Artificial intelligence has changed game development forever. Many hurdles faced by the average game developer are suddenly taken care of with AI in game development.
Need to balance the intelligence levels of enemy NPCs in your game? The AI will take care of it. Need procedural generation in your game to feel more authentic? The AI will take care of it.
This article will explore the impact of AI on games in a fair bit of detail. The debate about AI continues, with ethical questions raised about creativity in games, plagiarism, how it’ll affect society and baked-in biases. However, it’s hard to deny that the potential to use AI in the games we make and play has seen exciting changes as of late.
NPCs give life to your game, so you don’t want them to be boring. New NPCs powered by AI can make more complex gameplay decisions. They can act based on what’s happening around them, what the player does, or even what the current objectives are.
They can also learn from experience, responding to triggers such as low health, the space available to them to move, and the player’s general play patterns. This way, the enemy AI can play with some unpredictability, and challenge the player thanks to this interesting dynamic they now have.
On the language side, AI in game development can allow NPCs to understand natural language commands, making it easier for players to interact with them in ways humans would. In fact, a modder implemented ChatGPT into the popular action RPG Mount & Blade II, and the results were spectacular. Players can write prompts to an NPC, like the king, and get an appropriate response.
All these points, as a positive, can make a game’s world much more immersive and believable for players.
Procedural generation covers more elements
Procedural generation (or ‘proc-gen’ for short) is a term thrown around since the idea of roguelikes popped up, so it’s not new as such. Usually, in such games, only the levels would be generated, alongside the spawn points of objects. So there’s a limitation in that regard.
However, with the introduction of more sophisticated AI in game development, they can generate new content on the fly, like levels, characters, items, barks, you name it. Outside of addressing the ‘volume handicap’ that previous proc-gen content had, AI in game development can also be used to generate content that consistently adapts to the player’s skill level.
For example, AI can examine how the player is performing and how often they perish during a game session. Using that data, they can strategise and produce levels that match their optimum level. This helps to keep the game challenging and engaging for players, while also providing a more personalised experience.
Game mechanics feel deeper and smarter
AI in game development can improve game mechanics, offering more realistic and fluid gameplay, as well as more efficient processing of game data. But more than that, it’s reduced the complexities of putting them together from scratch.
Ubisoft has shown from time and time again how they benefit from using neural networks, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to improve their production pipelines.
In this instance, we could use AI to streamline pathfinding algorithms when creating character controllers, delivering a smoother navigation experience to players quickly. This can potentially cut down the time spent on building these systems. NPCs can also improve – generative AI can bolster their state machines to feel more responsive in context to the in-game environment.
AI can also be used to improve game balance, ensuring that the game is challenging but not too difficult for players. AI algorithms can analyse player behaviour and adjust the difficulty of the game accordingly. This can help keep players engaged and prevent them from becoming frustrated with the game.
Game dev work is delivered faster and smoother
As AI in game development grows, so too does its range. More and more artists are embracing AI; even the biggest art portfolio platform ArtStation set up a category exclusively for AI art.
But that’s not all. With the introduction of tools including the AI-assisted animation software Cascadeur or the game testing AI engine Modl, game development is made much faster, easier, and more convenient for developers looking to publish their games as soon as possible.
Players enjoy more personalised experiences in games
AI in game development can personalise the gaming experience for individual players, taking into account their preferences, behaviour, and skills. For example, AI algorithms can analyse player data to create personalised recommendations for games, levels, or items that the player may enjoy. This can keep players engaged and interested in the game, retaining them and reducing churn rates.
Game difficulty also sees a sense of depth, with AI adding personalisation. By adapting to the player’s skill level, it’d allow players to feel more connected because the challenges feel fairer and more engaging. This can increase their sense of achievement when they complete a challenging level.
AI in game development has also impacted the way multiplayer games are developed and played. One significant use of AI in multiplayer games is when pairing players with opponents of similar skill levels. This way gameplay feels more fair and balanced.
Currently, players are matched based on a ranking system of sorts. This can vary, but one of the common ways that’s done is by analysing the win-loss ratio or some other performance metric. With AI algorithms that can analyse player behaviour during gameplay, matchmaking can feel much more accurate.
This also works great in co-op based games, where analysing how the teams work together can define the game session’s difficulty itself. This can influence how the teams work and how their overall dynamics change.
(Oh, and let’s not forget bot matches; AI can make bots seem dim-witted as they often tend to be in most multiplayer games!)
Got any thoughts about AI in game development?
All in all, we can tell that AI in game development is here to stay. It’s become an essential tool for developers, significantly impacting our amazing industry.
And as AI continues to advance, we’ll begin to see more and more immersive and engaging gameplay experiences for players.
Which of these trends do you think is most exciting? Or do the ethics of AI concern you more? Do you want your games made by machines or humans?
As an award-winning game publisher, we combine our in-house experience, studio and publishing teams with the latest AI and machine learning tools to power your game with chart-topping strategies. Do you want to know if your game will fare well in the market within hours? Then upload your game prototype on our official Publishing Portal (if it’s a mobile game) or send it to our publishing scouts (if it’s a PC and console game). We’ll analyse your game and get in touch with you about your results. Meanwhile, catch us on our social media (TikTok | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn) to get the latest deets on our gamedev efforts.