Ubisoft is creating AI NPCs with the help of Nvidia and Inworld AI

Assassins Greed.

Nvidia x Inworld AI currently showcasing their work at GDC 2024, and it will be used in future Ubisoft titles.

Ubisoft has unveiled a partnership with Inworld AI and Nvidia to create ‘Neo NPCs’ that’ll talk directly to human players. This will all be made possible thanks to generative AI, though looking at Ubisoft’s current track record, I’m choosing to remain sceptical of its future endeavours.

Nvidia and Inworld AI unveiled a short tech demo showcasing how it all works at GDC 2024. It featured Nvidia’s ACE tech combined with Inworld AI’s LLM to create realistically animated AI-driven NPC characters. The Neo NPCs seem to dynamically react according to the players’ decisions, thus providing multiple dialogue options, expressions, and animations based on varying scenarios.

I’ll admit, it does look good, but the voice and facial expressions still have that uncanny valley feel. I can best describe it as being on the same level as, say, Starfield, but far from Cyberpunk 2077’s beautifully scripted animations.

Of course, this is not the first time AI-driven NPCs have been implemented in video games. Modders have used Inworld AI’s engine in GTA V, Skyrim, and Fallout with varying degrees of success. The company also has its very own detective game that utilises its AI tech to generate dialogue in real time. It’s far from polished, however, but the tech works and it’s only getting better. The pairing with Nvidia’s advancements in AI and Ubisoft’s high production levels could yield some promising results.

Ubisoft has the budget, talent, and is no stranger to creating beautifully-crafted worlds. However, those worlds feel rather empty in comparison to games like GTA V and RDR. The company’s recent Pandora Tomorrow is incredibly gorgeous, and I’m sure Star Wars Outlaws will follow suit. But many of us would likely admit that the Ubisoft gameplay loop has grown a bit stale over the years.

The ethical conundrum

I suppose this is partly the reason why Ubisoft is heading in this new direction. However, there is a good few ethical concerns that needs to be raised. Our Damien raised some rather thought-provoking points. Yes, having NPCs untethered from a static script means we’ll have the Minecraft of narrative games, eventually. It opens the doors for players to create their own nuanced stories and offer near-infinite replayability – at least on paper.

However, if everything is procedurally generated, what does that say for the voice actors that put their heart and soul into the role? I don’t think AI-driven dialogue will ever emulate a hard-boiled detective quite like James McCaffrey. And I doubt any AI-generated content could display the range of emotion and complexity Neil Newbon brought in his role as Astarion in Baldur’s Gate 3, or at least not yet. Also, how will these VAs get paid if their large body of work gets used in these LLMs?

Alas, we might not have the answers to these questions just yet, and we’re not saying AI in video games is a bad thing. All we’re saying is, we shouldn’t be so eager to adopt AI, without understanding the consequences. No matter how inevitable it may seem.