In an effort to liven up the metaverse, Ethereum-based Decentraland is partnering with AI startup Inworld to incorporate AI-powered non-player characters (NPCs) into its platform. This innovative move aims to add a rich layer of interactivity and narrative depth to the gaming experience.
NPCs with distinct personalities
Within Decentraland, three distinct NPCs have already made their debut at the Genesis Plaza. Simone the Robot offers insights on the metaverse, the meme-driven Doge entertains with its playful demeanor, and Aisha, a 23-year-old gaming streamer and former skater, boasts a full backstory and perspective.
Beyond these three, creators are empowered to craft their own NPC personalities. Inworld, which recently secured $50 million in funding at a $500 million valuation, facilitates the design of NPCs complete with backstories, motivations, and contextual information. “It’s ChatGPT on steroids,” Jardi noted, highlighting the extensive customization available, from voice to dialogue style.
Bringing new levels of immersion to Decentraland
So, why the AI focus? Jardi stressed that AI creates a “more immersive experience” for players. For instance, art galleries within Decentraland can feature NPCs versed in art history, providing in-depth explanations about specific artworks. This advanced level of interactivity, Jardi asserted, is “much more compelling” and offers a richer, more nuanced form of communication.
Additionally, these AI-driven characters can converse in multiple languages, addressing the predominantly English-centric experience in Decentraland. Jardi believes this offers the potential for “personalized localized experiences.”
The integration of AI isn’t limited to the game’s external facade. Internally, the Decentraland Foundation harnesses OpenAI’s ChatGPT for summarizing extensive development documents, ensuring the team maintains a holistic view. They also employ generative AI for concept art, audio, animation, and potentially for content generation like 3D models.
However, despite AI’s potential, Jardi voiced concerns about the tool’s capacity to produce lackluster or unoriginal content, particularly given criticisms labeling generative AI as “plagiarism machines.” Addressing AI’s societal implications, Jardi emphasized, “I see it replacing some tasks, but not people.”
Investing in AI development
In a strategic partnership with Hanson Robotics, Decentraland has also introduced SophiaVerse, a gamified world tailored to educate players on AI. Moreover, come October, Decentraland will host the AI World Fair, an event featuring AI experts and showcasing novel AI capabilities within the game.
Highlighting the importance of bridging the knowledge gap, Jardi drew parallels between the democratization of video creation and AI’s potential to simplify content creation:
“AI empowers creators, (…) It has the power to shift society. Our approach is to push the boundaries of what’s possible, and inspire our creators to do the same.”