Xbox has partnered with gaming AI startup Inworld to build more lifelike NPCs using generative AI. The partnership will involve the creation of a new toolkit to help game developers create more diverse and expansive AI personalities for in-game NPCs.
According to a blog post by Inworld, the company plans to build two tools with Xbox: an AI design co-pilot that will build detailed scripts, dialogue trees, and quests for game developers, and a new AI character runtime engine that can be integrated directly into the game client (allowing NPCs to have dynamically-generated stories, quests, and dialogue).
The goal is to make future NPCs more lifelike — with highly dynamic, in-depth personalities that will adapt to players’ game choices in real time, providing players “with a sense of agency and engagement.” Inworld believes AI is the next step toward a more immersive gaming experience.
The company recently published a study that said 99% of gamers think that advanced AI NPCs will improve gameplay — as 84% of gamers feel that NPCs make a “substantial difference” to gameplay. According to the study, which surveyed 1,002 U.S.-based gamers and was funded by Inworld, 81% of gamers would be willing to pay more for improved, advanced AI NPCs.
The Xbox-Inworld partnership will allow Inworld access to both Microsoft’s expertise in generative AI — including its cloud-based AI solutions, such as Azure OpenAI and Bing Chat — as well as its gaming development experience on the Xbox side. This should speed up Inworld’s development process, enabling it to create more polished generative AI tools that game devs will be able to use in the future for both general development and these new advanced AI NPCs.
If Inworld’s ambitions come to fruition with this new partnership, this might be the end of NPCs as we know them — in the future, we may have complex, unpredictable NPCs with the aid of generative AI. (But also, maybe there’s something to be said for a well-written, planned-out script — the NPCs in Baldur’s Gate 3 certainly feel adaptive and lifelike, after all.)