Game AI Roundup Week #20 2008: 7 Stories, 2 Quotes, 2 Videos

Novack on May 18, 2008

Weekends at are dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. While no news items particularly stand out this week, there are some solid articles and blog posts for you to read. Remember, there’s also lots of great content to be found in the forums here! (All you have to do is introduce yourself.) Also don’t forget the Twitter account for random thoughts!

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

AI Design

The blog Game Design the Wrong Way published a series of excellent articles about AI design. This week, an article entitled “AI and the Single Player Game” was posted about decision matrices, and “Balance is not Equality”, about Rock, Paper and Scissors strategies. Also check out the older posts as there are some very interesting writings.

“This is the danger of AI today — it’s predictable. And while this is a pretty easy situation, the same pattern emerges in most games. Looking at the three stages of decision making, we take out the stage of actually making the decision. Once we’ve got a workable decision matrix, we can determine what the opponent will do, and so we can determine what we should do… in this case, we know the opponent will rush, so we should defend.”

2008 ORTS RTS Game AI Competition

The third RTS game AI competition will be held August 1-8, 2008.

“On this page you can find descriptions of the game categories, the tournament rules, and a brief ORTS overview. We encourage students, AI researchers, and hobbyists interested in real-time strategy games to get familiar with the ORTS project and to participate in this year’s competition. Everybody is welcome. Game 1,2,3 are identical (except for hp changes), but we added 20 siege tanks to game 4, to encourage working on tactical AI for heterogenous forces. Also, programs are now allowed to save data in directory ~/game-data, which can be used to implement opponent modeling algorithms.”

Another Student Project on AI

Among the blogs from students of Columbia College Chicago, an interesting post from Andrew Harvey about his final project stands out, aptly entitled “Artificial Intelligence in Games.”

“AI, or artificial intelligence, is an integral factor in many video games. Whether they’re called bots or npcs, they are found across the genres of games from first-person shooters or role-playing games to real-time strategy. The flavor of AI however, its depth, intelligence, and adaptability vary from game to game. In games where the AI factor is fully explored and developed, it can be a welcome and enriching component of the game experience. But when implemented poorly, AI can often be a detriment to the game.”

Peter Strikes again

During an in-depth interview with Chris Baker from Wired, Peter Molyneux made another announcement in his usual way.

“My next game will not be Fable 3. It’s not a game I can talk to you about right now, but: AI, simulation, the way characters interact — we’ve had smart people working on that stuff for over a decade with the Fable games and Black and White.” His next game consolidates all of what they have learned, he says.”

GWAP: Games with a purpose

Straight of the wires comes this press announcement that “Carnegie Mellon Launches Web Site for ‘Games With a Purpose’; Games Tap Human Minds to Accomplish What Machines Can’t.” In what seems to be an original twist on traditional web games, this one is working to assist AI development.

“Most online game sites don’t promise players anything besides some fun and a way to kill time, but a site being launched by scientists in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science will offer something else: a chance to make computers smarter.

The new site, (), features what Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department, calls “games with a purpose,” or GWAPs. Each is a multi-player online game that is designed to be fun and also accomplish tasks that are easy for humans but beyond the capability of today’s computers.

“We have games that can help improve Internet image and audio searches, enhance artificial intelligence and teach computers to see,” von Ahn said. “But that shouldn’t matter to the players because it turns out these games are super fun.”

Progress: AI Can Learn Good!

Billy Hewlett continues his work on his final project, and reports on his blog:

“I’m pretty happy with the progress this week. The AI observes the human player, constructs data points based on player actions and the state of the world when the player performs the actions, then builds a decision tree based on what the player does.”

Chatbot Game

In what seems like a trend this week, an announcement was made in the newsgroup about AI “research” featuring online game: a chatbot that you can improve by playing a game.

This is a web 2.0 approach to building a chatbot: In fact, it’s a bit like a social news site. To play the game, you submit chat rules, which you can think of as being similar to news submissions. Voting on these chat rules occurs during the chats. Your score corresponds to karma in social news sites.

A.I. Fighter

A funny presentation on the use of Neural Networks in game AI design and programming.

“A.I. Fighter is a 3D beat-’em-up style fighting game in which the player will control a fighter using the keyboard and engage the computer’s fighter over a short duration. It is created for us to test out training of computer A.I. using Neural Networks.”

Funny Quote of the Week

Brian Williams from wrote an article about the new GWAP site (mentioned above). This is his conclusions on the subject:

“I’m not too concerned though. As far as I’m concerned, future machine domination is a small price to pay for better search results now.”

Deductive Planning for an Autonomous Helicopter Robot

“PARADOCS is a planning and reasoning framework based on deduction. Through an integration with a temporal constraint solver it implements a novel threat resolution that enables minimal commitment partial order planning. The video demonstrates setting up, planning, and executing a logistics mission for a robotic helicopter, and the use of automatically generated execution monitoring constraints to recover from execution failures.”

International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling

Since 7 years, 2 European conference series have been addressing the problems of Interactive Storytelling, serving as annual meeting points for scientists, researchers and developers from diverse disciplines:

* ICVS (International Conference on Virtual Storytelling)
* TIDSE (Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment)

The organisers of both lines have decided to integrate them and to constitute a joint international series of annual conferences, addressing all the topical research issues in conjunction with the themes of the previous conferences: “Interactive Storytelling”.

The 2008 conference is organised by the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences (FH Erfurt), and is supported by the Fraunhofer project group on Children’s Media (Fraunhofer IDMT) and the “Kindermedienzentrum” (children’s media centre) in Erfurt. The conference language is English.

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

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