Gaming CEO Shares Nightmare Scenario Of Using AI To Spy On Devs

At least one video game company has considered using large-language model AI to spy on its developers. The CEO of TinyBuild, which publishes Hello Neighbor 2 and Tinykin, discussed it during a recent talk at this month’s Develop:Brighton conference, explaining how ChatGPT could be used to try and monitor employees who are toxic, at risk of burning out, or simply talking about themselves too much.

“This one was quite bizarrely Black Mirror-y for me,” admitted TinyBuild boss Alex Nichiporchik, according to a new report by WhyNowGaming. It detailed ways that transcripts from Slack, Zoom, and various task managers with identifying information removed could be fed into ChatGPT to identify patterns. The AI chatbot would then apparently scan the information for warning signs that could be used to help identify “potential problematic players on the team.”

Nichiporchik took issue with how the presentation was framed by WhyNowGaming, and claimed in an email to Kotaku that he was discussing a thought experiment, and not actually describing practices the company currently employs. “This part of the presentation is hypothetical. Nobody is actively monitoring employees,” he wrote. “I spoke about a situation where we were in the middle of a critical situation in a studio where one of the leads was experiencing burnout, we were able to intervene fast and find a solution.”

While the presentation may have been aimed at the overarching concept of trying to predict employee burnout before it happens, and thus improve conditions for both developers and the projects they’re working on, Nichiporchik also appeared to have some controversial views on why types of behavior are problematic and how best for HR for flag them.

In Nichiporchik’s hypothetical, one thing ChatGPT would monitor is how often people refer to themselves using “me” or “I” in office communications. Nichiporchik referred to employees who talk too much during meetings or about themselves as “Time Vampires.” “Once that person is no longer with the company or with the team, the meeting takes 20 minutes and we get five times more done,” he suggested during his presentation according to WhyNowGaming.

Another controversial theoretical practice would be surveying employees for names of coworkers they had positive interactions with in recent months, and then flagging the names of people who are never mentioned. These three methods, Nichiporchik suggested, could help a company “identify someone who is on the verge of burning out, who might be the reason the colleagues who work with that person are burning out, and you might be able to identify it and fix it early on.”

This use of AI, theoretical or not, prompted swift backlash online. “If you have to repeatedly qualify that you know how dystopian and horrifying your employee monitoring is, you might be the fucking problem my guy,” tweeted Warner Bros. Montreal writer Mitch Dyer. “A great and horrific example of how using AI uncritically has those in power taking it at face value and internalizing its biases,” tweeted UC Santa Cruz associate professor, Mattie Brice.

Corporate interest in generative AI has spiked in recent months, leading to backlashes among creatives across many different fields from music to gaming. Hollywood writers and actors are both currently striking after negotiations with movie studios and streaming companies stalled, in part over how AI could be used to create scripts or capture actors’ likenesses and use them in perpetuity.


Street Fighter 6’s Newest Fighter Is A Slithering Nightmare

After briefly teasing the character during EVO 2023, Capcom has finally unveiled the poisonous fangs of Street Fighter 6‘s newest combatant, A.K.I., who will slither her way into the popular fighting game on September 27.

Read More: 15 Character Revelations We Learned In Street Fighter 6
Buy Street Fighter 6: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

A student of the villainous F.A.N.G. from Street Fighter V, A.K.I. is a Chinese kenpo and shequan (or snake kung fu) martial artist who specializes in targeting her opponent’s vital spots using her venom-coated fingernails. She’s a slippery, sadistic dommy mommy, clad in a leather snakeskin-looking black cheongsam, a haircut that looks like Guile’s drenched in hair gel, and the creepiest smile ever as she pokes from range or slithers to close the gap. Her combos look particularly devastating, as her snake-like movements give her the flexibility to duck and dodge attacks while racking up poison damage.

