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auctoria: Empowering Creativity in Graphic Design and Game Development

auctoria's Aleksander Caban and Michał Bugała told us about the company's approach in the game development industry, reflected on the role of AI in graphic design, and shared their vision on ethical and responsible content generation. 


Aleksander Caban: Hello! My name is Aleksander Caban - I have been involved with graphics and technology for a long time. I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice (Poland) and later taught VR and game design to students there. I started creating games 14 years ago (Painkiller HD, Deadfall Adventures), and 8 years ago I founded Carbon Studio. For most of the time, I have been involved in concept art, 3D environmental design, and later in art direction.

Michał Bugała: Hi! My name is Michał Bugała. I completed my studies at the Częstochowa University of Technology in the Faculty of Process, Material Engineering, and Applied Physics, earning a master's degree in material engineering. Besides materials, my greatest passion was programming, which I utilized in my thesis, combining these two fields to develop software that automated several stereological methods. After my studies, I tried my hand in game development as an independent creator, but those were the times when game engines were not free and had to be written by oneself. It was then that I realized I preferred developing tools for games and exploring new technologies over game production itself. This new direction led me to work in a research and development center that developed technologies for the military. There, I worked on tank simulators and vehicle autonomy, which in turn introduced me to the field of artificial intelligence.

Journey of auctoria: Origins, Motivation, and Community-driven Solutions

Michał: I've always enjoyed developing tools for programmers and graphic artists, and artificial intelligence is the ideal solution to automate and assist in many aspects of graphics and graphic content creation. auctoria allows me to combine my education, passion, and professional experience, so it's hard to talk about motivation - it's a natural process

Aleksander: The concept and initial R&D started at Carbon Studio - we wanted to create a tool for our designers to streamline their work. Imagine, with each new project - more rocks, more materials - seemingly different, yet very repetitive. The larger the project, the more repetitive the work. We wanted our highly skilled team to focus on what's really important - the details. We aimed to improve the workflow for level design and 3D in general, to quickly iterate various ideas - even if you're not strictly a level designer or 3D artist. auctoria was created precisely for this reason, to allow everyone to quickly present their idea, or edit and create things directly in the engine. For over 2 years, we worked on the proof of concept.

Redefining the Role of AI in Graphic Design

Michał: Artificial intelligence will not replace graphic artists, just as graphic design programs did not replace illustrators or painters. AI-based solutions will be new tools used by graphic artists (and others) that will enable them to create content faster, on a larger scale, and with greater detail. A graphic artist will be able to produce more, faster, and more accurately, but they will never be replaced by artificial intelligence. Perhaps only the nature of their work will change, and tools like auctoria will help them expand their imagination in different directions.

Aleksander: Imagine that nowadays a graphic artist would complain that Photoshop is taking away their job. auctoria was created to improve that work process, to allow designers to create what they have in their heads quickly and efficiently without worrying about technical details. The nature of their work will definitely change – but in a positive way. They will have more time and freedom to create unique experiences for players. 

Unlocking Game Level Creation Potential 

Michał: The data used to train our AI models are based on data collected from nature, not synthetic data. We strive to base all terrain features either on real data or on precise calculations. For instance, the points of interest are calculated in a similar manner to how land sale prices are estimated, but with accuracy down to a single pixel of terrain. We also take into account the terrain's topology and predict where such points would naturally occur in the natural process.

Aleksander: Imagine this scenario: A designer draws the path that the player will move along, adding specific types of terrain – such as mountains, rivers, and forests – in a simple, intuitive way by sketching the area where each feature should be located. After the level is created, auctoria checks which points are most frequently visible from which locations and focuses its attention there – whether it's by adding interesting rock formations or leaving space for architecture.

