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Game AI Roundup Week #30 2008: 9 Stories, 1 Video, 4 Jobs, 1 Paper

Novack on July 27, 2008

Weekends at AiGameDev.com are dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. This week, the article’s trend topic seems to be Strategy Games AI; as always, there are some good 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 mostly by Marcos Novacovsky (aka “Novack”). 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.

Free AI RTS Game



Bots: AI Battlefront, is a freeware game that is played by programming AIs. Omega Technical Systems, the developers are looking to partner with other developers to further enhace the game and release a commercial version.

Bots: AI Battlefront is a software gaming system that allows you to program cybernetic attack vehicles with Artificial Intelligence (AI) that controls them on a 3-D field of battle. You can write AI programs using any Microsoft .NET language, like Visual C# or Visual Basic, and pit your creations against each other or against those of other programmers.Bots can move, look around, fire at enemies and obstacles, and even communicate with each other.

Jobs of the week

Some time has passed without posting jobs on the Roundup, so here there are 4 AI development related jobs, courtesy of Gamasutra JobSeeker, for you to find your next project companions.

Raven Software / Activision

Raven Software, developer of numerous award winning games, including Quake IV and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is seeking a senior AI programmer.

2K Sports - Visual Concepts

* Work on one or a combination of videogame titles
* Specialize in areas including animation, gameplay and AI
* Contribute creatively as well as technically to the features you help create
* Apply strong software engineering skills and superior intellect to interesting programming challenges
* Take ownership in your work
* Work with and learn from some of the best in the business
* Grow and advance in your career

THQ, Kaos Studios

Job Responsibilities: Design and Develop AI and Game Play systems for the game engine within schedule Participates in Design and Code reviews Create systems that achieve the game design goals Create technology that can be re-used and extended in the future Work with other team members to identify, define and solve problems Work with external technology as needed Other duties as assigned

Vicarious Visions / Activision

Vicarious Visions () has gained critical acclaim with hit titles for top brands such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater™, Spider-Man®, and Star Wars®. VV games are known for pushing technical boundaries to deliver addictive gameplay and immersive art that bring favorite characters and worlds to life for portable, console, and PC gamers.

An AI programmer is responsible for making entities in a game appear to behave in an intelligent manner. This may be achieved by the implementation of complex AI algorithms, by the use of simple rules and heuristics, or by other means. Working closely with game designers to understand their intentions, an AI programmer selects an approach that exhibits the necessary behavior without consuming excessive resources.

Indy under fire

The last LucasArts title Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (published in 7 plataforms), covers the first three Indiana Jones movies, and you get to play through Lego-built interpretations of the glorious Indy adventures. The overall critics on the game were good, bit its AI has been receiving a lot of inconming fire; here I transcript two reviews with comments on it.

PickyAssGamer.com Review



The AI in the game is the worst part of this game. You enter a area to solve a puzzle let’s say jumping side to side and needing the other person to move key pieces to keep going around. Instead of working with you the AI follows you making it frustrating enough to pull out your hair.Some of the buggiest AI I’ve seen in a while in a game. Such as falling to their own death.

NetJack - Review



A bigger problem is that of the artificial intelligence controlling the characters when you’re not using them. They merely play follow the leader when the computer takes over and if you’re trying to perform some important job in a narrow space, they’ll get in your way. Finally, when you have more than two characters at your command, you have to cycle through them. Playing through Temple of Doom with Indy, Willie, and Shorty is a real trial.

Paper: RTS AI

In the Hevi’s Weblog, Umut R?za Ertürk (the author and Student of Computing & Creative Technologies) published a work on an AI project about decision making in RTS games.

Here is the project that I made to recommend some solutions to solve some decision making problems in real time strategy (RTS) games. I hope you will find it ‘a bit’ usefull. Apart from my AI lecture ,actually that’s the main reason why I spent weeks. Especially I recommend you to have a look how to formulating group behavior by searching the ‘Relative Attack Power’ keyword in the document as well as I recommend you to have a look to the idea about distributed neural network in the document.

Short Term Decision Making with Fuzzy Logic And Long Term Decision Making with Neural NetworksIn Real-Time Strategy Games
Umut R?za ERTÜRK
December, 2007
Download DOC

Positioning AI



Play.tm interviewed Scott Warner the lead designer of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Among many insights of the game, this is what Scott said about the place of AI in todays games, in comparison with Visuals and Physics:

I’d say physics and AI are just as important as visuals in delivering a Mercenaries-style game play experience. Given that we have to allow the player to destroy anything and everything in the game, there are a lot of dynamic objects being thrown around in any combat situation. In order for the destruction model to match player’s expectations, you’re going to need to rely heavily on a robust physics system.

Likewise, if you’re going to have a lot of dynamic objects getting thrown around in combat encounters, the AI will have to be able to intelligently use those objects to engage with combatants - if they can’t, it doesn’t really matter how good your game looks if your enemies combatants can’t figure out how to get around the battlefield to shoot at you.

