Using artificial intelligence (AI) to produce content for modern games is one of the hottest topic in the industry these days, with an increasing number of developers opposing the idea. Former Dragon Age lead writer, David Gaider, has entered the debate, expressing doubts about AI ever replacing humans in the realm of quality game writing. In his words, BioWare itself made several attempts to employ such tools, but none of them proved successful.
Gaider offered his insights (via Gamesradar) in response to a recent article by The Guardian discussing the potential use of AI in generating NPC dialogue and quests in gaming. This topic has become even more relevant today, given the recent Nvidia ACE demo that showcases how generative technology “sparks life” into a virtual character, albeit with questionable results. Drawing from his experience as the former narrative designer for Dragon Age, Gaider revealed that BioWare was highly interested in exploring the concept of “unlimited playtime with dialogue being procedurally created alongside procedural quests”, and even went through multiple iterations attempting this approach. However, no matter how hard they tried, the end results were consistently described as “soulless” and “lackluster,” even when human writers were involved in creating the lines.
Gaider clarified that although it may sound like a dream at first, what the studio ultimately produced was “something *shaped* like a quest,” ticking off all the necessary beats, but feeling like a generic fetch quest from any MMO, that lacks the depth and substance. The issue wasn’t solely a lack of advanced technology, as some might assume, he says. Despite their attempts to provide the system with more hand-written lines, AI simply couldn’t surpass this bland baseline, and Gaider believes that those who believe otherwise will inevitably face failure.
For now, Gaider remains convinced that many developers will continue to pursue this attractive concept, convincing themselves that this is what players want. He predicts that a lot of effort is going to be wasted on this endeavor, only for them to arrive at the same conclusions that BioWare has encountered multiple times before. However, David Gaider hinted that this approach may have some limited success in MMOs or games that prioritize minimal narrative beats, but no groundbreaking results should be expected from this approach.
Previously, the developer also revealed how BioWare slowly went from the studio primarily known for its compelling characters and expansive stories to one where the writers were “quietly resented.” Gaider noted that around 2016, everyone in charge wanted to do “less writing” for studio’s projects, possibly resulting in both Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda being largely criticized by the studio’s long-time fan base.
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