The Plan Is to Change Gaming within the Next Few Years
All things considered, video games have come along way. Visual representation, physics, and even storytelling have seen marked upgrades over the years, and devs only seem to be getting better. According to EA’s Worldwide Studios Executive VP Patrick Söderlund, however, there’s one field that’s been terribly neglected, and that is AI (Artificial Intelligence). You can even say it’s the single aspect hindering players from complete immersion.
In EDGE’s October 2017 (magazine issue #310), Soderlund spoke at length on the matter of AI and where EA hopes to take it:
“I said in my remarks during EA Play 2017 that we will see more change in the industry in the next five years than we have seen in the past 45. For sure. If you’re cynical you can look at the past 45 and say, with maybe the exception of online multiplayer, there hasn’t been that much innovation.
“If we are allowed to be cynical for a second, yes, visual fidelity has improved dramatically. Audio and all those things have become a lot better. But a game from 1982, Super Mario Bros, is still a viable game today. Fast forward 35 years into the future and, as a game maker, as a creator, I’m not sure how I feel about it.
“No disrespect towards Mario at all – that was the game that made me want to go into video games – but I just believe that we have to challenge ourselves, and the status quo, quite a bit more, and start looking into overarching technologies that are having a significant impact on the outer world.”
One of the greatest improvements in AI, you may recall, was back during Gears of War‘s debut. Epic Games found a way to make enemies smarter than the typical shooter. Since then, we’ve seen plenty of impressive AI, but apparently, nothing of the caliber Soderlund wishes to see in gaming.
“AI, deep learning, neural networks, machine learning…the impact those are now having on our daily lives,” he affirmed, “anything from autonomous driving cars to medicine to diagnostics. Today, an artificial intelligence is about 100 times better at diagnosing breast cancer than a doctor is looking at X-Rays. What will this mean for our industry?
“For us to have something that learns, that can understand what you’re doing and can counter it, that can mimic a human player – that’s going to be possible in a very short period of time. That’s exciting to me. If we couple that with the capability for rendering…We have an initiative in SEED which is virtual humans. The first step is just to make it appear human, render it and make sure we get the right expressions and animations and feelings out of it.”
Obviously, Soderlund has not played Injustice 2. Because in that game, AI can definitely “mimic a human player.” For one, they will spam ranged abilities on higher difficulties. Back to the matter at hand, though: Söderlund talked more about the potential remedy to bad AI in the form of SEED. Announced at EA Play 2017, the program is designed to deliver cutting edge technologies to the realm of artificial intelligence in gaming, thus granting more immersion.
“But the second layer is an interactive virtual human,” Söderlund continued. “That then becomes scary – but in a cool way, right? Those are the things that we are right now experimenting with. AR, VR, deep learning, machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual humans…If you combine all these things, and on top of that you have an online element and a social layer, that is training people how to interact with each other. This is where the industry is going. Combine all these things into something and we will create something truly different from what we have today. That’s what interests me.”
What do you make of EA Games’ initiative and Söderlund’s comments? Do you think AI could use a revamp? Let us know where you stand in the comments below.