Machine learning opens up a world of possibilities in technology, and Google is bringing some of its advancements in that area over to gaming soon. With Google Stadia, game developers will be able to use an impressive new tool called Style Transfer ML.

The idea behind Style Transfer ML is to make it easier for a game developer to apply an art style to an entire video game in a shorter period of time. The technology behind this is nothing new, but creating frame-by-frame animations within something such as a game all in real-time is nothing short of amazing.

Google showed off on a Stadia blog post the same greybox “game” which it applies Style Transfer ML, resulting in several different art styles to the “blank canvas.” The company explains:

Translating from an illustrated, two-dimensional piece of concept art into a fully realized game environment would ordinarily require custom texture painting, modeling, material crafting, lighting, and tuning. Real-time artistic style transfer potentially allows developers to go straight from looking at a concept to testing it in a live, interactive game environment. This might enable rapid iteration of a video game’s art style. Real-time execution of artistic style transfer also opens up new forms of video game interaction, including the shifting of visual styles during gameplay, individually customized artistic styles (personalization by the player), styles generated through user generated content (turn a drawing into rendered game art).

Google Stadia Style Transfer ML applied the center art to an entire game

On stage at GCD, Google brought on a member of the development team behind Rime, a 2017 release which was praised for its unique art style. The developers say that they’re already using Style Transfer ML with the help of Google Stadia for their next big release.

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Ben Schoon

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