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EA's secretive SEED team shows off first demo, Project Pica Pica

GDC technical demo showcases work with ray-tracing and self-learning AI agents

Electronic Arts has released footage from a tech demo dubbed as Project Pica Pica.

It's significant for being the first indications as to what the publisher's new SEED team is working on. The Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division was first unveiled at E3 2017, and is tasked with exploring technology and innovations that could enhance games further going ahead.

In Project Pica Pica, this turns out to mean advanced lighting techniques, known as raytracing. The tech demo, which sees miniature robots busying about in a miniature factory, is built with Microsoft's new DirectX Raytracing API, announced during this week's GDC in San Francisco.

Cover image for YouTube video

EA also indicates it is continuing to experiment with AI and machine learning, describing the demo as a "playground for our self-learning agents". Presumably this refers to the little robots, which learn about the virtual environment around them and adapt their behaviour accordingly.

There's no indication that this could become a full game in its own right, but the raytracing techniques will almost certainly be applied to the publisher's AAA titles at some point in the future.

The description below the video on YouTube also refers to SEED's 'Halcyon' research engine, which could prove to be the foundation for a new game engine or the start of improvements to the publisher's Frostbite tech found in its biggest titles.

The SEED team will be discussing the actual construction of this demo later this week at GDC.

Following SEED's unveiling last year, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said he hoped the division's research into machine learnings and neural networks could find its way into the publisher's games within five years.

We gained more insight into what the team might be up to when we interviewed executive VP of global publishing Laura Miele.