Call for Nominations: 2007 Awards for Game AI

Alex J. Champandard on December 17, 2007

Since the end of the year is arriving fast, now’s a perfect time to reflect on the games that came out in the last twelve months — and particularly those with great artificial intelligence. Of course, December is a great time for awards too, and who better to give out game AI awards than one of the leading communities for artificial intelligence in games on the internet.

Announcing the 1st Annual Awards for Game AI, where the best games of the year are nominated and voted by professionals, enthusiasts, and researchers in artificial intelligence for games. The awards will be conducted over the next two weeks:

  1. THIS WEEK — Post your nominations for the games you think are worthy of an award. Either write a comment below, or email in your suggestions.

  2. NEXT WEEK — The most popular nominations are selected, and voting commences.

Here’s how it works…

Game AI Awards


There are three categories this year’s nominations.

Best AI in a Mainstream Game
What was the best artificial intelligence in a big budget game, published via the traditional distribution channels?
Best AI in an Independent Game
Which game written by a small team of developers, either web based or available on PC/Mac, had the best AI?
Technical Innovation in Game AI
Who had the best ideas and technology for 2007, including middleware vendors, games listed above, and/or publications of any medium?


Remember, you’re giving an award for the best artificial intelligence in a game. This means it must be a balance of two things:

  • Entertainment — The AI in a game isn’t supposed to behave perfectly; in fact it’s often supposed to make mistakes in a convincing way. So, are the non-player characters (NPC) or non-character AIs fun to play with or against?

  • Intelligence & Believability — Do the in-game actors fit in with the design and story? It’s not purely about smarts — but it helps!

Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive, on the contrary! The best games each year successfully use intelligent behaviors to create a fun experience for the players. Stay tuned for this year’s best game AI.

Get started and post your nominations or email them in…

Discussion 5 Comments

Andrew on December 18th, 2007

There needs to be several nominations I can name I think. Only my opinions, I will miss out loads and will possibly not even vote for ones I nominate. Best AI in a Mainstream Game Bioshock - Pretty obvious. NPC AI is ambient to an extreme chill for the first half of the game (that's around the point the longevity wears off). The combat AI isn't brilliant but is functional. Ambient AI is good, although you never get much of a chance to see it (lots of cameras you can never look through sadly!) Assassins Creed - I've only played a bit, but was impressed with the animation AI, crowd stuff, and guards were not too bad either. The main thing though is a much denser amount of these objects at once! Call of Duty 4 - Allied AI is competent, and enemy AI can be deadly. A scripted experience but with enough AI to cover it's ass, and well worked cutscenes and other bits which help make the NPC's work really well. I'd say it outranks any games "On rails" AI for human (ie; non sci-fi) intelligence. I'm sure someone else will say Halo 3, so I won't. I have no idea what some other notable ones might have been like (STALKER, Mass Effect, others?) And sadly, I don't feel any multiplayer AI's are up to being nominated. UT3 demo and ET:QW demo's were disappointing. TF2 didn't even include multiplayer AI (can we nominate it for "Game most lacking AI NPC's?"). Don't even get me started on RTS AI's released this year. :( Best AI in an Independent Game If only I had played more of them! Sorry, can't really say any here, although I might have put down "The Restaurant" but not had time to play it yet (dear me :( ) Technical Innovation in Game AI Assassins Creed - Crowd AI is pretty damn good - fluid animations all come under the "AI" umbrella. Overlord - controls for your minions, while not the greatest, I feel needs a nomination for being quite usable and fun - and the AI works when you have minions do actions. Since you can control upwards of 50 of them at once, it's quite a feat to get your minions to all work plus all the enemies you fight too. The AI for making each minion more unique (taunts, what they choose to attack/wear, and so forth) is good too. Not seen many others, but it might be more "behind the scenes", or I simply didn't play the game. I wish I had played more of this years: - Racing games (heard a bit of good stuff about these, and lots released) - Sport games (I never play them but surely the AI is integral to it) - RTS games (I need to get Supreme Commander since I borrowed it for a bit but never played it much!) - MMO games (is Tabula Rasa any good AI-wise?) Maybe if there is interest in it, and there is enough things to nominate, a "Best AI mod of the year" category could be done too. Quite a few already released games get modded a lot, or specifically only the AI is, and are quite innovative or good. don't know many released specifically this year however :) And strictly speaking I don't see any hugely major AI leaps - although like I said, I've not played all the games this year. Some more good games, but still nothing utterly great in the RTS arena, and allied FPS arena (at least compared to Republic Commando), or RPG arena. Ahhggg, damn late nights. Zzzzz...

JonBWalsh on December 18th, 2007

Mainstream Title: Bioshock, the AI has a great simulation of sight and sound senses allowing for a player to be stealthy. They're also capable of reacting to a variety of different situations presented by the player such as quiet footsteps, cloaking, bee swarms, etc. Additionally the AI is willing to retreat and advance in a way that's convincing. Many AIs will have a setup where this monster always runs away, these monsters always stay and fight. In Bioshock almost all of the NPCs will retreat for health or cover adding to the realism of the world. The AI also has aim that's good enough to be deadly but imperfect enough to feel realistic to the player. The AI interacts with each other in interesting and convincing ways with a believable social groups (splicers, lil' sisters, big daddies). The AI announces their state with visual and audio clues that are apparent but not contrived (Splicers chatter, turret noises, and different colored lights for alerted NPCs like the big daddy's eyes). Finally the AI, which I've yet to see do anything boneheaded line run in circles, still has that imperfect feel to them. They're gullible for traps and can walk into bad situations headfirst while still reacting to them once they're trapped. The example being converted turrets or land mines. The AI will blindly fall for the trap and run into the turrets line of sight but is willing to react to the situation as the turret fires. I've also noticed that addition NPCs seem to sense the activated turret and are more willing to approach the situation more cautiously and ready to handle the turret (though in a way that's imperfect enough to work in the players advantage). Anyways Bioshock, while not rethinking the way AI works, implemented a very well working and convincing AI system. Honorable mention: The turrets in Portal. While rudimentary in their AI (see target, shoot target). Their lines of situational dialog and reactions are too hilarious to not mention :). I don't think I've played many indie games this year so I can't really comment on that :(.

Andrew on December 20th, 2007

Interesting, Leif. I played the ETQW demo and it wasn't really up to scratch AI-wise. I bet the final game was better of course, good to see it is worth nominating! Alex; you are not going to put forward any of your nominations? I also was playing a bit of Galcon (not brought it yet) and apart from insane modes (where it patently cheats!) seems quite good AI-wise, even with the basic AI he put in. I'd have thought you might speak up about that since you interviewed him *and* it uses python!

alexjc on December 21st, 2007

[B]Andrew[/B], I'm not putting forward nominations to not influence anyone. Besides, I will have to make some editorial judgments to compile the list of finalists from all the emails I received! :-) Alex

Andrew on December 22nd, 2007

Impartiality, nice excuse ;) I'm sure you'll put lots of comments on anything you put forward to nominate anyway!

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