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Unlocking the Power of AI in Game Creation

In the fast-paced world of game development, where time is precious and innovation is paramount, developers are constantly seeking ways to create games faster and better. Fortunately, a new era has dawned upon the industry, powered by the remarkable capabilities of AI tools.

These cutting-edge technologies are transforming the game development landscape, enabling developers to streamline their workflows and unleash their creative potential like never before. Prepare to revolutionize the way you create games using the newest tech!

What You’ll Learn

  • Some of the most useful AI tools for game developers.
  • Tips and techniques on how to leverage AI.
  • Ideas to inspire you on your game dev journey.

Why Should Game Developers Use AI Tools?

Game developers have always been at the forefront in the creation of artificial intelligence. Even a simple game like Pong uses a primitive AI to control the opponent’s paddle. Developers utilized AI to craft enemy behaviors, generate procedural content and create adaptive difficulty. Although these achievements are remarkable, I would like to focus on a different aspect of AI. Specifically, I aim to explore the use of cutting-edge AI tools like ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion to elevate your game development process.

Stable Diffusion prompt: wizard, magic book, amazed, wonder, 8K
Making a game is tough and requires a lot of technical know-how in areas like programming, storytelling and art design. If you don’t have a team, you have to rely on your own skills for everything. But with the right tools, you can get the job done and have fun at the same time. Even if you have a good process in place, AI can help you create prototypes faster and assist you in refining new ideas.

In this article, I want to share a handful of tools and techniques I’ve found beneficial for game development which I hope you’ll find useful as well.

Getting Inspired by AI

I’m sure you’ve had times where it seemed like your creativity ran dry or you ran out of ideas for a fun game mechanic. You’re not alone! Thankfully, there are plenty of AI tools out there that can help you get back on track. The most popular and well-known AI tool at the moment is ChatGPT, a chatbot created by OpenAI. While some people like to ask it silly questions, it’s actually a great tool for game development. The large language model (LLM) powering ChatGPT is trained on a variety of text data and can generate creative ideas for you with ease.

Here are some examples of what ChatGPT can conjure up for you:

  • Ideas for game mechanics
  • A creative vision for your game
  • An interesting theme

For example, you can ask ChatGPT to generate an idea for a game concept:

Write a game concept for a game that has elements from X and Y with a Z theme.

Which might look like this:

Write a game concept for a game that has elements from chess and first person shooters with a horror theme.

Checkmate game concept

In my case, ChatGPT wrote out a full concept for “Checkmate: The Haunted Battle”, in which players need to strategically navigate through rooms of a haunted castle. The game has two phases: a chess phase and an action phase. By doing well in the chess phase you get an advantage while shooting supernatural beings in the action phase.

Give it a try for yourself! Remember that you can always ask ChatGPT to generate more ideas for you or flesh out what it already wrote. Add constraints to make the results more interesting.

Story and Dialog Generation

Maybe you already have a game, but you need some content characters and their dialog. What would they look like? What are their motivations? With some clever prompting you can quickly generate dozens of characters, each with their own unique personality.

Here’s a simple example to get you started:

Create five interesting characters for a videogame set on a pirate ship. Provide a name, appearance, motivation and catch phrase for each.

two interesting characters

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to generate a bunch of characters from which you can cherry-pick the ones you like most.
To go to the next level, you can ask ChatGPT to generate some dialog between the characters in the same chat:

Generate 4 lines of dialog between Captain Blackbeard and Scarlet Siren. Scarlet asks Blackbeard why he's still wearing those old clothes.

dialog between two characters

I hope that’s enough to give you a rough idea of how powerful ChatGPT alone can be. If you want to try some other AI-powered chatbots, check these out:

They all tend to give different results so pick the one that works best for you.
Alright, enough about chatbots for now, time to delve into creation of art assets!

Creating Digital Art

The ethics of creating digital art using AI is somewhat of a touchy subject, and one that I won’t into here, since my focus is on sharing tools you can use as a game developer. With that said, I think everyone should have a basic understanding of how to create digital art using AI. It’s a great tool in your arsenal and it’s easier than you might think.

Here are some examples of what you can do with image generating AI tools in the context of game development:

  • Create concept art.
  • Generate backgrounds.
  • Whip up beautiful character portraits.
  • Make icons for inventory items.

background, concept art, fantasy, magical, mushrooms, colorful, purple, blue, nature

Stable Diffusion prompt: background, concept art, fantasy, magical, mushrooms, colorful, purple, blue, nature
My personal favorite AI tool for art is Stable Diffusion, which is a deep learning, text-to-image model that you can run locally on your machine if you have the hardware for it. It requires at least 16GB of RAM and a modern NVIDIA or AMD GPU with at least 2GB of VRAM, but I highly recommend at least a GTX 1080Ti or better so you don’t have to wait long to generate your art.

