Microsoft is going all in on AI on multiple fronts from OpenAI to DALL-E, but now that it’s creeping into its video game division, some new alarm bells are going off in the industry.

Microsoft has announced a partnership with Inworld AI, which will use its tech to “empower game developers” on Xbox with AI tools. And before you ask, no, we are not just talking about traditional game AI behavior, an ancient industry concept, but actual, generative AI, which has everyone from developers to writers to voice actors to gamers on edge and pushing back against the concept.

Here’s what Inworld AI promises to bring to Xbox through its tech:

  • “An AI design copilot that assists and empowers game designers to explore more creative ideas, turning prompts into detailed scripts, dialogue trees, quests and more.”
  • “An AI character runtime engine that can be integrated into the game client, enabling entirely new narratives with dynamically-generated stories, quests, and dialogue for players to experience.”

Again, this is all under the narrative of “empowering creators,” and yet prompted AI-based scripts and questlines and lore is something that is being immediately and profoundly rejected by most devs. And the timing is not lost on anyone, given the sheer amount of industry layoffs that have taken place this year:

The creators that are supposedly being empowered want nothing to do with the tech. It’s essentially exactly the same reaction among most screenwriters being told AI can enhance their work, or artists saying AI can help with their creativity, when it instead seems much more likely it could destroy their entire field of work:

We are of course in the midst of two major strikes in Hollywood centered in part on AI tech. The Writers Strikes was just resolved with heavy language preventing AI from writing most script drafts or taking credit. But the Actors Strike is stalled because the studios want actors to permanently sign away their likeness rights for a one-time fee so AI tech can generate performances from them indefinitely.

The problem with the video game industry is that there is no widespread, overarching dev union or writers union. Video game voice actors can and have gone on strike, but that’s just one piece, and the industry is not set up in the same way to reject this kind of tech, and it would have to be on a studio by studio basis.

Generative game AI tech like this is extremely nascent and there’s nothing to say Inworld can actually produce anything halfway decent with it. I do understand the basic idea of talking to an AI powered NPC that can seemingly go in infinite directions a normal script would never allow, but that seems like extremely basic thinking that negates all the other pieces of how games fit together (oh AI can generate dialogue for a new questline? Tell me how the actual locations and enemies and encounters and rewards are being designed and tested and built in a way that isn’t awful).

AI is the Wild West right now and all industries are trying to take their piece and figure out how they can use it to replace humans and save money. Microsoft specifically is going so hard and so fast on AI it keeps smashing into things, like DALL-E generating such inappropriate images it had to be censored to death, or AI generated polls asking readers how they think a woman died in a new story. So what exactly is Xbox AI gamedev tech going to give us? I’m not sure when we’ll find out, as first they’ll have to find studios and devs who actually agree to use this.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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