Good news and bad news. The good news is for game studios looking to save a few bucks on staffing costs: Xbox is teaming up with Inworld AI to build a toolset for developers to build story, dialogue and quests via artificial intelligence.
The bad news is for gamers who like their games to be written with soul, rather than machines with algorithms: Xbox is teaming up with Inworld AI to build a toolset for developers to build story, dialogue and quests via artificial intelligence.
As explained by a blog post on the Inworld site, the “AI design copilot” will help designers explore “more creative ideas.” Counter intuitively, it will achieve this by outsourcing creativity to a bit of software.
To be entirely fair to them, the post suggests this as a step for the pre-production phase of game development, rather than as a way of bulking out the final product, but assuming thrifty studios would use it this way feels like a terminally optimistic bet. Indeed, the blog talks about how the tool could “reduce the time and resource constraints during production” which feels like the kind of language to make corporate bean counters extremely happy.
This in turn would mean that games could be released faster, and be more “expansive and immersive” for players. The former is objectively a good thing (assuming you don’t have a monster backlog of games you don’t have time to play as it is) but the latter just sounds like a recipe for bloat to me. You know why I haven’t picked up an Assassin’s Creed game in nearly a decade? Because the last but one would take you between 61 to 144 hours to complete. Don’t encourage them.
One modestly neat thing is the possibility of better dialogue from set-dressing characters, letting them “adapt” to player actions in real time, “providing players with a sense of agency and engagement like never before.” That’s cool, though it does sound like a way of distracting you from the main plot if the chat feels too real.
Anyway, here’s the glass-half full view, from Xbox’s general manager of gaming AI, Haiyan Zhang: “Our goal is to deliver state-of-the-art AI for game developers of any size, anywhere in the world, and on every platform where players want to play. We want to help make it easier for developers to realise their visions, try new things, push the boundaries of gaming today, and experiment to improve gameplay, player connection and more.”
For the glass half empty view, the history of companies using technological advances as an excuse to reduce headcount is a long and depressing one. And remember that generative AI can really only remix absorbed material, rather than creating anything truly new… which suggests a whole heap of 6/10 rated games are on the horizon.