Game AI Roundup Week #2 2008: 12 Stories, 2 Jobs, 1 Source Code

Alex J. Champandard on January 12, 2008

2008 is really getting into the swing now; there’s a torrent of Smart Links for you this week, as well as a few jobs. Be sure to contact me if you have any news or tips for next week!

Remember there’s a mini-blog over at (RSS) with game AI news from the web as it happens.

Game AI Roundup

PathEngine SDK Wins Front Line Award

The CMP group, who publishes the Game Developer magazine and runs the Front Line Awards, has announced the winners in a press release. The big news, and a nice surprise, is that the PathEngine SDK has won the prize for best middleware. Congratulations to Thomas Young and everyone else involved!

NaturalMotion Integrates PhysX Acceleration

AGEIA has just announced that NaturalMotion has integrated their PhysX™ technology into the euphoria motion synthesis engine to power its upcoming football game for next-generation platforms.

“Using the euphoria engine with AGEIA PhysX, NaturalMotion’s Backbreaker is the first football game to focus on hyper-realistic, non-canned tackling that will virtually showcase every shove, hit, and stumble. Using full real-time simulations of the athletes’ motor nervous systems and bodies enabled us to produce a fantastic, realistic sports experience.”

Bonus points for technology, but can they pull off the gameplay though?


Screenshot 1: Natural motion’s upcoming game, Backbreaker.

SimCity Open Source’d (Micropolis)

I noticed via Reddit that Don Hopkins has an open source version of the original micropolis over on his website, which you can download for various *nix platforms that support TCL/TK.

Senior AI Programmer at Midway Games

Midway games is hiring someone who can build artificially intelligent systems:

“The opportunity is with the team who developed Stranglehold, and Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. Responsibilities are to design, implement, and extend data-driven AI systems and tools where everyone is working at the right level of abstraction: programmers work in code and designers/animators have tools. These tools and systems will layer and extend existing path finding middleware, and must cooperate with other game systems.”

Solving Sudoku Puzzles with Python

Peter Cock has a well presented article about using search to find the correct solutions to Sudoku Puzzles in Python. He discusses the high-level strategies for solving the problem, then provides different programs that do this in practice. He also shows how to convert the code into C++ automatically using Shed Skin, a Python to C++ compiler.

GDC 2008 Gets Keynote From Futurologist Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil

The Game Developer’s Conference has hired “futurologist” Ray Kurzweil to give the 2008 keynote. I’m not sure what to expect from Kurzweil on this subject, but it’s certainly another great opportunity for lots more press coverage!

I posted this last week on the mini-blog but somehow it slipped through the net in the previous roundup.

Senior AI Programmer at 2K Sports

The sports division of 2K Games is also hiring experienced artificial intelligence coders, although there are few details about the position itself aside the usual requirements.

AIIDE 2008 Call for Papers

Michael Matteas over at Grand Text Auto has posted the call for papers to this year’s conference on AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment. It’s increasingly becoming a reference for game AI research; see last year’s coverage. The deadline is April 22nd.

Sadly, some of the submission criteria are even more draconian than for-profit conferences: you sign over copyright and don’t even get your entry fee paid! Are you planning on submitting?

From the Blogosphere

In the category of short blog posts with interesting insights, Dudley ponders about the status of AI in games:

“Don’t players care about AI as much as other features? If not then why not, has AI in games become ‘good enough’?

Similarly, Daniel Zimarev writes about the essence of AI:

The essence in artificial intelligence is to create mechanisms, like evolution (rules of the game) witch would let AI‘s develop naturally, over time, with no human interference.”

The same could be said about game AI if characters had the time to “develop” before getting shot down!

Full Papers from the First Conference on AGI

While research done in Artificial General Intelligence is very much hit an miss, there are some real gems in from this first conference. In particular, a paper by John Laird on SOAR, or many of the other logic based architectures are useful for AI in games.

Did you notice any other papers worth looking into?

Paranoid About Garbage Collection?

James Hague, game programming veteran, has written a great post about garbage collection and memory allocation in general.

“In any garbage collector, there exists some pathological case where the responsiveness of your program will be compromised.”

Opinions about the Io Language

In the category of scripting languages that are easy to embed, and potentially suitable for some games, there’s Io. Top programming blog, Lambda The Ultimate, has a discussion about the language, in particular discussing its uncompromising approach to object orientation as well as performance optimizations for certain types of arrays.

Thief 3: Emergent (Mis)behavior

I found this older post while stumbling through the web. It’s an amusing tale about autonomous behaviors going wrong when the player doesn’t follow the script!

Studying the Simulation Behavior in Scotland

The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behavior (AISB) will hold its annual convention the first few days of April in Aberdeen, Scotland. This year’s theme is communication, interaction and social intelligence.

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

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