Xaitment staff changes



On the bussines side, some movement on the Xaitment staff; the AI developers hired Markus Schneider as Executive Vice President of Sales.

xaitment GmbH, one of the leading developers and service providers of artificial intelligence for the games and simulation industries, announced today that it has hired Markus Schneider as Executive Vice President of Sales. Schneider, who officially began at xaitment on July 1, 2008, will have responsibility for all of xaitment’s sales activities in Europe and North America.

Indy side of the RTSs: paving roads



Red Brick Games the Philip Hardin’s indi devblog, has again some insights on the AI development side of his game, Orc vs. Martians. In a post entitled “We now have the technology to… pave roads ??” Philip comments on the last AI advances on the game.

“…I want the A.I. to be able to send reinforcements to allied bases that are under attack, from allied bases that have extra forces. The A.I. isn’t capable of that yet, but implementing inter-base roads helps pave the way for that feature (pun intended : ) ).”

Game AI Takes It Up A Notch

Gaming Blog made reference to the Yahoo! News article Videogames getting minds of their own (which we commented the last week).

Pooh-pooh! Did I not tell you to be careful about what you wish for? Now don’t come crying when you are unable to complete that level cause of that super hard AI. Your wishes for better virtual enemies are granted in several of the new releases on offer. Numerous titles unveiled at the recently concluded Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA promise AI that’ll make you sweat it out. Right from the combat enemies of Fallout 3 (Action RPG) to those of the Project Origin, everyone is becoming more proactive and capable of assessing and reassessing players’ moves. For instance in Fallout 3, the enemies change tactics depending on how the player acts. Also the alliances change depending on the choices that players make in game. But not every AI will work against you. In Lionheaf Studio’s Fable 2, an animated dog plays the faithful and intelligent companion. The landscape of the game is also susceptible to reactive changes in Fable 2. Examples of improved AI are rife including Borderlands (Gearbox Software), Animal Crossing (Nintendo) and The Agency (Sony Online Entertainment). Things could get a lot more interesting hereon in.

Days of Strategy

The geek blog Radioactive Culture posted on its Game Reviews category, an article about Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, a Nintendo DS title developed by Intelligent System. Here is the transcription of the comments on the game’s AI (which seem to be really good for a portable plataform game!).

The game’s AI is sneaky and -well- intelligent too. It responds to the type of units you create and your strategy. If you make an army of wartanks, it’ll create an army of anti-tanks to counter your offense. If you make bombers to get rid of his anti-tanks, it’ll create fighters to take down your bombers. If you happen to have an artillery bombardment as a defensive strategy, it will try to keep its ground units away from your range and will cautiously try to take it down when you drop your guard.

While the game is fun, it also comes with a bit of frustration. In addition to a really smart AI, your computer opponent also has an unfair advantage of extra units, money, and bigger guns. Making the game, in some chapters, nigh unbeatable until you find the perfect strategy. I swear I was stuck in 2, probably 3, chapters for weeks. And without an option to change the difficulty of the game, I almost gave up on it after a lot of my strategies have failed.

What Is Wrong With Fun?

GameSetWatch published an article on an irregular column “The Amateur”, by Andrew Doull who spends his free time developing Unangband, a rogue-like game, and blogging at Ascii Dreams. He writes an irregular column for GameSetWatch. Here is an interesting quote from the article:

“…human gaming skills have forced artificial intelligence to update the ante, showing us the deep understanding required to play the simplest seeming of games. While computers can now play at Grand Master level in chess and poker, no algorithm can yet match a middle rank Go player. We just need to be sure we don’t fall into the trap of Fermi’s Paradox – playing games instead of exploring the universe.”

A tennis game that people who like tennis games will like



John Curry and some comments about the AI of Top Spin 3 on its the review for 411mania.com

The second issue I found with this game is the randomness of the AI of your opponents when it comes to a match. No matter who you use in this game and who you play against you will find yourself facing an opponent who is being aced on a 60mph serve and then returning a 140mph serve. You will find yourself missing “risk” shots (high risk shots that have big payoffs) as much as your opponent, then all of the sudden your opponent will tear off three or four risk shots in a row. The AI on this game is questionable but still provides an enjoyable time playing.

Video: Artificial intelligence and digital media

Another interesting Google Tech Talk on AI.



By using parameterization methods which model the knowledge space of a social or cognitive process, it is possible to use artificial intelligence techniques such as Neural Networks and Genetic Programming to create new types of visualization, creation, search and expression for a range of digital media. Steve DiPaola will discuss and demonstrate his research in cognitive 3D and 2D graphics, AI and simulation work, including real-time voice- and behavior-based 3D facial communication, simulated critters (an interacting group of whales) and creative exploration over optimized search as well as cognitively-based computational photography and music. (See ivizlab.sfu.ca).



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

Discussion 1 Comments

asanyc on November 20th, 2008

I know this post is old, but its where I first started following the redbrickgames blog. Right now, if you use google reader or follow any link from google or yahoo to redbrickgames, you get redirected to bogus search results. So anyone who follows his site could be redirected to illegal spam searches for "Free music downloads." I'm posting this here in case anyone else has a similar problem as well as hoping Alex or someone else here who knows him can inform him. There's no email address on his site and no way to comment on his posts.

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