Generative AI is fast becoming a tool you can't shy away from, and indie developer Dinosaurs Are Better isn't try to run and hide but is instead experimenting with creating a game using Midjourney and Adobe Firefly, and many other AI apps, along with established software such as Blender, to make its new game. So is an AI art workflow the future of game development?
While the team of three behind the point-and-click adventure game Echoes of Somewhere are keen on trying AI, many large game studios and publishers are still hesitant to use generative AI to create games. A lot of AAA game studios have banned AI for fear of copyright infringements for example, but for small teams and indies it seems AI is a good way to get ahead.
The team behind Echoes of Somewhere are Jussi Kemppainen, Lauri Konttori and Bjørn Jacobsen. These are experienced game developers have worked for the likes of Ubisoft, CD Projekt Red and Remedy Games. Their adventure game is being developed to experiment with AI and find ways where it can enhance and speed up the workflow.
There's a series of eye-opening devblogs on the Echoes of Somewhere website that details how and at what stage different generative AI tools were used. Some of the AI apps include Midjourney and Adobe Firefly as well as Leonardo.Ai and Runway ML. There are some interesting tools too, such as the standalone Diffusion Bee app for Mac that runs Midjourney locally for ease. What's eye-opening is how there is now an AI app for everything, from concept design to animation and audio. It's kind of scary really.
But, what's crucial in this project is how the team use AI with existing art and animation software rather than replacing them all, for example on Twitter Kemppainen shared how he used the Generative Fill (beta) in Photoshop with Blender to combine and merge multiple scenes created using Midjourney (see below).
I used the new @photoshop beta generative fill and @blender to blend together multiple @midjourney generated #AIArtworks to create a 2.5D location for a point and click adventure game. 🧵 #buildinpublic #gamedev 1/8 pic.twitter.com/sbU4TP80oDMay 30, 2023
It's interesting how the team isn’t afraid to embrace AI at almost every level and see how far they could push its use, for example characters were designed using prompts in Midjourney and textures for the final hero model were drawn from these designs. But aspects of the process still had to be done by a human, such as modelling in Modo and UV mapping to ensure accuracy.
It's impressive how much the team is able to do using AI but it's also welcoming to know you'll still need key skills in existing software, including Photoshop, Blender and Unity to make a final game. There are weird AI mistakes and artefacts throughout the demos the team have shown but, as Kemppainen says on Twitter, they are not "trying to hide away from the AI artefacts, but lean into them. This is an experiment."
The Echoes of Somewhere project shows it's not game over for humans just yet when it comes to AI tools. Generative AI apps for art, animation and audio have enabled the team to get up to speed fast, and combine AI and traditional 3D and 2D digital art apps into one workflow.
But it will likely become more important to demonstrate how you AI can enhance a workflow. If you want to know more, read our feature on how AI generators compare as well as our guide to how to use Adobe Firefly. It's also worthwhile to understand how Unreal Engines and Unity compare, as these aren't going anywhere.