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Game AI Roundup Week #34 2008: 11 Stories, 1 Video, 3 Jobs, 1 Paper

Novack on August 24, 2008

Weekends at AiGameDev.com are dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. This week, there are many 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).

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.

Why “AI Accelerators” Will Never Happen

Paul Tozour and another excellent article on the blog Game/AI. This time discussing some perspectives on the (non)posibility of the AI cards succeeding in the market.

You might have noticed I’ve been using this blog as my answer file. Every post answers a complicated question that’s too important to leave unanswered but too complicated to explain in casual conversation.

One question I run into is: “Don’t you think we’re moving toward , in the same way that the ATI and nVidia GPUs accelerate 3D graphics?”

This post explains why that will never happen, and why we should be happy that it won’t.

Killzone 2 Adds Multiplayer Bot Action



Kotaku posted a comment on the announcement by Guerrilla Games about multiplayer AI bots on the upcoming Killzone 2.

I just got back from a hands on with Killzone 2 multiplayer, which I will tell you about in a bit, where Guerrilla Games multiplayer designer Eric Boltjes confirmed that Killzone 2 would indeed be featuring AI bots to help fill out online matches while allowing those who prefer the offline multiplayer experience someone fake to play with. Bots in Killzone 2 will actively try to react how a player would react, able to use all abilities, weapons, and participate in all mission types.

Mashing up tools

Eric Rice in his blog Spinfocalypse posted an article commenting on the idea of interlacing AIML, Inform 7, tag clouds and social network services as tools for game AI development, in relation to the Gamasutra article that I commented last week “Beyond AIML: Chatbots 102″

I’ve spent a lot of time recently pondering the creation of my own AI characters for use in my game/fiction/universe project. The idea of mashing up the four topics above are purely theoretical.

New project with xaitment technology

xaitment joined forces with Coreplay to begin the development of Swarm - First Contact.

xaitment GmbH, one of the leading developers and service providers of artificial intelligence for the games and simulation industries, and Coreplay, a development studio located in Munich, Germany, announced today that they have begun work together on a first person action game entitled “Swarm - First Contact” for the PC and Xbox 360. In the game, players take on the roll of humans as they battle an attacking alien force that is bent on overrunning the earth and all of mankind. A demo of the game can be seen at this year’s Games Convention in Leipzig at xaitment’s booth, G20. The booth can be found in the Developer Village in Hall 2.

Quote of the week



AMD spokesman Dave Erskine, commented this to the Herald Sun, about Cinema 2.0 a technology to revolutionise how we play games..

“…Think video games that look as good as movies and movies you can interact with. Or use artificial intelligence (AI) so movies end differently every time…”

Jobs of the week

Three more jobs this week, two for the same studio Midway, which seems to be in process of a major personnel incorporation, and Rockstar, renewing the call for its recently acquired New England studio.

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.

Surreal Software: AI Programmer

Surreal Software Inc. (a subsidiary of Midway and the studio which created The Suffering and Drakan) has an opening for a Senior Artificial Intelligence programmer to help develop the AI source base of projects including “This is Vegas,” our new AAA-budget open-world title for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Midway: Senior AI Programmer

Midway Chicago has an opportunity for a smart, innovative Senior AI programmer who wishes to push the boundaries for a triple-A multi-platform game. We are looking for a senior software engineer who has top-to-bottom experience with AI game code, systems, and tools; someone who understands that good game AI is about far more than path finding and algorithms – it is about bringing the world to life, making it believable, engaging the player and above all else, making it fun to play.

Iterations and vertical slices

Clinton Keith, on his blog Agile Game Development dedicated to agile software development methodologies in the game industry, posted an article exemplifying some techniques with the case of creating AI behaviors.

Iterations (or Sprints) are like mini projects by themselves. They often include design, coding, asset creation, tuning and debugging. However we are not always producing full vertical slices of a game every iteration. We’ll use a an example of what we might deliver for a team which is focused on creating AI behaviors: One of the most difficult aspects of AI behavior is navigation in a complex environment. The AI logic has to identify objects that will prevent the NPC from moving and calculate a path around them. Throw in some other moving characters and objects and the problem can become very complex to solve. Navigation can become the most riskiest problem to solve AI and therefore one the the riskiest problems to solve for the entire game.

