What happened when we asked ChatGPT and Midjourney to redesign Death By Coconuts?
ChatGPT by OpenAI and Google’s Bard are changing the landscape in terms of written content. So after a few months of testing the possibilities of this new technology, we decided to run a test. We wanted to find if ChatGPT could write a game that we could create and sell.
Now, we know what you’re thinking… and we’re not about to trust this generative AI to create an entire game for us and proceed to print. What we did instead, was give it the same parameters as an existing game to test what it could come up with.
For this, we chose our most complex game to date: Death By Coconuts. And for the full AI desing experience, we also enlisted Midjourney to take care of the graphics, board, packaging and other design elements for us.
Was it a fair fight?
But before we begin, it’s full disclosure time. For us in the design team at Bubblegum Stuff, this wasn’t a purely objective experiement. We had skin in the game – we all secretly wanted to see the AI fail. After all, our jobs could be on the line in the future.
That being said, we ensured the test was fair throughout 🤥 . We provided ChatGPT with a more specific brief than the one we had – we even gave it a few design elements and features to get it started. And here’s what happened…
So it’s worth saying from the beginning that we used ChatGPT with the AIPRM plugin. That enabled us to closer replicate Bubblegum Stuff’s tone and writing style – we set it to playful and satirical. And then we gave it the following brief:
What we asked ChatGPT to do
I want you to design a board game for me. It should be a snakes and ladders style race to the finish for four players. However, the mechanism for moving across the board isn't rolling dice, it's betting. And the content that players will be betting on is stupid causes of death, i.e., which of several options is the most deadly.
The overall theme of the game should be 1950s Americana mixed with a tropical island tiki-style. The board should resemble a Goonies-style treasure map containing features you'd expect to see on a desert island. I'd like you to design the trapdoors and shortcuts around that.
There should also be spots on the board where players can pick up cards that give them a competitive advantage over their opponents. And the finish should be some kind of separate isle that resembles an exclusive club or party. Let's see what you've got…
And here is ChatGPT’s first attempt…
Well, buckle up, because I've got a board game idea that'll knock your socks off! It's called "Deadly Island Adventure: The Stupid Causes of Death Race," and it's a thrilling combination of Snakes and Ladders, betting, and ridiculous death scenarios.
The board itself is a thing of beauty, featuring a vibrant 1950s Americana theme mixed with tropical tiki-style elements that'll make you feel like you're on a wild island adventure with a group of quirky friends. Picture palm trees, sandy beaches, hidden caves, and all the other essentials you'd expect from a desert island paradise.
But don't let the scenery fool you - this is a game of wits and strategy, where players bet on which of several idiotic ways to die is the most lethal. Will you put your money on "death by coconut," "death by giant clam," or perhaps the classic "death by falling piano"? The choice is yours, but choose wisely - because the wrong bet could set you back and leave you stranded in the jungle.
Of course, there are plenty of traps and shortcuts to navigate along the way, with trapdoors and secret passages hidden throughout the island. Some will help you advance quickly, while others could leave you stuck in a cave or swallowed up by quicksand.
But fear not - there are also cards to be picked up along the way that will give you a competitive advantage over your opponents. Maybe you'll snag a "lucky charm" card that guarantees a successful bet, or perhaps a "jetpack" card that lets you fly over any obstacle in your path.
And the ultimate goal? Why, to reach the finish line and join the exclusive club or party waiting for you on a separate island. It'll be the hottest spot on the island, with tiki torches, a live band, and all the fancy drinks you can handle. But only the player who can outwit their opponents and avoid the deadly traps will make it there in one piece.
So what do you say? Are you ready to join the adventure and put your betting skills to the test? Gather your friends, mix up some mai tais, and let's get ready to race to the finish line in Deadly Island Adventure: The Stupid Causes of Death Race!
No a bad effort! We were pretty impressed in some respects but not quite as impressed in others. For example, there are some elements where ChatGPT showed broader thinking in terms of its interpretation of our input data.
Where ChatGPT was creative
It gave us ‘"death by giant clam," or perhaps the classic "death by falling piano"’ as possible stupid death options. It also gave an alternative name for our “treasure chest” cards, calling them “lucky charm” cards. And it suggested a “jetpack” as one of those lucky charm cards, that enabled players to “fly over” obstacles
Where ChatGPT thought like us
There were also striking similarities between the content it generated and the content in Death By Coconuts.
For example, it ChatGPT said “Picture palm trees, sandy beaches, hidden caves, and all the other essentials you'd expect from a desert island paradise,” when describing the board. And in the story, we said, “Navigate shortcuts and lava flows - you know, the usual features of a deserted tropical island.”
It also use the phrase “Death Race” in the title. And on the packaging description, we challenged players to “back your knowledge of death stats in this betting race.”
