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Ever since Artificial Intelligence become the next big thing in the filed of Computer Science, there are amazing applications surfacing everyday. From using machine learning to make paintings and sculptures to even rendering realistic looking avatars. However, perhaps the more unconventional uses is found in the world of video game modding. Modders have figured out a way to use AI to produce much better textures for old games.

AI upscaling

The method used is called AI upscaling. It is based on a much older Upscaling technique which takes a low-resolution image and inserts more pixels into it to make it more high definition. However, in AI upscaling, an algorithm is provided an image with it upscales itself using the training data it has received. As a result, the whole process has become faster and produces better quality results.

Credits: Bethesda

Daniel Trolie, a teacher and student from Norway used AI upscaling to generate a high resolution texture pack for the 2002 RPG classic, The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind by Bethesda Game Studios. It is a mod designed to update the visuals of the game. Regarding this technique he said:

It was like witchcraft. [It] looked like I just downloaded a hi-res texture pack from [game developers] Bethesda themselves.

All this still requires a lot of dedication and effort. However, what was previously possible through a team of developers can now be performed by one skilled modder. As a result a lot of games have gotten graphical upgrade mods.

However, most of these games are those that are easily moddable. The Elder Scrolls series is one of the most modded games of all time. The latest title, TES V has over 60000 mods! Other than this Doom, Half-Life 2, Metroid Prime 2, Final Fantasy VII, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City have similar upscaling mods. Moreover, even more latest video games like Mass Effect 2, released in 2010 have received AI upscaling mods.

However, things are not so simple. A Doom modder spent 200 hours in adjusting the images produced by the algorithm. With a single character taking up to 15 hours to clean up.

Updated Doom visuals

We wonder what the future holds in AI upscaling. If it progresses even further, expect to see more classic titles making a jump in their graphics.