Serious AI



Serious games are increasingly using advances AI techniques, generally for training purposes on different disciplines. In this case helping with a very abstract concept: mantain and improve the Guanxi in China.

Gua-nxi is the first in a range of “Serious Games” is developing to overcome the challenges of learning foreign languages and new cultures. Players are immersed within virtual environments where they can actively learn and practice their foreign language and cultural awareness skills.

The use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) allows users to practice conversation skills and building rapport with characters as they would in the real world. Players can practice cultural etiquette and communication skills in a variety of different interactions.

Left 4 Dead Interview



Voodoo Extreme bring us some more information on the upcoming Source based title Left 4 Dead. The most interesting part is about new info and elaboration around the AI Director concept, which is apparently much more than an AI director: is in charge of the whole ambience in the game, managing sounds, music, and visual effects.

The Director itself is controlling things like the visual effects. If you look at what a movie director does when they’re making a horror movie, they’re always inserting sound cues. Sometimes they’ll warn you, like they’ll put in a musical overture to indicate that something bad is going to happen, and they do that consistently. But then one time they won’t do that, to surprise you.

The Director will also use visual cues. When things are getting bad, you’ll notice that the colors are pulled out of the world, it desaturates the screen, and it’ll also lower the lighting level. That will stress you out, and make it harder for you to see. The Director is using those tricks, and we found it very useful to look to the language of cinema for ideas about how to create that shared experience.

But it has to be done procedurally, because you don’t know what the individual players are going to do. They’re four actors in a horror movie, and none of them have a copy of the script. So the world and the Director have to adapt to what it is that they’re doing. While we were playing, you could get a sense for some of the decisions that the Director was making.

Paper: March of the Froblins



Jeremy Shopf on his blog Level of Detail, linked a paper of a presentation that he and the group he work with at AMD made for this year’s SIGGRAPH. “Froblins”, a talk covering using the GPU and DirectX 10.1 for scene management, occlusion culling, terrain tessellation, approximations to global illumination, character tessellation, and crowd simulation. Here is the chapter from the course notes on crowd simulation.

Simulation and Rendering Massive Crowds of Intelligent and Detailed Creatures on GPU
Chris Oat and Natalya Tatarchuk
2008
Download PDF

The Origami Killer



Ellie Gibson of Eurogamer wrote a preview on Heavy Rain the Quantic Dream’s long-awaited follow-up to Fahrenheit.

Cage reiterates that what we’ve just seen won’t be in the finished main game, but adds, “There will be around 60 scenes like this, each one unique and contextual. Each fight is unique. Each situation is unique. You will never see the same animation twice. Each scene has its own story arc, its own interactivity.

“And all this in a very dark and mature thriller full of twists and turns,” says Cage. “If you can imagine that, you will start to see what this project is about.”

AI.implant becomes commercial once more



Develop brought us the latest news about AI.implant.

Standard licensing terms now available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 games.

Those who follow the middleware scene may remember a piece of AI middleware called AI.implant. They may also remember that it was then bought, then bought again, and suddenly its owners took more interest in the simulation field.

Also there is an article on the Tool Focus section of Develop commenting on this:

“More and more, we find our modelling and simulation customers are developing for consoles,” he explains. “We see a lot of primary contractors on the military side looking at game platforms to put an element of fun into their products, particularly to appeal to the young users who have grown up using games.”

Meet “Emily” - Image Metrics Tech Demo



Yes you read correctly, TECH demo. She’s fake. She IS the demo.

Until the 1:30 mark when they revert back to the source (the real actress), her entire face is being simulated by the technology.

Image Metrics Official Website: http://www.image-metrics.com

Artificial Technology unveils EKI One

There is a new AI middleware in the market: a new solution for implanting emotion into virtual characters by Artificial Technology, called EKI One.

Middleware start-up Artificial Technology has revealed details of its new solution for implanting emotion into virtual characters.

Known as EKI One, the modular middleware gives programmers and designers the ability to give characters intelligent and emotional behavior, increasing the immersiveness of the game or virtual world.



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

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