Ubisoft inists its AI-powered NPC tech will be used only if valuable to creatives

Nope, not letting this one go.

When Ubisoft debuted new generative AI NPC tech at GDC this year, it made a lot of promises that it would gather industry feedback and carefully note reactions (all while gassing up the project). A similar kind of tone is being struck by the developers of NEO NPCs, who are trying their best to assure writers and industry watchers that the project is being built with creatives in mind.

According to senior VP of production Guillemette Picard, the application of NEO NPCs is still a bit up in the air, yet she also asserts that the tech will assuredly change game dev – but only if developers are on board. “The only way is to have creative and tech people sitting at the same table on the same project,” she says. “The creatives will drive the show. If there is no value in gen AI for them, it is not going to be adopted. It is going to produce average games. We can’t do tech for tech on this one.”

NEO NPC narrative director Virginia Mosser also focused on the human impact, promising that the tech lets games writers “create more, but differently.” She also discusses the mental hurdle of writers giving up control of their created characters while still creating motivations and backstories for NEO NPCs.

“[A]s a writer, the main challenge is to let it go. Now it’s about player centricity. They are building their own story,” Mosser says. “You’ve got to let it go, but it’s not ‘let it go’ super far from the beginning of what you designed. […] [I]t’s a question of coherence and we are responsible for that coherence, consistency and quality. It’s like a teenager… you can let them go but I’m still in charge.”

It’s here that we underscore these statements with the fact that these are the promises of a company that has already proven to be awful to its employees, while also pointing out that “[taking] stock of industry feedback” as the company first wrote may not actually mean listening to arguments against it – especially when one considers how much money was likely lit aflame to form this R&D team and secure associated technology licenses.

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