Human actors helped make new video game's AI voices, studio says
Embark Studios' multiplayer shooter The Finals is generating buzz for its sudden popularity and its use of AI for in-game voices.
Driving the news: The game's weeklong free play test has surged on Steam, peaking at nearly 250,000 concurrent players today.
- The Finals, now in beta on PC, Xbox and PlayStation, is the debut project from Embark, a subsidiary of Korean gaming giant Nexon and a team comprised of numerous veterans of EA's Battlefield franchise.
The intrigue: The game has been praised for its fast-based combat and for the ability to blow up parts of the levels realistically as you play.
- But its use of AI voice acting for lines shouted midmatch by in-game announcers has drawn heat. Forbes' Paul Tassi, who enjoyed the game, said it sounded bad: "The cadence is off. There's weird breathing sometimes. It's just not good compared to the quality of the actual gameplay."
- Throughout the year, professional voice actors have sounded alarms over the threat that AI could take their jobs, and those represented by SAG-AFTRA have made the issue central to talks over a new union contract (and a potential strike).
What they're saying: The Finals uses a mix of human-acted voicework and AI-generated text-to-speech (TTS) conversion, Embark's communications director Sven Grundberg tells Axios.
- Real actors, recording their lines in the traditional way, allows "chemistry and conflict" and "adds depth to our game worlds that technology can't emulate," he says.
- "Other times, especially when it relates to contextual in-game action call-outs, TTS allows us to have tailored VO where we otherwise wouldn't e.g. due to speed of implementation."
- Both approaches use people, he says. Voices generated by AI for the Finals, Grunberg noted, are "based on a mix of professional voice actors and temp voices from Embark employees."
- "Making games without actors isn't an end goal for Embark," says Grunberg.
- "TTS technology has introduced new ways for us to work together."
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