The gaming industry has come a long way since the Super Mario era.
If you were to ask gamers 30 years ago how video games would look in the future, nobody would have guessed that we would have Artificial Intelligence characters making their own decisions and speech, just like in an Isaac Asimov novel.
Today we will explore four significant gaming AI trends that can potentially become the norm in gaming:
1. Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology will allow game devs to create synthetic spoken dialogue
One of the main focuses in game development is AI-generated Text-to-Speech software that can synthesize character voice lines.
The problem in the gaming world (especially amongst indie developers) is the process of recording the voices. The studio needs to hold auditions, have professional recording equipment and post-process the sound.
Large developers even go to the extent of including multi-lingual voice acting, which takes forever to record. Most of us love video games voice acting, and we would prefer real actors to do it, as they can add their own emotion to the mix. However, game developers on a budget don’t have the money to hire professional voice actors.
Enter Replica Studios.
An AI-based start-up has found a promising solution to the voice-acting issue. Using complex neural networks continually trained to replicate human speech, Replica Studios aims to change the way development studios approach in-game dialogue altogether.
Sounds a bit complicated, right?
But it’s not. The software has a user-friendly interface where you need to type the text and include an emotion explaining to the AI how it should deliver the text.
We tested some of their demo voiceovers. Honestly, it’s hard to tell the difference between synthetic speech and the human voice. Thus, it’s safe to assume that Text-to-Speech technology will soon become an integral part of the game development process.
2. Artificial Intelligence changes the eSports landscape
Remember when Elon Musk’s OpenAI almost defeated a professional Dota 2 team?
Since the Artificial Intelligence company showed us that computers could defeat humans even in more complex games like Dota 2, the community has started speculating that some teams may use this type of software in tournaments.
Don’t worry. AI still has a long way until it will develop sophisticated game plans that can defeat a professional player with years of training.
Still, the fact that the software could come close to defeating some of the best players in the world makes you wonder what the future of eSports could look like. The critical point here is that AI can speed up the training process, cramming up to 180 years of gameplay in a single day.
On the brighter side, Riot games (owners of League of Legends) recently announced that they’re working on an in-game assistant that will use machine learning to offer a custom recommendation based on your opponents and other factors.
Gosu.ai, a third-party tool, already offers players these features, but Riot said they plan to integrate them more seamlessly. Basically, the champions will have custom voice lines that will guide you throughout the match, simplifying the decision-making process and learning what recommendations to make based on your gameplay.
3. Data mining will shape level design and new implementations
Patches have become the standard updating method in video games.
Using a patching approach, the developer can completely change certain areas of the game even after the official release. While patch notes have become an integral part of gaming culture, many game studios wonder if this approach is beneficial for the players in any way.
Well, thanks to big data and machine learning, companies can collect more precise insights and tweak their games not based on surveys and reviews but rather on their in-game behaviour.
Fortnite is a prime example of Artificial Intelligence at work, and judging by its worldwide success, it works pretty well. Epic Games has not explicitly said that they’re using data mining. Still, some insiders told the press that the developer is tracking all player interactions and using the data to improve the gameplay experience based on your preferences.
4. Hyper-realism is on its way
Right now, there many games that use advanced technology to create a continually changing environment in which NPCs (non-playable characters) are interacting with each other even when you’re not playing.
Think of Red Dead Redemption 2. You can sit at a table in the saloon and watch the NPCs playing poker against each other. The great thing about the RDR2 game mechanics is that all the characters can make decisions that will help them win the gamble.
And Red Dead Redemption 2 is only the beginning of next-gen gaming.
Soon (probably when GTA VI is released), players will have access to immersive gameplay into a virtual world enhanced by VR headsets.
Just imagine playing a next-gen game like you’re one of the characters. It will be a revolutionary improvement to traditional gaming, and we’re trusting Rockstar on this one. We hope that more studios will follow them and create advanced environments where every decision you take could alter the narrative and offer you a different experience based on your preference.
Final thoughts – What should you expect?
These are our four predictions regarding the future of the gaming industry.
All the technologies we’ve mentioned (TTS, data mining, hyperrealism) are already in a development state. They have countless applications outside of video games. However, it will take a while until they are implemented. At that point, we will witness a new revolution in gaming, similar to the transition from 2D to 3D graphics.
Stay tuned for more updates in the gaming industry and prepare for the integration of AI in our day-to-day lives.