With the most popular online video games, there is a enormous gap between being a good player and a great player. A casual gamer might be able to fend off other casual gamers, only for a random pro to pass and bite everyone as if they were somehow playing by a different set of rules.
Could an AI-powered voice in your ear help bridge that gap, if only a little? SenpAI.GG, a company from the latest batch of Y Combinator, thinks so.
Much of that gap mentioned above comes down to practice, muscle memory, and, let’s face it, natural ability. But as a game ages / grows / gets more complex, the best players tend to have a great deal of a resource that is just as crucial, if not as fun to gather: information.
What weapons do the most damage in this range? Which character is best suited to counter that character on this map? Hell, what changed in that “minor update” that popped up on your screen while launching 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 the “meta” is a challenge in itself. It usually involves a lot of Twitch streams, a lot of research on Reddit threads, and a lot of attention on the patch notes.
SenpAI.GG seeks to display more of that information automatically and help new players improve, faster. Your desktop client presents you with information that it thinks might help, post-game analysis of your strategies, plus in-game audio cues for things you might not be tracking yet.
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 analyze the selected champions of both teams and try to recommend the one he could choose to help the most; on Valorant, meanwhile, it can give you an audio prompt that one of your teammates is running low on health (before said teammate starts yelling at you to heal them), when you’ve forgotten to reload or how much time you have before the Spike explodes (read: game ending bomb).
Just as important as the information you provide is the information you I will not do it provide. In my chat with him, SenpAI.GG founder Olcay Yilmazcoban seemed well aware that there is a difficult line to define here where “assistant” becomes “cheat tool”, but the company follows certain rules to stay on the right side of things. and prevent your players from being banned.
For example, they will never take action on behalf of a player; They might trigger an audio signal to say “hey, you should heal that teammate”, but they won’t push the button for you. They will only generate their knowledge in real time from what is happening you screen: nothing hidden within the running process. They also won’t do things like reveal an enemy’s location just because your teammate is also running the app and can see it. Think of “a good player standing on your shoulder”, not a “wall trick”. The company says they are always within each game developer’s competitive fairness guidelines and only work with approved / provided APIs.
It’s a good idea because it’s one that possibly never gets old. With each new game they support, they have a new potential audience to serve. Meanwhile, it’s not like the old games / lore will expire – the big book of things you need to know about a game tends to get bigger and more complex as the game gets older and the patches pile up. There are games that I’ve been playing for years where I’d still love a voice assistant that says “Hey, the recoil from the gun you just raised has gotten a lot more intense since you last played.” SenpAI.GG is not there yet, but there is plenty of natural space for growth.
Yilmazcoban tells me that they currently have over 400,000 active users, with a team of 11 working on it. The base app is free, with plans to offer advanced features for a couple of dollars a month.