Sega is taking its steps into artificial intelligence with a partnership involving a new AI developer, Eques. The Sonic creator is teaming with the startup born out of University of Tokyo to create an AI tool that generates voxel monsters (similar to the art style of Minecraft or Roblox) at the user's request.
Players simply describe the type of monster they want ("alligator, sharp teeth, wings," for example), at which point the tool generates a creature that intends to match the descriptors. The two companies will unveil the tool in full at this weekend's JIKEI COM Game and eSports Show in Japan.
In a statement to VGC, Sega said the collaboration would help explore if the technology would eventually become viable for future projects. "The purpose...was to verify whether it is possible to simplify the creation of [user-generated content] using this technology, and to explore the possibility of using [it] in games," it wrote.
"The importance of UGC is increasing in games and the metaverse," Sega continued. "[But] recently, there have been remarkable advances in generative AI technology."
"The purpose of this project was to verify whether it is possible to simplify the creation of UGC using this technology, and to explore the possibility of using this technology in games.”
Sega on gen AI
Like many high-level executives at other developers, Sega Sammy CEO Haruki Satomi believes the use of AI will free up developers' time and allow them to perform more critical tasks. This past September, he said as such to CNBC, and indicated the company may incorporate "more AI systems to deliver a better experience" for players.
In recent days, a number of triple-A developers announced their intent (or have already started) to use generative AI in different ways. Sony wants to use it for streaming services, while Microsoft intends to adopt the technology for narrative and quest design amongst its Xbox developers.
Sega's full implementation of the technology will likely be a ways off, but Satomi's comments indicate AI has quietly been used by the company in some of its recent titles.
As we noted recently, some developers have voiced concerns about the use of generative AI tools, particularly in the realms of voice acting, art, and other content production. Many of those concerns stem from a fear that gen AI tools will be used to supplant human labor: "Developers and artists have expressed nervousness over how eager business leaders are to replace their work, and no matter how things shake out, those anxieties probably aren't going away."