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Unlock the power of machine learning to build breathtaking worlds

August 2, 2022 in Industry | 8 min. read
Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit with Gaia ML (for Unity)
Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit with Gaia ML (for Unity)

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Procedural Worlds recently brought Gaia into Intel’s Game Dev AI Toolkit. See how it can support your next AI endeavor.

Using AI, game developers can create hyperrealistic worlds filled with innumerable intricate, adaptive non-player characters (NPCs). This application of AI in games is becoming a common technique, and most developers can now efficiently integrate AI capabilities using Unity features. While AI’s potential is viewed as limitless, especially with bigger studios dedicating significant resources to the development of AI-driven games, smaller studio budgets have often forced more constraints. This blog unpacks a new solution that can help them overcome some of those familiar hurdles.

Three approaches to one goal: Greater games for all

To get the most value out of computing silicon, Intel along with other industry leaders pioneered tools such as oneAPI. OneAPI is open, standards-based cross-architecture programming for building applications across different types of architectures, while enabling intelligent distribution of workloads across CPUs and GPUs. Similarly, to facilitate the creation and automation of unique worlds, Procedural Worlds developed a number of procedural and AI-based worldbuilding plug-ins. This levels the playing field for studios of all sizes – a central aim of the Unity Asset Store, which remains a vital resource for high-quality yet affordable game assets, tools, and packs.

To ensure the most effective AI-driven features for your games, Intel, Procedural Worlds, and Unity joined forces to create the Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit with Gaia ML (for Unity). This free toolkit combines silicon-optimized AI capabilities with sophisticated game worldbuilding into a seamlessly integrated Unity plug-in.

Screen capture of Gaia environment from Procedural Worlds.

An Intel toolkit made for gaming

Intel solutions such as the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit, and the oneAPI Rendering Toolkit, combined with forthcoming products like Intel® Xe Super Sampling (XeSS), have dramatically improved visual fidelity and accelerated work for developers. The new Game Dev AI Toolkit, however, is specifically designed to speed up content creation with new features such as style transfer, along with future enhancements enabling 3D object reconstruction, high-res 3D human digitization, automated sound generation, and facial animation.

One of the many remarkable features that the toolkit offers is the ability to harness in-game object detection. Studios can enhance their games to provide AI-assisted target identification or mods that intelligently augment the game experience based on player preferences and learnings.

The toolkit architecture integrates with Unity through the inference layers using Intel’s OpenVINO and the Unity Barracuda neural-net inference library. This way, designers can instantly apply different styles to their games without expensive redevelopment.

To maximize AI performance, the toolkit incorporates DP4A instructions for Intel’s latest integrated GPUs, as well as XMX AI acceleration for Intel® Arc™ graphics products. 

Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit – High-level architecture

Support for style transfers and Unity render pipelines

The Game Dev AI Toolkit enables generative adversarial network (GAN) style transfer capabilities, which can be used to stylize entire scenes or specific objects and characters within a scene for further artistic flexibility. The toolkit also supports built-in Unity render pipelines including the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP).

Worldbuilding as a quest

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“Intel is an iconic company for me, so of course I jumped at the chance to learn more about Intel and to work more closely with them.” – Adam Goodrich, Procedural Worlds

Following a successful career developing business software and running startups, Adam Goodrich turned his sights to using computing technologies for more humanistic endeavors. In particular, he looked for ways to use contextual computing to improve personal performance, along with games to educate and guide people. Goodrich ended up putting the two together. After all, contextual computing is about automatically collecting and analyzing data to generate useful results – in other words, machine learning (ML).

Goodrich started building games with Unity, which he learned relatively quickly thanks to his C# expertise. His entrepreneurial mind sensed fertile ground on the Unity Asset Store, and he founded Procedural Worlds to build tools that could automate the creation of content for mobile, VR, and desktop, starting with worlds, landscapes, terrains, and scenes for Unity game developers.

Procedural Worlds went on to publish a number of terrain and scene generation tools on the Unity Asset Store, nearly all of which are bestsellers. Gaia Pro even won the Best Artistic Tool award at the 2020 Unity Awards. Recognizing Gaia as an invaluable AI-driven tool for game developers, the Intel team asked Procedural Worlds to add its worldbuilding capabilities to the Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit. Their enthusiastic response took the form of Gaia ML, a junior version of Gaia Pro.

A seamless integration

Both the Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit and Gaia ML were developed in close conjunction with Unity engineers to maintain a seamless integration. This is typical of tools available on the Asset Store, which vets and tests all submissions.

Developers can save significant time by using off-the-shelf assets rather than coding their own solutions. Ramen VR’s Zenith, ArtCraft’s Crowfall, and Visionary Realms’ Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen are just a fraction of the games built using Gaia Pro from the Unity Asset Store.

Still from Ramen VR’s Zenith
Ramen VR’s Zenith

Prometheus would be proud

Capitalizing on the promise of AI and making it more accessible to game studios and developers is an accomplishment of promethean proportions. It’s no wonder that it took the world’s largest semiconductor developer and one of the Unity Asset Store’s most popular publishers to help make it happen.

This joint effort of Intel, Procedural Worlds, and Unity – the Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit with Gaia ML – empowers developers to create richly textured worlds that feature complex and photorealistic terrains, lifelike environmental systems, and even more lifelike NPCs. It is likely to be an actual game changer for the industry.

Learn more at SIGGRAPH

Unity will showcase the latest innovations in graphics and rendering at SIGGRAPH. For a deep dive of the Game Dev AI Toolkit, be sure to check out the upcoming SIGGRAPH speaker session by Intel on August 9 at 3:00 PM (PDT) in the Unity Session Room, West Building, Room 116-117.

Editor's Note (September 2022): The session recording from SIGGRAPH 2022 is now available to watch on demand. Check it out below.

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How to get started

Get started by downloading the free toolkit and learn more about Gaia ML. Then check out the GDC 2022 reveal of the Intel Game Dev AI Toolkit running on Intel® Arc™, and make the most of your AI Game Dev Toolkit implementation with Intel’s official tutorials. We can’t wait to see what you create.

August 2, 2022 in Industry | 8 min. read

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