Back to Insights

Mr. Pain and All the Ways We Used AI for Its Game Design

Late 2022 was when at least two things were discussed non-stop. The first one was AI, capabilities of which have reached their current peak and made it the hottest topic to talk about with both excitement and intimidation. The second one would spread mostly around Sunday’s offices, but gathered as much attention and passionate chit-chat. It was Mr. Pain, our then-prototype that would show KPIs so good that it was no wonder we kept talking about it.

It was only a matter of time before we realized that this coincidence created the perfect opportunity for us to try artificial intelligence in game design. And it did! Mr. Pain allowed us to tip our toes into the use of AI algorithms in game development, and today we’re going to walk you through our findings.

Introducing, Mr. Pain

This painfully delightful aiming puzzle is a direct result of our recently implemented product strategy — you can read more about it in our interview with Sunday’s MD Christoph. In Mr. Pain, you take on a role of the sly main character with a gravity gun and a zeal for hurting the bad guys in the most creative ways possible. 

Level after level, you can use chainsaws, spikes, electric rods, and other deadly devices to kill the agents, save the innocents, and earn bucks to upgrade your very own pain room. There you can keep letting your stresses dissolve by collecting and using even more comically evil devices.

Midjourney in Game Art Ideation 

Umut, the Game Lead of Sunday’s Team Coconut (the one behind Mr. Pain), has taken on Midjouney to speed up his game art ideation process. Normally, he would dwell on the ideas while sketching them on paper, which he would later pass on to one of the game artists to turn into an actual 3d asset. 

This time, however, Umut could harness the power of text-to-image AI generators for a detailed art concept. He prompted Midjourney to create a 3d asset set containing various obstacles and weapons for the game like spikes and acid pools. The result he achieved was clearer, easier to interpret, and much faster to complete than anything he could achieve with sketching.

The functionality of modern text-to-image generators allows you to improve on the resulting image until you’re satisfied with it. In Midjourney, for example, you get 4 options for each prompt, which you can endlessly create variations of and upscale to add more detail. Once you’re satisfied with the output, you can forward the result to an actual artist as a reference to build game assets. 

This workflow has definitely been fun to experiment with and we’re seeing clear benefits:

  • Unexpected output: AI art can sometimes be unexpected and sparks new ideas that you wouldn’t think of without.
  • Easy interpretation: AI-generated art concepts are easier to use as a reference for your artists than hand-drawn sketches, and they generally better ensure the desired end result. 
  • Plenty of saved time: when used right, AI can quickly produce relevant art concepts for you to use as a reference for making game assets. Meanwhile, you can dedicate saved time to working on high-priority projects.

Brainstorming Game Mechanics with Chat GPT 

When developing a game, we always strive for a solid LTV and long-term retention, looking tens and hundreds of levels ahead. What would keep players entertained for longer? With Mr. Pain, part of the fun is the variety of punishment methods — when the new ones become available, the excitement makes players stay and keep playing.

We brainstormed weapons for Mr. Pain until we hit the wall, and then we passed this task on to Chat GPT. Basically, we said: “Give us more creative weapons that are fun to torture enemies with!” And here are the results we got.

What we have here is a mix of obstacles that we’ve already brainstormed ourselves, and some new and unexpected ones that we could definitely work on and add to the game. The best part is that we could easily keep going and ask for however many more obstacles to generate — a cornucopia of silly torture devices! This proved to us that Chat GPT could be a valuable brainstorming buddy when it comes to expanding the world of the game and creatively deepening the experience. The same approach applies to any in-game asset that needs more variations to keep the game fresh and exciting for hundreds of levels of playtime.

Speeding Up the Coding Process with Chat GPT

As the hyper-casual market gets more saturated, we need to do everything possible to make the game development as fast and error-free as possible. That’s why we jumped head first into the opportunity to use Chat GPT’s AI in games programming.

The way we make games at Sunday requires a lot of back-and-forth between team members with constant feedback and fine-tuning. This often involves complex problems and quite sophisticated solutions. However, we found a way to effectively incorporate Chat GPT into our coding practices without any risks or downsides. 

If you code yourself, you know that it involves A LOT of googling. Which is quite a norm: whatever language you use, it’s nearly impossible to know all functions and libraries by heart. Naturally, whenever you face a coding problem you don’t know how to solve, you start scouting for a solution across pages of google results and forums in hopes to find it quickly. Sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t. Chat GPT, however, thanks to its ability to process natural language, is a perfect tool for solving specific code-related tasks that saved us tons of time.

We used it several times when working on the code for Mr. Pain. At one point, our developer Aykut faced a RegEx problem when trying to extract a file name from a long C# string. This very specific issue would normally require looking for the solution using Google. Chat GPT, however, quickly understood his request and provided a working solution in seconds. What was left to do is copy the output and paste it into the existing code. It worked! No more need to do exhausting research through pages of forums and technical documentation.

Writing the Game Description with Chat GPT

The power of a good app store description shouldn’t be underestimated — it drives your conversion rates up and generates organic downloads — and that’s why we thought it wouldn’t hurt to try Chat GPT for that as well.

While playing around with Chat GPT we realized that the secret to a good game description is a detailed prompt. If you’re planning to write yours this way, be sure to include:

  • A list of the most important features and gameplay elements;
  • The description of the characters and the story;
  • The tone of voice to use in the description.

The end result is hard to predict, and will most probably contain inaccuracies, and that’s alright. At the end of the day, we’re using AI as an instrument, rather than the ultimate solution.

Chat GPT remembers what you said earlier in the conversation, so we kept asking for additional edits. When we were satisfied enough with the output and felt like it reached the peak of AI’s possibilities, we used the AI-generated output as a foundation for our own copy. To generate more organic downloads, we enhanced the description with relevant keywords, and then it was ready for the in-store A/B testing.

AI in Game Dev: We’re Excited!

These AI experiments merging the hottest technology and game dev was quite a success! We not only started using AI to speed up game development but also improved Mr. Pain along the way. Using AI for games is nothing to be afraid of — are you ready to try it yourself? Share this article with your team, and take on the new challenge! 

Interested in publishing with Sunday?

Ready to begin your success story?