AI Art for Games - You should be using AI art NOW!
MidJourney: the birth of the internet, cats
“Man is an individual only because of his intangible memory. But memory cannot be defined, yet it defines mankind.”
- Puppet Master, Ghost in the Shell
If you asked me about the birth of the internet, I picture computer labs filled with college students playing games & asking search engines questions. Back then, we did not realize the search engine would become the default gateway to the collective sum of human experience. What we know/feel is online; the relevance of such is dictated by a collective of competing & evolving algorithms. I get an eerie sense of deja vu when I ask DALL-E2, Stable Diffusion, or MidJourney what it sees when I ask: “My cat in a pumpkin costume.” It feels like the beginning all over again.
NightCafe: my cat in a pumpkin costume
What would you do if you were there at the birth of the internet? I made a living during the “.com era”, but should I have done more? My hubris isn’t such that I think I deserve to steal the accomplishments of others via temporal hijinks (that’s why I don’t own a hot tub). More so, how would I enjoy the early days before everything was monetized & before we taught the machine that encouraging disagreement/conflict increases engagement/ad revenue?
To this end, I have some suggestions for gamers and creatives on how to enjoy these pioneer moments before corporate greed corrupts our invention. Have fun, spread joy & wonder.
“It’s not like I had aspirations to be a hero or anything. However, I’m positive we followed a code of justice that all of us believed in without condition or compromise.”
– Togusa, Ghost in the Shell
The AI Art engines are funny & awkward. Like newborn puppies or kittens, their mistakes are endearing, strange and only really comprehensible in this moment. Enjoy the crazy and take notes; these quirky-cute times won’t come again. Go create an account on NightCafe and reward yourself daily by collecting your free allotment of image generation time. Even if you don’t use it today, you’ll have it for later.
Early adopters of technology are the ones who discover opportunities first & build the momentum of how things develop. If you’re playing/running an RPG, try to get the AI to render depictions of the events, landscapes, sets and characters. Not only is this exercise a great way to kill time and get a feel for using them, but it creates artifacts and conversation points for your players – the right kind of engagement.
MidJourney: birth of the internet
“All things change in a dynamic environment. Your effort to remain what you are is what limits you.”
– Puppet Master, Ghost in the Shell
Using AI art for game prototypes is a business practical application. Help your playtesters & artists by concretely communicating the vision and promise of your game eliminating distraction, promoting accessibility and hopefully, making everyone’s time more efficient. The AI Art skill you’re hoping to acquire is getting individual pieces to look like they belong together while being wholly distinct from each other. The communication skill you’re hoping to acquire is how to make this a starting line for your creatives.
If you’re able to get the machine or the machine plus some photo editing to create something consistent & cohesive, you’ll be able to use those assets in something like a sell sheet for your game design. Understanding how others will be using this new tool in competitive environments, will help you stay ahead of the game.
Finished marketing pieces or publishing objects like an RPG zine where the impact is weighed against the cost, are a perfect fit for AI Art. Both of these are more meaningful when the images created are presented as a set.
MidJourney: cyber-brain generating its own ghost, ethereal
“What if a cyber brain could possibly generate its own ghost, and create a soul all by itself? And if it did, just what would be the importance of being human then?”
– Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell
Other than having fun, the ultimate goal is inspiration & communication. Time spent with this technology might be time spent on your future - learning some skills in art direction and marketing. The sociological benefit comes from how the technology develops in response to our use and requirements. So encourage gamers & creatives to embrace this tool so that it might be used for laughter longer.