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Silent Hill, Naruto Games Deny AI Usage Amid Fan Freakouts

The internet is starting to fill up with AI-generated junk, and more and more people are now worried that the worst parts of the games they play might be AI-generated too. Fans of Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja and Silent Hill Ascension recently accused both of using AI. The developers promised that wasn’t the case. They were bad because humans made them that way.

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Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections came out on November 16, a long-awaited followup to the anime fighter series adapted from the manga about a young ninja’s coming of age. It was, unfortunately, not very good, with fans accusing it of feeling rehashed and undercooked. But it was some of the voice work that got players really riled.

A clip shared on X (formerly known as Twitter) by ShonenGames went viral because of how ridiculous Naruto sounded. “Did that…wake you up?!” the titular character said, transforming from a gravelly-voiced teen to a small toddler during the short line reading. Naruto’s English voice, Maile Flanagan, immediately denied having ever voiced a line that way. There were other terrible clips as well. Fans accused publisher Bandai Namco of enlisting AI to cut corners. One claimed to have run the clips through an AI detection program with the results coming back positive.

Bandai Namco ended up denying AI was a part of the bad performances. “Bandai Namco Entertainment can confirm that the lines in question were not AI generated, but the result of inconsistencies during the editing and mastering process,” a spokesperson for the company told IGN. “We regret that this raised a concern with Naruto fans and the voice acting community. We are currently working to fix the voice lines in question, which will be patched in the near future.”

Silent Hill: Ascension players went through basically the same rollercoaster ride this week as well. The much-maligned audience participation horror game from Genvid was crucified at launch for its poor user experience and terrible microtransactions. But the game’s writing is also pretty cringe at parts, so much so that some people speculated it too might have been AI-generated.

“Catching up on Silent Hill Ascension (lol) and I am more and more convinced this was written by AI with each new ‘episode,’” tweeted former Giant Bomb video producer, Jess “VoidBurger” O’Brien, on November 25. She shared several clips from the game, including the following dialogue exchange:

The conspiracy that Silent Hill: Ascension used AI gained fuel thanks to past remarks by Genvid CEO Jacob Navok suggesting the company was experimenting with AI for its upcoming products, including Ascension. According to a recent story by Vulture, AI was used early on in production but was later scrapped because it didn’t work. “One glitchy scene spat out a character getting up, taking something from a fridge, sitting down, and repeating the whole thing five nightmarish times,” the site reported. “One of Navok’s colleagues described it as ‘Lynchian.’ His response: ‘No, it’s fucking stupid. This is not good or interesting. We can’t ship it.’”

So it turns out Silent Hill: Ascension is bad for human reasons, not because of expensive chatbots. “Every word in Ascension was written by real people, many of whom have long-running careers in writing including Telltale titles, Pixar titles, GoW Ragnarok, Resident Evil Village and more,” Navok tweeted on November 27. “Across our 100,000+ words, zero are authored by LLMs or AI, and all are from dedicated work of a talented team.”

Game development is an incredibly messy process, one made even more opaque by absurd levels of secrecy and lots of complicating business factors. Like cave people barking at the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey, players often have no recourse but to speculate wildly about why the game in front of them ended up that way. Bad tech? Rushed schedules? Poor organization? Impractical ambitions?

As some of the biggest organizations in gaming rush to embrace generative AI, it’s not surprising that it’s fast becoming another go-to explanation for why something in a game turned out like crap. And even if the failings of Naruto X Boruto Ultimate and Silent Hill: Ascension have nothing to do with it, it can only be a matter of time before a notable game does arrive with AI junk hidden inside. We’ve already seen companies experimenting with AI to spit out fast promotional art. High On Life’s devs even copped to using AI art for posters in its game. And Microsoft is expanding AI development tools to everyone on Xbox. Its CFO is pretty confident AI will only make games better.

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