Several years ago, Aleksander Caban, co-founder of Carbon Studio, a Polish VR game developer, observed a major problem in modern game design. He had to manually create rocks, hills, paths and other basic elements of video game environments, which often proved to be a long and laborious process.
So Caban decided to develop technology to help automate the process.
He teamed up with Michal Bugała, Joanna Zając and two co-founders of Carbon Studio, Karolina Koszuta and Błażej Szaflik, to launch Auctoria, a platform that uses artificial intelligence to generate 3D video game assets from scratch. Based in Gliwice, Poland, Auctoria is one of the participants in the Startup Battlefield 200 at RockedBuzz Disrupt 2023.
“We created Auctoria out of a passion for limitless creativity,” Zając told RockedBuzz in an email interview. “It was created to support game development professionals in their work, but anyone who wants to create can use it. There aren’t many advanced tools for professionals; most of them focus on hobbyists and amateurs. We want to change that.”
Auctoria uses generative AI technology to create a range of different types of models for video games. One of the platform’s features attempts to generate entire 3D game levels, complete with paths for players to explore (albeit fairly simple ones), while another converts uploaded images and textures of walls, floors, and columns into 3D equivalents of that work of art.
Users can also enter text messages to have Auctoria generate resources, à la DALL-E 2 or Midjourney. Or they can provide a sketch, which the platform will attempt to turn into a usable digital model.
Zając says that all the AI algorithms that power Auctoria, as well as the data used to train them, were developed in-house.
“Auctoria it is 100% based on our own content, so we are not dependent on any other vendor,” he said. “It is an independent tool: Auctoria does not rely on any external engine or use open source solutions.”
Now, Auctoria isn’t alone in the nascent market for AI tools to generate game assets. There are the 3D modeling platforms 3DFY and Scenario, as well as startups like Kaedim, Mirage and Hypothetic. Even incumbents like Nvidia and Autodesk are starting to dip their toes into this space with apps like Get3D, which converts images into 3D models, and ClipForge, which generates models from text descriptions.
Meta did it too tried out with technology to generate 3D assets from instructions. The same goes for OpenAI, which last December released Point-E, an artificial intelligence that synthesizes 3D models with potential applications in 3D printing, game design and animation.
The rush to bring new solutions to market is unsurprising, given the scale of the opportunity. Second According to Proficient Market Insights, the 3D modeling market could be worth $3.57 billion by 2028.
But Zając argues that Auctoria’s relatively long development cycle – it has been in research and development for about two years – has resulted in a more “robust” and “comprehensive” toolset than some rivals offer.
“There is currently a lack of AI-based software that enables the creation of complete 3D world models,” Zając said. “Existing solutions typically consist of 3D editors and plugins, but offer only a fraction of Auctoria’s capabilities. Our team started developing the tool two years ago, allowing us to have a ready-to-use product.”
Of course, like all generative AI startups, Auctoria will have to deal with the legal challenges currently swirling around AI-generated media. At least in the United States, it is not yet clear to what extent AI-generated works can be protected by copyright.
But the Auctoria team – currently made up of seven employees, plus the five cofounders – is leaving these questions unanswered for now. They are instead focusing on partnering with game development studios, including Caban’s Carbon Studio, to pilot the tools.
Ahead of Auctoria’s general availability in the coming months, the company hopes to raise up to $5 million to “accelerate the process” of building back-end cloud services to scale the platform.
“The money would reduce the overall processing time needed to create 3D worlds or models with Auctoria,” Zając said. “Creating an infrastructure for a software-as-a-service model is one thing, it’s another to improve the user experience, for example by simplifying onboarding with a simple user interface and good customer service and experience experiences. marketing… We will keep our core team small, but we will hire a few more employees later this year.”