Artists and developers worried about Unity's AI programs have been given a big shrug

An image of Unity's new AI tool in action, featuring an old man with a melty face and what appears to be a scarf.
(Image credit: Unity)

Unity has caused concern and exhaustion among some game developers with its new UnityMuse and UnitySentis tools, both of which it revealed yesterday, with many professional artists and developers lancing the tools for being either impractical, unethical, or legally dubious.

The law in different countries on the use of AI programs—which often scrape the internet for art, writing, and programming without their creator's consent—remains unsettled, with lawsuits angled at both the tools themselves and the companies using them.

In the wake of this unstable legal status, one would expect Unity to have its AI-generated ducks in a row before sinking a bunch of money into tools like this. The first question on many developers' lips has been "What dataset did you train these on?" But Unity's announcement answered none of these concerns.

See more

Unity's mentioned that it has "licensed third-party LLMs" is the kicker for many here. A LLM, or a large language model, is a machine-learning AI that—like all of these networks—needs to train itself on datasets. In the eyes of many developers, Unity's current response isn't good enough. 

"Hi, please disclose the datasets used by these tools, otherwise commercial usage remains incredibly dangerous legally for your customers," Mike Bithell, a developer known for Thomas Was Alone, Solitaire Conspiracy, and John Wick Hex, wrote in a quote tweet.

Leslie Van den Broeck, a 3D artist who has worked for Riot Games, Blizzard, and Larian studios, also wrote: "[This] looks like the cheapest non committal way to approach AI tools for gamedev. It's clearly just riding the hypetrain instead of thoroughly considering what developers could want and use that is AI powered."

The official blog post isn't much better. There's not a single word dedicated to reassuring its users about where Unity has sourced its information from, just the typical promises of power and productivity. These messages might ring as hollow in the wake of massive lay-offs Unity announced in May, and I'm clearly not alone in being severely sceptical of Unity's actions.

See more
See more
See more
See more

AI does have a future in game development in some form, and it can be used intelligently and ethically. Some studios—such as the minds behind Hidden Door—may train them on an in-house creator's work as a direct collaboration with that person or group. 

Others might use these deep learning models to quickly generate concept work which they can then use as inspiration or reference. It's clear, however, that Unity's plunge into AI technology has struck a nerve with many of the people who actually create games.

Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.