Built by game development studio Robot Invader, Story Machine is a generative AI-infused 2D game creation platform and engine.
Story Machine wants to empower creators by building generative AI tools directly into a cross-platform
interactive game engine. While the use of generative AI in gaming is in its early days, Story Machine’s integration is useful for creators today, said Dai in an interview with GamesBeat. The company made the announcement at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
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“In my ecosystem, I always have the passion to empower the young generation with creativity, for education, to express themselves now with another choice of Story Machine,” said Dai. “I think we can serve the masses with this technology and its affordable costs. We’re very excited. This is why we are launching at the Game Developers Conference.”
While it’s not likely that generative AI can spit out awesome games anytime soon, helping game creators with tools that can help them generate better art is a big opportunity, said James Kaplan, CEO of Meetkai, one of Dai’s metaverse platform companies, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We’re thrilled to finally unveil Story Machine at GDC,” said Gregory Love, COO of Robot Invader, in a statement. “To develop the next generation of games, creators need more than just a tech stack. They need an engine designed to take advantage of deeply integrated generative AI and make creation simple. A game engine that lets creators iterate on creativity rather than spend time fighting compatibility problems or performance regressions and removes the need for art or programming skills.”
How it works
Creators can generate AI art directly in Story Machine and use a context-aware user interface to create backgrounds, objects, or characters. Story Machine moves beyond simple prompts to enable the creative process: it integrates a range of AI models, and automatically selects the best service to satisfy a creator’s request without the creator needing to become a “prompt engineer.”
Story Machine is opening in private beta today and is ready to be deployed in professional environments. It is the newest member of Dai’s ecosystem of hardware and software companies, which includes MeetKai, an AI and Metaverse services company. Meetkai helps companies build metaverse applications.
“One of the theories that we had is that it’s going to be pretty pivotal to make it much cheaper to produce metaverse content,” said Kaplan. “The idea of Story Machine and Robot Invader is the idea of leveraging generative art. But we are still providing the tooling around a no-code environment for how you bring together the game context.”
He said you won’t be able to just type in a text prompt and get a game generated automatically. Something like Story Machine, however, removes the need for the game creator to be an outstanding artist at the outset. So far Story Machine is using DALL-E and Stable Diffusion. DALL-E tends to create better photorealistic art, while Stable Diffusion is good at anime, Kaplan said.
“Many companies are experimenting with AI,” said Kaplan. “But most are in the R&D stage. We’re excited to partner with Robot Invader to leverage the Story Machine platform that our customers can deploy today to bring generative 2D content to the metaverse.”
Dai and other investors have raised $5 million for Robot Invader, which has four employees. MeetKai has about 50 employees and has raised over $20 million since its inception.
“We want to be humble in our approach, but we believe this is disruptive,” Dai said.
Different kinds of content
Love said there are other things that Story Machine could be used for. Parents and teachers could use it to teach kids how to leverage AI in the various things that they’re creating or consuming. The feedback from the beta will help Story Machine and Robot Invader with its engineering roadmap.
Over time, the whole Story Machine project could turn into something like Episode, which enables consumers to create their own comic-like, interactive stories.
“If you’re a programmer who hasn’t been able to create a game because of your lack of art skills, AI can now generate AI art that can allow you to create a top-notch experience,” Kaplan said. “If you’re an artist, we are focused on no-code aspect. If you’re not a programmer, generative AI can generate a tool kit for you.”
Kaplan said generative AI could be used for localization, sound effects or dialogue. Story Machine creates a set of flows that guide a creator so the likelihood of creating something useful is higher.
“We just want to leverage things and lower the barrier of entry for people being able to create,” Kaplan said.
The Story Machine project has been underway for about a year, said Love.
“We have a very small number of studios using the tool today. And what we’re going to announce at GDC is both that it’s ready for deployment in a number of different use cases, and that we’re opening it up for a general private beta,” Love said. “The timing was fortunate with the zeitgeist around AI. We were working on this for some time.”
Developers can go to storymachine.com to join the waitlist. The official launch is expected later this year.
“We believe that the marriage of a game engine and generative AI is a game-changer for developers and creators of all sizes,” said Dai, who is executive chairwoman of both Story Machine and Meetkai. “Story Machine is a commanding new addition to our portfolio of companies that are delivering AI and metaverse solutions to our Tier-1 global customers both at the software and, with our leadership on the semiconductor side, at the hardware level.”
Handling copyright issues
I asked how the generative AI technologies will avoid problems like spitting out content that infringes on someone’s copyright. The courts have a lot of work to do to figure out ownership issues here.
“We think the use cases are going to range from individual creators to smaller studios that are going to ship games are using Story Machine today. The AI use can vary for the various cohorts. AI is an incredible tool for art and pre-production use cases,” Love said.
While generative AI takes the first pass at art, the humans on the team take over once they get a better idea of where to go. And humans can also create their own pools of foundational material for the generative AI to use to create its own creations.
“Obviously it is early days with this,” Love said.
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