You're next, game devs. Now Microsoft to bring character, story design copilot to Xbox

Plus: Doritos 'trials AI software' to mute noise of chip-crunching gamers

Video Microsoft today started what it promises will be a multi-year partnership with an AI gaming startup that will let developers use generative neural networks to create characters, dialog, and adventures for Xbox games.

Founded in 2021 and backed by M12, Microsoft's venture capital arm, Inworld AI has been trying to make a "fully integrated character engine" that can produce non-player characters based on input text descriptions. 

Microsoft said it is going to work with the upstart to get that large language model-powered generative software in front of game developers so they can knock together virtual characters and worlds for Xbox games using machine learning. Other parts of Redmond's empire will be thrown in the mix too, we're told.

"This partnership will bring together: Inworld's expertise in working with generative AI models for character development, Microsoft's cutting-edge cloud-based AI solutions including Azure OpenAI Service, Microsoft Research's technical insights into the future of play, and Team Xbox's strengths in revolutionizing accessible and responsible creator tools for all developers," Haiyan Zhang, GM of Gaming AI for Xbox, promised in a statement.

Both companies will collaborate to build a range of tools, including an AI-powered copilot system for developers that can create scripts, dialog trees, and in-game quests from input prompts fed into large language models, and an AI character runtime engine that can make things up as the game goes along in real time, presumably guided by a title's developers and, we guess, some input from players.

We can therefore imagine future games including stuff pre-generated by AI during development and baked into titles, and stuff made on the fly dynamically by LLMs as needed and as the game code and makers require.

Inworld's AI can apparently output voices and animations, too, and includes safety controls to prevent stories going off the rails. It has also built multiple APIs to support the different types of game engines developers use. 

Here's a video of a demo of its technology:

Youtube Video

"We want to help make it easier for developers to realize their visions, try new things, push the boundaries of gaming today and experiment to improve gameplay, player connection and more," Zhang added.

"We will collaborate and innovate with game creators inside Xbox studios as well as third-party studios as we develop the tools that meet their needs and inspire new possibilities for future games."

In other AI game-related news, Doritos - yes, the American tortilla chip (crisp in UK English) maker - is testing software allegedly designed to block the sound of crunching from gamers eating snacks while their microphones are on during live chats. Named Doritos Silent, players can download the filter for Windows PCs and try to be more considerate for other gamers. 

Trained on more than 5,000 audio clips from people munching on chips, Doritos Silent allegedly automatically detects the telltale sound of crunching and mutes that part out so that players can continue to eat while staying in conservation with others and not appearing rude. Now, and assuming this works and isn't a stunt, if the snack giant could just sort out those nasty flavors... ®

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