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Play for Fun, an indie gaming studio owned by Kunlun Group, unveiled its AI-powered 3D simulation game, Club Koala.
Club Koala is a social game that combines AI functions .with a dynamic, fully customizable user-generated content (UGC) world. Players can create their own dream world, a personalized paradise island with unique characters, mini-games, and experiences through the power of AI.
The AI includes lifelike AI NPCs and captivating AI music, the company said. The advanced features simplify design for players, allowing space for a truly immersive world with storytelling and unique communities of players and AI NPCs that foster companionship. The public beta will be released later this year.
Announced for the first time at the world’s largest gaming event, Gamescom 2023, Club Koala wants to pave the way for new developments in the industry and leverage the expansive possibilities of generative AI to provide an authentic and immersive experience that is truly unique to each individual player.
The game was inspired by the childhood of CEO Fang Han, who had a passion for imaginative gameplay and the joys of the creative world, which was reignited once his daughter was born. He wanted to find a way to bring this magic to life again.
The game puts power in players’ hands, inspiring them to design their own community and build a space that brings their reality to the virtual world and caters to their specific core needs, whether that is creativity, friendship, fun, education or otherwise.
The beta launch will introduce AI NPCs alongside exclusive island designs and buildings. Players will be able to explore the magical world of Club Koala, connect with their friends, and grow alongside their AI NPC companions. The game will allow users to create stories that are truly unique to them and build a customized artificially intelligent world.
Play for Fun also said it anticipates having the beta version of Koala editor available at launch. The Koala editor makes it simple for players to design their own virtual universe and create their own unique games, putting the power in the hands of each individual player. Players will also be able to share their game creations, explore other players’ games, and connect with their friends and other members of the Club Koala community.
“AI has become an integral part of everyday life. We see it not only for its huge potential to take the gaming industry to the next level, but a tool to enhance the quality of everyday life around the world,” said Han, in a statement. “With the advent of generative AI and our own cutting-edge technology, we are proud to introduce a UGC gaming experience with AI-powered NPCs where players can express themselves creatively, build companionship and community, and enjoy a dynamic, ever-evolving universe.”
Club Koala comes to life for players through technology and a new approach to PC and mobile gaming, with top free features including the following and more:
- Island construction: Located in the home island, this provides the building blocks for social gameplay. Players can use an avatar system to customize virtual identities, design their own experiences, connect with other players through quests and games, and meet AI NPCs along the way that grow alongside players, building companionship and community in their unique dream world.
- Koala editor: Built on Unity3D and equipped with an abundant model asset box for creating playable UGC level maps and obstacle course games, there is no coding language at all, giving players the freedom to design and customize to their liking without needing outside help. This high-tech editing tool is simplified for people of all levels to easily manage and operate and supports players in their island development. If they can envision it, this tool will help them bring it to life.
- User-generated mini games: Leveraging the Koala editor, players can design their own unique challenges and games, with different genres that cater to all skill levels and play styles. Players can also have fun competing and participating in mini games with their friends, using each other’s creations, or share their designs with the community, fostering collaboration, feedback, and the opportunity to connect with fellow developers and have exclusive access to mini games only available on Club Koala.
- AI NPCs: Using Play for Fun’s Atom AI System, which combines generative AI with the studio’s own developed technology, AI NPCs can learn from players they encounter in the game and adapt their behavior to engage in actions and conversations that are natural and authentic. By analyzing player patterns and preferences, the interaction between the player and the AI NPC will be remembered by the NPC and reflected in the subsequent interaction between them, building a true bond between player and NPC. Each AI NPC will conduct its own behavior according to its own personality traits, characteristics, wishes and memories, and will affect the relationship and development of other NPCs in the world.
Where the magic happens
AI NPCs interact with the game environment, perceive surroundings, and coordinate in groups, creating immersive gameplay that feels remarkably human, the company said. These interactions form a support system for the player and create a community of companions that help build social-emotional skills.
The AI NPCs exhibit self-awareness and independence, which includes making their own schedules and executing accordingly, responding to unexpected behaviors, offering personalized challenges and quests, and dynamically evolving and contributing to intricate narratives.
The unique ability to remember all interactions and learn from the player as they go creates an unique personal experience. AIs can be curated to bring real-life people, such as family members and friends, to life in the virtual realm or create whole new personas a player may be seeking in their life for comfort and companionship.
By incorporating preprocessing, pan-dialogue, text parsing, and an AI NPC behavior tree structure, the game generates storylines and engaging gameplay that reflect the creative style of each individual player.
Club Koala Beta version will be available for public testing on PC and mobile in the fourth quarter. To stay up-to-date on the latest, join the Club Koala Discord community which has already established a creator group of 1,000 gamers, artists and developers, with more than 200,000 visits in eight months.
Play for Fun Studio started in January 2021 in Singapore and it has 268 employees.
I asked how this game is different from some of the other announced AI character simulation games.
“Club Koala will have AI NPCs that remember and grow with players through every interaction, inspiring them to play, engage and foster companionship. Using our Atom AI System, which combines generative AI with Play for Fun’s own cutting-edge technology, AI NPCs can learn from players they encounter in the game and adapt their behavior to engage in actions and conversations that are natural and authentic,” said Alison Jiang, Head of Publishing at Play for Fun Gaming Studio, in an email to GamesBeat. “By analyzing player patterns and preferences, the interaction between the player and the AI NPC will be remembered by the NPC and reflected in the subsequent interaction between them, building a true bond between player and NPC.”
Jiang added, “Each AI NPC will conduct its own behavior according to its own personality traits, characteristics, wishes and memories, and will affect the relationship and development of other NPCs in the world. Users will be able to grow their own AI NPCs and experience unique gameplay and story lines on different islands (whether it is their friends island or simply another Club Koala player’s island). The growth of the AI will advance and the personality will flourish depending on the information and interactions that are created with the AI and the player. Narrative will vary and the entire experience is unique on every island.”
And she said, “Alongside our AI NPCs, we have a UGC platform driving the island construction gameplay. Here, users can develop their own games using the Koala Editor, while engaging with AI NPCs and other users – challenging their friends both in the real world and virtual, to play different games and share their unique designs with each other.”
As for the target market, Jiang said Club Koala is rated Teen for gamers 13 and up.
“We strive to create a secure and fun experience that will delight gamers of all ages within the rating guidelines. Whether you are an advanced gamer, a fan of adventure gameplay, or a beginner, we provide a welcoming space where anyone can express themselves creatively thanks to our easy-to-use editing platform and AI technology,” Jiang said.
As for the inspiration, “Club Koala was ignited by a passionate gamer who envisioned a world of enchantment and diversity. This gamer, Play for Fun’s CEO, Fang Han, wanted to make his dream into a tangible reality, a place where he and his daughter belong, and where their creativity can grow and flourish,” Jiang said.
And Jiang added, “As a child, Mr. Fang would get lost in adventure games and imagine a perfect paradise island with eternal sunshine, friends, and the endless sea. Naturally, as he grew up, life’s chaos made him forget the joy of being a kid, until he had his daughter, and the magic returned. That’s why our game provides a safe, enjoyable experience where anyone can be a storyteller, designer, and developer –whether they are young at heart or young in years.”
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