Home Stellaris devs using AI-generated voices to voice AI characters in-game – it’s the circle of life

Stellaris devs using AI-generated voices to voice AI characters in-game – it’s the circle of life

Picture the scene, AIs have taken over the world and we are deep into a dystopian sci-fi nightmare. No, this isn’t the Q4 projections at OpenAI, it is the premise for the latest DLC for the sci-fi mega franchise Stellaris – The Machine Age.

Approaching almost a decade since its launch, The Machine Age continues to push the base game further than ever before. When you think back to the launch date, in those heady days before the pandemic, you would not have understood a word of this paragraph slapped on the end of the description of the DLC on the Steam page.

“We employ generative AI technologies during the creation of some assets. Typically this involves the ideation of content and visual reference material. These elements represent a minor component of the overall development. AI has been used to generate voices for an AI antagonist and a player advisor.”

Mind. Blown. So the AI voices are actual AI voices? Not humans? While it is great that human actors are not taking on roles that AI actors are perfectly capable of performing it has caused a bit of alarm in the player base and the voice-acting community in general.

Ethical AI

To allay those fears that Paradox was ditching its living, breathing talent, Stellaris’ game director Stephen Muray made a series of posts explaining the process.

“The AI voice generation tools we use on Stellaris ensure that the voice actors that signed up and built the models receive royalties for every line we create,” Murray said. “Ethical use of AI technology is very important to us—we’re pretty good at exploring dystopian sci-fi and don’t want to end up there ourselves.”

Two in-game voices are used in The Machine Age according to Rock Paper Shotgun – an AI advisor and the Synthetic Queen Cetana.

Some Stellaris players have taken to voice their disproval via the time-honored method of moaning about something you don’t like – the Steam Reviews page, but it certainly seems in this case, Paradox is trying to do the right thing by paying the originating actors. It is unlikely every developer will take this route as we move into that future.

Stellaris: The Machine Age DLC is available now for $24.99/£21.99

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Paul McNally
Gaming Editor

Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist since the 1990s, spending over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title published by IDG Media. Having spent time as Head of Communications at a professional sports club and working for high-profile charities such as the National Literacy Trust, he returned as Managing Editor in charge of large US-based technology websites in 2020. Paul has written high-end gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine,…

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