YouTube channel, Corridor Crew, a part of studio Corridor Digital, has riled the artist community and game fans alike. The popular CG tech enthusiasts are no strangers to controversy but its latest video, where they use AI to 'fix the faces in video games', has really got fans angry.
The same team that used DALL-E2 AI to create the Rock, Paper, Scissors anime that everyone hated, is now back as its YouTube team, Corridor Crew, has taken aim at the video games industry. This time they've 'fixed' the faces that designers have created in games such as Metal Gear Solid (Big Boss), Uncharted (Nathan Drake), and Horizon: Forbidden West (Aloy). And it's created quite the backlash.
Watch Corridor Crew's video 'We Try Putting Photoreal Faces in Video Games' for yourself, and get ready to be annoyed. In it they use AI to take beautifully crafted and loved characters and turn them into uncanny and emotionless mannequins.
What doesn't seem to have registered with the creators of this AI driven experiment is that the characters they've messed around with were created by artists with a specific vision in mind.
There will always be technical limitations when creating video game characters but photo-realistic representation is rarely the goal. The aesthetic and vibe in the aforementioned games is what brings them alive, drawing players into the story. AI created photo-realistic faces only contribute to diminishing the hard work and creativity of the artists, effectively telling them they’ve done a terrible job. What a kick in the teeth.
One of Corridor Digital’s co-founder’s, Nike Pueringer, claims that using AI face-morphing with an AI image generator, Stable Diffusion XL, could "revolutionize how [video game] characters are rendered". If that's the revolution being proposed, then no thanks. This comes after concept artist Dofresh discovered studios are using AI to replace artists. Will we have to suffer bad AI-generated art and design before everyone realises this is a terrible idea?
Fans and artists on Twitter revealed their dislike of using AI to rework classic character designs. Liz Edwards, a senior character artist on Apex Legends, wrote of the changes to Solid Snake, "great example of how well strong art direction and intentional design, modelling & texturing decisions hold up over time [in contrast to AI's] thoughtless addition of detail for the sake of detail gives us cheap halloween costume Snake".
Likewise, ZBrush artist George Crudo wrote in response to the AI's redesign of LA Noir's Cole Phelps: "It felt like a fever dream tbh in one breath they’re laughing at bad lip-syncing an actual artist worked on and then losing their minds over a yassified video filter that completely changes the character and performance entirely."
Way to make friends and influence people. This is just another example of AI turning thoughtful designs created with a purpose and turning them into generic lifeless designs. This isn't the first time video game characters have been reimagined, and in fact sometimes it's for a good reason, such as when Sonic was reworked after fan backlash. But using AI to alter designs without any consideration for how a character fits into a pipeline, budget or gameplay, feels ill-conceived.