AI Adventures | State of Matterless #46
Our artists wield the powers of artificial intelligence, digital audio, and 3D modeling to conjure creative designs for Floorcraft: Arena.
You’ve probably heard about mind-bending AI programs like Midjourney and ChatGPT that the public has been exploring. For the Matterless team, these are becoming important tools that augment our workflow and help conjure creative solutions in line with our design pillars.
Our lead product designer Charlie has fully embraced this technology by using ChatGPT, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and DALL·E 2 in tandem, daisy chaining steps to get incredible results. Charlie describes the experience:
ChatGPT has shown itself to be an incredible sounding board for ideation. As part of our daily workflow, the first step in the morning, with coffee at the ready, is to have a conversation with ChatGPT about whatever task is at hand.
As an example, we recently explored a rework of the Floorcraft: Arena app icon. We had an idea of what we wanted, but taking that concept to the AI allowed us to generate visual composition ideas that we may not otherwise have come to. A great thing about this specific chat AI is its ability to provide well-composed, descriptive prompts to utilize in other AIs such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, and that’s exactly what we did.
This Floorcraft: Arena app icon is the result of using a ChatGPT prompt to generate concepts using Midjourney, then refining and reworking the produced content by hand in Photoshop.
Here’s another AI experiment. We took a hand-drawn vehicle concept for Floorcraft: Arena and ran it through Stable Diffusion. The resulting 3D render helped our artists model the final product you see on the right.
Whether we like it or not, these AI tools are far too practical to be used by only a few individuals. It’s not a matter of whether AI should or should not supplant human creativity, but who will be the first to use it to augment their creativity effectively. As the Borg says, resistance is futile!
On the musical front, Dusko and I spent our creative exploration day working together on the Floorcraft: Arena background track! The current iteration is composed entirely of virtual instruments, so Dusko reached out to me to expand its musical palette with real guitars.
After listening to the track several times, I recorded several layers of guitar over it using a standard 6-string, a baritone guitar tuned all the way down to G, and a bass. The goal was to record as much as possible within the day to give Dusko plenty of music to choose from. Each instrument served a different purpose — the electric guitar provided melodic textures, the baritone added heaviness to the drums, and the bass gave the track more bottom end.
Dusko is now in the process of mixing everything so it can be incorporated in subsequent updates to Floorcraft: Arena. He reports:
The main idea is to combine real and MIDI guitars, with the former having minimal processing to sound natural and dirty. After compressing the whole lot with a 4:1 ratio, I added some narrow space reverb to widen their stereo effect.
Shedding Light on Hovercars
Marko, the technical artist is experimenting with different lighting models and materials for our AR hovercars in Floorcraft: Arena that will give them a nice sheen and a stronger sense of mass. He describes the work as such:
Since the light estimation solutions currently available are not working well for us, we are seeing how matcaps work within an AR context. Matcaps allow us to simulate the appearance of a wide range of materials.
We are also considering using light estimation to choose the appropriate matcap material for lighting conditions in an AR scene, which will help to give our vehicles a realistic look.
Since matcap materials do not interact with the environment in the same way as PBR materials, we hope that using light estimation to adjust the matcap material based on the lighting conditions will help create a more cohesive appearance.
Curious to learn more about the team and our digital magic? We’ll be hosting a public AMA with Damir, JD, and Andreas on our official Discord on 19 Dec, 1100HRS CET, so I hope to see you there.
— Kerwin, social media manager