AI artificial intelligence Grand Theft Auto V playstation

AI Plays Grand Theft Auto Then Creates New Scenes By Itself. Is Game Design Dead?

3 min read

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Grand Theft Auto: Artificial intelligence (AI): Is it taking our jobs? Or is it allowing us to do so much more, and faster? It is a good question when it comes to game development, especially with Grand Theft Auto V as the guinea pig.

Some developer boffins have taught AI to play the hugely popular game. And not only that, the AI is learning how to create totally new scenes from scratch. This means that eventually, game developers can use AI to “speak new games into reality.” While the developers aren’t there yet, they are close.

Choosing to use Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a big deal. The popular action-adventure video game series was first released in 1997 and has remained a huge money spinner for parent company Rockstar Games.

The action is set in fictional cities and allows players to act out criminal fantasies such as car theft, bank robbery, and murder. It is easily one of the most influential video game franchises of all time. 175 million games have been sold globally, so this is big business.

AI and Grand Theft Auto

While you may have heard of GTA, you may not have heard of the AI learning to play it on its own. The two tech enthusiasts behind this idea, Harrison Kinsley and Daniel Kukieła, have posted a video showing how they’ve used AI to recreate a portion of GTA V within the AI’s mind.

The AI has learned the behaviour of a car on the road and how it interacts with its surroundings, all without any input from humans.

Kinsley says, “This neural network was trained by watching a bot play Grand Theft Auto Five on this particular stretch of highway. It learned how to generate new frames from previous frames and player input.”

How the AI-created version of GTA looks.

They did this with something called a ‘Generative Adversarial Network’ or GAN. And of course, they called their experiment ‘Gan Theft Auto.’

GameGAN is made up of two parts, a generator and a discriminator. The generator is trained to make fake things that look real, like pictures of people that aren’t real. The discriminator makes sure the generator isn’t making things that are too silly.

After the two boffins showed GameGan how to use the game, GameGAN learned how to make the game all by itself.

AI version of Grand Theft Auto

The AI-generated game is far from perfect. For example, sometimes when two cars crash into each other, GameGAN doesn’t know what to do.

Kinsley says, “The GAN handled a collision with a police car by simply splitting the police car into two. For the most part, the model is clearly confused and fuzzy with what to do with cars and often just simply disappears them. But there were examples where we could interact with other cars somewhat correctly.”

The AI does get some things right. Kinsley says, “Sun reflections on the windows and general lighting of the area where the sun is — you can actually see the sunlight hitting the matte finish on the car, and it moves as the car moves. That is just so cool. And along these lines, the shadow works too. As you travel along the road, the backgrounds (like the mountains) are coming closer to you just at the correct pace.”  

These are the kind of impressive concepts that gamers expect. “The fact that a neural network model is doing this and doing it pretty accurately is I think pretty impressive. I would not expect that to be modelled at all but it was, and it just really blew me away.”

AI doing unexpected things does however strike fear into most of us. And it should.

AI-Generated Games and the Future

While the AI-generated experiment is not exactly a full-fledged game, it is still an impressive feat of technology. It certainly opens up new possibilities for game development in the future. The potential applications of AI in game design could be huge and lead to even more advanced games in the future.

The possibilities of using this technology to create photorealistic game experiences are endless.

Says Kinsley, “Someday we’ll be able to speak entire worlds into existence. There’s no reason that we won’t have a future where many game engines are entirely or even mostly based on this.”

The question to ask is, do we want AI will learn to think like Trevor from GTA 5?