The generative AI revolution in the gaming industry: a path to limitless creativity, with 20% of professionals considering cost reductions – Developpez.com

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Rapid advances in generative artificial intelligence are transforming the world of video games, with NPCs (non-playable characters) evolving beyond predefined roles thanks to partnerships like the one between Microsoft Xbox and Inworld AI. This transformation helps improve dialogue, creates dynamic narratives tailored to player behavior, and represents a paradigm shift for player engagement.

Generative AI offers major opportunities for gaming companies and developers by moving from scripted dialogue to player-driven narratives, increasing immersion, replayability and revenue. Having AI handle certain development tasks such as scenario creation and dialogue allows developers to focus on more immersive and creative aspects.

The gaming industry has always pushed the boundaries of technology and used it to unleash the human imagination. Game developers have leveraged the latest advances in computing, graphics, networking, social media and data to create experiences that now captivate more than 3 billion gamers worldwide.

The generative AI revolution in the gaming industry a path

Today we are at the beginning of a new era. It is important to examine how the gaming industry can harness the transformative potential of generative artificial intelligence (AI) to push the boundaries of the gaming experience. With generative AI, game developers – designers, developers, artists, marketers, etc. – can revolutionize the way they work and expand their range of experiences. Generative AI – artificial intelligence that creates text, images and sound in response to a request – is on the verge of disrupting one of the defining elements of video games: NPCs. These characters generally have a set pattern of behavior and their behavior and speech are often jerky and unnatural.

When you think about these NPCs, they seem a little strange, explains Alexis Rolland, head of development at La Forge China, the Chinese branch of video game publisher Ubisoft’s research and development unit. We can say that there is something abnormal in what we see or hear. “It speaks as input and produces body gestures as output, so we can imagine these NPCs speaking with unwritten dialogue, with almost natural body animations synthesized from speech,” explains Rolland.

Combining generative AI elements like dialogue and animation could create a full-fledged, AI-powered NPC that could behave a little more naturally and unpredictably, says Rolland. This is where generative AI comes into play. Earlier this year, La Forge launched Ghostwriter, a text-generating AI tool designed to help writers create a greater variety of original dialogue for NPCs. In 2022, it tested a new technology that helps create more realistic and natural gestures in NPCs based on the tone and mood of their speech.

Bing Gordon, an advisor to Inworld and former chief creative officer at Electronic Arts, said the biggest advances in gaming in the last few decades have come from improvements in visual fidelity and graphics. Gordon, who is now chief product officer at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and sits on the board of gaming company Take-Two Interactive, believes AI will change the world. According to Gordon, AI will transform games by creating immersive worlds and sophisticated narratives that put the player at the center of the experience. Games could become more accessible to average gamers, which would allow for greater participation in content creation.

However, applying generative AI in games comes with challenges, including hallucinations of language models that can generate answers out of context. NPCs, traditionally predictable, must find a balance between control and unpredictability to take full advantage of generative AI. The first big opportunity for generic AI could be game production. “We expect a big impact here,” said Anders Christofferson, media and entertainment partner at Bain & Company.

For other professional tasks, such as creating presentations using software like PowerPoint and first drafts of speeches, generic AI already completes days of work in minutes. Initial story design and NPC dialogue creation will be handled by generic AI, which will allow developers to focus on the more immersive and creative aspects of game creation, Christofferson said.

Understanding the difference in generative AI for games

What makes generative AI different from its predecessors? At a certain level it’s a matter of evolution. To think about it, games have long used the term “AI,” but our definition has been a limited set of rules, decision trees, and behaviors. Players engaged with “bots,” but compared to humans, bots were often not as engaged. More recently, gaming companies are leveraging true AI and ML frameworks (backed by data and analytics) to understand players, manage churn, and increase monetization. Some have even integrated their frameworks into advanced AI algorithms such as large language models (LLM), leading to generative AI.

