What would otherwise have been a fairly minor announcement, the news that some old Duke Nukem games were coming to an Evercade handheld, has blown up after the rapid discovery that the bundle’s promotion included a bunch of terrible machine-generated imagery.
Above is one of the images—since deleted—as first shared by Evercade, which shows Duke standing atop a pile of...something, blasting at...something else with two large guns. I know they’re a video game publisher and hardware company, not an art studio, but surely somebody somewhere there looked at this image for more than three seconds, because even glancing at it you can see at least half a dozen red flags.
Human legs don’t bend like that! Why is there a patch of grey paint between his right arm and the gun? Why is the stock of gun in his left hand bending around his forearm like that? Where is his left foot? Why are the flames coming out of the gun bending? What is going on with his trigger finger here?
Even the most cursory glance at the portfolio of the person responsible for providing the work, Oskar Manuel, should have sounded alarm bells. Describing themselves as a “hybrid artist”, their portfolio consists almost entirely of machine-generated imagery.
Following outcry from both fans and artists, Evercade’s parent company has deleted all their promotional material provided by Manuel, (who they said in a now-deleted Tweet was “very talented” and “award-winning”), as well as apologising and saying they are “removing the art where possible to do so” (it appears this art was only for promotional purposes, and isn’t used in the games themselves). A statement from their CEO reads:
Over the last 24 hours, we have been humbled by the support and excitement over our newest cartridge announcements and our partnership with Gearbox to bring the Duke Nukem franchise to Evercade.
As part of this, an artist was commissioned to produce a lead image for the new Duke Nukem 1+2 Remastered game developed by Blaze Entertainment. It is abundantly clear from the response on social media that the work on this commission has fallen below the expectation and standards demanded by fans due to the artists’ use of AI in the process.
We are immediately removing the art where possible to do so and will be announcing a replacement commission in due course that better meets the high standard expected.
We would like to apologise to you, all of the fans, who have felt passionately about this enough and please be assured are working to remedy this. We also would like to thank everyone who’s worked on the project to date for their input.
The speed with which games seem to be caught using AI certainly sucks, but if there’s any solace to be found it’s that each time it’s discovered fans are making it known that it’s simply not good enough.