The game development studio Lost Lore has shared with us some tips for using AI in making art for mobile games.
Hi! My name is Eugene Kitkin and I am the founder of game development studio Lost Lore. Over the last few months, we have witnessed an undeniable revolution in the GameDev industry.
Seemingly suddenly (but not really), AI learned to create high-quality visual art that can help any game development studio by dramatically reducing costs and speeding up iterations. Now, game designers can do their jobs faster, more easily and with a higher quality. That is, if they are willing to adapt to the new reality and become the pioneers of using AI to their benefit.
With that in mind, I decided to take a risk and give Vlad Martyniuk (Art Director, UI/UX & Senior Graphic Designer) a 3-week assignment for Research & Development of AI use in mobile games with our flagship project Bearverse game (bearverse.com) as an example.
Looking ahead, I’ll say that the risk paid off in a big way! Now Vlad, and Lost Lore Studio, are among the first adopters of the AI assisted mobile game development, who managed to significantly reduce time and money spent on creating visual design of our games.
Let’s take a look at Bearverse art, created in collaboration (sic!) with AI.
How does it work?
AI heavily depends on the prompts you give, and precise prompting is swiftly becoming an art of its own. Certain keywords can be used to describe a style, particular artist, era, or artistic movement (Baroque, Neoclassicism, Middle Ages). It all comes from the imagination of the prompter. You can specify the parameters further if, for example, you need a green background, a blue shade on the hand, and so on.
Let’s see what Midjourney offers us once we prompt “character design biomechanical smile”. Just for fun.
This is the simplest example. Let’s say that you like the 4th option. Then you can press v4 and develop it further by getting more options for the same thing.
But now, we are interested in bears. Bearverse has bear characters of different clans and classes with their own unique styles. So, we uploaded the bears we had as references and added a detailed prompt, specifying that we want a game character in a particular pose, not a portrait, or a scenery.
The prompt went something like “evil Grizzly bear in action wearing iron steel body armor skull ornament, dynamic attack pose, ancient helmet and gas mask, in post apocalyptic style…”. Also added are colors, items that the bear holds, the background, desired digitalization, and clear reflections.
Each bear received its own prompt, as specific as possible. And yes, it took some time to get the hang of the art of prompting. These are the results we got:
Were these bears perfect? Of course, not. AI art requires a post-production stage. Luckily, when your team has an experienced Senior Graphic Designer, such post-production is a piece of cake. Vlad fixed artifacts, tweaked important details, and added snow, shadows, etc. Among the required design fixes were weapons, eyes, and paws (AI always struggles with hands). So, all final designs were reworked and “approved” by a skilled human. But it doesn’t take away the AI’s help, not in the slightest.
Also, you can study the prompts of others to refine your own. The prompt for this tent was inspired by the description of other AI art. Once again, we uploaded our own Lost Lore Studio concept design as a basis — it was an isometric 3d render from different angles, so the AI could learn how it looks. “Biomechanics style post-apocalypse” and a lot more details later, the AI showed us different versions of the tent. But it didn’t fully work out, so Vlad had to finish the job.
Another point of the utmost importance for any mobile game development studio: you can feed AI prompts to generate the gaming location concepts. Keep in mind that level design is one of the most expensive parts in GameDev. 2d concepts require several highly experienced professionals, and even then concept artists take 1-2 weeks to create one location in 2d. With the use of AI, one skilled designer will most likely do it in one day.
Yes, AI won’t be able to produce an actual final map that you will use in the game. But it will give you the design of objects, style, and contents — and these are very important parts. Especially in brawlers, where there is no interaction with locations.
As mentioned above, AI can be of real use for improving efficiency of illustrators and designers. In terms of time, the correct use of technology can allow you x10 optimization of mobile game development processes. In Lost Lore Studio (lost-lore.com) we are fully intent on utilizing AI to develop our own titles as well as produce visual art for projects that we develop on the outsource.
Just one person who is skilled at prompting the AI can produce images of items, inventory, icons, and other elements. Bearverse example: it took Vlad Martyniuk, our art director, less than one week to create and refine the design of 17 characters , as well as an array of UI elements. Before? The creation of one character would take about 16 hours — about 2 full days of work. Or 34 business days to nail the concept art for the aforementioned 17 characters. And there would be several specialists involved in that process.
Basically, after crunching the numbers, we arrived at the conclusion: using AI reduces costs by 10-15 times while delivering comparable results. This is very exciting in terms of both time and cost efficiency.
As a CEO of a game development studio, I must think not only about the quality of games that we produce, but also about the cost effectiveness of all processes.
The use of AI proved to be a groundbreaking tool that will undeniably change the industry of game development. Bearverse x AI case study showed these results: the classic way of creating the concepts of 100 characters would cost the studio about $50K and half a year of time. The use of AI reduces these parameters to $10K (80% cheaper) and 1 month (6 times faster). These are tremendous results both in terms of money and time.
Сliff notes takeaways for the use of AI in mobile game development:
- Cheaper. Cost effectiveness through the roof.
- Faster. You significantly reduce time for developing the project and speed up iterations.
- Easier. AI can offer different styles and options for your creative idea.
- Lower risk. Fast creation of prototypes that can be tested more often to increase the chance of success.
- High reward. By creating content more often you can increase your earnings.
- Reliability. AI never gets sick or tired, and the human factor is eliminated. You need a smaller team of professionals and therefore can build rapport with them in an easier and more significant way.
CEOs should push the designers on their team to learn to “communicate” with AI as soon and as well as possible. And those who will adopt the collaborative approach first will be the ones to rise to the top of the industry.
If you have an interest in this topic in particular or in the mobile game development industry in general, I will be happy to get in touch and discuss it further.
Contact me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kitkin.