Gilad Talmon is CEO of YOOM, a deep tech company that pioneers advanced AI 3D reconstruction technology.
This is part one of a series around the advancements and development of character creation in the gaming industry.
In today’s digital era, the demand for visually stunning and immersive experiences has soared to unprecedented levels. Game studios, virtual production studios and other content creators are continually pushing the boundaries, seeking to captivate their audiences like never before, and AI is at the forefront of this evolution.
One area that has witnessed remarkable advancements is 3-D character creation technology, which harnesses the immense power of AI to provide 3-D artists with sophisticated automation software and tools, enabling them to create lifelike and customizable characters that enhance storytelling and gameplay experiences. In this article, we will explore the benefits and challenges of 3-D character creation technology and how it can help companies elevate their production capabilities—as long as there is proper consideration of the risks.
Increased Efficiency And Cost Savings
Historically, the process of creating 3-D characters has required time-consuming workflows, costly hardware requirements and skilled artists with advanced technical expertise. Even today, rising production costs in a shaky economy have contributed to massive waves of layoffs in many tech and gaming companies.
However, thanks to recent advancements, studios can now streamline their processes and significantly reduce costs. In fact, our company is also working on a generative AI feature to leverage procedural generation techniques that will automate and streamline the character creation process (similar to what Midjourney unlocked for still imagery generation). By utilizing these tools, studios can then prioritize other critical aspects of game development or virtual production, ultimately enhancing efficiency and lowering costs.
Unparalleled Character Customization
One key aspect that sets AI-powered character creation technology apart is the near-instant and unparalleled customization options, which open up endless character possibilities with unique features, adaptable appearances and customizable attributes. Traditional avatars often don’t give a strong sense of realism, curtailing the immersion of the experience. Now, studios can create characters that seamlessly align with specific storylines, target audiences or branding requirements, enhancing the overall experience with more engaging storytelling, authentic characters and personal connections with players.
Marketability And Monetization
Relatedly, incorporating 3-D character creation technology has a significant impact on marketability and monetization potential. With unique and visually appealing characters attracting a wider audience, brand recognition and player engagement increases.
Furthermore, studios can monetize these characters through various avenues, such as selling in-game character customizations, licensing merchandise or even featuring them in spin-off content or franchises. This lucrative market of character-driven experiences has proven to be a game-changer for many studios—just look at 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11, where the developers brought in Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator.
Enhanced Visual Appeal
The most apparent advantage of incorporating 3-D character creation technology is the enhanced visual appeal it brings. Tools like YOOMAN, Unreal, Metahuman, Unity AI and Nvidia all help create life-like virtual characters using techniques including photogrammetry, facial scanning and real-time rendering. With high-definition graphics, lifelike movements and detailed textures, these characters breathe life into the virtual worlds they inhabit, creating an unmatched sense of realism and immersing users in an unparalleled experience.
Look no further than Nvidia’s realistic-looking NPC unveiled at Computex 2023, which was infused with an AI chatbot that could hold a unique dialogue with a user, for a sign of where the tech is heading.
Collaboration And Interconnectivity
3-D character creation also has a significant impact on interconnectivity, facilitating collaboration between various stakeholders and external partners. For example, our company has used technology to work with a wide range of partners, including the NHL’s L.A. Kings and DJ Paul Oakenfold, fostering a cooperative work environment and expediting the delivery of high-quality content to market, giving studios a competitive edge. This will be especially impactful for smaller studios that have more challenging constraints compared to larger development studios.
While this technology has undeniably revolutionized the creation process, there are still several risks and challenges to consider.
The ethical implications of certain advanced technologies are being discussed at length within the industry. Deepfakes, for example, are used to spread disinformation and fake news or even for cyberbullying and harassment. Not only does this threaten people’s privacy and reputations, but it can lead to a significant decrease in overall trust in media, which is already dangerously low. While creative and gaming studios are regulated within commercial agreements on IP ownership, ensuring responsible and ethical use will be crucial as this tech continues to advance.
To create accurate digital character replicas, vast amounts of personal data and images of real people are needed, risking potential misuse or unauthorized collection, not to mention the dangers of a potential hack. Therefore, appropriate safeguards for privacy and security will be critical. Our company currently works within high data security standards to ensure the proper protections are in place.
Debates are already ongoing over AI and what rights creators and artists can expect over their own work (look no further than the ongoing Hollywood strikes). These legal disputes can spill over to utilizing character creation tech if copyrighted characters from popular movies or video games are replicated without proper authorization. Clear guidelines and regulations must be established to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights and prevent copyright infringement.
As with any new technology, there are risks and challenges that must be carefully navigated, but overall, 3-D character creation tech offers many advantages. Studios can use it to propel their ventures to new heights and reach even wider audiences, captivating them with life-like and customizable characters but also paving the way for increased brand recognition, player engagement and monetization opportunities. Creative and gaming studios will need to adjust workflows and staff will need to develop more generalist skills, but despite the challenges, there is no doubt that embracing the future of 3-D character creation is crucial for thriving in today’s competitive landscape.