Casual Connect: Devs will soon be able to ‘build AI on a scale never before possible,’ says Ubisoft

James Brightman, Friday, April 26th, 2019 7:47 pm

Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs… these are just a few examples of highly immersive franchises French publisher Ubisoft built with the help of artificial intelligence. The role that AI will play in game development moving forward is only expected to grow. In a talk at Casual Connect London (May 28-30), Ubisoft’s Dominic Butler, Editorial Technology Team, will outline how AI and simulations are changing game development. 

“Incredible worlds set against the backdrop of living contexts allow us to invite the player to explore, experiment and discover new opportunities with each title. AI is the key to create the future of believable worlds and characters in which the player will see the impact of their interactions,” he noted.

Butler added, “We are at a moment of significant change for the industry in terms of processing potential – increasingly powerful devices, streaming, big data, cloud, etc. give developers the tools to build AI on a scale never before possible. Our challenge will be to build with these new tools to bring the next generation of games to our audience. As world-creators, we see tremendous opportunities coming to immerse players in even more living and entertaining spaces.”

Dominic Butler, Ubisoft
Dominic Butler, Ubisoft

At Ubisoft Montreal’s La Forge program, the company has been able to leverage AI to make locomotion and lip syncing animations far more streamlined, easing the burden on the teams when triple-A development is already intensive enough. With the advent of the cloud, there should be even more processes that can be offloaded with the help of AI.

“When we talk about AI (in this case specifically in-game AI) we need to look at the connections between it and the game systems, how those connections open up new options for players and how the increase in hardware capabilities and the opportunities that technologies like cloud processing open up for us,” Butler said.

AI, of course, has far reaching implications for society as a whole, and many in the scientific community have cautioned the world to tread carefully. There is some legitimacy to these fears about AI, but Butler also believes that education will be key. 

“AI outside of games (machine learning, etc.) is already an increasing part of our lives and I believe it’s natural to have questions about how this technology can or should be used. I also believe that fear of the unknown can, in part, be alleviated by education and a wider understanding of the opportunities it can bring,” he commented.

As one of the leading companies advancing new technologies in games, Ubisoft is eager to connect with the developer-centric audience at Casual Connect London. 

“The access to game development tools and services has never been better and this has led to an explosion of content. We continue to see incredible advancements in more ‘traditional’ genres and this opening of the gates gives us the chance to try new and exciting gameplays and experiences. Casual Connect is directly in line with this belief that as we share and iterate on these ideas we can continue to discover these new frontiers together,” said Butler.

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