Where ChatGPT copied us
But in some places ChatGPT pretty much regurgitated the information we gave it. For example, we said, “the finish should be some kind of separate isle that resembles an exclusive club or party.” And it came up with, “And the ultimate goal? Why, to reach the finish line and join the exclusive club or party waiting for you on a separate island.”
What we didn’t like
Given that we only asked for an overall summary, we expected a few blind spots and grey areas in terms of the narrative. We knew it wouldn’t design us the content for an entire game. So we overlooked any ambiguity.
But overall, it was the title that perhaps needed some work. Whilst all the elements for a good title were there, it was just too long. Plus, we hadn’t given it a fair shot since the title for Death By Coconuts was named after a specific viral internet factoid.
So we asked ChatGPT to have another go…
‘The inspiration for the game was based on the factoid: "falling coconuts kill more people each year than sharks." Can you come up with a title based around that?’
And here’s what it said…
Absolutely! Based on the fact that falling coconuts are more deadly than sharks, here are some satirical game title options for you:
- "Coconut Carnage: The Game Where Sharks Are the Least of Your Worries"
- "Coco-Nuts!: A Game of Island Survival"
- "Death From Above: The Deadly Coconut Game"
- "Coconut Chaos: A High-Stakes Bet on Your Life"
- "Surviving the Coconut Apocalypse: The Game Where Sharks Are the Safe Bet"
- "Killer Coconuts: The Board Game of Treacherous Tropics"
- "Falling Coconuts: The Real Island Menace"
- "The Great Coconut Massacre: Will You Be the Last One Standing?"
- "Coconut Roulette: Betting on Your Life"
- "Sharks vs Coconuts: The Battle for Survival"
There you have it - ten playful and satirical game titles based on the surprising fact that falling coconuts are more deadly than sharks. So grab your sunscreen and watch out for those pesky coconuts - they may look harmless, but in this game, they're the ultimate danger!
Our personal faves are “Coconut Carnage”, “Coco-Nuts!”, “The Great Coconut Massacre” and, of course, “Sharks vs Coconuts”. Overall there were many workable titles in the list, but again, they were just slightly too long.
It must be said the strapline ChatGPT came up with was strikingly similar to ours: “Betting your life has never been so much fun,” compared to our “Bet your life to finish first.”
How to Play
We also asked ChatGPT to produce a how to play – here’s what it gave us…
Here are the rules for Coconut Carnage: The Game Where Sharks Are the Least of Your Worries:
Number of players: 2-4
Objective: Be the first player to reach the exclusive club on the separate isle.
- Players start at the beginning of the board, and must move forward by betting on which of several options is the most deadly cause of death.
- Each turn, a player must bet on one of the deadly causes of death presented on the card. They can bet on themselves or another player, and must place their bet before revealing the correct answer.
- If a player guesses the correct answer, they move forward the number of spaces indicated on the card. If they guess incorrectly, they move back one space.
- Along the way, there are trapdoors and shortcuts that players can take to either speed up their progress or hinder their opponents.
- If a player lands on a card space, they can draw a card that gives them a competitive advantage over their opponents, such as extra betting tokens or a shortcut to the finish line.
- The first player to reach the exclusive club on the separate isle wins the game.
- Each player starts with an equal number of betting tokens.
- Players must place their bets before revealing the correct answer.
- Players must move their full number of spaces indicated on the card they guessed correctly, even if it lands them on a trapdoor or shortcut space.
- If a player lands on the same space as another player, they must move back one space.
- If a player runs out of betting tokens, they cannot make any further bets until they earn more by landing on a card space.
- If a player lands on a trapdoor space, they must immediately move back to the previous space.
- If a player lands on a shortcut space, they may choose to take the shortcut to the next corresponding space, even if it means bypassing other players.
- If a player lands on a card space, they may draw a card and follow its instructions.
- The first player to reach the exclusive club on the separate isle wins the game.
And there you have it! The rules for "Coconut Carnage: The Game Where Sharks Are the Least of Your Worries." Good luck betting on those deadly causes of death and avoiding those pesky falling coconuts!
Not a bad effort. There are similarities between our How to Play, and still some vague areas. For comparison, here is our how to play…
And lastly, lets take a look at the graphics, board and packaging designs that Midjourney created…
Just for a reminder, this is what Death By Coconuts looks like…
We reckon thats a pretty solid effort. Obviously our design team spent over a year creating death By Coconuts in a process that included many, many, many, design meetings and the accelerated incubation of a Kickstarter campaign. So it’s not a totally like-for-like test, we admit.
What we did recognise, was that these generative AIs can take limited data and continuously build on it to provide insights and inspiration for the development of games and other products.
Whilst it can’t replace the work of a content writer or a graphic designer, it can enable them to feed ideas through it and accelerate the development stage, which is great for teams with limited resources.
Of course, there is the chance that we managed to get ChatGPT and Midjourney to design the next blockbuster game. But we’re not likely to tell you if it did, are we?!
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