Game AI Roundup Week #10 2008: 7 Stories, 3 Quotes, 1 Source Code, 1 Video

Novack on March 8, 2008

Saturdays at are dedicated to rounding up Smart Links from around the web. Now the GDC is out of the way, the news has settled back into its regular flow of interesting little nuggets…

This roundup is brought to you by Novack and Alex Champandard. If you have any news or tips for next week, be sure to email them in to editors at Also Remember there’s a mini-blog over at (RSS) with game AI news from the web as it happens.

A Book on Expressive Processing

Grand Text Auto

What if scholarly books were peer reviewed by anonymous blog comments rather than by traditional, selected peer reviewers? That’s the question being raised over at Grand Text Auto, by Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s refreshing experiment of previewing his book titled Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies online (which examines the importance of using both software design and traditional media-studies methods in the study of video games).

Over the last few days, Noah has been posting parts of chapter 6 and 7 of the book, increasingly focusing on aspects of artificial intelligence in games:

… as well as artificial storytelling:

Be sure to post a comment to if you have any feedback!

The First Conference on Artificial General Intelligence

The First Conference on Artificial General Intelligence

AGI-08 is the very first international conference on Artificial General Intelligence. The conference is organized with the cooperation of AAAI, and welcomes researchers and students in all relevant disciplines.

Technical Session: Virtually Embodied AI. Here are the white papers:

Toward Cognitively Robust Synthetic Characters in Digital Environments
S. Bringsjord, A. Shilliday, M. Clark, D. Werner, J. Taylor, A. Bringsjord, E. Charpentier
Download PDF
An Integrative Methodology for Teaching Embodied Non-Linguistic Agents, Applied to Virtual Animals in Second Life
B. Goertzel, C. Pennachin, N. Geissweiller, M. Looks, A. Senna, W. Silva, A. Heljakka, C. Lopes
Download PDF
Temporal Action Logic for Question Answering in an Adventure Game
M. Magnusson, P. Doherty
Download PDF

Divergent Opinions on Army of Two AI

EA Montreal’s Army of Two console title was released recently. The reviews seem to be torn about the AI, depending on whether it’s enemy AI or cooperative AI.

Brian Crecente wrote on Kotaku:

“Idiot [Cooperative] AI: This is not a game intended to be played on your own. If you rely on an AI to be your partner expect him to get stuck, lost and occasionally to drag your bleeding carcass back and forth in front of machine-gun firing enemies for a few minutes before deciding where exactly to heal you.”

While 2OpGaming has published:

“Enemy AI however actually managed to surprise me. It’s quite good and the enemy recognizes when and where to take cover and overall does one of the better jobs I have seen at making use of the environment in a game.”

SIGGRAPH Sandbox Symposium 08 Calls For Papers

SIGGRAPH Sandbox Symposium 08

“The third annual ACM SIGGRAPH Sandbox Symposium on videogames calls for papers, panel proposals, and presentations. We are looking for work that describes or illustrates innovative research in videogame theory, practice, and criticism.”

A list with suggested topics has been published, including “artificial intelligence in games”, among others.

Interview with Chris Satchell

Gamasutra has published an interview with Chris Satchell, general manager of the XNA group at Microsoft. Here there are his comments on the XNA AI challenge at GDC’08.

“Our AI challenge was super fun, and we got some amazing creativity out of that. […] The winners get to go for an internship at our MSR — our research labs — or Lionhead, because Peter Molyneux is really into AI.

And they’ve got some great games, like the sheepdog simulator. There’s one [called iSheep] where it’s a co-op game, and you’re a sheepdog, and you get to herd sheep. It’s all about the AI flocking for the sheep. It’s really cool. So I think that can be good. We take a competition, and push people in a direction they might not have chosen for themselves, and they might surprise you by doing something really cool.”

PathEngine Hits Version 5.15


PathEngine has been updated to version 5.15, bringing with it significant platform-specific and general optimisations.

The developers claim that load times have been decreased so dramatically that it may reach orders of magnitude quicker in some cases, and query times have seen an average reduction of 20 per cent on the PC. In addition, optimised ‘collision cores’ and code paths have been added for the Cell’s SPUs, with large meshes now fitting into the SPU local store for asynchronous processing.

In addition to the new version, the company has also announced that Ymir Entertainment has signed up as a new licensee of the technology.

Say It All in Six Words

Andrew Stern from Grand Text Auto, who’s currently working on a more interactive game (called The Party) based on natural language, wrote his thoughts about the process:

“In that post I talked about the advantages, from an AI-implementation perspective, of limiting the player’s input to only eight words. After some further design work, I’ve now brought that number down to six. In my estimation, six words of natural language, per utterance, seems to be the smallest number that still allows a player to be highly expressive in a natural, conversational way.”

Pathfinder 1.1 LSL Pathfinding in Second Life

“In this version, the cost of updating the pathfinding information is ameliorated across multiple timer calls to avoid stalling pathfinding queries. Instead of freezing waiting for pathfinding responses, the agents are instead occasionally sent in the wrong direction due to incorrect, partially updated pathfinding information.”

Slides and Thoughts on Halo 3’s Battles

Damian Isla just uploaded the slides of his GDC talk: “Building a Better Battle. The Halo 3 AI Objectives System”.

“We started discussing what the replacement for Halo 2 “Orders” (the FSM-based “Imperative” approach described in the talk) would be. I believe the first person to explicitly suggest an adaptation of the Behavior Tree structure was Jaime Griesemer. […] He argued that tasks could be decomposed and sequenced in much the same way that behaviors were, and furthermore the tree structure seemed an intuitive representation to him. As no one had any objections, we went ahead with some UI mock-ups, and soon after that, some prototypes.”

Garbage Collection and the LuaPlus Library

A user of Larceny, a simple and efficient implementation of the Scheme programming language, reporting having troubles with the language’s garbage collection, which would freeze up at regular intervals when running a Quake 2 bot.

Separately, on the SWEng mailing list, Joel Pritchet of The Creative Assembly (makers of the Total War series) mentioned that they are using LuaPlus:

“Debugging Lua at the time (4 years ago?) was very difficult as no good debuggers were available, but that isn’t the case anymore. If your interested check out LuaPlus, which we’re using currently.”

LuaPlus, among other things, sidesteps garbage collection problems by exposing a constant overhead for reference counting.

Stay tuned next week for more smart links from around the web!

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