It's not unusual for video games to employ some post-production alteration on voice actor performances, but with the advent of artificial intelligence, it's starting to look like machines might one day replace voice actors entirely.
A new report from Good Luck Have Fun looks at Altera AI, a company that creates an AI program capable of creating vocal performances. It's similar to existing text-to-speech but much, much better. Altered can create pitch, tone, and even whole accents from nothing, or it can take a performance in a different language and convert it while retaining the original performance's emotional impact.
It's not perfect, as you can see from the video demonstration below, but it is certainly good enough for some jobs. Altered CEO Ioannis Agiomyrgiannakis says the AI is typically used for prototyping where a real voice actor would replace those lines later, but there are cases where it's being used for NPCs or background voice noise.
Altered could also be good for indie devs working on a tight budget, but Horizon Forbidden West star Ashly Burch doesn't buy that argument. "Artistically, you’re never going to get a truly dynamic and compelling performance from an AI. A few combat barks? Maybe. But if you’re looking for something human and nuanced and alive, AI isn’t going to cut it," she told GLFH. "Low-budget or smaller titles are where a lot of new VO folks get their start. If devs transition to AI, an entire entry point for young artists is being squeezed out."
The report names Hellblade dev Ninja Theory and The Ascent's Neon Giant as two developers already using Altered, although NDA's prevented the company from saying in what capacity. Voice actors who contribute their voices to Altered's database similarly sign NDAs and work anonymously in order to avoid reprisal from fellow actors.
It's not just voice actors that are worried about AI. Artists are looking at programs like Dall-E, which can create believable fantasy characters at the press of a button, and are worried that they might lose out on work.