Foamstars is an upcoming 4v4 and co-op arena-based game from Square Enix that has been inspired by Nintend’s Splatoon franchise. The game, which was announced as the headliner for PlayStation Plus in February, sees players run around the map coating the area with foam while defeating other players who are also trying to do the same thing.
Square Enix says that Foamstars let the studio experiment with various art styles as it brought to life the game’s futuristic and techno theme. However, the studio confirmed that AI generation tools were used in the game’s development too. Especially when it came to some of the in-game art.
In an interview with VGC, Foamstars producer Kosuke Okatani says the team used Midjourney to create in-game art for album covers of the game’s soundtracks. He says that most of the core gameplay and the things that make Foamstars enjoyable were all made by hand but confirmed some of the artwork used in the project was all AI-generated.
Square Enix has openly stated that the studio is investing in AI for game development. In a New Year’s letter, Square Enix president Takashi Kiryu said the company intends to be “aggressive” in its implementation of AI-generated content in its games. He claims that AI helps enhance the development of video games.
“In the short term, our goal will be to enhance our development productivity and achieve greater sophistication in our marketing efforts. In the longer term, we hope to leverage those technologies to create new forms of content for consumers, as we believe that technological innovation represents business opportunities.”
Of course, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding AI and its use in video game development. Apart from the potential job losses that threaten the industry, there’s also the question of copyright infringement. Both Midjourney and Stable Diffusion (another generative AI tool) are being sued by artists who claim the tools infringe on their work. Artists claim that these AI generation tools are trained on art taken from the internet which belongs to real artists.
So while the tools create artwork which looks unique to the project, they contain various aspects of real work made by artists around the world. These AI tools can’t create artwork without using other existing work as a reference.
Square Enix’s PR representative claims that the studio only used AI tools for the album covers in Foamstars. These, of course, haven’t been released yet.
“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.”
Foamstars releases on 6 February for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.