Replica Studios, a leading developer of artificial intelligence (AI) voice platforms for video games, has announced the upcoming release of Replica Studios AI Powered Smart NPCs (non-playable characters) as a plugin for Unreal Engine. Smart NPCs, powered by OpenAI or the user’s own AI language model, combined with Replica’s vast library of ethically licensed AI voices, will empower game developers to create games on a grand scale and deliver innovative, dynamic gaming experiences.
To showcase the groundbreaking technology, Replica has unveiled a Smart NPC demo experience using a modified version of Unreal Engine’s Matrix Awakens sample project. The demo highlights some of the plugin’s features, offering a glimpse into the possibilities that will be available. (Watch the trailer here.)
“At Replica, we believe AI Voice technology has the potential to revolutionize narrative-heavy games by eliminating development bottlenecks, enabling studios to tell larger and more immersive stories, and facilitating the creation of unprecedented living-world gaming experiences that adapt to the player in real-time,” said Shreyas Nivas, CEO of Replica Studios. “Smart NPCs will allow smaller studios without extensive resources to dream big and scale their games by 10x or 100x, transforming their visions into epic adventures.”
In Replica’s Smart NPC Experience, AI-powered NPCs dynamically respond to the player’s in-game voice in real time. Characters adapt their dialogue, emotional tone, and body gestures based on the player’s interactions. Thanks to Replica Studios’ recent Style Morphing update, NPCs now exhibit a broader range of emotions.
Game designers have the flexibility to customize the behavior and personalities of AI characters by adjusting the information provided to them. Additionally, they can incorporate their own AI language models to suit the specific requirements of their projects.
“Just as live service games and battle royale experiences have gained popularity in the past decade, we envision AI creating a new category of virtual experiences characterized by rich narratives and dynamic storytelling, featuring hundreds of characters, expanding quests, and immersive stories,” said Nivas. “As teams embrace AI to craft these new experiences, the role of writers and narrative designers will evolve. Rather than constructing complete narrative arcs, they will create and fine-tune the conditions that empower these AI Smart NPCs – shaping game lore, backstories, and motivations – to infuse a human element that leads to captivating player interactions.”
When Replica’s Smart NPC plugin becomes available for Unreal Engine later this year, game developers will have the opportunity to integrate Smart NPCs into their projects and scale up character interactions. The plugin seamlessly integrates AI language model intelligence with Replica’s text-to-speech capabilities and animates characters in real time. It utilizes sound phonemes and timelines to synchronize with audio streams, employs custom animation blueprints for accurate lip sync, and incorporates body gesture messages during listening, thinking, and speaking phases. The result is the creation of lifelike NPCs that can surprise and engage players with thoughtful, humorous, and thought-provoking responses, driven by personal context and voice input captured directly from players’ microphones.
While the initial demo will operate as a cloud-based solution, Replica Studios is actively working towards a locally-based solution to provide a low-latency, multi-user, concurrent live experience.
“In the next technological leap, we will witness AI-powered Smart NPCs in live games and virtual experiences with hundreds of simultaneous players and NPCs, delivering a level of latency comparable to a Zoom video call with hundreds of participants,” concluded Nivas.
Access to Replica Studios’ Smart NPC playable demo is now available on the official website, and game developers can sign up for the Smart NPC beta through the registration page. For more details about Smart NPCs.