This past week, EA’s Patrick Söderlund announced the creation of the new SEED division – but failed to explain what that meant and what SEED would be other than a research division and mentions of neural network. Thankfully, we might have gotten a hint at what SEED is from a Glixel interview with EA CEO Andrew Wilson.
During a conversation about how EA’s games have begun having effects on the real world, Wilson claimed that talent scouts from the NFL and Premier League have used their games as scouting tools. Not content with that, Wilson took the conversation even further down the rabbit hole.
“What we know about neural networks and machine learning these days is that you can feed [a computer] every poem that Emily Dickinson has every written, then give it a subject, and it will write you an Emily Dickinson-esque poem that to a layman like me is indiscernible from the real thing,”
After stating that the same thing can be done with Monet paintings, Wilson took the next step, positing that if you fed a neural network every war story ever written, could that network then produce a unique Battlefield experience every time it was asked to? Wilson certainly thinks so, and he reckons that EA’s development teams will manage to implement such systems into their games within the next five years.
Wilson even thinks that such systems could be used to generate scenarios and stories within existing franchise universes:
“We see a world where in some universes – in a Bioware universe, for example – you give the environment a rule set. That might be physics, biology, chemistry and every story told in there would be relevant to that rule set. The same would be true for Star Wars. You give it the rule set and then you would let people tell amazing Star Wars fantasies. When I watched the Star Wars movies growing up, I would wonder what Han Solo does when he’s not doing this. How many times has he smuggled crazy shit across the universe? What do you think that crazy shit is? In this future, those stories could get told.”
While SEED was never explicitly mentioned in the interview, GamesIndustry.biz seem to believe that SEED is at least going to be involved in this development – and based on what little Söderlund said at E3, that may be a safe bet.
Poetry and paintings are one thing – games are another thing entirely. It’s an ambitious project for sure, and while we’ve seen procedural generation and the like being used for various projects over the years, it’ll be the first time we’ve seen a company of EA’s size try and tackle what is rapidly becoming the Holy Grail of gaming. Just don’t mention SkyNet.