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Ubisoft and NVidia reveal AI that will be “the soul of NPCs”

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At GDC 2024, Ubisoft, in partnership with NVIDIA, presented advances in artificial intelligence for NPCs in the NEO NPCs project. This technology is capable of combining AI responses with narratives, aiming to avoid “soulless” NPCs throughout gameplay.

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The screening took place behind closed doors during the event. There are three experiments with emotional interactions with NPCs like Bloom and Iron, who react to events and questions, or suggest approaches to missions.

The tools work together, each taking care of a part to “bring the NPC to life”. GenAI and Inworld AI are responsible for the graphics, behavior and speech recognition, while NEO NPCs, from Ubisoft, creates all of this to link the lines with the narrative elements.

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According to Kylan Gibbs, CEO of Inworld AI:

The combination of NVIDIA ACE microservices and Inworld Engine allows developers to create digital characters that can drive dynamic narratives, opening up new possibilities for how players can decipher, deduce and play.

NEO NPCs innovations will not replace Ubisoft devs

The objective of creating these AIs is to increase narrative immersion and the depth of interactions, with a focus on emotional and ethical values. Those responsible for the project state that GenAI is a tool, not a game creator, highlighting the importance of the connection between technology and human design.

Along with NEO NPCs, NVIDIA's advances are capable of delivering improvements in expressions. In addition to the non-controllable characters having more elaborate speeches according to the situations, they will have more intelligent animations and their lips, thanks to “lip sync”, will move with a high degree of realism.

This experiment is seen as the start of something bigger, with the potential for significant changes to player-NPC interaction. When will Ubisoft and NVIDIA implement this in future games? There is no forecast yet, but it is an interesting advance!

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