During its special address at CES 2024, Nvidia revealed its partnership with Convai to create the “first-ever” platform that allows developers to create NPCs with “revolutionary conversational, perceptual, and action generation capabilities.” Described as “the next significant leap in AI NPC technology,” Nvidia’s new technology will purportedly change the way characters behave and react in immersive environments.
According to a press release, the Convai tech – which is rolling out some of its features today – can integrate with game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity to help develop NPCs’ spatial awareness, actions, and NPC-to-NPC interactions. What this means is that, at least in theory, Convai-powered characters can perceive and interact with their environments and other characters, making them more dynamic and intuitive than ever.
Nvidia says the technology will allow characters to navigate complex instructions (such as fetching items, following players around, and completing tasks), display emotional awareness, and engage in organic interactions, “transforming the narrative and interactivity of games” and offering “endless possibilities for developers.” Players will also be able to ask Convai-NPCs about their surroundings and receive real-time actions in response, Nvidia says, and they’ll interact with each other when the player is away – which sounds only slightly unnerving.
“NPCs interact with each other even when the player is idle, producing countless options for how these characters perceive and engage with their surroundings,” a press release specifies, which smacks of the ahead-of-its-time NPC routines of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s beloved villagers, which are a touchstone for NPC behavior to this day.
AI’s involvement in game development can be a touchy subject for both those making the games and those playing them. Late last year Microsoft announced it had partnered with Inworld AI to develop a toolset that will help developers to create dialogue, story, and quest design. This understandably resulted in voice actors hitting out at Microsoft’s decision, responding with: “If you want to start a voice-acting career, don’t bother” and “This will make it even harder for new talent to break into video games.”
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