Pac-Man Turns 40: NVIDIA and Twitch Offer Up Innovative Twists

A screenshot of the Pac-Man Live Studio game.Amazon

Today is the 40th anniversary of Pac-Man, one of the world’s leading cultural icons. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Twitch announced its first “integrated” game, the multiplayer Pac-Man Live Studio. But for some, NVIDIA’s AI-recreation of the original Pac-Man may overshadow any new installments in the series.

Pac-Man Live Studio is a collaboration between Amazon and Bandai. It’s a browser-based game that’s built directly into Twitch, so you don’t have to download any software to compete with your friends or livestream to your fans. The game, which launches sometime in June, has an Endless Mode where teams chase high-scores, a Maze Creator where gamers build and play custom levels, and a Classic Mode where you can play the original Pac-Man and compete for a global high-score.

Amazon’s Pac-Man Live Studio is a major step for gaming development, as its the first title that’s built specifically for livestreaming. From here on out, developers will have to craft their games to entertain an audience, as well as the person who’s actually playing.

But as I mentioned earlier, some people may be more interested in NVIDIA’s anniversary announcement. The just unveiled its recreation of Pac-Man, which was built from scratch by the GameGAN AI. According to NVIDIA, the AI didn’t have access to a game engine and built its recreation of Pac-Man off 50,000 “episodes” of gameplay. The only noticeable difference between the original Pac-Man and its AI-recreation is visual quality—the recreation looks much softer than its forebear. Evidently, GameGAN isn’t a graphics snob.

In the long-term, NVIDIA hopes that GameGAN becomes a common development tool. Not to duplicate games, but to generate unique game layouts and levels. GameGAN will be another brush in a game developer’s tool kit, and will hopefully reduce their workload.

Twitch’s Pac-Man Live Studio and NVIDIA’s AI-generated Pac-Man are milestones for gaming, although they might not get the press of the original Pac-Man. According to Amazon, you’ll be able to play and stream Pac-Man Live Studio on Twitch next month. NVIDIA’s Pac-Man recreation will hit the AI Playground later this year.

Source: Amazon, NVIDIA

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