Artificial neural networks, which are not very well compared to AI, are capable of performing a wide range of tasks. These systems, based on naturally forming clusters of neurons in the brain, are able to “learn” and predict the final “output” based on the data set provided. Today, neural networks are used for many different purposes – from recognizing handwritten and book texts to creating deepfakes, voice synthesis, face generation, and many other purposes. And game developers are actively considering neural network technology to speed up and simplify the execution of various tasks.
The publisher Electronic Arts received a patent aimed at solving a specific problem using neural networks – the creation of virtual landscapes. If you’ve played games with vast open worlds like Red Dead Redemption 2, Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed, you’ve seen the level of verisimilitude in virtual landscapes evolve over time. Today, developers are already applying various methods and algorithms to facilitate the task, using automatic algorithms and real geographic data.
The difference with EA’s patented technology is that it relies on an initial sketch that includes basic data such as altitude. After that, the neural network automatically assigns the most suitable terrain type for each position, creating mountains in the area of hills or plains and hills in regions without major differences.
The diagram above illustrates how a fairly realistic terrain can be formed from a simple sketch.
In addition, the neural network is able to add specific topographic features such as hills, caves, lakes and rivers, while at the same time creating distinctions between types of terrain. In addition, the neural network is smart enough to make the generated terrain realistic, and not a patchwork quilt of various pieces. Moreover, at the borders of different biomes, the neural network is able to create natural transitions and geographic features based on real data.
The patent was filed by EA back in 2019, but it was not officially approved until February 16 of this year. It is possible that this technology is at the heart of the Battlefield 6 maps and will be used in future EA games.