RPG Evolution - The AI GM: Your Somewhat Unreliable Familiar

AI creates a lot of opportunities for gamers, but it has some serious flaws too.

Artificial Intelligence creates a lot of opportunities for game designers and game masters, but it has some serious flaws too.

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Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

The Basics​

One of the most popular text AIs is ChatGPT, but there are many others, particularly in the art space, like Dream.

What is commonly termed "artificial intelligence" isn't quite what is portrayed in science fiction as a thinking robot. Rather, today's AI is more a hive mind, the collective output of humanity from decades of using the Internet. AI is trained to cull this data into something human readable, be it graphics or text, in a way that feels natural. This makes AI very appealing to use and problematic to source.

Because AI is trained on data sets, the potential responses are not known even to the creators. Essentially, while companies can create AI, few can explain how they come to their conclusions because the systems aren't made to share how they work. That's of course part of their competitive advantage, as the AI race has kicked off to produce something everyone on the Internet comes to rely on.

When it comes to creating something creatively, AI can be a wonderful thought starter. It can create art uniquely to match your requirements that might not be available elsewhere; it can write an article about any esoteric topic; it can essentially try its best to do exactly what you ask it to do. But the execution is rarely perfect.

The Problems​

AI has to be trained. That is, it considers all outcomes equally valid until someone tells it otherwise. AI exposed to the Internet have quickly reverted to the Internet's worst instincts, as AI developers have yet to implement guardrails on how the tools should work. Or to put it another way, like all of Internet searches, if you put garbage in, it spits garbage out.

The problem with AI then is that it conceals how it comes to conclusions about content that wasn't reviewed by a human, may not be appropriate to the topic or audience, or otherwise is irrelevant. AI developers who use large swaths of the Internet for their data sets are taking a gamble that there will be more positive than negative outcomes.

Using AI in Games​

The possibilities of using AI to assist in tabletop gaming and publishing is enormous, but they come with some important caveats.

For one, AI is by definition using everyone else's work. This means the quality it produces can be average; in extreme cases, it can potentially violate intellectual property and copyright by copying someone else's work without modifying it enough to make it unique. This is one of the many reasons major publishers are prohibiting AI art and why DriveThruRPG has separate tags to identify when AI art has been used in a product.

Using AI also means giving up control. While some AI can be trained, the free ones are wild beasts that can only be guided in a general direction. Worse, ChatGPT creates content with 100% confidence, which can fool users into thinking their content is accurate or unique when they have no clarity on its source. I've used ChatGPT to create stat blocks and calculate challenge ratings, and it's been flat out wrong on more than one occasion.

Finally, AI takes a lot longer than the outputs you see. My personal experience is that working with free AI tools takes between 10 to 20 attempts (with art), and 3 to 5 attempts (with text) to get something useable. With art, this often means weird fingers or the wrong number of arms and legs. Even when AI gets gets close to what we want, it usually needs to be heavily edited to get it right.

Ready or Not, Here AI Comes​

Whether or not we're ready for it, the AI revolution is here. If we can use it responsibly, there is tremendous upside, but that requires training humans to use the tools responsibly too. In the upcoming series of articles, we'll discuss how game masters and publishers can use AI in creating art, text, and even game design.
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

GungHo

Explorer
Epic
Not to mention that a few of the art AIs were trained by scraping the internet and using artists' work without consent.

A lot of these AIs would probably not be as good as they are if artists had a chance to opt out from having their work being used by AI.
They're opting out now by not posting their work anywhere, unfortunately. I can't blame them. The larger digital art repos have done nothing to block or meter the very obvious traffic from the scraping engines. Some folks are pulling down their stuff. Some are salting their stuff with hideous watermarks. Some have simply given up and rightly concluded "well, all that's been stolen and archived, so why bother taking action now, but nothing else goes up."
 

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WageMage

Old School!
They're opting out now by not posting their work anywhere, unfortunately. I can't blame them. The larger digital art repos have done nothing to block or meter the very obvious traffic from the scraping engines. Some folks are pulling down their stuff. Some are salting their stuff with hideous watermarks. Some have simply given up and rightly concluded "well, all that's been stolen and archived, so why bother taking action now, but nothing else goes up."
This is one of the most upsetting things to come about in regards to AI art. So many of my favorite artists work is disappearing.

In some cases, there's no way to support them...as they have no product to sell. They were just sharing what they were working on...
 

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