“It is abundantly clear that this commission has fallen below the standards demanded by fans.”
Blaze Entertainment has apologised after it was forced to acknowledge that artwork accompanying the announcement of a Duke Nukem collection – shown above – for Evercade was generated by AI.
In a brief statement, CEO Andrew Byatt insisted that the studio had commissioned an artist “to produce a lead image for the new Duke Nukem 1+2 Remastered” game, but “because of “the artists’ use of AI in the process”, it had “fallen below the expectation and standards demanded by fans”.
Fans and professional artists were immediately suspicious when the artwork was first revealed, with some providing a breakdown of why the image – reportedly designed by “professional hybrid concept artist” Oskar Manuel – looked as though it had been machine-generated.
“Real artists would do a HUGE thinking about every. single. Detail,” tweeted artist @Hanyuu_central (thanks, PC Gamer). “AI will just do a mindless kitbash without [an] understanding of the world, story, character, culture, anything.”
Man, I did a first game art around 2004. No. SKETCH. EVER. LOOKS. LIKE. THIS. The very thing about the sketch – it shows you how things work. What exactly is the parts. Not a random strokes. Not just a composition. It should show you how. Exactly. Everything. Works. pic.twitter.com/Tuvuxkfsfz
— Hanyuu_central 🇺🇦 (@CentralHanyuu) June 1, 2023
Initially, Blaze supported Manuel, calling him “very talented” in a tweet it has since deleted, but eventually decided to take down the promotional artwork (thanks, Kotaku).
“Over the last 24 hours, we have been humbled by the support and excitement over our newest cartridge announcements and our partnership with Gearbox to bring the Duke Nukem franchise to Evercade,” Byatt said in a formal statement.
“As part of this, an artist was commissioned to produce a lead image for the new Duke Nukem 1+2 Remastered game developed by Blaze Entertainment. It is abundantly clear from the response on social media that the work on this commission has fallen below the expectation and standards demanded by fans due to the artists’ use of AI in the process.
“We are immediately removing the art where possible to do so and will be announcing a replacement commission in due course that better meets the high standard expected,” the statement continues. “We would like to apologise to you, all of the fans, who have felt passionately about this enough and please be assured are working to remedy this. We also would like to thank everyone who’s worked on the project to date for their input.”
Blaze stopped short of confirming whether or not it had commissioned Manuel with their “hybrid concept” art in mind, or if the team had thought it was an original – and traditional – art piece. The artist themselves has yet to comment.
Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick recently confirmed that whilst “enthusiastic” about the emergence of AI technology, he doesn’t think “advances in AI will make it easier to create hits”.
The comments came during a recent Take-Two earnings call, in which Zelnick was asked how AI could impact Take-Two’s game development.
The comments follow news that other developer/publishers are exploring AI tech, including Ubisoft, which recently sparked debate by showing off its new Ghostwriter tool, an “AI” designed to aid its writers create dialogue for in-game NPCs.