However, generative AI goes far beyond simple evolution. This is a whole new level of innovation and, according to some analysts, the biggest change for the gaming industry since the introduction of real-time 3D graphics. Here are two fundamental ways generative AI will transform games:

  • Scalable development thanks to generative AI: Content creation is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – hassles that can arise in gaming. According to the British CMA, development budgets for successful games can be well over $100 million. Even with these massive investments, gaming teams may struggle to keep up with player demand for new content, especially as these audiences grow worldwide. Generative AI can help accelerate game production at all levels – code, art, dialogue and more – and enable these teams to better serve their players at scale. It can help existing teams create better content faster, improving collaboration, ideation, and personalization. Additionally, enterprise-class generative AI allows developers to leverage this new technology while respecting intellectual property while protecting their own proprietary data;
  • Real-time generative AI: As development teams integrate generative AI into their production process, some have begun integrating it into the game itself. This could revolutionize the gaming experience as generative AI works in real time as the game progresses. It is a reactive and dynamic generative AI that distills huge LLMs to react and interact with the player in real time. The games themselves will be able to generate content based on players’ explicit or even implicit actions: from new objects and levels that are generated instantly to in-game characters that can have realistic discussions. Imagine games that can respond naturally to a player’s voice or generate entirely new content in response to player behavior. These examples allow us to imagine a new paradigm of player customization and interaction in games that is unlike anything the world has known before.
  • A recent Bain study showed that AI is already taking over some tasks, including reproducing and scheduling game content. Soon she will play a more important role in developing characters, dialogue and environments. According to Bain’s study, gaming executives expect AI to take over more than half of game development within five to 10 years. This may not result in lower production costs – blockbuster games can reach $1 billion in total development costs – but AI will make it possible to deliver games faster and with better quality.

    Generative AI is just beginning to have an impact on video games, but video game industry executives expect it to account for more than half of the video game development process in the next 5 to 10 years. Bain spoke with gaming industry executives about the potential and challenges of generative AI for their industry. Most have high expectations for generative AI and the machine learning it enables, expecting it to have a greater impact on their business than other transformative technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality and cloud gaming.

    1703676386 184 The generative AI revolution in the gaming industry a path
    Generative AI and the Future of Video Games: Myths, Realities and Transformations

    Most of these executives believe that generative AI improves the quality of games and accelerates time to market. Generative AI will also help make larger, more immersive and personalized experiences a reality. The Bain study finds that only 20% of executives believe generative AI will reduce costs, which may disappoint some given that top-tier games can cost up to $1 billion to develop. As with any form of automation, there is concern that generative AI could eliminate jobs. However, most executives (60%) do not expect generative AI to have a significant impact on their talent model or alleviate the industry’s severe talent shortage.

    Across the four phases of the video game lifecycle – namely pre-production concept development and planning, game construction (production), testing and launch, and ongoing live operations (post-launch) – executives say they use generative AI primarily in pre-production . For example, Blizzard Entertainment developed Blizzard Diffusion, an image generator based on its own hit titles, including World of Warcraft, that creates concept images for new ideas.

    The rapid development of generative artificial intelligence in the video game industry could allow players to become more involved in content creation. A form of creation emerges that offers player-driven narratives. While AI won’t immediately solve the human talent shortage, it could free developers to pursue more creative tasks. Experts emphasize the dynamically evolving AI landscape in gaming and predict significant changes in the coming years.

    Julian Togelius, a professor at New York University, believes that the scale of AI is difficult to predict given significant changes in the gaming industry. Generative AI is already being used in the development process, but challenges remain, including hallucinations of speech patterns may differ from context. Traditional, predictable NPCs could evolve into AI-driven unpredictability.

    A partnership between Microsoft and Inworld is exploring the impact of AI on design time and narrative generation in video games. While creating individual stories for thousands of NPCs can speed development, dynamic player interaction presents challenges. Finding a balance between control and unpredictability is crucial to making the most of AI in the gaming industry.

    Generative AI opens up new perspectives for game development, from task management to the creation of dynamic narratives, while presenting challenges that need to be overcome for wider and successful use in the video game industry.

    Sources: Google, Bain

    And you ?

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