Yesterday, Revolution made the announcement that it will be bringing out not one but two new Broken Sword games. So, to coincide with the news, Revolution's co-founder and CEO Charles Cecil met with the publication Polygon to discuss the upcoming projects.
Cecil spoke to Polygon's reporter about various topics throughout the feature, with the first half of the article, focusing on the use of AI in the upcoming remaster Broken Sword - Shadow of the Templars: Reforged. As Cecil states, the decision was made to use the controversial technology as it would have been "impossible" to make the game otherwise. This is due to the hourly costs that would be involved in paying an increased staff to remaster its low-resolution animated graphics.
Cecil told Polygon:
“Instead of taking an hour to do each one, it takes between 5 and 10 minutes to do each one. We’re training the model on our own sprites… What we’ve really focused on is the outlines and the detail in the body, because there’s no way that the hands and the head are going to [look right]. So we have to manually draw their hands and faces."
Later in the same piece, Cecil referred to AI as "a game changer", but did very briefly acknowledge people's reservations with the tech:
"The ability to use AI on sprites is an absolute game changer. We just simply couldn’t afford to do it. Otherwise, it would be impossible. And you know, I share what reservations people have about AI. But in the case of sprites, it really is, you know, allowing really talented character artists and animators to take the original and mold it into something really special, rather than having to go through the drudgery of redrawing everything again.”
The "reservations" he's talking about typically refer to concerns about AI's impact on available job opportunities and the job security of people who rely on creative industries for a living. This is a concern that many within these industries have been expressing of late, as more and more companies decide to experiment with the technology.
In fact, in June of this year, when the former Broken Sword producer and writer Steve Ince announced his retirement from the games industry, he mentioned "the threat of AI" as one of the reasons behind his decision to call time on his career. Ince at the time had long since departed from Revolution, we should note, and was working as a freelance writer and artist.
"Games have developed unbelievably in the last three decades since I began working for Revolution Software. I must admit that I struggle to keep up. I'm also a little concerned about the threat of AI, and I fear that it may undermine the careers of many writers and creatives in the game industry and beyond. So it may be a good time to retire for this reason alone."
Broken Sword - Shadow of the Templars: Reforged will be released in early 2024 on PC, console, and mobile.