Virtual humans in VR and ‘deep learning’ among ‘longer-term’ topics being researched by 30 to 40-strong team

EA forms Frostbite Labs to focus on developing future tech

EA has created a new internal division dedicated to working on technology that could revolutionise the games industry.

Frostbite Labs comprises a team of 30 to 40 “highly specialised” researchers, split across offices in Stockholm and Vancouver.

EA Studios EVP Patrick Söderlund said the “longer-term” projects covered “profound” and “out there” areas of technology development.

One such concept is that of virtual humans, designed to bring an increased level of fidelity and believability to the virtual reality space.

"How you’re seen as a virtual human in that world is something we need to solve for,” Söderlund proposed.

Another big area for Frostbite Labs is that of deep learning, or the ability to procedurally generate complex creations using algorithms – not unlike an AI.

This could potentially surface within the existing Frostbite engine as a way to save time when initially concepting in-game levels. Designers could potentially one day input a series of parameters – such as time of day, environment and weather – and have the engine take over, producing a basic map without the need for manual work.

“If we can get a base set of levels created that the artists and levels can then go in and alter, imagine just much time we’ve won and how much more time we can spend on iterating on the game instead of actually making the game,” Söderlund enthused. “In a sense, it should drive economy of scale and should also drive a better product."

He closed by highlighting the need for games companies to push technological advancement, arguing that it should be innate for developers.

"Innovation is not something you have to ask permission to do,” he said. “This is something that has to be in our DNA. It’s something that should be ingrained in the culture of the company."

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