The idea is to combine the ingenuity and creative passion of ordinary players with emerging technologies that enable them to create games more quickly and with better quality. But it’s not just about giving players access to ChatGPT and entering text prompts, hoping good games will pop out.
Rather, the game asks players questions that help them narrow down their vision more quickly to something that looks cool. In response to prompts from Roleverse, you create a game by customizing something — which starts out more generic — until you’re satisfied with your own original work.
“We have created a service or a platform where you can create a game by saying what kind of game you want to play,” said Jani Penttinen, CTO of Roleverse, in an interview with GamesBeat. “You say, ‘I want to go to a tropical island and it will create you an island. You can change it by saying you want to make it winter. It can create enemies. It can make changes to the landscape.”
The result is a platform that enables people to create their own visions and become storytellers themselves. No coding skills are needed. You can do simple things that can change the word dramatically. For instance, if you say the vibe should be spooky, then it will make the world darker and scarier.
The company uses AI to create emergent gameplay, or something that you didn’t expect when you started out. Rather than viewing AI as a threat, the company sees it as a tool to unlock more creativity, as the player as the freedom to alter the world.
How it started
Penttinen started making games in the early 1990s. Then he started working on machine learning in games about six or so years ago. That was a little early, but the tech has made big advances since then.
During the past year, with the emergence of large language models that can actually accomplish things, Penttinen dove into the tech. He felt like generating a story for a game was the easy part. But building an entire world and a game around that is the hard part.
“No one really expected them to be the solution that actually lets you have intelligence,” he said. “It used to be that we thought you can create customer service robots or something like that. But it turned out we could do so much more with it.”
Penttinen sees each game as more like an island, like in Fortnite, where others can visit. In the long run, he hopes to have multiplayer so that friends can visit each other and streamers streaming their creations to others. The company has raised $1.64 million to date. Penttinen expects to raise more later this year.
Aurelien Merville is the CEO and Markus Kiukkonen is COO. Overall, there are eight founders and one employee.
How it works
You can share the results as you wish. The company is opening up Roleverse for testing on its Discord community. That gives you access to playtest the game and start building things.
So it can create anything. You can say that you want the world to be more dangerous, and the AI will figure it out, Penttinen said. The language model can create its own backstory.
“It’s kind of like Minecraft without the editor,” he said. “You don’t have to know how to edit things. You don’t need to drag and drop or click with a mouse. You say what you want.”
Roleverse is seeking playtesters now, and it expects the game will go live in October 2023. The company started more than a year ago, and it started building things in August 2022. Penttinen is in Austin, Texas, but everyone else is based in Helsinki, Finland.
“We’re expecting to see a variety of different games in unexpected ways,” he said. “It’s hard to compare it to any other game because we just tried to give as much freedom as possible to the players to be able to create.”
The company has designed templates for games, and its engineers have been teaching the AI how to design a great gaming session. It starts with a story, and then it creates the world around that story. The games can usually be played in about 15 minutes to an hour. It’s sort of like teaching a junior game designer how to design a great game, he said. The game world that gets created is about a square kilometer.
“We want to give the AI the ability to come up with endless variations when you design a game,” he said. “If you really like it, you can share it with your friends.”
While the company’s platform will be called Roleverse, it is also making its own game, and the name of that game is yet to be decided. It’s a Zelda-like, open-world game.
“It’s like a sandbox platform where people will be able to experiment and create their own things, ” he said. “We are showcasing what can be done with the tech. But the ultimate goal is that we will be hosting a platform for all kinds of games.”
As for making money, Penttinen said, “Initially it will be a similar model as Midjourney and ChatGPT, where you have some amount of free use and if you want to do more, you need to subscribe. This will be the sandbox. Later on, when our first real game launches, it will be free to play with in-app purchases.”
Because there is no direct text input from the user, Roleverse aims to stop people from creating inappropriate games that might violate community standards. The company is keeping it family-friendly. Once you reach the point where you have enough built, then you can say a sentence that can modify the way it’s built.
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