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Game AI Roundup Week #24 2008: 13 Stories, 4 Quotes, 1 Video, Job

Novack on June 15, 2008

Weekends at AiGameDev.com are dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. This week we have much movement! you’ll find many insightful articles, a video, a job, and interesting news; not forgetting random thoughts from Twitter.

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

Interviewing AI Developers

Paul Tozour (Game AI developer and designer) published on the Game/AI blog a very interesting resource for all game AI developers:

I thought it would be a good idea for me to make a big list of AI interview questions — some that I’ve asked, some that I’ve been asked, and some that I think are worth asking. Hopefully, developers will find this list a useful resource.

First complex AI



Prodigeek make a short post on a series entitled “Geek-Out Moment”, remembering what they called the first complex AI:

“Video games before 1974 used multiplayer or discrete logic to give players a challenging experience. Several games, like Atari’s Qwak and Pursuit introduced artificial intelligence into video games, using the extremely limited computing power to perform simple actions. Games like the text-based Star Trek game used scripted events and enemies to create the illusion of intelligent enemies. The first complex AI came in the ghosts chasing after Pac-Man, each with their own patterns responding to the player forcing the player to memorize complex patterns to beat each level.”

New DigiPen Design Programs

In an interview with News Blaze, Jen Sward, DigiPen’s Chair of the Game Software Design and Production Department commented about the one of the new two premier game design degree programs:

“We worked very closely with current industry designers, discussing the needs of graduates and the hiring requirements they have,” continued Sward. “We felt strongly that designers need to have additional skills beyond straight game mechanics or story telling. Designers need to be able to code or script events or artificial intelligence, place and tune enemies, tune weapons or other entities within the game.”

Cleverly stupid game AIs

Jason McIntosh posted a comment on its blog (there is also a further discussion), about a recent published article on Game Developer:

“I read a good article in Game Developer last night about building weak AIs (automated opponents) that maximize the fun for the human player. The upshot was a recommendation to rely less on stunting the AI’s allowed computation time, or clouding its actions with random variances, and more on having the AI intentionally and subtly providing the player with openings to smack it down.”

Friendly AI?

“Possibility and Could-ness” is the titled of an interesting post from the blog Overcoming Bias, about the concepts around the posibility of the existance of a “Friendly” artificial intelligence. Not directly game dev related, though, but a good reading.

“Planning out upcoming posts, it seems to me that I do, in fact, need to talk about the word could, as in, “But I could have decided not to rescue that toddler from the burning orphanage.” Otherwise, I will set out to talk about Friendly AI, one of these days, and someone will say: “But it’s a machine; it can’t make choices, because it couldn’t have done anything other than what it did.”

More ranting!



The gamer rant on game AI of the week :)

“I was playing Star Wars Battlefront I on the PS2 today against my dad and also a little bit online, and I kept thinking about the AI in this game. And all I could think was that it was terrible.”

The Nature of A.I. in Video Games

Eric Christiansen from Suite101, posted an article on the “Video & Online Games” section taglined “The Quality of Artificial Intelligence in Next-Gen Online Games”.

Artificial Intelligence, with graphics and innovation, becomes the next needed step in creating a realistic experience in current generation video and computer games.

Visual appearance, design, and game play are among the features that make the next generation of video games advance further in overall quality. Many games are designed with the goal of creating a realistic and interactive experience for the player, though the quality of artificial intelligence remains questionable even in some of the more popular titles.

AI: Waste of Space?

El Vaquero (student newspaper of Glendale Community College) published an article from Brent Wallace, entitled “Artificial Intelligence: Necessity or Waste of Space?”, about the current times game’s need for game AI.

“Believe it or not however, even in today’s high-tech world, not everyone has a speedy internet connection. And not every gamer has hundreds of hours to kill either. And most of gaming’s genres, such as strategy games and shooters, require some kind of non-player controlled resistance. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in.”

Unicellular AI



Interviewed by VentureBeat, Lucy Bradshaw (EA Maxis) talked on the making of Spore, and comented on the game’s AI:

“VB: How would you do things like missions? In Grand Theft Auto IV, they have an open world where you can do anything, too. But they can at least assign gamers tasks to do.

LB: It’s about building up an artificial intelligence so that you feel like you are living in the moment. In the space game, you can accept missions from other aliens that have consequences down the road. When you do, you realize the repercussions of some of those actions. You may be taking on an ally and making an enemy of another one. The repercussions are on an epic scale.”

2nd Man versus Machine Poker Championship

PokerPages bring us some news about the next (2nd) Man versus Machine Poker Championship. Is coming early July and here are some details:

Will a collection of some the biggest winning players in online poker history be able to beat Polaris 2- the most sophisticated poker Artificial Intelligence (AI) machine in the world? The second Man vs. Machine Poker Championship will determine the victor. The match will be held during the 2008 Gaming Life Expo at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas July 3-6.

