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With the rapid development of AI, the technology is quickly making its way across the entertainment industry. Now some gamers are upset after Cyan Worlds, the developer of the classic video games Myst and Riven, used AI tools to develop its new game Firmament.
The use of AI-based tools, according to video game publication Kotaku, was first spotted by blogger Gregory Avery-Weir. After playing the game and watching the credits, he noticed a lack of recognition for the characters’ voice acting—until an expected category appeared during the credits roll.
Under an “AI Assisted Content” banner, Cyan Worlds listed all of the features that were either generated or augmented by AI in the game, including journals, logs, stories, songs, poems, voice acting, and even in-game wallpaper.
"Extremely disappointed to learn of the use of AI in the creation of Firmament," reads a comment on the Firmament Kickstarter page. "If this plagiarized [homogeneity] is what we can expect going forward instead of the lovingly created worlds, world building, and performances of past Cyan games, then the company has truly lost my interest."
"I wanted to like this game, but I don't really think I can," another Kickstarter backer wrote. "And learning how involved 'AI Assisted Content' was in the final product (particularly learning this only after the fact in the credits), honestly feels like a betrayal of my pledge."
Cyan Worlds told Kotaku it used AI tools in Firmament to enhance in-game content, but added that human involvement remained. The studio said that AI technology helped adjust the final product, including voiceovers, with approval from the performer. For example, Cyan said that human-recorded voice acting was ultimately augmented by AI.
The lack of voice actor recognition is one of the concerns that led members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), which includes voice actors, to authorize a strike on Monday. One of the union’s stated concerns is the potential use of AI to recreate members’ voices using older content.
The guild is seeking “informed consent and fair compensation if you're going to use any kind of AI or digital technology to recreate someone's image or likeness," SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland told Decrypt in an interview—before the union agreed to a media blackout.
Like others in the tech sector, game developers aim to leverage the rapid advances in artificial intelligence. Overwatch and Diablo developer Blizzard Entertainment is reportedly using the technology to assist in non-player character design, for example.
Blizzard President Mike Ybarra said that AI is not meant to replace human artists, but rather to add to the creative process.
"Our approach at Blizzard is to use machine learning and AI in ways that are additive, empathic, and allow our talented teams to spend more time on the highest quality creative thinking and tasks," Ybarra said on Twitter.