Game AI Roundup Week #33 2008: 10 Stories, 1 Video, 3 Jobs

Novack on August 17, 2008

Weekends at are dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. This week, we have more jobs, and a variety of topics: as always, there are good articles and blog posts for you to read. Remember to visit the recently released Wiki! 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 Remember there’s a mini-blog over at (RSS) with game AI news from the web as it happens.

Beyond AIML: Chatbots 102

Bruce Wilcox wrote a technical article for Gamasutra about his current work, which consist on NPC text chatbots for Avatar Reality’s Blue Mars. Wilcox discusses his adventures in AI markup language to create effective human-text interaction.

Avatar Reality (, a virtual world company built from the ashes of the Square USA Honolulu office, wants to use chatbots to represent a user while that user is absent from the Blue Mars world - a CryEngine 2-using online environment set on a terraformed Mars. My job is to provide them with the appropriate chatbot technology.

AIML is one such technology, but for my purposes it is simply a woefully inadequate tool and once again I find myself building a new scripting language (see Reflections on Building Three Scripting Languages, a prior Gamasutra article). Hence Chatbots 102.

IndyHall Lectures

Independents Hall has started a series of lectures, the first of which sounds very interesting: Battlefield Game AI: Grids, Guts, and Guns, in charge of some folks from Relic Entertainment, reposable from the state-of-the-art RTS Company of Heroes.

This month we begin the IndyHall Lecture series, and we’re kicking it off with something completely new: a discussion of video game artificial intelligence, specific to battlefield games.

That’s right. IndyHall member Chris Jurney, who works for Relic Entertainment, is going to talk to us about some of the underlying AI systems behind one of the games he’s worked on, Company of Heroes.

Machine Invasion. Human Outsmarted?

More comments were issued about the series of news around the net on the Machine vs Man competitions, specially on the GO games (see previous Roundups). Waq, in his blog Waq’s Words and World posted some interesting clarifications and thoughs on the matter.

By the way, it was a 9-stone handicap game, meaning that the computer was allowed to move 9 times before the human made his first. The positions of these handicap stones are usually predetermined to spread evenly over the board. So yea, humans are still that much better than machines in Go.

Computer Poker Program Knows When to Hold ‘Em

And following the trend of the Machine vs Man topic, some more comments, this time on the poker side. The interesting part is that poker-playing artificial intelligence systems, developed by a researcher at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have been released for free use by the public.

Ian Fellows, M.S., entered his program, called “Fell Omen 2” in the 2008 Computer Poker Competition sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) at its annual conference last month in Chicago, where it placed second in a three-way tie.

Journalist rant of the Week

This week, the rant is for PC Advisor where heavy artillery were shooted over Bus Simulator 2008 in the game review column.

Artificial Intelligence is another key area in which Bus Simulator 2008 performs woefully. In essence, there is none. Cars don’t seem to realise that you’ve actually bothered to stop at a red light and frequently just carry on driving until they crash into you, whereas people are like zombies. At their worst, people have even been known get run over by your stationery bus by walking into it at random locations.

New Massive release: 3.5

Massive Software has released Massive 3.5, a new upgrade to Massive, the artificial intelligence (AI)-driven animation system at SIGGRAPH 2008.

Massive 3.5 follows on Massive 3.0 with new features, including Agent Fields, improved integration, and hair and fur dynamics. Massive enables artists to create and direct anything from CG humanoids to birds, animals, cars, and more to deliver realistic and emotive virtual performances. Massive “agents” are 3D characters that use sight, sound, and touch to interpret and react autonomously to the world around them. Massive incorporates procedural animation and AI, and is used by professionals in animation, visual effects, and design visualization.

Disney ramps up new technologies

Ed Catmull at Siggraph, the world’s largest computer graphics conference, was in charge of spread the word: Disney is ramping up its quest for innovative technologies.

Aside from improved ways for fans and online users to interact with robotic and virtual Disney characters, Marks said research would include “sports visualization for ESPN, sports simulation for Disney Interactive Games, radios and antennas for handheld devices for the parks, and artificial intelligence for park attractions and games.”

Jobs of the week

Another set of AI Game Development related jobs, courtesy of Gamasutra Jobseeker. This week we have very interesting positions, in Rockstar (for his new New England studio), Microsoft GS and Kaos Studios (this one has been for weeks on the board).

Kaos Studios: Senior AI Programmer

Kaos Studios is located in the heart of New York City and is mere blocks from the Empire State Building and the thrill of Midtown Manhattan. Along with the opportunity to live in one of the most exciting cities in the world, we also just finished up one of the most exciting FPS titles to date. Frontlines: Fuel of War (PC/XBOX360) is already receiving great press and that’s just the beginning! We also offer competitive salaries, comprehensive health benefits, and an excellent compensation package. We are always looking for talented artists, developers, and designers to join our growing team, so check out our job postings and let us know what interests you!

Rockstar: AI Programmer

Rockstar, the creators of such hits as Grand Theft Auto IV and Bully, has acquired a new studio; Rockstar New England (formerly Mad Doc® Software). With experience in every aspect of game development, and an unmatched expertise in Artificial Intelligence, Rockstar New England is a registered Xbox®, Xbox 360™ and PlayStation®3 developer. Having recently completed the Xbox 360 adaption of Bully: The Scholarship Edition, the studio is working on exciting new projects, and looking for people who want to be part of one of the most successful and innovative developers of interactive entertainment.

Microsoft Games Studios: Senior AI Developer

Microsoft Games Studios is looking for experienced game developers to work on next generation Xbox platform titles and Windows games for the first-party publishing team. Come join the publishing teams that worked on games such as Jade Empire, Fable, Conker, PGR3, Rise of Nations, Zoo Tycoon, Dungeon Siege, Vanguard, and RalliSport Challenge. Work with our top first-party development partners to help ship a great first-party line up for next generation Xbox platform.

Dave on Damian on Halo

Dave Mark, on his site IA on AI, posted some comments on the talk from Damian Isla at the Develop Conference about Halo hystory (which we covered last week).

Damian Isla of Bungie spoke at the recent Develop conference in the UK. He covered a lot of the history of Halo and some of the design decisions that were made in the franchise. Here’s a story from Gamasutra that covers a lot of good stuff.

Specifically, there’s a couple of things I want to touch on.

The latest in game in Alice 2.0 «

One more post at Kryotech, commenting some AI advances on its game project. Although simple, this work represents one of the most advanced developments on game AI based on Alice Sofware Project.

This game uses a new AI, that can sense how many allies are left and how badly it is damaged to retreat. This AI also tries to flank you and makes sure that you can’t flank it.

Godfather II AI built on a low-tech card game

Gamester published an interesting article where Gieson Cacho surprisingly reveal: the mob artificial intelligence is created in base of a card game, that senior designer James Agay created.

“It’s how we get the AI to play like real people,” he said. The whole idea started a year ago and it morphed from a prototype tool to a demo tool to something that everyone at the studio plays.

Artificial General Intelligence: Now Is the Time

An interesting Google Tech Talk, about the Dr. Ben Goertzel works on Artificial General Intelligence.

When the AI field was founded over 50 years ago, it was squarely focused on the grand dream of creating software displaying general intelligence at the human level or beyond. Since that time the field has drifted in a direction Ray Kurzweil has called “Narrow AI”: the creation of intelligent software applications carrying out highly particular functions. The relationship between this sort of narrow AI and “artificial general intelligence” (AGI) as in the original dreams of the AI field, is an issue of dispute among experts.

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

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