How Foamstars Uses AI to Create Stunning Visuals

Foamstars, the upcoming online shooter from Square Enix, is not only a fun and colorful game, but also a showcase of how AI can be used to create stunning visuals. The game, which is set to launch on PlayStation Plus on February 6, 2024, features some AI-generated art for its in-game album covers.

Foamstars is a multiplayer shooter game that lets players customize their characters and weapons with various skins and stickers. The game has a vibrant and bubbly aesthetic, inspired by pop music and culture. Players can also enjoy the game’s soundtrack, which features original songs from various genres and artists.

The game is developed by Square Enix, the publisher of popular franchises such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts. The game is exclusive to PlayStation platforms and will be available for free for PlayStation Plus subscribers.

How Foamstars Uses AI to Create Stunning Visuals
How Foamstars Uses AI to Create Stunning Visuals

How does Foamstars use AI-generated art?

Foamstars uses AI-generated art for some of its in-game album covers. These are the images that appear on the screen when players select a song to play in the game. The game’s producer, Kosuke Okatani, confirmed that the game used Midjourney, a generative AI tool that transforms text prompts into visual art, to create these album covers.

According to Okatani, the game’s development team experimented with Midjourney by giving it simple prompts to produce abstract images. They liked the results and decided to use them as the final album covers. Okatani clarified that this only makes up about 0.01% or even less of the game’s content, and that the rest of the game was created entirely by the development team.

What is Midjourney and why is it controversial?

Midjourney is one of the most well-known generative AI tools. It is popular for transforming text prompts into visual art, but it has also drawn plenty of criticism and controversy. Midjourney is one of several AI companies that are being sued by thousands of artists who claim that their artwork was scraped and used without their permission to train the AI. The lawsuit alleges that Midjourney, Stability AI, and DeviantArt violated the artists’ copyrights and privacy rights.

In addition, some critics argue that generative AI tools such as Midjourney are replacing professional artists and undermining their creativity and originality. They also question the ethical and legal implications of using AI-generated art for commercial purposes.

How is Square Enix responding to the controversy?

Square Enix has not commented on the lawsuit or the criticism against Midjourney. However, the company has expressed its intention to be “aggressive in applying AI and other cutting-edge technologies” to its future game development. Square Enix has previously used AI for things like improving facial animation and camera angles in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

Okatani said that the game’s team wanted to experiment with AI and see how it can assist with game development. He also said that the core elements and gameplay of Foamstars were made by hand, and that the AI-generated art was only a minor part of the game.

What are the benefits and challenges of using AI-generated art in games?

Using AI-generated art in games can have some benefits, such as saving time and resources, enhancing creativity and diversity, and creating unique and unexpected visuals. However, it can also pose some challenges, such as ensuring quality and consistency, respecting intellectual property and artistic integrity, and disclosing the use of AI to the players and the public.

AI-generated art is a new and emerging phenomenon in the gaming industry, and it is likely to become more prevalent and sophisticated in the future. However, it also raises some important questions and concerns that need to be addressed and resolved by the developers, the artists, the players, and the society.

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