‘Shoon’ is not a particularly good game, but it is a harbinger of AI art’s entrance into game development.
Shoon is a recently released side scrolling shmup that is fairly unremarkable, except for one quirk: it’s made entirely with art created by Midjourney, an AI system that generates images from text prompts written by users.
It is not a good video game by any means. As far as shmups go, it feels bad. Your character moves too fast, your hitbox is ill defined, enemies and their projectiles move in awkward, confusing ways. However, none of this really matters because the game itself was never the selling point, which is instead the game’s AI generated art.
Midjourney is one of a few AI image generators, alongside DALL-E and Google’s Imagen, which are currently in various stages of heavily publicized beta testing. These AI are fed a prompt, and then generate a series of images based upon the prompt and a machine learning algorithm modeled on other pieces of art. Users can then refine this work through slightly adjusting their prompts to create incredibly specific, highly detailed images.
Shoon uses this technology to produce a broken city, which acts as the background texture upon which your character scrolls, a handful of ships, and a massive bug creature which spawns smaller bugs.
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