Call for Nominations: 2008 Awards for Game AI

Andrew Armstrong on December 16, 2008

The end of the year is always a good 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 the leading community for artificial intelligence in games on the internet.

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Awards for Game AI, where the best games of the year are nominated and voted for by professionals, enthusiasts, and researchers in artificial intelligence for games. Similarly to last year, here’s what we have planned for the new few weeks:

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

  2. NEXT WEEK — The most popular nominations are selected, and voting begins in The Game AI Forums. You’ll need to sign-up before you can participate, to prevent flooding of votes!

The winners will be announced on December 30th, but here’s how the whole process will work…

Game AI Awards


There are four 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 2008, including middleware vendors or games listed above?
Most Influential Published Research
Which white paper, book or in-depth article about game AI has & will influence the field most?

All the items you nominate of course must have been released after the 1st January 2008 and before 31st December 2008.


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 in a comment below, or email them in to andrew at

Discussion 7 Comments

Ian Morrison on December 16th, 2008

I think it's obvious that Left 4 Dead should be up there. AI characters behave in believable, competent manners... the zombies have fantastic pathing AI, the bosses can be surprisingly devious, and the AI director does a fantastic job of regulating the experience. It even manages more subtle things than the hoards of zombies, like the film grain, music, and colour saturation. I don't think I've seen another game where the AI can keep the human player on their toes the seventh time through.

Kevin Dill on December 17th, 2008

I haven't played the game (yet), but in my book they deserve an award just for *attempting* an AI director, to say nothing of really pulling it off.

alexjc on December 18th, 2008

I guess Spore needs to be there somewhere, for technical innovation maybe? Either because of the data-driven animation system (see Chris Hecker's paper on the subject) or the general A-Life for the first few stages of the game. How about Far Cry 2's attempt at varying the linear stories? For research / publications, maybe the MIT lab's paper about physics controllers at SIGGRAPH? Alex

MrTwitchy on December 19th, 2008

[QUOTE=Kevin Dill;6467]I haven't played the game (yet), but in my book they deserve an award just for *attempting* an AI director, to say nothing of really pulling it off.[/QUOTE] I'm not sure I'd go that far. From what I've read it seems they've integrated some pieces of tech that many other games have and given it a fancy name. I've worked on a number of games with spawn controllers whose job is to automatically regulate the number and type of enemies spawning. Likewise many games have music systems that change the music based on the in-game action. Bringing all these things together is a step forward yes, but it's not revolutionary. I'd also be interested to know exactly how much is under totally automatic control and how much is a response to designer triggers.

Andrew on December 20th, 2008

Some possibilties from my notes when I wrote this: Burnout Paradise + Competent racing AI through a cityscape - Not played enough, but it's pretty standard racing AI (although with explosive crashes to add into the mix). There is no out of race AI either sadly (such as cop chases or whatever). Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Soul Calibur 4, etc. + Kicks my ass (and for Soul Calibur 4, the small bit I played kicked my ass), and is pretty fun. - Maybe I just have never got the hang of the game :( goes for other fighting games this year too - hard to really innovate in the fighting area I guess, but one of them might be worth nominating. Race Driver: GRID + A review on gametrailers said the AI was good, fallible, didn't mind crashing, etc. - Not played it, no clue, because it's a racing game. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky + Open world AI, changing environments and animal behaviours - Omnipresent, very accurate enemies (to my pain when it comes to grenades), not much of a change from the original Spore + Procedural animation AI, awesome. Big technical achivement. - The actual game AI (since not much was needed I guess), not so much - not played it though. Dead Space + Changing enemies when blowing off limbs, competent enough at level navigation - Basic "just run at the player" intelligence, really. Not played it, but it's been said it is fun to play. Far Cry 2 + Open world, vehicle usage, usually competent enemies handling the world dynamically, and lots of fire to boot - I've not played this, but reports indicate all too annoying AI flaws at times. Fable 2 + Improvements to the character interactions, emotions of villagers - Is it much of an improvement over the original? (not played it myself) Fallout 3 + Improvements over Oblivion, sleep cycles, better voiceacting/chatting - Still like Oblivion, allies shoot the player if they move in front of them, and other issues reported such as ignorance to world events (from my reading up of the game) Resistance 2 + Better AI for many enemy creatures, and co-op multiplayer levels which are basically mowing down the AI for fun - Some reviews stated it was pretty standard AI affair in singleplayer and boss battles. Left 4 Dead + Competent allied AI, special zombie AI - and good movement around levels. "AI director" as a name encompassing placing zombies and ammo down at different times, in different places each playthrough. - AI can't complete expert difficulty, and is a little too happy to use health. The AI director might be seen as just putting the term "AI" onto something that isn't intelligent. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed + Basically, only because you can pick up enemies, who then try and catch each other, for hilarious results. - From the demo, the AI is very scripted and pretty damn boring. Also, your light sabre never cuts anyone, it just bashes them. Mighty negative points there. You can likely guess which go into what category. Certainly the technical achivement one might be more Left 4 Dead or Spore, where the others are using AI for fun gameplay. One's I've specifically not added are possibly Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (too much like the previous titles, and certainly needs some more AI options (like difficulty) and things in it I think, I can beat it a bit too easily), Frontlines: Fuel of War (having played it, I'd say the AI is pretty pathetic - really poor at doing much in the singleplayer), Army of Two (having not played it I can't comment much, but seemed generally "stand still and shoot" AI - not sure about the AI partner though), Condemned 2: Bloodshot (not noted anywhere for the AI), Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 (not played much of, but certainly not any better then previous outings), Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (same AI as the original really, the allied AI is pretty neat, the enemy AI entirely scripted), Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (does this have much AI?), Civilization Revolution (not played or heard much AI wise), Battlefield: Bad Company (not played or heard much about), Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway (although saw some stuff on AIGameDev, not played), Saints Row 2 (not heard much good stuff about the AI - stands there and shoots basically), Gears of War 2 (I'd honestly say no AI improvements), Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (having played the demo, the AI is pretty boring, and sometimes woefully incompetant), Mirror's Edge (fighting isn't the point of the game, but the AI enemies are reportedly terrible), Prince of Persia (as reviewed, basically not much AI, and only ever 1v1 battles) You can find a good runthrough of games released in 2008 here: [url][/url] I've not played all of these, and there are several others I've not checked out - and since I've not played these, please tell me if I'm wrong ;) I'll ammend my post and depending on what you say, possibly get the game at some point :) For indie games, I'd possibly say DefCon's bot AI released by Robin this year, which kicks my ass compared to the default AI in the demo when I tried it. Not much out this year to qualify though, sadly indie's don't take on AI as much as they should! If anyone has any suggestions for this category, I'd be wanting to try them out :) - shame there are some good indie games (Braid, World of Goo and others!) but none of them have any kind of AI. :( All you others who will eventually actually vote should put in a suggestion or two as well, else there won't be much to vote for!

Andrew on December 20th, 2008

I forgot technical vendors too. I think whoever did the ragdoll stuff in GTA4 and Force Unleashed is pretty neat [i]if it helps the gameplay[/i] - GTA4 wasn't, when I've played it, notably improved, but it's an integral part of Force Unleased (and adds a lot to the "AI fun").

livius on December 24th, 2008

Definitely STALKER-Clear Sky . For its open world, for the living enviroment and last but not least for that kind of AI(goals, online vs offline algorithms etc) not often encountered in games .

If you'd like to add a comment or question on this page, simply log-in to the site. You can create an account from the sign-up page if necessary... It takes less than a minute!