Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to usher in a new era in the world of video games, transforming non-playable characters (NPCs), open-world experiences, and even game development itself. AI, which has been a part of gaming since the 1950s, is now making substantial strides, offering gamers more immersive and dynamic experiences. This article explores how generative AI is set to reshape the gaming landscape.
Enhancing non-playable characters (NPCs)
NPCs are integral to video game worlds, but their behavior and interactions have often felt scripted and artificial. Generative AI is changing this by introducing greater realism and unpredictability to NPCs. For instance, La Forge, a branch of Ubisoft, has introduced Ghostwriter, a text-generating AI tool that helps writers create more diverse and authentic dialogue for NPCs.
Additionally, La Forge is experimenting with technology that generates natural gestures in sync with NPC speech, resulting in characters that express themselves more naturally and fluidly. This combination of generative AI elements can lead to the creation of AI-powered NPCs with natural and spontaneous behavior.
Jitao Zhou, a student at Rikkyo University, is using deep learning to create smarter and less predictable NPCs. These NPCs break away from fixed patterns, offering a wider range of movements and making games more entertaining and challenging. This shift toward AI-driven NPCs promises to elevate the overall gaming experience.
Realistic conversations with NPCs
Some gaming companies are already employing generative AI to make NPC conversations more realistic. NetEase, a Chinese gaming company, utilizes ChatGPT to generate NPC dialogue in its mobile game “Justice.” This innovation reduces the need for human voice actors, streamlining game development processes.
However, a potential challenge is ensuring that AI-generated NPCs don’t disrupt the game narrative. Julian Togelius, an associate professor at New York University, emphasizes the need for AI advancement in modeling player behavior and world generation to maintain a cohesive gaming experience.
Revolutionizing open-world games
Open-world games like “Grand Theft Auto,” “Skyrim,” and “Elden Ring” offer non-linear gameplay experiences. Generative AI has the potential to take these games to new heights by creating near-infinite open worlds with unique content. By analyzing player data, generative AI can craft personalized storylines and quests, providing players with a tailored gaming adventure. This concept envisions AI acting as a “personalized dungeon master,” adapting the game world to each player’s preferences.
Games like “No Man’s Sky” already explore procedurally generated content, creating a virtually endless gaming universe. While this may appear similar to generative AI, the two differ in their approach. Procedurally generated content relies on predefined rules and developer input, ensuring the content remains within functional constraints. In contrast, generative AI introduces an element of unpredictability, potentially deviating from the intended game narrative.
Empowering players with user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is a fundamental aspect of many games, allowing players to shape their experiences. Generative AI has the potential to enhance UGC by simplifying content creation, raising its quality, and making it more accessible to players. This technology can enable games to better interpret and respond to player actions, offering a more immersive and dynamic experience.
Generative AI isn’t just about enhancing gameplay; it’s also poised to impact game development itself. Game developers can utilize generative AI tools to automate repetitive tasks and focus on more creative aspects of game design. Ubisoft’s La Forge, for instance, is developing tools like Ghostwriter and ZooBuilder to support designers in accelerating their creative processes.
Despite concerns about AI replacing human creativity, industry experts argue that generative AI will serve as an additional tool rather than a replacement. Much like motion capture technology coexists with animators, generative AI will empower game developers to achieve new levels of creativity. However, there are still legal and ethical considerations, including artists’ copyright, that need to be addressed as this technology evolves.
As generative AI continues to advance, it holds the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry over the next decade or two. Game designers will need to adapt their approaches to harness the full potential of AI, ushering in an era of more immersive, personalized, and dynamic gaming experiences.