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Hidden Door, a new studio, today announced its launch. It also announced its first product: A co-op gaming platform that uses AI to help build unique narratives in the style of graphic or visual novels. It will launch in alpha form in early 2022.
The studio also closed a $2 million round of funding. Northzone led the round, with participation from Makers Fund, Betaworks, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and Homebrew.
Hidden Door’s gaming platform is a social space where multiple players put together a story, which is then expanded upon by the in-game AI. Hilary Mason, Hidden Door CEO, compared the in-game AI to the dungeon master in a game of Dungeons & Dragons in an interview with GamesBeat. “We like to think of it as Roblox meets D&D, where you have the vibe of a tabletop RPG where you and your friends are telling a story together. You’re also playing with the AI narrator, who’s sort of like our AI dungeon master, who’s building a world out of the choices that you make as you play.”
Hidden Door’s created worlds are done in a 2D graphic style, with the exact art type depending on the kind of story players want to tell. Mason added that, as players create the world, the AI will also generate items and NPCs to populate it. “As you play, the world gets bigger. You create artifacts out of that play that are uniquely yours. You can share them, and other players can take them and remix them into their own stories. We think it’s a breakthrough on the impossible problem of generative storytelling.”
The Hidden Door AI is trained with custom models and thousands of datasets. Mason says it can pull on tropes from existing stories to generate new stories in a way that makes sense. “We really think the creativity comes from the players. We haven’t built a machine to tell stories. It’s a machine that takes your ideas and riffs on them based on the wisdom of millions of stories.”
Jay Chi, founding partner at Makers Fund, said in a statement, “Hidden Door is well underway with a solution for what long seemed to be the impossible problem of creating an AI that can have realistic conversations with players and invent a narrative along the way. They are a standout team blending storytelling, machine learning and interactive entertainment. We can’t wait to see how the community generates new ideas and stories to further the narrative.”
Hidden Door’s platform is set to launch in an invite-only alpha later this year. At launch, it will have a collection of original worlds in which players can build their stories.