Gaming has moved from a niche sector to the mainstream. Games have become a part of everyday lexicon like never before, and the technological progress evident within game UIs has played a role. The gaming landscape is highly diverse.
You can play simple games such as Scrabble or Wordle that can be beaten by using online unscrambling tools such as unscrambled-words.com. You can also play highly immersive role-playing games (RPGs) that immerse you in alien worlds and leave you highly invested in their storylines.
The latter category of games creates significant challenges for game developers. Aside from realistic graphics, studios must invest in cinematic storylines and account for all in-game actions and consequences. In short, these games are highly suited for AI-assisted development.
Here’s how AI changes the gaming landscape and helps developers meet gamer expectations.
Gone are the days of Non-playing Characters (NPCs) who would repeat their lines and actions robotically. Thanks to the success of games like the Elder Scrolls series, NPCs are now central to in-game environments.
Older generation NPCs would offer players tasks and quests or reduce themselves to sideshows. These days though, NPC actions are highly conditional. For instance, an NPC might become significant to a player’s storyline if the latter completes certain tasks.
Many in-game tasks impact each other, changing NPC dialogue, demeanor, and actions. AI is helping developers crunch scenarios and model NPC actions by extrapolating in-game situations. Thus, developers can map the consequences of in-game action in advance, preventing illogical code.
NPC interaction is just one element of a highly immersive game world. Gamers these days demand vast worlds they can explore almost endlessly. Technological progress allows developers to create vast maps. However, vastness doesn’t offer immersion automatically.
These worlds must be populated with interesting features and engage gamers as they interact with them. For instance, some portions of an in-game map must offer captivating NPCs with changing storylines depending on past player actions.
Storylines can also impact subsequent in-game quests. For instance, many games these days offer players the chance to make moral decisions. If a player chooses a less-than-ethical solution to a problem, subsequent storylines change, and NPC interaction changes with it.
Once again, AI helps developers create parallel storylines that weave and intersect. While AI doesn’t write dialogue or screenplays, it helps developers map consequences. For instance, developers can project how an in-game character might react to their environment, given a specific set of conditions. How will their storylines change? How will that change impact other storylines?
AI solves these issues for developers by crunching data and proposing logical character maps.
Load any racing or sports sim these days, and you’ll be hard-pressed to differentiate these games from the real thing. Graphics have come a long way, and sports sims are famous for their hyperrealism. Graphics aren’t the only in-game features that are realistic.
For instance, racing sims feature several real-world racing tracks that are accurate down to the bumps on the road. These sims are so realistic that professional racing drivers play these games to prepare for real-world races. AI is the reason gaming studios can recreate such conditions.
AI’s work begins once track data (for example) is collected by the studio’s cars. These algorithms crunch data and create accurate track maps by assembling vast datasets. Thus, game developers can account for everything from a corner’s radius to track surface texture.
Granular data points such as these play an important role in providing immersive experiences such as realistic force feedback to gamers. As VR gaming rises, mapping racing NPC actions and interactions with on-track obstacles also benefits from AI usage.
The result is a hyperrealistic game that keeps gamers coming back for more.
Gamers are a vocal lot. Forums and social media are full of opinionated gamers’ comments and demands. These days, studios take these demands very seriously and incorporate them into their new releases. While social media is a significant channel for gathering feedback, the best gamer feedback occurs from in-game action.
For instance, if gamers interact with certain in-game elements in unexpected ways, gaming studios use these datasets to create new features in upcoming releases. In some cases, gamers might encounter interesting NPCs and demand storylines featuring that character.
AI helps developers identify intriguing gamer usage patterns and create game expansion packs. Alternatively, developers might transport those interesting features to new games, link back to old games via throwbacks, or leave Easter eggs in new releases.
The result is an in-game environment that delights gamers, compelling them to back for more.
As game worlds produce more data than ever before and gamers demand more in-game freedom, AI is coming to developers’ rescue. From drawing complex storylines to helping developers create hyperrealistic game worlds, AI involvement in game development is only set to increase.
This is great news for gamers, indeed.