We do often include affiliate links to earn us some pennies. See more here.

There's been a bit of a stir recently with the release of the Stellaris: The Machine Age DLC, as Paradox Interactive put up an AI statement on Steam that the developers have now attempted to give more info on.

On Steam there's a notice if you scroll down far enough that reads:

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.

They have to do this, since Valve now have new rules about developers stating on Steam pages what they used AI for in the games.

So it's clear the game is using AI content, specifically for generated voices. In a way, an AI voice for an AI seems kind of on-point for a sci-fi space game like this but AI makes a lot of people feel quite uneasy (and for good reason). This caused some commotion on the Steam forum with lots of replies. The Game Director on Stellaris, Stephen Muray, did reply to the Steam post to note:

About this - 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. 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.

I'll have the team put together a dev diary on how we use AI tools a couple of weeks from now.

And then explained further on Reddit too:

We didn't use it for concept art in The Machine Age - we've got a couple of awesome concept artists on staff for that. (You'll get to see more of their art in next week's dev diary.) There may be a couple of AI generated pieces on the visdev exploration/mood board, but they'd be among a bunch of other inspirational thematic pictures.

Personally, I use image generation tools to make basic sketches of things the System Designers and I are thinking of since I very much suck at art, but am pretty decent at getting computers to do what we're thinking. (Making tokens for 4,000 Pathfinder characters that I'll never play paid off!) The artists then take our ideas and might or might not use them as inspiration to make final assets. None of those design images go into the game.

We used some text generative AIs for "ideation of content", as we said - basically content designers can break writer's block by asking an AI "hey, what are 40 different things I can find in a mysterious box" and see if any of them spark any inspiration. None of the results or generated text go into the game.

We've got some strict guidelines in place on how we can use AI tools legally and ethically that we abide by.

One of their concept artists also followed up to say:

Chiming in here late but for myself (not speaking for the entire art team here) there were several explorations that leveraged generators but none were beyond the vis dev stage, and none were continued into the final art pieces.

For myself at least 0% of in-game assets include any sort of AI.

Most importantly: how do you feel about this? Let me know in the comments. Currently the DLC has a Very Positive rating on Steam.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
11 Likes
About the author -
author picture
I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
See more from me
8 comments

Tevur May 13
Imho, the described process is exactly what I would describe as the right way of using AI as a tool to improve your working process, not replace it.

Go on, please.
eldaking May 13
What they describe sounds mostly fine, but also... quite unnecessary. They could just not do it in the middle of such a huge polemic.

This entire corporate push of AI is so overwhelmingly evil that I'd sacrifice all these minor "ethical" uses to get rid of it. I don't want examples of how it could be not terrible (it could, but in 99.999% of cases it is indeed terrible), I don't want people to shift responsibility to users instead of the people subsidizing it all and dictating the way it is developed, I don't want to have to figure out how exactly they are externalizing the costs.

"Generative AI" is the weapon of the enemy. We don't use it, we don't need it. Get rid of the ethical problems first, and only then we can discuss acceptable uses.
QuoteAbout this - 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. 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.

Last I heard the contract that allowed that to happen was set up by the top brass of the voice actor's guild and all the little people didn't want it.
Jarmer May 13
Funny these kind of "ethical ai" statements are popping up everywhere now.

For instance related to movies:
https://www.polygon.com/24152375/kingdom-planet-apes-visual-effects-weta-fx-mocap
ssj17vegeta May 13
It's simple, really.

  • An employee using an AI to automate a boring or repetitive part of his/her job = GOOD.

  • A company using an AI to replace an employee = BAD.

TheSHEEEP May 13
View PC info
  • Supporter Plus
Quoting: ssj17vegetaIt's simple, really.

  • An employee using an AI to automate a boring or repetitive part of his/her job = GOOD.

  • A company using an AI to replace an employee = BAD.

I'd say mostly, yes.

But of course, some people WILL lose their job because of AI.
Any new technology of that caliber will cause such changes, no matter how "ethical" you try to go about it.

When we came up with electrical lightning, eventually a lot of people whose job it was to keep oil street lanterns lit had to seek other employment, as did many others in jobs that were no longer needed (or not in that number).

That's just the downside of progress happening.
But it's not like anyone's thrown off a cliff. It can't be a nice thing, but people are quite capable of learning and doing other jobs.
My hope is just that those people won't be left fending for themselves, but instead some of the money saved will be invested in them in the form of education or at least very generous payoffs.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 13 May 2024 at 8:33 pm UTC
This reminds me of a scene from the movie TRON:

QuoteDr. Walter Gibbs: "Computers are just machines; they can't think."

Alan Bradley: "Some programs will be thinking soon."

Dr. Walter Gibbs: "Won't that be grand? Computers and the programs will start thinking, and the people will stop!"
You have the one fellow from Paradox saying, "For myself at least 0% of in-game assets include any sort of AI."

Perhaps not directly, but he was no doubt influenced to some degree by ideas generated by the AI either by himself, or other members of the team.

The real problem for AI, I think, is that it doesn't create, it just iterates based on something that already exists, often without identifying the source, so it can easily lead to someone inadvertently copying other people's ideas without giving them due credit or compensation.


Last edited by Mountain Man on 13 May 2024 at 11:20 pm UTC
ntnb May 14
Just use whatever tools are available and helpful, no need to apologize or be a luddite.
While you're here, please consider supporting GamingOnLinux on:

Reward Tiers: Patreon. Plain Donations: PayPal.

This ensures all of our main content remains totally free for everyone! Patreon supporters can also remove all adverts and sponsors! Supporting us helps bring good, fresh content. Without your continued support, we simply could not continue!

You can find even more ways to support us on this dedicated page any time. If you already are, thank you!
Login / Register


Or login with...
Sign in with Steam Sign in with Google
Social logins require cookies to stay logged in.