The popularity of ChatGPT is still on the rise. Artificial intelligence continues to assist individuals and institutions in various endeavors, such as writing code, novels, and scripts. This impact has now extended to the video game industry, with several companies and developers, particularly in China, exploring the integration of AI technology in their games.
NetEase, China’s second-largest video game company, following Tencent, announced that it would be incorporating technology similar to ChatGPT into its upcoming MMO title called Justice Online, set to debut in June.
Based on AI training models developed by its internal studio, Leihuo, NetEase anticipates that the AI will produce a more meaningful conversation since it responds differently depending on how you play the game.
In other words, the NPCs' responses in the virtual environment will depend on what players type or say to them.
For instance, if a player informs an NPC that their home is being invaded by enemies, the NPC will swiftly rush to their aid without requiring any further dialogue or mission progression within the programmed storyline.
The so-called "intelligent NPC system" uses the same fundamental AI technology as ChatGPT, which NetEase has been developing since 2021, according to a post on the game’s official WeChat account.
Other game studios are experimenting with generative AI to produce gaming code for original games and to generate story ideas and dialogue for text-based role-playing games or the visual components of fresh virtual environments.
Kingsoft’s game company Xishanju said that it sees the potential of ChatGPT-like technology in generating new gaming content. Developers for the company claimed that by using straightforward text commands, generative AI could build rudimentary virtual characters and objects.
The gaming industry is benefiting from AI’s ability to generate fresh game content. With the help of AI and natural language processing (NLP), game designers can tailor players' gaming experiences to their liking. During gameplay, the AI can recognize user input and use that information to create unique game content.
New game content that is adapted to a player's preferences and in-game decisions could be created using ChatGPT.
“You may add a new mission, character, or perhaps an entirely new game universe. The AI will discover what thrills users, and it will start producing new game content based on it. This would provide gamers a seemingly limitless number of gaming options,” said Guo Wei Wei, who is Xi Shan Ju’s CEO.
Independent game developer Shanghai Lilith Technology Corporation said the application of AI in the production of game art seems somewhat inevitable.
“One of the hot topics of debate with regard to the application of generative AI to game development is the ability of AI to paint. The industry has indeed seen that the capabilities of AI in game design have reached the point where they can replace the original painting and thus reduce the cost of development. However, there is growing concern that we will have some job losses, especially in entry level jobs, because the viability of our ecosystem of the creative workforce as a whole and the livelihoods of so many artists depend on those entry-level jobs,” the company noted in its social media.
AI has the potential to make a significant impact in the area of player-vs-player (PVP) gaming. With the help of AI, game developers could create more sophisticated matchmaking systems that take into account various factors such as player skill level, playstyle, and preferences. This could lead to more entertaining and fair PVP experiences for all players involved.
“A simulated environment with rules is a superior setting for deep learning AI. Honor of Kings was subjected to AI technology, and as we observed the AI play the game, it soon caught up to human esports players.
AI is also capable of imitating more realistic human behavior for use in video games. “Our games become more competitive and cooperative as AI can even compete with human players,” said Steven Ma, Senior Vice President of Tencent.
Meanwhile, MiHoYo, the developer of the popular open-world action role-playing game Genshin Impact, is preparing to take part in a fresh round of investment for Chinese AI chatbot manufacturer MiniMax. As the Shanghai-based company joined in the first two payments, the start-up's valuation reached US$500 million.
Even before ChatGPT, an AI chatbot that made headlines late last year, a Chinese video game company said it had already appointed an AI bot as its CEO.
The Chinese gaming business NetDragon Websoft announced in August that Tang Yu, an "AI-powered virtual humanoid robot," had been appointed as the head of its subsidiary, Fujian NetDragon Websoft.
When the bot was first introduced, NetDragon said it would improve decision-making and risk management effectiveness, as well as "guarantee a fair and efficient workplace for all employees."
Founded in 1999, NetDragon created the first online gaming portal in China, 17173.com, as well as a number of multiplayer games, such as "Eudemons Online," "Heroes Evolved," and "Conquer Online."
Innovation often comes with its downsides, and the same applies to ChatGPT-like technology. Some developers criticized it for causing copyright issues and even jeopardizing people’s careers.
The application of generative AI relies on machine learning from a massive amount of data, and the unregulated use of source data raises several concerns. Moreover, AI can only acquire new skills through imitation and lacks the capacity to think creatively on its own.
“You can see that AI art could feasibly be used in creating game design, which could replace more junior concept designers. You can think of the future way of working in game development as likely to be a man-made improvement on the basis of AI; the underlying technology will act like a prototype to assist humans in improving work efficiency. But when an AI program is mass-producing artwork in another artist's style and endangering that artist's livelihood or legacy, that behavior must be deemed parasitic, harmful, and socially undesirable,” a product manager of Perfect World Co., Ltd. told PingWest.