Street Fighter

A.K.I.’s critical art, known as a level three super here (essentially a character’s ultimate attack), looks equally brutalizing. Poking and prodding her opponent with her venomous (and perfectly manicured) fingernails, A.K.I., using her expertise in Chinese medicine, pinpoints and attacks the body’s weak spots. A.K.I. emits an almost Joker-like amount of maniacal laughter as her opponent’s body explodes at the end of the attack, and finally, she bends backward, smiling into the camera in pure ecstasy. It’s giving dominatrix, and I’m absolutely here for it.

I’m not the only one, though. Folks across the social media site with the dumbest name, X (formerly Twitter), are just as obsessed with and terrified of A.K.I. as I am. Someone’s already animated her slithering move, which sees her snake her body across the stage to reach her opponent. Another person set footage of the move to Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle,” which fits perfectly. A different poster said the character looks great because Capcom went all in on her “completely unhinged murderer aspect.” Meanwhile, a separate poster simply wondered what kind of “satanic shit” A.K.I. is on. Girl, same.

Read More: Street Fighter 6 Features The Best Chun-Li In 24 Years
Buy Street Fighter 6: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Unfortunately, A.K.I. won’t be free when she hits Street Fighter 6 this September. Capcom’s senior social media and community manager Andy Wong revealed on the PlayStation Blog that while you can play her for up to an hour with a rental fighter ticket (a currency you acquire from the game’s Fighting Pass), you’ll need either the Year 1 Character Pass DLC bundle, Deluxe Edition, or Ultimate Edition to play the slithering mistress. At least her deadly moves and stunning outfit will be unlockable and she comes with an entirely new area, Tian Hong Yuan, that you can explore. Hey, silver linings.


Payday 3 CEO Apologizes For Nightmare ‘Always Online’ Launch

By many accounts, Payday 3 appears to be a disappointing half-step forward for the longrunning co-op bank robbery series. Unlike its predecessor, it also requires players to always be online, a seemingly grave misjudgement given Payday 3’s first-week launch woes. The problems with crashes, slow matchmaking, and disconnected servers were so bad the CEO of creator Starbreeze Studios began apologizing for the state of the game almost immediately.

“We are so sorry that the infrastructure didn’t hold up as expected, and although it’s impossible to prepare for every scenario—we should be able to do better,” Tobias Sjögren tweeted on September 22, just a day after Payday 3’s debut. “We work tirelessly until we have restored all services and our players can get back to heisting again without issues!”

“Early access” for Payday 3 began on September 18, but the massive influx of new players didn’t begin until its full release on September 21. In addition to PC and PlayStation 5, the multiplayer heist sim also hit Game Pass, where paying subscribers on Xbox Series X/S could download it for free. PC players complained about the game being stuck in “searching” mode when trying to find a match. Some Xbox players also appear to have faced unstable servers and crashes.

“No matter what you choose, public, friends only, invite only, it will just matchmaker forever,” wrote one player in a post that blew up on Reddit. “Release day is usually tough for studios. This…This is embarrassing.”

Players on PS5, meanwhile, began the week with an apparent wrong build of the game. Lead producer Andreas Häll-Penninger blamed Sony for pushing out an incorrect patch. “PS5 players: For reasons out of our control you are currently playing an older version of the game,” he tweeted. “Sony is working on rolling out the proper patch.” The right version arrived a day later, but it was still a bad omen for fans on PS5 who paid $30 extra for the Silver Edition to play the game before others.

Naturally, the outages have once again spurred calls for companies to move away from always-online requirements. Payday 2’s offline mode lets players run through missions with AI-controlled characters. While the allure of the series remains its real time online multiplayer antics, being able to still enjoy the game without an internet connection was a nice feature. An offline mod for the game is apparently already in the works.

A three-act play on the Payday 3 Twitter account (sorry, I mean “X” account) perfectly captured the mood of the launch. “HEISTERS! We’re number one on Steam!” the account tweeted on September 21. “Heisters, we’re currently experiencing slow matchmaking,” read its very next tweet. “We’re investigating and working on a solution.” While matchmaking was unavailable for many throughout the afternoon and evening, the studio reported that things were improving by early in the morning on September 22, only for outages to creep back in as the day went on.

