Few topics have captured our imagination quite like AI. This incredible new technology has been touted as both the future and potential downfall of mankind. The true effect AI will have on us will likely be somewhere in the middle, it will make our lives easier and more convenient, rather than ushering in a new utopia or bringing about the end times.
AI is being increasingly adopted across a number of different industries but is seeing particular use in the gaming sector. How is this new tech being used in gaming and how is it changing the industry? Let’s find out.
The player experience is at the heart of the gaming industry. If a player does not like what they’re playing, they’ll soon turn to a competitor to find what they’re looking for.
This is why games put so much control in the hands of players. They can shape and hone the experience according to their own personal tastes and preferences, able to change everything from the controller sensitivity to the difficulty of the enemies they face.
With AI, developers can create games that make real-time changes and adjustments to settings according to player behaviour. AI systems can analyse actions and change settings to best suit individual players, making for a more unique and engaging experience.
Games put the player and the player’s character at the centre of the story, but the games are also populated by so-called non-player characters. These characters serve as important narrative tools and for world-building purposes. They can be allies, enemies, or simply bystanders who help make the environment seem more real and immersive.
Whether it’s the latest first-person action shooter game or fantasy-inspired MMORPGs, non-player characters (NPCs for short) are an integral part of gaming.
With AI, these NPCs can seem more realistic than ever. Rather than following preprogrammed movements and behaviours, they will instead be able to respond dynamically to different situations.
NPCs make games what they are. The more realistic the NPCs seem, the more immersive and enjoyable the gaming experience will be.
Today’s games are huge, with sprawling maps that cover enormous distances. Creating these maps and having them in place and fully loaded at all times is difficult, not to mention resource and energy intensive. However, having these large maps is crucial, as modern players have come to expect the levels of freedom and independence they offer.
Procedural map generation is a technique that uses AI to generate maps as and when they are needed. Rather than having entire sections of the game’s world going unused, map sections will only be generated when the player is interacting with them. This will save a lot of power and energy and can help bring down game file sizes.
One of the most important parts of the development process is testing. Without it, games would ship filled with bugs and issues and would not be received well by players.
In the past game testing was done by huge teams, with long working hours required to fully test games for bugs and glitches. Since then, beta testing has become popular, whereby developers allow players themselves to assist in the testing process.
AI means the days of human testing could be behind us. AI testers can check games at rapid speeds, testing all possible combinations and computations to check for bugs. Not only that but AI systems can also even be programmed to locate the source of the glitch and make suggestions for fixes.
AI is changing the world around us in many ways. Few industries are integrating the technology as rapidly as the gaming industry, and we can certainly expect to see AI used more and more in games in the future.
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