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While AI has been a part of game development for years, Generative AI’s ability to instantly create assets for games is a relatively new area. This new technology can serve as a resource for game developers, especially those with smaller teams – and according to the creators of Story Machine, it already does.
Generative AI isn’t without criticism, but Story Machine claims it’s meant to work as a creative tool and aid to developers, not a replacement. It’s not aimed at big game studios, but indie developers who don’t have the programming or artistic aptitude to build all the resources for the games themselves.
Story Machine: game creation for newbies
Story Machine is a Robot Invader game engine designed to work for creators who have no background in programming or creating art. Robot Invader raised $5 million last year to bring Story Machine to market, and it plans to launch the engine in early access later this year.
Users give Story Machine a prompt for what they are looking for, and the engine generates the item using AI such as Stable Diffusion and DALL-E 2. Users can choose any of the created items and drag and drop them onto the game engine.
The engine is designed to help create 2D narrative games, not necessarily bigger 3D titles. Right now Robot Invader has a game called on Steam Beacon’s bluff, for which the art was created with Story Machine. Creators who make their games with Story Machine can deploy it across PC, consoles and mobile platforms, says Robot Invader.
Gregory Love, COO of Robot Invader, told GamesBeat, “If you’re a programmer who can’t draw, now you can create full-fledged, professional-quality games. If you’re an artist who can’t develop or program, you can use Story Machine to create your game. It’s designed to take away some of the other aspects that have historically held people back from creating games and content, and to empower anyone who is a storyteller to get out there and tell their story.”
One of the reasons Robot Invader created these tools is also to help users seamlessly access AI technology for their games, according to Love. “There are other interesting technologies around Stable Diffusion or DALL-E and we want to use those as well.”
AI in Game Development: Tool or Shortcut?
Story Machine isn’t the only game development tool built around AI and art assets. Scenario AI recently spoke to GamesBeat about its generator platform, where users can train their own AI to generate art assets with a specific style in mind. It was also described and positioned as a tool for game developers to save time in the artistic phase and focus more on other areas of development.
In fact, using AI to take up slack and bring more development to gameplay and story is a common theme among AI tool developers. This is an optimistic view of such uses, but does not address the common complaint that AI is being used to rob skilled workers – such as artists – of manufacturing jobs. Most recent, Squanch Games was criticized for using AI to generate art that made it into the final game.
Robot Invader CEO Casey Richardson told GamesBeat that Story Machine’s intent is to help studios and developers through the early stages of game development. “Outside of art, we see AI as an accelerator and creative tool, not a substitute for developer creativity. A set of tools that make game development accessible to people who have never been able to make games before, enable smaller studios to level up, and both small and large triple-A studios to drive processes and development stages, primarily planning and pre-production.”
While AI tools are not yet widespread in the industry, the development of easy-to-use tools means that more developers may discover them. This could mean that integrating these tools into more levels of game development is a matter of time, not preference.
But Richardson says human artists cannot be replaced by AI tools, not even Story Machine. “The role of human artistry in creating important and moving media is going nowhere. Rather, we see AI as a way for many artists to accelerate their ability to produce their art, and a way for non-artists to create visually compelling work…. It may be part of the process, but in in itself it is not the solution.”
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