Korean developers use AI to improve upcoming games

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Korean developers use AI to improve upcoming games


Left: Durango, a MMORPG set to be released next month by Nexon, will use artificial intelligence to “personalize” the content of the game. Right: Lee Kyung-jeon, a professor of digital media management at Kyung Hee University, talks about the application of artificial intelligence in the gaming industry at a forum hosted by Netmarble Games on Tuesday. [NEXON, NETMARBLE GAMES]

Korean game developers are scrambling to find ways to utilize artificial intelligence to improve their newest games and offer a unique user experience.

Netmarble Games, one of Korea’s leading game developers, held a forum on Tuesday for executives and managers to discuss how artificial intelligence could be incorporated into the games currently being developed.

“The gaming industry has achieved development by using [certain forms of] artificial intelligence from long ago,” said Lee Kyung-jeon, a professor of digital media management at Kyung Hee University, at the forum. Lee further explained that the industry still has more potential for growth through implementing artificial intelligence technology further.

Bang Jun-hyuk, the founder and chairman of the board of Netmarble Games, explained that whereas players had no choice but to play games with already-made content in the past, artificially intelligent games will be able to respond to different users differently to create “personalized” content.

“Netmarble’s future depends on developing artificially intelligent games,” said Bang. “For this reason, we will have to expand hiring in the field and aggressively invest.”

The game maker has been developing Columbus since 2014, a service engine that “personalizes” the user experience using big data analysis and artificial intelligence. The system takes various aspects into consideration, including playing patterns and skill, as well as user’s spending preferences, the company claimed. It is yet to be used on a game, although Netmarble said it will soon apply the engine to games that be published in the near future.

Netmarble is not the only publisher that’s considering artificially intelligent games as the future of the industry.

NCSOFT, another leading game maker in Korea, has also been developing artificial intelligence technology since 2012 by establishing its “AI Lab.” Currently, the company runs a research center devoted to artificial intelligence. Kim Taek-jin, the founder of NCSOFT, called artificial intelligence an “innovative technology that will carry the future of NCSOFT.”

NCSOFT has already adopted certain forms of artificial intelligence in its games such as Blade & Soul, an online massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) published in 2012. One feature of the game called Tower of Infinity, for instance, matches a player with AI non-player characters in a battle, enabling the player to fight as if they were playing other human players. When matching players for actual battles, the game uses player data such as their win-loss record and their playing style to find the most suitable opponents.

“We are trying different approaches in the games currently in development by using artificial intelligence,” said a spokesperson of the company. Natural language processing, which focuses on interactions between humans and computers, is another technology that NCSOFT is researching. Increasing computers’ level of language understanding is considered a crucial element in the development of artificial intelligence technology.

Like its rivals, Nexon, the developer of popular online games such as Maplestory and Sudden Attack, is set to launch a game that is operated by artificial intelligence soon.

The game, titled Durango, is an MMORPG set to be launched in October and will contain algorithms that create “nearly unlimited” content in the game. For instance, the island that the game is set on is not created by human developers but by the computer. Players can virtually explore the island and face completely different scenarios than others as the landscape is created spontaneously by the computer. “There will be no set strategy in this game because players will be able to experience a continuously-changing setting,” explained the company spokesperson. “We expect such system may be able to extend the lifespan of the game by individualizing the gaming experience.”

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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