Everybody Wants To Rule The World



John Breeden (Game Industry News Chief Editor) posted an interesting review of Supreme Ruler 2020 (developed by BattleGoat and published by Pradox), and here are his coments on the game AI:

“…finding the right mix of ministers for your cabinet is paramount to your success here. That said, all the ministers are pretty good. In one game I was playing Germany and decided to go to war with Poland, you know, just so history could repeat itself. Before I knew it there was a full scale war going on and my ministers were sending tanks and troops to the front as well as building a huge war infrastructure on the back end. I let the game run for a long time and the war went well without me even touching it, even when other countries jumped in and came against me. Even then, we were holding off the other interlopers at the borders while concentrating on the front lines.I was impressed with the solid performance of the AI even under a lot of stress. And I am almost never impressed with an AI. It fought better than I could have on my own. I gave that minister a gold star and will look for him in future games.”

Five Develop Conference keynotes unveiled



One of the speakers for the Develop in Brighton event next month is no one less but Damian Isla, with another interesting AI talk, on its experiences with Halo.

DESIGN KEYNOTE: Halo AI Retrospective: Eight Years of Work on 30 Seconds of Fun - Damian Isla, senior engineer; AI lead programmer Halo 2 and Halo 3, Bungie Studios.

robotFoundry Game Edition



robotFoundry is a graphical coding system for robots, and recently has been been applied to game AI. Here are some details from the blog post:

So we have been working on a Artificial intelligence based FPS game called AI Apocalypse. The game is a multiplayer tank battle game where a player controls a tank and has a AI driven companion tank that fights along side the player. This is a different from the other AI configured games in that there must always be a human controlling one tank out of the pair and means that the games will always have a social component ( not just one human against an arena of bots).

Summer gamming



In an article entitled “Gaming gems to enjoy this summer”, Timothy J. Seppala posted recomendations for some games, including GRID (Xbox 360, PS3), for which he made a comment on the game’s AI.

“The artificial intelligence of the computer controlled drivers coupled with the realistic physics and damage modeling means no two races feel exactly the same.”

How I Built a Poker Bot



James Devlin posted on the blog Coding the Wheel a very unusual and very interesting article, the third on a series of posts about the development of an Online Poker Bot.

“…This is a subject (A.I.) that we’ll be returning to again and again; but for now, I want to lay out some basic architecture. This isn’t the only approach, and I make zero representations as to whether it’s the best, or even a particularly good, approach. But it is a working approach which has undergone the trial-by-fire of competitive, real-money play.

What we’re looking for is a generic mechanism which allows any poker processing logic or intelligence whatsoever - from the simplest of “hot and cold” probability analyzers to the cutting-edge artificial brain of tomorrow - whether written by us or by a third party - to participate in the decision-making process for a given game situation.

Botting Rule #4: Pluggable intelligence is a key requirement for an evolving bot.

In order to do that, we have to design the bot’s cognitive component such that it’s capable of incorporating and sublimating any arbitrary poker A.I. In effect, we want to build a simple multi-agent system…”

And among very funny sentences on the blog, Ive choosen this one, as the Funny Quote of the Week:

“Building an online poker bot will give you a deep knowledge of two lucrative domains, programming and poker, and enough day-to-day working familiarity with those domains to position you, given some effort on your part, for the work of a professional software developer and/or poker player.”

Visualizing gameplaying algorithms

The 2008 world championship in General Game Playing is currently on. AI bots from various universities around the world compete in playing games they’ve never seen before. The bots act as web servers to which a game master connects and uploads a game description, a first-order logic description of game rules in a special language called GDL. The games can be single- or multi-player, but must be perfect information games.



The video is quite long (18 minutes) so I recommend skipping around in it, the action starts after 13 seconds and the middle and the ending are also interesting. At about 3:50 you start to see loops forming, meaning two different lines of play reach the same state, and the tree actually becomes a graph.

Eliza

Grand Text Auto, and another fascinating article, “Provocation by Program: Imagining a Next-Revolution Eliza”

We will focus on the qualities that made Eliza a provocative and influential piece of literary art in its time and context. We are not thinking of a new chatterbot; we are interested in imagining a system that would introduce a new form, like that of the chatterbot, and that would inspire reworking and reimagining by artists, as Eliza did.

Job

The Company Arkane Studios, is looking to reinforce several positions on their team in Lyon; one of them is an AI Programmer.

Job Title: AI Programmer

Description: After the development of “Dark Messiah of Might and Magic” and “Arx Fatalis”, ARKANE STUDIOS is continuing to develop new game concepts which offer huge liberty to players with a strong immersion into unique and realistic universes.

We’re currently working with ELECTRONIC ARTS on an unannounced AAA title (for Xbox360, PS3 and PC – developed with Unreal Engine 3), and we are looking for the following profiles to empower our Team in Lyon (France).



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

Discussion 1 Comments

Xavier on June 16th, 2008

The link to Arkane's job offer is bogus, here is a valid one : [url]http://www.arkane-studios.com/en/offre.php?rho_id=31[/url]

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