Foamstars, the legally distinct Splatoon clone published by Square Enix, is coming out on February 6. Alongside this announcement, we learned that Square is launching the shooter on subscription service PlayStation Plus, which will likely afford it a large launch audience as subscribers can play without having to buy the game (you need Plus to play online anyway). We also learned that Square Enix is using the AI art generator Midjourney to create some of its in-game assets.
I didn’t play Final Fantasy XVI ‘Right,’ and that’s okay.
Speaking to Video Game Chronicle at a press event, Foamstars producer Kosuke Okatani said that while most of the game’s artwork and assets were made by hand by the artists at developer Toylogic, some of the art was created using AI.
“All of the core elements in Foamstars–the core gameplay and the things that make the game enjoyable–those are all made by hand,” Okatani told VGC. “However, we did want to experiment with AI as well.”
“In terms of the content in the game, this makes up about 0.01% or even less, but we have dabbled in it by creating these icons in the game.”
In a follow-up statement to VGC, a Square Enix representative clarified that Midjourney was specifically used to create album covers for in-game tracks and that everything else was made by real people.
“As developers, we’re always looking at new technologies to see how they can assist with game development. In this instance, we experimented with Midjourney using simple prompts to produce abstract images. We loved what was created and used them as the final album covers players will see in the game. Everything else was created entirely by our development team.”
Midjourney has been a subject of ongoing legal disputes regarding the scraping of copyrighted material, and it was recently alleged that its creators scraped art from Magic: The Gathering cards to teach the program to generate art based on text prompts. Using AI-generated art is disrespectful to all the artists working on Foamstars and other projects at Square Enix and is becoming more prominent in the video game industry as the bigwigs at companies like Xbox, Ubisoft, and Niantic lean on it to promote their work without compensating artists.