AI has dominated the headlines of damn-near every industry, but there are a few where the questions run deep. In gaming, for example, the questions range from “Whose jobs are at risk?” through to “How will AI change games?” One focal point of this discussion is generative AI.
One of the areas of AI in games that I find to be the most exciting is how AI will revolutionize NPCs. It may sound like a simple change, but it has the power drastically influence how game worlds feel. Well, AI is touching far more areas than that and one isn’t all that new: generative AI.
Generative AI is in essence the same as much of the AI that has soared to the forefront. That is, it is usually machine learning that takes datasets and information and can produce original content from them. We have seen versions of this for some time, but in the past year, it has gone supersonic.
Unreal Engine 5 is the pinnacle of digital environment creation and the intersection of that ability with the power of generative AI has already had a major impact. For example, the software Cuebric allows users to take generative art and turn it into Unreal Engine 5 environments for Hollywood-standard productions. Needless to say, if generative AI environments boast the visual fidelity to not look out of place in a Hollywood film, game worlds are more than achievable.
This impact, however large, is only in the narrowed context of environments. One of the most effective uses at present is the creation of 3D assets. This article on NVIDIA’s developer blog shows just how strong the tools are already.
The consequent question when these profound advancements are displayed is this: how does this change gaming? Now, that can be divided into two parts, one discussing game development, and one discussing the experience for the players. On the former, many herald the apocalypse, like is often the case with new technology, but to this charge I would highlight a few considerations. As AI and Games shows in this video, game development is still in the hands of the creative, and AI supports that. Secondly, many in the industry are beginning to see that AI could increase the number of jobs in the industry (incidentally, the creator of the featured video, Tommy Thompson, is interviewed in that article).
Generative AI has been around for a while and given the past year’s worth of AI progress, it’s undoubtedly here to stay. The questions remain over how significant a role it will play in the future of game development, and how it will change gaming from the players’ perspectives — we’re about to find out.