Podcast #216: Algorithmic AI Art in RPGs

This week, Peter and Jessica talk about algorithmic “AI” generated art in RPGs. In the news, One D&D playtest larger than D&D Next, Fandom sells Cortex RPG to Dire Wolf Digital, new miniatures from WizKids, Sideshow Collectibles Tiamat statue, controversy with Spelljammer, and more! Plus a brand new sketch about the horror of getting a player to try another system.

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More People Test One D&D Origins Playtest Than D&D Next More People Test One D&D Origins Playtest Than D&D Next

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Peter’s upcoming Kickstarter for One if by Land, Two if by Sea, Three if by Air https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/homebrewandhacking/one-if-by-land-two-if-by-sea-three-if-by-air

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Graveyard of the Gods for D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2e on Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matthewjhanson/graveyard-of-the-gods

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Algorithmic Art and RPGs

Kotaku “AI Creating ‘Art’ Is An Ethical And Copyright Nightmare” AI Creating 'Art' Is An Ethical And Copyright Nightmare

OneBookShelf/DriveThruRPG policy on “Third-Party Tool and AI-Generated Images” https://onebookshelfpublisherservic...ticles/227866467-Product-Standards-Guidelines

Into the Odd by Chris McDowall and graphic design by Johan Nohr Fria Ligan | Into the Odd

Note: The image for this week's episode was an algorithmically generated art piece which "won" an art competition https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/technology/ai-artificial-intelligence-artists.html

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Hosts: Russ “Morrus” Morrissey, Peter Coffey, and Jessica Hancock

Editing and post-production: Darryl Mott

Theme Song: Steve Arnott

Malach the Maleficent played by Darren Morrissey

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

Von Ether

Legend
I've begun to realize why the AI art seems familiar to me. Most people are picking the style of what I would call "bread and butter" rpg art. A style where, while it looks pleasing, is done with the savvy use of shapes and colors to lend an somewhat abstract impression of what a subject is but lacks detail. e.g. Something one can produce quickly enough to please a client and yet pay the rent on time. The above example has everyone robes and looking away from the viewer and at a distance that implies lack of detail.

If you zoom in on the space beyond the portal, it looks like a Bob Ross painting that's missing trees.

I'm not saying that's a bad style, but I can see how an AI could pick up on that style faster than something much more detailed where the human eye has more landmarks to judge accuracy by.
 

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TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
And when there's no one left to make any new art, where is the algorithm going to turn? How exactly is the algorithm going to evolve art when it's not even creating art in the first place but remixing the art of others?
There's always going to people making new art. People create things all the time because they find the creative act enjoyable in and of itself, not because they're looking to turn it into an occupation.

Believe me, once the Singularity comes and the robots take care of everything, EVERYONE is going to be putting stuff on Etsy. :)

Until the robots go rogue and kill us all, of course.
 

Mallus

Legend
I my initial reaction to this, and to my own monkeying around with DALL-E is these tools are powerful. They have an uncanny ability to create 1970s prog rock album covers. Also 1970s sci-fi paperback covers that have no relationship at all to the novel inside. This does raise of the question of these machine learning models upbringing. Just what were they trained on??

Seriously, I do think these tools will have an impact on any business where the need for art assets are high and the art budgets are low. Small RPG studios/designers are a perfect example. I imagine many will turn to things like Midjourney for their product artwork. To the detriment of the artists currently providing their services.
 

Pentallion

Explorer
Except that there will be no new art.

Algorithms cannot create, they can only emulate. All this "art" isn't made by GLADoS and Wintermute sitting at easels, it's made by taking a database full of art made by human artists (in most cases without their permission or even their knowledge), metatagged and indexed, then remixed upon command based on the keywords entered.

The problem comes when this art is used to replace human artists. It's not going to affect big-name artists, sure, but every recent art school graduate and aspiring freelancer out there who makes their living on small commissions for corporate art, advertising, and yes, tabletop gaming will suddenly see their income dry up. Meaning they won't be able to afford to make any new art.

And when there's no one left to make any new art, where is the algorithm going to turn? How exactly is the algorithm going to evolve art when it's not even creating art in the first place but remixing the art of others?

Get a robot to spot weld or a machine to make espressos with a button push or an RFID scanner that automatically totals your purchase and bills your credit card as you leave the store and you're still going to have those services existing because they don't need to be created or evolved. Art does. And automation is only going to lead to stagnation.

