With the most popular video games on the internet, there is one big the gap between being a good player and a big one. A casual player may be able to hold himself against other casual players, only for a casual professional to roam and chew everyone as if they are playing somewhat with a different set of rules.
Can an AI-guided voice in your ear help close that gap, even slightly? SenpAI.GG, a company from the latest Y Combinator group, thinks so.
Much of that aforementioned gap comes from practice, muscle memory, and – let’s face it – natural ability. But as the game gets older / bigger / more complex, the best players tend to have a wealth of a resource that is so crucial, if not so fun to collect: information.
Which weapons do the most damage at this distance? Which character is best suited to oppose that character on this map? Hell, what changed in that “little update” that appeared on your screen while you were starting the game? Wait, why is my favorite weapon suddenly so much harder to control?
Staying on top of all this information as players discover new tactics and updates change “flaws” is a challenge in itself. It usually involves a lot of Twitch streams, a lot of digging around Reddit threads, and a lot of bumps on patch notes.
SenpAI.GG is looking to bring that information to the surface more automatically and help new players become better, faster. Their desktop client provides you with information they think might help, analysis of your post-game strategies, plus in-game audio signals for things you may not be great at following.
It currently supports a handful of games – League of Legends, Valorant and Teamfight Tactics – with the information it provides, varying from game to game. In LoL, for example, he will look at the selected champions of both teams and try to recommend what you can choose to help more; in Valorant, meanwhile, can give you an audio warning that one of your teammates is in poor health (before the teammate starts shouting to heal them) when you forgot to recharge or how long you have before Spike explodes (read: game end bomb).
As important as the information it provides is the information it contains will not insure. In my conversation with him, SenpAI.GG founder Olcay Yilmazcoban seemed very aware that there is a difficult line here to determine where the “assistant” hides in the “fraud tool” – but the company follows certain rules to stay in the right side of things and prevent their players from being stopped.
For example, they will never take action on behalf of a player – they may emit an audio signal to say “hey, you need to heal that teammate”, but they will not press the button for you. They will only generate their knowledge in real time from what it currently is yours screen – nothing hidden within the execution process. They also will not do things like detect the location of an enemy just because your teammate is also running the app and can see them. Think “good player standing on shoulder”, not “kick in the wall”. The company says they are always within the competitive justice guidelines of each game developer and only work with approved / secured APIs.
Ideas a good idea because it is one that, apparently, never ages. With each new game they support, they have a potential new audience to serve. Meanwhile, it’s not like old games / knowledge expire — the big game-of-things-you-need-to-know-book tends to only get bigger and more complex as the game progresses and patches accumulate . There are games I have played for year where I would still like a voice assistant that says “Oh hey, the pull from the gun you just got has become so much stronger since the last time you played.” SenpAI.GG is not there yet, but there is plenty of natural room for growth.
Yilmazcoban tells me that they currently have over 400,000 active users, with a team of 11 people working on it. The basic app is free, with plans to offer advanced features for a few dollars a month.