Generative AI may greatly expand NPC character interactions within next five years

By Todd Russell Jan8,2024

We’ve been playing around with AI on our Twitch, through the use of clones, AI-created voices based on real audio clips using Eleven Labs generative AI (https://elevenlabs.io/). Fun stuff, and if you feed with diverse source audio can produce some compelling samples.

On the gaming front, NPC characters are ripe for training using generative AI. Imagine, if you will, MMORPG that aren’t just the same boring townspeople parroting out repetitive quests to follow, but more artificially alive, able to shape their conversations and interactions with gamers based on your actions in game?

It is something devs are already working on.

Better dialogue is just the first step. “We’re creating the tech that allows NPCs to evolve beyond predefined roles, adapt to player behavior, learn from interactions, and contribute to a living, breathing game world,” said Kylan Gibbs, chief product officer and co-founder of Inworld AI. “AI NPCs are not just a technological leap. They’re a paradigm shift for player engagement.”

It’s also a big opportunity for the gaming companies and game developers. Shifting from scripted dialogue to dynamic player-driven narratives will increase immersion in a way that drives replayability, retention, and revenue.

The first minds controlled by gen AI will live inside video games (cnbc.com)

If this becomes a reality, and I toyed using the word “will” in the headline, and ultimately replaced with “may” because everything promising about AI as of this writing, if we’re being intellectually honest and accurate, is highly speculative.

If you want to label the next step: the Skynet/Terminator phase, all joking aside there is an evolution of AI called AGI that could literally be used for evil robots, if/when somebody figures it out.

And there are rumors that somebody already has done so.

… amid corporate chaos at OpenAI, rumors swirled of an advanced technology that could threaten the future of humanity. That OpenAI system, called Q* (pronounced Q-star) may embody the potentially groundbreaking realization of artificial general intelligence (AGI)

… AGI is a hypothetical tipping point, also known as the “Singularity,” in which AI becomes smarter than humans. 

3 scary breakthroughs AI will make in 2024 | Live Science

That article, sounds a bit more science fiction than even the Terminator movie, but in a scary sort of way, there is some smoke where there is fire.

Swinging back to the other extreme, expanding upon the cynicism, author Cory Doctorow calls AI a” bubble.” From Doctorow’s perspective, this AI is too premature, overly expensive, and an illusion that will yield far more losses than gains.

Though I don’t have a certain answer to this question, I am skeptical. AI decision support is potentially valuable to practitioners. Accountants might value an AI tool’s ability to draft a tax return. Radiologists might value the AI’s guess about whether an X-ray suggests a cancerous mass. But with AIs’ tendency to “hallucinate” and confabulate, there’s an increasing recognition that these AI judgments require a “human in the loop” to carefully review their judgments.

Cory Doctorow: What Kind of Bubble is AI? – Locus Online (locusmag.com)

My take on AI is 2023 was the first true birth year of AI. It’s nascent technology and more newborn and stillbirth than truly something alive. 2023 was, however, the year that AI actually gathered some serious momentum in a variety of sectors and semi-usefulness.

Whether or not it will lead somewhere important remains to be seen, but gaming provides fertile soil to plant ideas and see where/when/how gamers harvest.

When making future predictions for the state of pinball in 10 years from now, we discussed the use of AI and how it might impact games (see: For the Low Price of $3,250 You Can Read This Report On the Future Of Pinball 2023-2031 – OR … Use Common Sense And Guess Along With Us). Am sticking by those predictions.

Where do you think AI is going in 2024? Will we see the birth of AGI in 2024? Or are we several more years away from that sort of AI evolution? Or do you favor Cory Doctorow’s thinking that this AI stuff is overhyped and overblown? Or, perhaps, you are where my thinking is at? Somewhere in the middle, AI is something small, yet developing, with potential — both for good and bad.

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