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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 component. This new technology can serve as a tool for game developers, especially those with smaller teams – and according to the creators of Story Machine, it already is.
Generative AI isn’t without its critics, but Story Machine claims it’s intended to serve as a creative aid and aid to developers, not a replacement. It’s not aimed at large game studios, but at indie developers who don’t have the programming or artistic talent to create all the assets for the games themselves.
Story Machine: Game creation for newbies
Story Machine is a Robot Invader game engine designed for developers who don’t have a background in programming or art design. Robot Invader raised $5 million to launch Story Machine last year and 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 asset using AI like Stable Diffusion and DALL-E 2. Users can select any of the assets created and drag and drop them into the game engine.
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The engine was designed to create narrative 2D games, not necessarily larger 3D titles. At the moment, Robot Invader has a game listed on Steam called Beacon’s Bluff, which graphics were made with Story Machine. Creators who build their games with Story Machine can deploy them to PC, console, and mobile platforms, says Robot Invader.
Gregory Love, COO of Robot Invader, told GamesBeat, “If you’re a programmer who can’t draw, you can now create full-fledged, professional-quality games. If you’re an artist who can’t develop or code, you can use Story Machine to create your game. It’s designed to remove some of the other aspects that have historically held people back from creating games and content, and to allow anyone who is a storyteller to get out there and tell their story.”
Also, according to Love, one of the reasons Robot Invader created these tools is to give users more seamless access to the AI technology for their games. “There are other interesting technologies that wrap around Stable Diffusion or DALL-E and we want to leverage those as well.”
AI in Game Development: Tool or Shortcut?
Story Machine isn’t the only game development tool powered by AI and artistic assets. Scenario AI recently spoke to GamesBeat about its generator platform, which allows users to train their own AI to create art objects with a specific style. It has also been 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 eliminate margin and bring more development to gameplay and story is a common theme among AI tool developers. That’s an optimistic view of such usage, but doesn’t address the common complaint that AI is being used to rob skilled workers — like artists — of jobs in the industry. Most recently, Squanch Games was criticized for using AI to generate art, which made it into the final game.
Casey Richardson, CEO of Robot Invader, told GamesBeat that Story Machine’s intent is to support studios and developers in the early stages of game development. “Outside of art, we see AI as an accelerator and creative aid, not a substitute for developer creativity. A set of tools that open up game development to people who have never made games before, allow smaller studios to “step up” and triple-A studios large and small alike to drive processes and development phases forward, primarily planning and preparation -Production.”
While AI tools are not yet widely adopted in the industry, developing user-friendly tools means more developers could discover them. This could mean that integrating these tools at multiple levels of game development is a matter of time, not preference.
But Richardson says human artists can’t 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 as a way for non-artists to create visually compelling work… . It can be part of the process, but alone it is not the solution.”
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