Commander Keen portrait of Commander Keen 6 enhanced via AI.
Enlarge / Portrait of Commander Keen from Commander Interested 6 improved through AI.

Last night, a Reddit user named frigis9 post six pictures featuring detailed graphic upgrades to classic MS-DOS computer games such as Commander Interested 6 and Monkey Island Secret. The most interesting part is how they do it: using an image synthesis technique called “img2img” (image to image), which takes the input image, applies the written text command, and produces a similar output image as a result. This is a feature of Stable Diffusion image synthesis model released last week.

Duke Nukem, Monkey Island Secret, King’s Quest VIand Star Control II received AI-powered fan upgrade thanks to Reddit user frigis9.” src=”×320.jpg” width=”640″ height=” 320″ srcset=” 2x”/>
Enlarge / Portrait of Duke Nukem, Monkey Island Secret, Quest for King VIand Star Control II received an AI powered fan boost thanks to a Reddit user named frigis9.

In response to a question from another Reddit user, frigis9 provided more details on how he created the image using a front-end program called Vision of Chaos—a versatile application that provides access to a variety of generative computer art styles: “For nice simple portraits like this, I set the init image strength to 0.25. For darker, less detailed images, may have to increase it to 0.35 or 0.4 You just need to tinker with the image strength values, and once you get them (i.e. checking to see if your output image looks more or less like your init image), work on the prompt to add or remove details Adjust, rinse, and repeat about a hundred times until you get the perfect (or meh, pretty good) image.

Star Wars: Dark Forces get a Members Only jacket upgrade.” src=”×320.jpg” width=”640″ height=”320″ srcset=”https 2x”/>
Enlarge / Kyle Katarn from Star Wars: Dark Forces got a Member Only jacket upgrade.

Over the past week, users of the img2img Stable Diffusion feature have had improved kids pictureschange the squiggle to knight glittering in the desert, upgraded their profile photos, and more. Currently, running img2img on your own machine is still a rather technical process, but using a graphical front-end like Vision of Chaos and model at Hugging Face, you can experiment yourself. Development moves fast, so a better way to use it is likely at hand.

Our quick attempt at img2img on Commander Keen didn't work either, proving that nowadays it takes a lot of skill in compiling prompts to achieve great results.
Enlarge / Our quick attempt at img2img on Commander Keen didn’t work either, proving that nowadays it takes a lot of skill in compiling prompts to achieve great results.

Art quality in today’s image synthesis requires a lot of trial and error with hints and cherry picking to achieve the kind of results frigis9 posted—possibly hours of work. But with some incremental advances in image synthesis techniques and GPU power, we can imagine an emulator improving vintage game graphics in real time in a few years.

By Blanca

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