The easiest way to get started with Stable Diffusion is to use the popular Stable Diffusion Web UI by AUTOMATIC1111, which is a free, open-source, web-based tool to create and edit images using Stable Diffusion. I used that application to create all the images in this article to give you an idea of its capabilities.

If you don’t have the hardware to run Stable Diffusion locally, you can use a website like Leonardo.ai to generate your art. After signing up, you’ll receive an email to activate your account. Once activated, you get a generous 150 tokens each day to generate artwork.
Both the Web UI and Leonardo.ai have support for the DreamShaper v7 model, which I highly recommend as a starting point if you want to create art in a realistic or fantasy style.

Another text-to-image tool that’s popular is Midjourney, a Discord bot for which you’ll need a paid subscription. I prefer free tools like the ones mentioned above, but it has lots of users that love it.

All of these tools work the same way: you enter a prompt, then the AI generates one or more images. You can customize the images to your liking, and you can choose an image style like fantasy, sci-fi or a comic book style. With Stable Diffusion, you can even train a model on your own images so it can generate artwork that matches a person or your own art style.

Steampunk eric

Stable Diffusion prompt: eric, steampunk, hat, cogs, metal, bronze, jacket

Using AI to Create Games from Scratch?

At this point you might be wondering if it’s possible to create whole games using AI tools. The answer is yes, kind of. Some tools out there that can create and edit entire codebases, but they’re hard to use and you’ll need an OpenAI developer subscription as they use OpenAI’s API. This means using these tools can quickly cost you a lot of money. If you still want to try it out, here are some suggestions:

Those tools won’t be able to generate art, but you could use them to create simple text-based games like Snake or maybe even a roguelike.
A far better way of going about it is using the tools I described above like ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion and combining the results with your own creativity.

General Tips for Game Development With AI

Now that you have a bag full of tools to play with, I want to share some tips and tricks I found helpful.

game developer. inspired, cyberpunk, 8K

Stable Diffusion prompt: game developer. inspired, cyberpunk, 8K
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to experiment and be creative. See how far you can go with the tools that exist today and learn their limits. At first, you’ll probably won’t get the exact results you were hoping for, but with practice, you’ll get better at prompting.

Speaking of prompting, here’s a great guide on how to get better results when using LLMs by mastering the art of prompt engineering: promptingguide.ai. Prompt engineering is wording your questions in such a way that the AI understands it better and can follow your precise instructions more reliably.

Next, I want to share a workflow I’m using to create a game using AI in Godot. It’s a choose-your-own adventure style game, in which you talk to characters, interact with environments and solve puzzles.

Tavern, text elements and icons

I have a few tricks up my sleeve to make this process easier:

  • I came up with a game structure and asked ChatGPT to write pseudo-code for me.
  • For every scene, I asked ChatGPT to create a name, a description and a list of actions with their outcomes.
  • I cherry-picked a few scenes and created background images for them using Stable Diffusion.
  • For the item icons, I also used Stable Diffusion, with the Game Icon Institute model.
  • To generate the dialogs, I used ChatGPT again and reworded them to my liking.

The whole process is a lot of fun this way. It’s easy to have something to look at and play around with in a matter of minutes. For your own games, you can also hire an artist to redo the art once you’ve completed your vision.

Finally, there’s one more tool I want to share to write code faster and more efficiently: Codeium. Codeium is a free AI extension for Google Chrome, VS Code and some other IDEs. It allows you to create and refactor code in seconds, and you can also use it to ask questions about the whole codebase. I’ve been using it for a few months now and I love it. If you do any coding or scripting, be sure to give it a try.

Where to Go From Here?

If you’re anything like me, you should feel your creative juices flowing after reading about all those exciting AI tools! I recommend that you start out by playing around with web-based tools like ChatGPT and Leonardo.ai first to get a feel for it. After that, you’ll want to check out Stable Diffusion and the OpenAI API.

Keep an eye out for more AI-related articles where I’ll delve deeper into how to use some of the tools and techniques I described here.

Key Takeaways

AI is here to stay, and you should embrace it! Here are some concepts to take to heart from this article:

  • You should take shortcuts wherever you can as a game developer to get to your goal, and AI is like a hidden highway.
  • AI tools can empower almost all aspects of game development without having to give up your own creativity and originality.
  • By knowing more about how AI works, you can bend it to your will with the right techniques.

robot, smile, friendly, cute, AI, code, ui, user interface, matrix

Stable Diffusion prompt: robot, smile, friendly, cute, AI, code, ui, user interface, matrix
Are you using AI to enhance your game development workflow? Are you planning to use any of the tools mentioned? Be sure to share your thoughts in the forum discussion below!

About the Author

Eric is an IT-specialist and a hobbyist game developer, programmer and scripter. He has been creating games and other projects since the early 2000s. Most of his time is spent playfully exploring new and exciting technologies like 3D printing, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

He’s the Game Tech team lead here at Kodeco and leads a group of passionate writers and editors that share his love for game development and cutting edge technology.

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