Blizzard Wants to Use AI-Generated Artwork to Flesh Out Its Games' Worlds

A new Blizzard patent details a system that uses AI to generate artwork based on a specific style through simulation. Of course, Blizzard is entering contentious territory with its treatment of generative AI art, and it remains to be seen how the technology described in this new patent will work, if used.

Since the popularity of programs like Midjourney and ChatGPT last year, the world has been talking about artificial intelligence and generative systems using machine learning techniques. Obviously, this had an impact on game design. Even modders are already using this technique, such as modders using ChatGPT to create brand new Oblivion quests. So it’s clear that the big players aren’t going to be left behind, and they already have plans in place to take advantage of these new systems.

Blizzard has filed a patent for a new system involving AI generation of graphics that will make it easier for developers to create art that helps flesh out game worlds. The text in the patent is very complicated, but the explanation is very simple. It is a system for teaching machines a specific artistic style by simulating existing images. First, it automatically generates structured images using an initial input. It then transfers the model taught to the machine to the image, generating texture. Finally, they are combined with “moderate detail”. This will save a lot of time and labor when designing huge virtual worlds.

ai-system-blizzard What makes the technology so controversial, however, is how systems that operate with machine learning often use other techniques in their training models. Therefore, Blizzard needs to use real artwork to train its models. Currently, if material used in training is copyrighted, there is a huge debate about how much of it is actually legal. So it’s not unrealistic to expect more discussion around the technology in the future, as it could lead to job losses and even legal ramifications.

Still, improvements in machine learning are happening rapidly, and generative art is just one of AI’s many capabilities. For example, modders are currently using AI to give memories to NPCs in Skyrim. If they can do this without the budget, a company like Blizzard might improve the way NPCs behave by using a similar system.

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