Nvidia's AI NPCs are exciting, but they're no substitute

Diego from Nvidia's ACE x Inworld.AI presentation
Credit: Nvidia

Diego from Nvidia's ACE x Inworld.AI presentation
Credit: Nvidia

Yesterday, during GDC 2024, Nvidia revealed a presentation for using AI NPCs in videogames, thanks to a partnership with Inworld.AI and, of course, Ubisoft. It looks exciting, and is likely the future of gaming - but it's no substitute for hand-crafted NPCs in an immersive adventure.

While Nvidia is still making some of the best graphics cards on the market, the company is keen to push AI, much like most companies using artificial intelligence. In fact, a lot of the best tech at CES 2024 gave us a look into the future of AI, whether that be the ASUS ROG Phone 8 using AI to make your games easier, or Samsung announcing it's Galaxy AI features at Galaxy Unpacked earlier this year.

However, seeing these demos in action is convincing me that, hey, maybe AI in videogames isn't so bad after all. The ability for an NPC to react to my voice and what I say in an immersive sim or an RPG game like Cyberpunk 2077 sounds amazing, and will truly enhance the immersion I feel playing a game. However, I genuinely don't think it will be better than a narrative designer spending quality time building out each NPC.

As mentioned in an article from The Verge, one NPC was pretty good... but their backstory was written by a narrative designer. I want to wholeheartedly believe that this technology would be used for the good and to make the lives of developers and designers easier by giving each NPC a solid backstory, while letting the player create their own relationship with the character. But, let's be honest, that probably won't be the case.

Considering how the industry has been, it wouldn't be surprising if some high-up corporate overlord sees this technology, and scraps entire departments, and replaces them with AI NPCs. This won't work well any time soon though, as a team tried to make a game purely with AI, and it didn't go too well.

There was an interesting little game recently called Suck Up!, where you play as a vampire trying to convince an AI NPC to let you in, so you can, well, suck their blood. It's a neat little indie game that proves what AI characters can do, but your hours are limited thanks to tokens, with each interaction costing one of your 10,000 tokens. After 40-50 hours, you'll have to buy more tokens to play the game you bought, but right now, you still can't buy tokens.

As AI features and gimmicks begin to settle, and actually useful AI tools arrive to assist, not replace, workers, I'm quite excited to see what companies can introduce. However, AI shouldn't replace a quality writer who is passionate about their projects.

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

NewsGamingPC GamingNvidia AI
Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!