The ongoing mess is another reminder of why so many people take a wait-and-see approach to new game launches, especially on PC, especially when they have stringent online requirements. “Payday 3 feels like the kind of game that is not meant for day-one purchase,” wrote one observer on Reddit. “But rather wait until they have a bunch of content released.”

This is effectively what IGN wrote in the very first paragraph of its Payday 3 review. “The usual horrible Payday bugs, a dinky pool of jobs to tackle, and a predictably weak story mean it’s not exactly the giant leap forward I was hoping for,” it reads. “Still, if Payday 2’s post-launch support is any indication, this is at least a very promising start for what could become another decade of happily pistol whipping cashiers and fixing drills.”

A promising start indeed!


Alan Wake 2’s PC Achievements Are Its Biggest Nightmare

I am carefully making my way through a haunting forest of crushing darkness. Wolves snarl at me as twisted beings who were once human stumble about, their aggressive muttering filling my head with fear. My heart rate is elevated; I’m completely immersed in the dark fantasy of Alan Wake II. Then, suddenly, a friendly chime shatters the moment, and as a banner unfurls onscreen to tout some accomplishment of mine, all that fear the game is working so hard to establish evaporates. This is the Epic Games Store reminding me it exists with an inescapable nightmare of an achievement notification, spoiling the beautifully woven experience that is this game. And you can’t turn it off.

Alan Wake II finally arrives on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on October 27, 2023. If you’re playing it on PC, however, you’re limited to the Epic Games Store. Unfortunately for Alan Wake II, this choice of store and launcher actually mars the experience a bit. Like many game launchers, the Epic Games Store features an achievement system: Do a thing, earn an achievement. This feature was added to the store in 2021. But a feature that still has yet to be added is the option to turn its large, glowy, rectangular banner and obnoxious chime sound off. Sadly, it makes for an ill-fitting distraction in an otherwise beautifully lush, dark, and moody game.

If you can’t recall what the Epic Games Store notification sounds or looks like, check it out here:

Psyonix / Stone Cold Steve Harvey

Okay, maybe that’s fine for Rocket League, but just imagine this spontaneously showing up in a game like this:

Remedy Entertainment / PlayStation

Having spent a few hours in Alan Wake II on PC, I can tell you that it’s a dramatically distracting experience, made worse by the fact that you can’t take control and shut it off.

How to disable the Epic Games Store achievement notifications (you can’t)

At the time of writing, there doesn’t appear to be any official way to shut off the Epic Games Store achievement notifications. You can kill other notifications, like store sales and such in the settings, and you can flip the overlay (which is what displays this horribly distracting effect) into “Do Not Disturb” mode, but even with that, these notifications will disturb you.

If there is an official fix, we’ll be sure to update this post. But based on conversations on the internet going as far back as a few years ago, EGS’ annoying achievement notifications have been an issue for some players. Some have pointed out that firing up the Task Manager and killing the “EOSOverlayRenderer” process does the trick, but it doesn’t always seem to work (and it seems like it would kill achievements in general, which may not be totally desirable).

I’ve tried to kill the EOSOverlayRenderer a few times to see it just show back up again, achievement notifications and everything. Even if this is a killable process, it’s still far from an ideal solution.

Again, for a game like Fortnite or Rocket League, this probably isn’t a big issue. But Alan Wake II aspires to achieve a high level of visual and auditory immersion. It’s an intense, gorgeous game that demands full attention in a way that I’m loving—but those damn chimes and banners feel dramatically out of place.

The Epic Games Store’s obnoxious achievements are a serious damper on the otherwise lovely and immersive experience I’m having with Alan Wake II at the moment. When combined with its very steep PC requirements, it may be worth checking out Alan Wake II on a console if the idea doesn’t offend you. I know I wish I was playing this on my PS5 right now.

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