And yes, I'm specifically avoiding the moral question of how do people make a living in a world where all jobs are automated because that's outside the scope of a tabletop gaming forum.
A famous artist once sang "There's nothing you can sing that's not been sung."
 


Art Waring

halozix.com
There's always going to people making new art. People create things all the time because they find the creative act enjoyable in and of itself, not because they're looking to turn it into an occupation.
Right now in real life artists are facing a real unspoken crisis: Digital raiding of art has never been more prevalent. Were not even talking AI's or digital tools, were are talking about other people.

NFT's: thousands of artists are dealing with this problem right now. Individuals are stealing their art that exists online, minting NFT's from art they never produced and never owned to sell for profit. Despite the fact that its illegal, many artists are unaware their art has been stolen, and those that are aware must go through the process of reporting across multiple platforms to try and protect their work, often with difficulty.

This is just one aspect of digital theft of art in the real world right now. This is a serious problem, I know thus because I work with other artists across the globe all the time, and the pool of available artists that I can now contact is shrinking by the day.

At the moment, the pool of available professional artists on portfolio platforms like Artstation is dropping. Deviantart is almost a lost cause at this point, theft of art there is so common its pretty much abandoned by most professional artists I know.

AI art tools "learn" by scraping from preexisting art, created by living artists, and it is done without their consent. These artist are feeling burnt, and some are quitting their passion, rather than waiting to see it stolen from under them.

If professional artists are pulling their work from online platforms right now (and they most certainly are), then they are already being impacted by these practices. For those that work with artists regularly, we are already seeing an impact on the industry.

If I am having a hard finding an artist right now, how hard will it be to find professional artists when artists see absolutely zero incentive to continue creating art that is literally scraped by an AI seconds after posting.
 

Pentallion

Explorer
AI art tools "learn" by scraping from preexisting art, created by living artists, and it is done without their consent. These artist are feeling burnt, and some are quitting their passion, rather than waiting to see it stolen from under them.
I think another person on another website responded to this allegation better than I ever could.

This is absolutely not true. In any training model outside the tiny experimental scale, the final model will always be much smaller than the training corpus. For example, the img2dataset corpus is 240TB; LAION-5B is a similar order of magnitude. By comparison, the Stable Diffusion model is a relatively tiny 4GB; DALL-E 2 is about 14GB. It's impossible to reproduce any of the original images from the model, for the same reason you can't recover a file from its SHA hash. In fact, come to think of it, that's a good analogy - arguing that the owners of the original images have any copyright claim over the model or its products is like arguing that they have a claim on the hash values of the image files.
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
I think another person on another website responded to this allegation better than I ever could.
And the post following that one has a link to twitter stating the exact opposite, that ai tools are still producing 1-1 reproductions of copyrighted art based on simple prompts, which is a problem. Put an artists name in the prompts and see what happens.

But really, this is one single aspect of the problems facing artists online right now. I stated several points in my last post, so I guess I must reiterate:

If professional artists are pulling their work from online platforms right now (and they most certainly are), then they are already being impacted by these practices. For those that work with artists regularly, we are already seeing an impact on the industry.

If I am having a hard finding an artist right now, how hard will it be to find professional artists when artists see absolutely zero incentive to continue creating art?
 

Pentallion

Explorer
Idk, I dug into that Twitter pick. Bloodrayne? The artist literally was typing in the words Bloodrayne trying to get a picture that matched.
I bet if I asked a bunch of artists to draw me Conan it'd look like Conan.
That's no different than what that guy was doing just so this type of argument could be made.
It's intellectually dishonest and manipulative.
And I don't have problems finding artists. Not sure why you do
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
If you want to make a point, that's fine, but calling out working artists saying "its intellectually dishonest and manipulative" is an attack on working artists.

Working artists deserve to make a living.

At this point, it sounds like you are just trying to win an argument, proof being that you didn't respond directly to my post, so I had no way of responding in a timely manner to defend my position on the matter.

Edit: Let is be said at this point that I have no wish to continue an argument in this thread. This is a thread for a content creators podcast and I want to respect the thread creator by not getting into these kind of debates here.

-> If you look at my posting history, you can see that a vast majority of my posts are trying to offer helpful advice to folks on the forums, or talking about movies and music.

I am always striving to have a productive, honest, and respectful conversation with other hobby enthusiasts. I am not looking to waste my time on back and forth arguments.
 
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