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Beyond the Scenes: What Heroic Signatures’ Use of Artificial Intelligence Means for the Future of Storytelling Experiences

Hey, Tavern-goer!

Remember when you tried to out-drink that Khitanian in ‘Taverns of Treachery’ and ended up singing a duet? (Yeah, we saw that. 😂) 

Ever wondered how AI was able to make that happen, or what it means for the future of your favorite stories?

Well, pull up a stool, because we’re diving deep! We chatted with our game’s lead developer, Lo Terry, about how AI is revolutionizing the way creatives like us at Heroic Signatures craft legendary tales – and where you might fit into all that sometime soon. 

Venturing into the realm of AI storytelling, especially with a cherished IP like Conan, is a bold move. What inspired Heroic Signatures to take this leap, and how did you prepare for the challenges it presented?

Diving into this was like deciding to skateboard down a steep hill for the first time. Thrilling, but you know there’s gonna be some scrapes. And, you know, Heroic Signatures are always  pushing boundaries. 

So they saw this untapped potential with AI, like this shiny new toy in the sandbox, and thought, ‘Why not pair it with the epicness of Conan?’ Which, I’d say, was a solid choice. But, more than anything, I think it was more about evolution. Stories have been evolving since the first caveman grunted a tale around a fire. And the way we tell them is going to evolve too. 

But, that’s just it, though, right? What’s evolving is how we tell or experience those stories, rather than create them.  Like none of this whole shebang could have or would have worked if I hadn’t had the immense wealth of stories already written by not just Robert E. Howard, but all the canon works produced by the Conan authors who came after. 

Similarly, unless we’re going to live in a world where AI is just generating lots of content derived from other AI content (in which case, hey it’s been nice knowing ya, but I’m out at that point), then we’re going to need to continue empowering our best and brightest creative minds to continue telling the stories we most love – including in ways that would’ve just seemed like science fiction a years ago.

So, with AI, we’re not just letting users flip through the pages of Conan’s adventures; we’re letting them live them. And if that doesn’t scream ‘legendary storytelling,’ I don’t know what does!

AI is often seen as a tool with limitless possibilities. Were there moments during development where the AI took the narrative in directions you hadn’t anticipated?

Oh, for sure! The thing with Generative AI is that it’s, well, generative. It’s in the name! It’s designed to come up with stuff on the fly. So, yeah, there were definitely curveballs. But that’s part of the magic, right? You get these unexpected moments that can add so much depth to the narrative. If anything it’s a huge asset.

But here’s the kicker: while the AI can go off the beaten path, the groundwork we laid down ensures it doesn’t stray too far from the essence of Conan. It’s like setting up a playground; the AI can swing on the swings or slide down the slide, but it’s still within the boundaries we set. 

There’s only so much direct dictation I can do before I have to trust that the relationships we’ve established between key data points are solid. So even when the AI goes ‘off rails,’ it’s still very much ‘on the rails’ in the grand scheme of things. It’s a wild ride, but man, it’s just so damn fun. 

How do you envision the role of fan communities evolving as AI becomes a more prominent tool in crafting narratives?

Yeah, I mean… right, like fan communities have always been the lifeblood of any IP. They’re the ones who keep the stories alive. But honestly I don’t even think FANS understand how different things are going to get with AI at our disposal. 

Like…imagine a world where fan theories aren’t discussed; they’re generated and played out in real-time. Where headcanons can be explored in a sandbox environment, and fanfics aren’t just written, but lived. And like… dude this is just the stuff I can think of, but I know I’m leaving MOST of the cool stuff out. We haven’t even talked about what fan relationships to their IPs look like when we integrate generative AI into settings like VR, I mean JEEZ.

And some folks may look at that and say “Oh, well then, do the fans own the story at that point?” I mean… yes and no! It’s all about balance. We’re not talking about replacing the original narrative or making fan canon the actual canon of the IPs we know and love. No, no. Authors do and should always own the rights to their works and their works’ directions, and the works that are created by human minds and hands will always be valued the most by consumers. I believe that to be true, and I know Heroic Signatures thinks that, too. 

