Microsoft will use AI tools for Xbox games to 'explore more creative ideas'

Inworld Origins (Inworld AI)
Inworld Origins (Inworld AI)

Microsoft has announced plans to bring generative AI to its game studios, in order to speed up game development and reduce costs.

It has teamed-up with artificial intelligence outfit Inworld AI to “build AI game dialogue and narrative tools at scale".

Microsoft games studios that may end up using this tech include Bethesda Softworks, id Software, Arkane Studios, Tango Gameworks, Turn 10 Studios, Rare, Playground Games, inXile Entertainment, Double Fine Productions, Blizzard Entertainment, and Infinity Ward, among others.

Thought Starfield was sterile and lacked character? Let’s see what happens when even more game content is cranked out by AI.

Microsoft has laid out a couple of key scenarios in which these studios might make use of this scripting AI.

It says the software “assists and empowers game designers to explore more creative ideas, turning prompts into detailed scripts, dialogue trees, quests and more".

Rather than tip-toeing into the world of artificial intelligence, Microsoft general manager of AI Haiyan Zhang is suggesting the software may be used to to flat-out write conversations and quests, replacing or at least mutating the core job of a narrative designer.

She even suggests the AI can make new content on the fly, with a “runtime engine that can be integrated into the game client, enabling entirely new narratives with dynamically generated stories, quests, and dialogue for players to experience".

This sounds like a next generation version of the Radiant Quest system in Bethesda Softworks’s Skyrim, which will make fresh (well, not that fresh) busywork quests for you to perform until the end of time.

If you want to see for yourself what these AI-generated characters look and feel like right now, you can download a free demo made by Inworld AI on Steam, called Inworld Origins. It’s stilted at present, but may not be for long.

You can also watch videos of the raw tech on YouTube, where presenters are able to ask AI characters anything, rather than just pre-determined questions.

The news has understandably not gone down well with some game developers. However, just as understandable, people within Microsoft game studios aren’t airing grievances on Twitter yet.

“I do not want this.mp3,” indie game director Sam Barlow responded. “The biggest impediment to creativity is stress. Majority of my stresses come from the necessity that to be creative in games in 2023 I need to be entrepreneurial.”

Barlow’s games include the multi-award-winning Immortality, Telling Lies, and Her Story, all of which are centred around a carefully designed and written script.

“Imagine announcing this in a year where the games industry has laid off 6,000-plus people. I will never play any game that InWorld has any part in making,” says Alana Pearce, a writer at Sony’s Santa Monica Studio, which makes the God of War series.

Microsoft announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs in January 2023, including within its gaming divisions, and has had fresh rounds of redundancies since.

The claim of 6,000-plus job losses this year was reported by Venturebeat, who reported that at least 6,100 were cut by September, and only factors in large waves from key publishers who make the news. So these cuts are thought to be conservative figures.