Replica Studios, developer of a leading artificial intelligence (AI) voice platform for video games, has announced Replica Studios AI Powered Smart NPCs (non-playable characters), a plugin coming to Unreal Engine later this year. Smart NPCs are powered by OpenAI or the user’s own AI language model, and Replica’s library of over 120+ ethically licensed AI voices, allowing game developers to develop games at scale and create new dynamic gaming experiences.
To showcase the revolutionary technology, Replica has released a Smart NPC demo experience utilising a modified version of Unreal Engine’s Matrix Awakens sample project to showcase some of the features that will be available with the plugin. Watch the trailer here.
“At Replica, we believe AI Voice technology has two-fold potential for furthering narrative-heavy games: eliminating critical bottlenecks in the development process, enabling studios to tell ever bigger and immersive stories, and allowing for the creation of never seen before living-world gaming experiences that shape around the player in real-time,” said Shreyas Nivas, CEO of Replica Studios. “Smart NPCs will allow smaller studios who don’t have the resources to script and vocalise on scale to dream big and scale their games 10x or 100x into the epic adventure they’ve always wanted to make.”
In Replica’s Smart NPC Experience, AI-powered NPCs will dynamically respond to the player’s in-game voice in real time. Characters will change their dialogue, emotional tone and body gestures in reaction to how the player speaks to them. Replica Studios’ NPCs now have a broader range of emotions thanks to Replica’s recent Style Morphing update.
Game designers can also alter the information provided to the AI characters to instruct them to behave differently or have certain personalities, or incorporate their own AI language models to suit their project.
“Just as live service games and battle royale have emerged as popular gaming experiences in the last decade, we see AI creating a new category of virtual experiences known for depth of narrative and dynamic storytelling with hundreds of characters, ever expanding quests and stories,” said Nivas. “When teams begin adopting AI to create these new experiences, we will see the role of writers and narrative designers evolve. Rather than writing complete narrative arcs, they’ll create and fine-tune the conditions that power these AI Smart NPCs – game lore, backstories and motivations – to add a human element that will lead to an engaging live player experience.”
When Replica’s Smart NPC plugin launches for Unreal Engine later this year, game developers will be able to integrate Smart NPCs into their own projects to begin scaling up characters in their games. The plugin integrates AI language model smarts along with Replica’s text-to-speech models and animates the characters in real-time by outputting sound phonemes and timelines to match an audio stream, while using a customised blend space for facial animations to power accurate lip sync, and custom animation blueprints to send body gesture messages for NPCs during their listening, thinking and speaking phases. The result is a natural looking and behaving NPC that can surprise and delight players with thoughtful, funny, and provocative responses, depending on their personal contexts as well as the voice input directly captured from players’ microphones.
The demo will initially run as a cloud based solution but is working towards a locally based solution to give a low latency, multi-user concurrent live experience.
“Within the next technology hop we will see AI powered Smart NPC live games and virtual experiences with hundreds of live concurrent players and NPCs all together, with no more latency than a zoom video call that has hundreds of participants,” concluded Nivas.
Access to Replica Studios’ Smart NPC playable demo is available on the official website. To sign up for the Smart NPC beta, please visit the registration page. For more information about Smart NPCs, please read the official blog post.