But I do think that AI gives us an immense opportunity to let people feel like they have a true claim to the settings and characters they love in a way they simply haven’t been given before.

So, where do I see fan communities in this AI-driven future? At the forefront, man.

With AI’s ability to understand and generate content in multiple languages, how might this technology revolutionize storytelling for global audiences?

Oh man… ha ha ha. Okay, sure. Let’s do this. So, let’s start by just acknowledging the insane linguistic capabilities being showcased by generative AI models from like Google and Meta.. These models are already breaking down language barriers with real-time translations that are so on point, it’s wild. And they’re not just helping users hear or read words; these models are nimble enough to then explain the soul, the essence, the cultural nuances behind those words.

Now, let’s kick it up a notch. Imagine coupling this with the rapid advancements in VR and AR tech. Now we’re not just talking about a user reading or hearing a story in a different language; now they’re able to interact with it. And with tech like text-to-video, the lines between consuming content and creating content blur even more..

But it gets even crazier. With the world getting more comfortable with remote collaboration, I genuinely see a future where globally connected, entirely remote movie, TV, and game studios emerge. Picture this: a director in Tokyo, a scriptwriter in Buenos Aires, a game developer in Lagos, all collaborating in real-time. They might not even speak the same language, but with AI bridging that gap, they’ll be able to craft stories that resonate across continents.
And STILL these narratives won’t have to bend or break their integrity to cater to different cultures – because it’ll still be human driven. The AI that underpins their collaboration will be doing just that – enabling their collaboration to ensure the sum of their creative efforts is relatable to more audiences, rather than just wholesale making artificial content in different languages. So, at this point, I don’t even know if we’re talking about AI being used to make content for global audiences anymore – more like AI enabling universal enjoyment of content made for humans, by humans, I guess?

In your vision, how will future generations look back at projects like ‘Taverns of Treachery’? Will they see it as the dawn of a new era in storytelling?

When future generations look back at projects like ‘Taverns of Treachery’, I don’t think they’ll see us as the true pioneers or the trailblazers. Instead, they might see us as one of the many early adopters, trying to harness a nascent technology at its inflection point – and just notice that we happened to do it better than a lot of our competitors, ha ha ha. We’re like those early surfers trying and somehow succeeding to ride a massive wave, knowing full well we could’ve wiped out, but taking the risk anyway because of the thrill it promised.

I mean this whole era is just a chaotic, wild west of experimentation, where studios with guts like Heroic Signatures are throwing anything that’s out of the box at the wall – and for good reason. And while many of our attempts might seem rudimentary or even quaint to those future onlookers, I do think they’ll recognize the ambition and sheer audacity of trying to capture this lightning in a bottle.

But, you know, most of all, I hope they’ll see it as a testament to Heroic Signatures’ commitment to its fans, to pushing the boundaries of storytelling, and to the belief that technology, when wielded with passion and respect, can elevate our stories to realms we’ve only dreamt of – until now. 

Did that chat with Lo Terry leave your mind as blown as ours? By now, it (hopefully) is clear we’re on the cusp of a storytelling revolution. And guess what? That’s just a glimpse of the magic we’re conjuring up here at Heroic Signatures.

But, hold onto your helms, because the rabbit hole goes deeper. Ever wondered how we managed to blend the legendary world of characters like Conan with the cutting-edge tech of AI without losing what makes them them? Or how we envision AI reshaping the narratives of our other iconic tales?

Dive into our other exclusive chat with Lo Terry and discover the alchemy behind ‘Taverns of Treachery’ and where we believe the boundless horizons of AI-driven narratives will take us in telling legendary stories around beloved characters like Conan the Barbarian.

Written by Lo Terry
In his effort to help Heroic Signatures tell legendary stories, Lo Terry does a lot. Sometimes, that means spearheading an innovative, AI-driven tavern adventure. In others it means writing words in the voice of a mischievous merchant for people to chuckle at. It's a fun time.
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