Artificial intelligence improves the graphics quality of old video games and does it really well
Artificial intelligence technologies are gradually developing, helping to solve problems and problems of various fields - from business to medicine and entertainment. Recently it became known about another problem that AI solves very well. We are talking about game modes - as it turned out, machine learning is a great tool for improving the graphics of classic computer games.
The technology in question is called “AI upscaling”. Everything is as simple as a clock: the image is fed from the low-resolution game to the algorithm, and a bit later the AI gives an improved version of this instance. Of course, at the beginning of the work it is necessary to train the neural network, otherwise there will be no improvement. But after training AI shows very interesting results.
An example is the graphics from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Fan of this gameI processed all the graphic files using the algorithm and it turned out, if not perfect, then close to that.
Usually, to improve the quality of textures from a game, you need the work of a whole team of enthusiasts who spend days, weeks and months of personal time to achieve the desired result. These are hundreds and hundreds of hours of the whole team, and far from always the project can be completed.
With the help of AI, graphics cannot be improved in a couple of minutes, but still, work is done much faster - in weeks, not months or even years. Moreover, the work can be done by a single person. It may well be that soon we will see a large number of “turned” old games that will look new.
Improvements have already been made to such famous titles as Doom, Half-Life 2, Metroid Prime 2, Final Fantasy VII, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Recently, even Mass Effect 2 improved, getting a very good result..
According to one of the "optimizers", it took him about 200 hours to set up the algorithm and get the desired result. But then only one person was able to update Doom.
Optimizers work with games where textures are stored in special files. These are images of stones, metal, grass, weapons and everything else that is in the game. At startup, all these images are “pulled” onto level maps and we see what we see.
According to those who have already been engaged in improving graphics, after the work of AI there are graphic artifacts that have to be removed manually. This takes time. By the way, approximately the same thing happens in all other cases when artificial intelligence is used - its presence in the project does not mean the absence of a person. "Manual" work is still needed.
Here is one of the services that are actively used by modders and optimizers .
The service has two functional parts. The first translates the image (or rather, tries to translate) from low-res to high-res. Well, the second part deals with comparing what happened with the “experience” accumulated after training. If the second part evaluates the picture as “successful,” it is taken as the result.
At the same time, over time, AI improves its working methods and complicates algorithms. This is not just “stretching” images, which a graphic editor can do, but a real multi-stage transformation.
Gamers who play optimized games (and remember the original versions) say that the impression during the passage remains the same, the emotions are the same. But it is also added by admiration for the quality of the "new" picture. Previously, gamers saw a better picture due to the fact that the graphics were displayed on picture tubes of older versions, so many graphic artifacts were simply invisible. But now, when you start an old game on a modern monitor, all the flaws are visible in the palm of your hand, which in some cases reduces the fun of playing through.
It has already been said above that soon we will see old games in a new package - and this is indeed so. More and more services are appearing to optimize graphics and modders of all stripes are working on various projects. It remains to wait a bit and we will be able to enjoy new impressions of the game in the famous titles.