NVIDIA ACE Injects Generative AI Into Game NPCs Enabling Hyper-Realistic Conversations

An NPC of a chef named Jin standing behind a counter, as part of NVIDIA's ACE generative AI demo.
There's a lot of fuss over generative AI models like ChatGPT, but these early chatbots are really only the tip of a much bigger iceberg. Generative AI has the potential to permeate many aspects of everyday life. That includes video games, a nearly $400 billion industry by some estimates. But what can generative AI add to games? As NVIDIA is demoing at Computex, it can dramatically change interactions with non-playable characters (NPCs) for a whole new level of immersion.

NVIDIA is calling its nifty new tech Avatar Cloud Engine (ACE) for Games, which it describes as an AI model foundry service that leverages AI-powered natural language interactions to make NPCs feel more intelligent. The basic idea is that you can have an unscripted conversation with an in-game character, complete with accurate facial animations and personalities that evolve over time. And you can use your native tongue, whatever that might be.

"Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize the interactivity players can have with game characters and dramatically increase immersion in games," said John Spitzer, vice president of developer and performance technology at NVIDIA."“Building on our expertise in AI and decades of experience working with game developers, NVIDIA is spearheading the use of generative AI in games."

Here's a demo of ACE for Games in action...

NVIDIA partnered with Convai, an NVIDIA Inception startup, to showcase what ACE for Games can do. The above demo uses multiple technologies to make the magic happen, including NVIDIA Riva for speech-to-tech and text-to-speech capabilities, NVIDIA NeMo to power the conversational AI, and Audio2Face for AI-powered facial animations based on voice inputs. This was all fed into Unreal Engine 5 and MetaHuman to breathe life into Jin, an NCP that runs a Ramen Shop.

It's a short demo but it's enough to whet our appetite for deeper immersion in games, through intelligent NPC exchanges. Some of these technologies can already be found in games, such as GSC Game World using Auidio2Face in its upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Heart of Chornobyl, but nothing (yet) the extent that NVIDIA envisions.

Imagine playing Skyrim but instead of practically every character having lamented taking an arrow in the knee, they offered richer details about their current lot in life and/or predicament. Likewise, we can imagine having uncomfortable conversations with NPCs in game like Grand Theft Auto, where players are free to do awful things to in-game characters who are minding their own business.

This isn't just a parlor trick to drum up buzz, either. NVIDIA is heavily invested in AI and gaming, raking in billions of dollars per quarter from its data center and GPU products. Still, NVIDIA doesn't actually make any games, so it will up to developers to adopt technologies like ACE for Games and put it to good use.