A disclaimer before everything. This is article might not be an academic article, which will give you an insight on the way AI might be used in the Games and storytelling industry in future; but this might present to you a new way of thinking on what the future of AI might be in these industries.
Since the time I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the world of video games. I’ve pursued this interest to its core. A video game, in its purest form, is an art that is the culmination of various different arts. From the art of programming, graphics, design to visual artistry, and psychological manipulation of a player by the designers in the slightest of the ways, that makes you feel more connected to the lore.
Where is AI in the Video Game Industry Currently?
I believe, AI in video games hasn’t really progressed for the last 15 years. This is evident by the fact that whenever we want to benchmark the AI in video games, we have to go back to the game F.E.A.R that was released back in 2005. Even though there have been minor advancements in the AI department of the video games since the release of F.E.A.R, I believe a new revolution has yet to come. More so, because we have always associated AI in Video games with how NPC reacts to our movements. We have continuously tried to model the NPCs to react more and more like humans.
Don’t interpret me wrong, there have been games that have shown that indeed the role of AI can be expanded more than what the norm of the industry has been. This was shown in the game released in 2005 called Façade which really has been a game that broke some of the most stringent stereotypes of the industry regarding the definition of ‘AI’.
Even though the game only lasts for about 20 minutes, it makes it different than all other games because of the way it interacts with the users. Making use of natural language processing and a custom Animation system that animates the actors based on the movement that is defined by a drama manager that controls the flow of the whole game. This game gives you control over how your character responds to the various scenarios by letting you input your responses straight from your keyboard into the game.
Another game that follows in its stead is Event , which has a similar interaction system that utilizes player’s input from the keyboard and runs natural language processing before outputting a relevant response, so that player can progress forward in the game. Even though this is ground-breaking it still ties up with our previous observations of the game industry still using AI to model NPC behavior as close to human behavior as possible.
The Next Big Thing?
For me, the next big AI Advancement would come from utilizing AI to elevate the player experience. Since the video game is not just restricted to a player interacting with an NPC (some might be like chess, and other such games), but most of the games coming out now are with players interacting with the simulation of the video game world as a whole. What we can do, is to employ AI techniques which can sense how the player is reacting with the simulation and then enhance the experience of the player by changing various factors.
One of my favorite bits where a very basic version of this same ideology is used is in Marvel’s Spider-Man Game which was released in 2018. The game in itself is a masterpiece, but what made me really appreciate it, even more, was this single detail. Where, while swinging you hear the background score of the game and, as your swinging speed increases the intensity of the score increases as well until eventually loosening the tension as you slow down. This made the simple mechanic of swinging so much more immersive and thrilling.
I believe using AI to heighten these experiences for the player would be a step forward. Obviously, with different genres of games, the amount of AI modification of the simulation will vary. AI Managers can be thought of as Drama Managers, that controls the lighting and mood to suit the player’s personal preferences. This can be remarkably effective in giving each player a unique experience and yet at the same time making the progression of the story be linear.
For example, consider a game like Last of Us, an AI manager can sense where the player’s position currently is in the game world. If a player is scavenging an area for resources and has been spending most of their time at a location. The AI Manager can spawn some, infected around that area, pushing the player forward to progress through the story. At the same time making this experience unique for the player.
This implementation of an AI Drama Manager can be tailored to each specific game. Bringing in varying game-play while maintaining the integrity of the story, and giving each player a unique yet, a similar experience. This I believe might be the best way forward as we move towards an ever-developing branch of AI Computing and its integration with the Video Game Industry.