December 2, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Microsoft is bringing AI characters to Xbox

Microsoft is bringing AI characters to Xbox

Microsoft is partnering with Inworld AI to develop Xbox tools that will allow developers to create AI-powered characters, stories, and missions. The multi-year partnership will include an “AI Design Co-Pilot” system that Xbox developers can use to create detailed scripts, dialogue trees, quest lines, and more.

“At Xbox, we believe that with better tools, creators can create more extraordinary games.” Haiyan Zhang explains, General Manager of Gaming AI at Xbox. “This partnership will combine: Inworld’s expertise in working with generative AI models for character development, Microsoft’s cutting-edge cloud-based AI solutions including the Azure OpenAI service, Microsoft Research’s technical insights into the future of gaming, and Team Xbox’s strengths in revolutionizing Accessible and responsible building tools for all developers.

The cross-platform AI toolkit will include an AI design assistant for text and dialogue, and an AI character engine that can be integrated into games and used to dynamically create stories, quests, and dialogue.

Inworld works on AI-powered NPCs that respond to player questions, much like how ChatGPT or Bing Chat responds to natural language queries. These AI NPCs can respond with unique voices and can include complex dialogue trees or custom dynamic stories within the game. Inworld technology can also be used for narrative, so that companions in top-down RPGs can warn of groups of enemies or players ahead.

“AI has long been an integral part of game development, with applications ranging from adversarial AI to procedural generation.” says Elijah Gelfenbein, CEO of Inworld AI. “The emergence of large language models and generative AI has opened up new opportunities for storytelling and engaging characters within games.”

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Microsoft is only offering this as an optional tool for game developers, so it will be up to them to determine the level of generative AI in future titles. Finals Developer Embark Studios recently had to defend itself against its use of AI-generated voices, arguing that “making games without actors is not the ultimate goal,” in Statement to IGN.

Any use of generative AI in creative fields like game design or voice acting is controversial, with actors union SAG-AFTRA voting to approve a strike license for video game artists recently. “Between exploitative uses of artificial intelligence and back wages, those who work in video games face many of the same issues as those who work in film and television,” said Ray Rodriguez, chief contracts officer at SAG-AFTRA.

Microsoft positions its tools as utilities, much like how it positions its Copilot platform for Microsoft 365 and Windows. “We want to help make it easier for developers to realize their visions, try new things, push the boundaries of today’s games and experience to improve gameplay, player connectivity, and more,” says Chang. “We will collaborate and innovate with game creators within Xbox Studios as well as third-party studios as we develop tools that meet their needs and inspire new possibilities for future games.”