Empowering Indie Game Studios

Aleksander: Using auctoria can significantly reduce production costs and speed up work. Imagine a level where we want to move from the blockout phase to the first graphical iteration. We are working on making this phase speed up to just the minutes needed for selecting the right setting, adjusting things like the type of trees and other plants to be used, time of day, and overall visual conditions. Or even creating specific models in the engine itself. auctoria already has the capability to create 3D and 2.5D models while working on a level. Need a new column? Why not. Want a wall built of skulls suddenly? Give me a few seconds. And all this with both a traditional graphical interface and voice or text control. Need to change all your textures to a more stylized look? It will only take a few minutes now. Additionally, if your game already has a certain graphic style, auctoria will adapt to it. Of course, not everything is working 100% yet. It will surely be a long process to make everything work perfectly, but we are proud of what we have achieved. 

Michał: Small development studios will be able to create graphic content for their games at the level of giants in the computer game industry without a significant amount of work, financial resources required, necessary experience, and knowledge.

auctoria's Project Showcase

Michał: The most interesting observation for us and those working with auctoria is how auctoria itself influences the user's imagination and the final result, the scene. It often happens that the generated terrain, over which we don't have full control, changes the entire conception of the scene, and certain assumptions are modified to not spoil the excellent work done by auctoria. In response to the first question, we are working on greater control over scenes by allowing for the manual setting of the player's path by graphic designers and game developers. In this case, auctoria will adapt to the user's wishes, rather than the other way around.

Roadmap to Success

Michał: We are constantly working on improving the quality and diversity of what users can produce. We are in the process of moving the main parts of auctoria to the cloud, to speed up its performance and make it easier to use. At the moment, we have a working plugin for UE5 and are developing plugins for Unity and other 3D applications. In July this year, we partnered with NVIDIA, joining their Inception program, which has allowed us to have a nearly completed version working in NVIDIA Omniverse. We are preparing for a full launch in the coming months.

Aleksander: From a business perspective, we still face many challenges. It was only in March this year that we began presenting auctoria - first at GDC in San Francisco, and then we were able to showcase our MVP at Gamescom. We are extremely pleased with the great interest from developers we encountered at these events. This year, we didn’t focus on customers – we were looking for partners who, in January 2024, will want to test the closed beta of auctoria and provide us with valuable feedback. Additionally, we focused on fundraising to further develop our product and to start moving auctoria to the cloud, which will allow us to release an open beta. For this reason, we started an Angels Round, which we hope to close very soon. We are intensely focused on discussions with investors interested in this and future rounds. The TechCrunch Startup Battlefield this year, which we attended as one of the top 200 startups, was invaluable in seeking investors. Meanwhile, we continue to invite interested investors, as well as game and film creators, to contact us - we are taking registrations for testing the closed beta!

auctoria's Approach to Responsible Content Generation

Aleksander: After the initial proof of concept phase, we focused on ensuring that auctoria does not infringe on any intellectual property rights. As creators, we quickly identified this issue and began teaching it using our own databases, a practice we will continue. We are proud that this approach has made us nearly 100% independent of other technologies, and our engine operates on our own terms. This independence allows us to envision it as a base for other companies to create applications, or even to enhance the ability for users to create game content within applications. Who wouldn't want to design their own original helmet within their favorite game?

Michał: At the moment, our focus is more on inanimate matter, such as landscapes, rock models, and weather effects, rather than on predicting man-made objects. Of course, we can generate an object based on an image, but it's up to the user to decide whether to do this based on their own image or one generated by artificial intelligence. Our flagship artificial intelligence models do not use data produced by humans but by nature.

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Expert Tips and Advice for Aspiring Developers and Designers

Aleksander: Always keep an open mind! Specialization is important, but having skills in multiple areas is always a plus. A person who, for example, deals with level design on a daily basis but also understands how particles work, so they can test and propose changes themselves rather than waiting on others, is much more valuable. This doesn't mean they need to master every field of knowledge. That's why skills gained from personal projects (where you literally have to handle everything) are so valuable, as are game jams - where the added pressure of time is a factor. By the way, you can meet great people at these events and establish connections that can bear fruit for years.

Aleksander Caban, CEO of auctoria

Michał Bugała, Chief Technology Officer at auctoria

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