’s essential to recognize that the primary purpose of generative AI is not to supplant humans but to be a creative partner. Game developers and artists remain the heart and soul of the gaming industry, and AI is merely another tool in their arsenal.
One major point that a lot of people fail to realize is that AI isn’t self-sufficient. It may be able to churn out work faster than any regular human, but it still needs a human to operate it. At the very most, it may reduce the number of people it takes to do a specific task, but it will still require the input and supervision of professionals in the field it’s used in.
What this tool excels at is the rapid generation of assets, a task that would otherwise be labor-intensive and time-consuming. By handling these repetitive aspects, AI frees up human talent to focus on the core of game development: innovation, storytelling, and creativity. Instead of stifling human imagination, generative AI empowers game creators by automating tedious tasks, allowing them to delve deeper into the art of game design.
Addressing The Elephant In The Room
The biggest argument against the implementation of AI in the development process is, of course, the loss of jobs that would soon follow. By no means am I implying that this won’t be a possibility, or that I don’t care about the people who would end up losing their jobs. The purpose of this analysis is to highlight the benefits that generative AI has for the game development process itself.
Besides, as already made clear, AI isn’t a replacement for human workers, it’s a valuable tool that can potentially greatly reduce their workload. Sure that would mean that fewer people will be needed for that work, but with the way the industry is moving, it’s almost inevitable at this point. Heck, even Google is talking about how to use AI to create “living” video games, essentially a game that can develop itself as the player progresses through it.
I mean let’s be honest, the technology is here, and it’s here to stay. So at this point in time, it’s not a topic of “whether” it should be implemented, it’s a question of “when”. With almost 10,000 jobs lost in the gaming industry in just 2023 alone, and major studios like Bethesda already implementing Gen AI in their games like Starfield, the ball is already well in motion.
A Game Dev’s New Best Friend
The key objective of Generative AI is not to replace human game developers but to work harmoniously with them. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened either, I mean, just take a look back at the introduction of motion capture technology in the ’90s. It significantly enhanced the field for animators rather than replacing it, despite the fact that many animators did end up losing their jobs to it in the years to come. The same is true for pretty much any technological development in human history.
Nowadays motion capture has become such an integral part of the game-making process that nobody even questions all of that, and don’t even get me started on facial capture. Now you might argue that motion capture suits still require a person to physically wear them, and that is a fair argument since AI only needs supervision and not much manual labor, but the similarities between each tech’s implementation are still very visible to see.
With this in mind, the creative workforce isn’t under threat of AI takeover; it’s being empowered. AI takes care of the technical aspects, enabling game creators to focus on what they do best – creating innovative and immersive experiences for players. Speaking of immersive experiences though, what’s more immersive than an NPC that can respond to you in real-time?
Facial Animation has never been this accurate 🔥@UnrealEngine Metahuman Animator completely eliminates the need for expensive Facial Motion capture equipment and lets creators use their phones to create Avatar Level animation.
Detailed tutorial on our channel 😉 pic.twitter.com/RnqFGVJn1Q
— Bad Decisions Studio (@badxstudio) October 19, 2023
Revolutionizing NPC Interactions
Imagine you’re playing one of the best games you’ve ever played. You just sat through hours of Game Of The Year-worthy story content in a world filled with characters that you can’t help but feel connected to. But then, eventually, a time comes when you’ve done everything you could possibly do in the game. The story is over, and your favorite characters are turned into a bunch of puppets repeating the same lines over and over again.
This is the hard reality for many amazing games out there, but what if that wasn’t the case? NPCs have often been a point of contention in video games due to their stiff and unnatural interactions. How can you immerse yourself in a game when it’s so glaringly obvious that everything is following a pre-recorded script? Here, generative AI has the ability to literally change the game by infusing NPCs with a more “human-like” quality.
Imagine if the characters you interacted with could respond to you in real time, and could actually have full-blown conversations with you about anything and everything within the game. Well, hold that thought because thanks to AI, it’s now a reality.
A modder, known simply as “Art From The Machine” developed an AI mod for Skyrim VR that allows NPCs to not just respond to any question you say, but also remember all past interactions they had with you. They made it using a combination of ChatGPT, xVASynth text-to-speech, and Whisper. While it might still need a bit of polishing to work in the best way possible, the results so far speak for themselves. This isn’t just another mod you can add to a single game, it’s potentially a game-changer for the world of game development as a whole.
Reshaping The Open World
Open-world games have revolutionized the gaming industry by offering players limitless exploration and non-linear narratives. But hey, even open-world games have a world border, right? Well, that may be true for now, but that doesn’t have to be the case forever. Here, generative AI introduces a new dimension. By harnessing player data and insights from their gameplay, AI can craft personalized storylines and quests, tailoring the gaming experience to the individual.
As already mentioned, games like Starfield have already embraced this by using an AI generator with pre-loaded elements to create new planets for you to explore and conquer. While here it only helps create maps, imagine a world where AI can build the story itself. This level of personalization is similar to having a virtual “dungeon master” who can adapt the game to the player’s choices and preferences while still leading them to the same predetermined ending or endings.
Unity’s Project Barracuda Injects Generative AI Into Games To Kickstart Exponential Growth | “With generative AI embedded in an actual game and not just the tools that make a game, infinite levels, infinite worlds, and infinite variation become much more possible. “
To put it simply, the characters, the gameplay, and the world itself can be made by the game devs themselves, but the way the story unfolds can depend entirely on the potentially unlimited number of decisions you, the player, make. It’s like that one episode of Community where Pierce’s brother fights the study groupers in a videogame, only this time you can all be the Abed’s of your story.
Far from robbing game developers of control, generative AI provides them with a powerful tool to create immersive experiences that players will love. The end result will be a game that you can potentially play a thousand times and still have each run be different from the last. It’s not a loss of narrative control but rather a gain in the capacity to fine-tune the gaming experience.
Taking It A Step Further
Nowadays, many big game studios seem to be competing with each other in making the most “realistic-looking” video games. And it’s not just studios, a very vocal, and annoying, part of the gaming community demands that games look as good as possible, though, in my personal opinion, I’d much rather focus on making the game enjoyable. But hey, if the game looks good at the same time, then I’m all for it.
At this point, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that generative AI has made its way to this corner as well. By that, I don’t mean that AI can create completely new and original “lifelike” characters, but it’s been proven that they can make a pre-designed character look almost lifelike. Recent experiments, such as Corridor Digital’s use of AI to “fix” video game faces using AI, just go to show how far this tech has come.
Those experiments, however, have generated quite a lot of backlash. Generative AI should serve as a tool that augments the creative process rather than replace human creativity itself. It serves as just another example of how AI should enhance, not overshadow, the work of human artists and designers. After all, characters represent more than just achieving photo-realism; they embody the unique aesthetics, vibes, and creative vision of their designers.
So Should Generative AI Become Part Of The Gaming Industry?
To wrap things up, I once again want to make clear that generative AI should not be perceived as a malevolent force seeking to displace human creativity in game development. Instead, it’s a powerful tool that, when harnessed wisely, can significantly enhance the industry. It can easily expedite production, refine character interactions, and offer personalized gaming experiences to players.
As such, the importance of human creativity and artistic vision remains paramount, and generative AI complements these by efficiently handling repetitive tasks and technical aspects. With that, I think we should welcome generative AI, though conservatively, as an aid to the gaming industry, as it promises exciting and innovative changes that can enhance both developers’ work and players’ experiences.
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