While we were at BIG Festival this past week, we had the opportunity to meet all kinds of industry heavyweights and discover the secrets of their success.
At a panel entitled Exploring the Potential of Generative AI in Game Development, several industry experts discussed the potential - and pitfalls - of AI’s use in the creation of new games.
This panel discussed the use of generative AI, such as ChatGPT and Midjourney, in game development, with some startling statistics.
In a recent survey of 243 game makers, 87% use AI as part of development, while 99% plan to adopt it in the future, with ChatGPT, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and Github CoPilot as the most mentioned platforms in use. 92% of programmers use AI tools every day, while in Brazil specifically 36% of gaming professionals use it every day.
Fortis Games director Andrew Lum noted the benefits of AI in game development by using the example of procedural generative environments. While this opens up vast potential for unique environments, it also requires a large amount of coding. Generative AI, meanwhile, offers plenty of potential for unique environments with nothing but relatively simple inputs.
Fortis Games director of data engineering Colin Riddell agreed with this sentiment, stating that “the great power that generative AI has now is the conversational input they have.”
Lum also noted that there’s vast potential for generative AI in fields outside of gaming, such as education.
Much has been said about whether or not the use of AI will see professionals within the creative industry struggle, which Iara Digital founder João Paulo Alqueres dismissed. “It’s a copilot, not a ghostwriter,” he said, arguing that while generative AI can assist in game development, it isn’t going to replace humans in the workforce and still requires significant input and instruction.
Despite the bullishness that the panel had regarding AI, they still had issues regarding privacy and security regarding the technology. “If you wouldn’t trust a stranger with information, Chat GPT is a stranger”, said Lum.
“My hope is that we’re able to create more interesting games, more complex games, deeper games. AI can free small teams up to make bigger games.”
It’s clear that despite the significant criticism - and, arguably, the long way the technology still has to go before it reaches its full potential - it’s clear that the use of generative AI is on the rise, but what does this mean for the industry in the long term?
AI has seen a boom in popularity in recent years, and has been the subject of criticism and concern regarding its use in the workforce, and whether it could eventually erase the need for human workers. After all, ChatGPT recently received a co-writing credit on an episode of South Park - perhaps eventually AI can be used to create an entire game from an early stage, or even from conception?
The panel were forced to conclude that, for such visions of the future, the technology isn’t there yet, and perhaps it never will be. Even if the potential is there, expect heavy pushback or legislation preventing it from going too far, or even for entirely AI-driven products to be treated as a novelty never reaching an industry-wide norm.
AI as a helping hand
What is clear is that AI itself is a helpful tool in game development - or indeed any industry. As Lum stated, the technology can free up resources for other aspects of game development, resulting in higher quality titles as focus can be more evenly distributed between departments. The technology could also address several pressing issues within the gaming industry, such as burnout and crunch time.
The trick, then, is for developers to learn how to use AI effectively and ethically, understanding its use as a tool as opposed to a creative entity in its own right. As Alqueres stated, AI isn’t a ghostwriter, and as long as game makers don’t turn to the technology for every aspect of game design, or even to spearhead any aspect of it, it’s clear that it can be a useful tool in the development process.