Companies and developers focused this week on showcasing their latest games and hardware for the upcoming year at E3 2017. However, developer Electronic Arts wants to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to plan out its longer-term future.
At a press event Saturday, EA unveiled an internal group dubbed SEED, which is short for its Search For Extraordinary Experiences Division. While details on the new division’s goals were initially scant, EA CEO Andrew Wilson highlighted the company’s ambitious goals for the group in an interview with Glixel.
Wilson said EA’s recent push to make its Frostbite engine the core of its major franchises allowed the studio to start thinking more broadly about what it can do technologically with games. While the game engine was initially the central part of the Battlefield franchise, it’s since moved into games like the current Star Wars: Battlefront series and the upcoming Madden 18.
“When you have a digital platform and you have constant connection with every player in the network, once you have an engine that can push content to every device you have now or in the future, once you have the best creative minds on the planet building new and interesting designs that can manifest in that world — then you start to ask ‘well, what else is there?’ ” Wilson told Glixel.
When it comes to AI and machine learning, Wilson said the studio doesn’t want simply to use the technology to iterate and refine what it’s already doing with game development. Instead, EA hopes AI can be used to change fundamentally how players interact with their games. Wilson used the example of machine learning applications that could process works of art like a poem or painting dynamically and wants similar technology powering future EA games.
“We’ve got the platform, we’ve got the engine, we’ve got creative talent thinking about how to build and design in this world of discrete and indiscrete engagement,” Wilson told Glixel. “So how do we use technology to empower a global population of players to enjoy and experience things that are unique and customized and personal to them on a moment to moment basis?”
While EA’s research into AI and machine learning is still in its infancy, the studio hopes to be on the forefront of where it feels game development is headed this console generation cycle. And as futuristic as the idea of AI in game development sounds, it’s potentially not as far off as it seems. Especially with the shift in game development from standalone titles to persistent live service games like Destiny and BioWare’s upcoming Anthem, AI could be a potential component for generating experiences in these open-world titles.