Interview: Little Learning Machines Is A Perfect Title Powered By AI
Little Learning Machines
AI usage in the video game industry has become quite controversial, especially in the past few years. Much of that results from AI replacing hard-working creators as a means of cost reduction. However, several studios have learned to harness the power of AI to enhance quality and create various projects without cutting any manpower.
Transitional Forms is one of those studios, and it has recently released Little Learning Machines into Early Access. This human-machine collaboration is powered by AI, making it one of the more innovative titles of 2023. As such, we spoke with Transitional Forms to understand the development process of Little Learning Machines and the current state of AI in the video game industry.
Who are Transitional Forms, and can you explain to readers what exactly Little Learning Machines is?
At Transitional Forms, we harness the power of AI to craft groundbreaking entertainment experiences. Think cutting-edge games, films, and television where intelligent machines become active participants, not just pixels on a screen. Since 2018, we have been at the bleeding edge of developing award-winning projects that are redefining how we experience games, films and television. Our flagship project, Little Learning Machines, puts players in the driver’s seat, letting them train their own AI companions and explore the whimsical possibilities of human-machine collaboration.
What challenges come with blending artificial intelligence with attempting to tell a story in Little Learning Machines?
This wasn’t a challenge for Little Learning Machines, but rather a perfect opportunity since the game integrates real-time AI elements. It’s a playground for exploring AI interaction in a captivating narrative, exploring the importance of understanding how to interact with AI in our future. Each player will have a unique experience with their real AI companions because their choices impact their little robots’ personalities in real-time. There are virtually limitless possibilities for the personalities and skills that will evolve based on how players choose to train them on the game’s no-code ‘love and fear’ reward and penalty system.
The studio has mentioned that understanding machine learning is important, which is why it creates Little Learning Machines. I am curious to know how accurate the machine learning aspect is in this game and what some of its limitations are.
It is flawlessly accurate since players are truly interacting with “real AI companions.” Each of the little learning machines has its own neural networks. By playing the game and training each little machine for different challenges across island worlds, players are training real neural networks without having to learn a single line of code. The team paid special attention to ensuring that all elements of the game and its narrative clearly and accurately described machine learning while ensuring that the game itself is engaging, especially as players nurture their little AI companions.
Few games use the machine learning aspect or present it like Little Learning Machines has done. Why do you think this is an area that more studios are seemingly unwilling to explore?
Transitional Forms has been integrating AI into interactive content, and our creator tool has been in development since 2018. AI is being used in various stages of production for quite a few games, but most studios have not been investing in using it beyond integrating some AI-based tools in their production pipeline. It’s risky, but we believe that AI can create unlimited entertainment in collaboration with creators and audience members, so we are among the small group of early adopters of this technology.
Writing the previous question made me curious about what inspired you to create Little Learning Machines.
The creative spark for Little Learning Machines happened as we were training Agents – little characters for our AI-based Agence narrative experience that premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2020 and MIT Tech Review called out as giving “ a taste of what the future of AI filmmaking could be.”
How much AI usage is involved in Little Learning Machines?
Players train their own AI companions to go on quests together. These robot companions are powered by real neural networks, trained via the no-code love and fear reward and penalty system that players interact with within the game. The gameplay is completely rooted in AI.
How long has the game been in development?
It’s been in development for about 2 and a half years.
The title will be released on Steam this year. Are there any plans to bring it to consoles?
We are focused on the Steam launch for now and are exploring where else we can bring Little Learning Machines next.
The idea of AI content is somewhat controversial in many industries. Were you ever worried that it might negatively affect the game?
While creative AI is rightfully a controversial topic, rooted in the fear that machines will continue to challenge human craft, we’ve always seen AI as a co-creator towards a paradigm shift in content creation. Certainly, disruptive technologies come with worries and concerns, but we’ve been focused on the positive aspects of creative AI, as it will unlock human imagination like never before. The entertainment industry has always been powered by technologies that empower creators to be more efficient and audiences to be more engaged. AI certainly allows for maximum efficiency and output for creators, but we suspect an audience will always desire human craft.
Transitional Forms has released a game about robots, an AI-powered interactive reality show, and a 'Dynamic film.' What’s the next thing you would like to explore?
We will soon release a creator tool powered by our patent-pending technology, which empowers creators, audiences, and AI to collaborate in real-time.
Little Learning Machines was created by Transitional Forms and was released in Early Access on Steam on October 3, 2023.
Shoaib Rashid is a passionate Gamer and an experienced writer who has been covering the Gaming Industry for over 3 Years. He started his career as a freelance journalist, writing reviews, previews, news, guides, and features for various industries. He joined VA Gaming as a Writer in 2022 and was promoted to Content Editor in 2023, where he oversees the editorial tasks and ensures the quality and accuracy of the content.
Shoaib loves to play all kinds of games, from Competitive shooters to the latest AAA releases, you name it, and he got them all covered; a PC Enthusiast who loves to stay upgraded with the latest hardware, and he enjoys sharing his insights and opinions with the Gaming Community.
While being a hardcore competitive Gamer he also a big Anime fan so his IGN goes by #SHiNiGaMii. and you can join him on Steam and checkout his library to learn more about his accomplishments.