David Gaider, who helped create BioWare’s hit RPG series Dragon Age, thinks using AI for quest writing is a waste of time – and for good reason. Gaider made the comments on Twitter (thanks, PC Gamer) in response to a piece in The Guardian about Stanford researchers creating a game demo that uses ChatGPT to generate NPC dialogue and create what the team believes are in-depth interactions.
Gaider said using AI for procedural content generation in this way sounds like a dream for some executives – except BioWare already tried it nearly 10 years ago, and it failed miserably.
“BioWare went through several iterations of this: ‘what if we didn’t need every conversation to be bespoke?’” Gaider said. “Unlimited playtime with dialogue being procedurally created alongside procedural quests!”
Ah, yes. The dream of procedural content generation. Even BioWare went through several iterations of this: “what if we didn’t need every conversation to be bespoke?” Unlimited playtime with dialogue being procedurally created alongside procedural quests!
— David Gaider (@davidgaider) May 29, 2023
“Each time, the team collectively believed – believed down at their CORE – that this was possible,” Gaider said in a reply to his original tweet. “Just within reach. And each time we discovered that, even when the procedural lines were written by human hands, the end result once they were assembled was… lackluster. Soulless.”
Gaider said the problem wasn’t just the need for advanced technology or feeding the system more lines to turn into quests or ideas. It was the ideas the AI comes out with, which, Gaider says, are inevitably bland and boring.
“Procedural content generation of quests results in something ‘shaped’ like a quest,” Gaider said. “It has the beats you need for one, sure, but the end result is no better than your typical ‘bring me 20 beetle heads’ MMO quest.”
Even a cursory glance at the article Gaider quoted or the recent Nvidia showcase that unveiled AI technology for procedurally generated quests shows that the same issue still exists. Quests were bland, and conversations were stilted, with little personality.
Gaider believes developers – indie and AAA – and executives will still continue to push for AI in games, but that it will only result in the same conclusion BioWare drew and end up being a colossal waste of time and resources.
Written by Josh Broadwell on behalf of GLHF