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 several open positions in various studios, take a look if looking for your next job! and 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.
Another post on the blog BrainWorks, where in an article entitled “Less is more” Ted Vessenes, wrote about ambience changes an its effects in the game balance.
Previously I wrote about a Quake 3 modification I made named Art of War, and how it was the inspiration for BrainWorks. But it wasn’t the first Quake 3 mod I made. That honor belongs to an unreleased game variant simply titled Less. The concept of Less is simple: All items are less powerful, less health or ammo per pickup. It’s the opposite of Excessive Quake. Excessive is fun because who wouldn’t want to be uber powerful. Doesn’t that mean Less is less fun to play?
Gamasutra - Procedural Spooling In Games
In this in-depth technical article, originally published in Game Developer magazine, Neversoft co-founder West examines how procedural generated content and compression can lead to expanding vistas for your open-world games.
In a game where the environment and game objects are spooled from the disc as the player moves through the game world, the limiting factor in the allowable scene complexity is often a function of the data transfer rate of spooling and the virtual speed of the player within the world.
Breaking the Mold: Day 1 Studios on Fracture
GameZone recently interviewed Dan Hay (Senior Producer/Art Director) and Deke Waters (Associate Producer) of Day 1 Studios, about the recent studio release Fracture, including some short comments on the game’s AI development.
Tell us about the AI in the game. How did you make it work so well with TD?
Dan: The key word is iteration. Hopefully, there’ll be another developer that looks at this game and goes, “Wow, that was a lot to bite off.” We wanted AI that doesn’t get stuck, that paths well, and that looks responsive.
Deke: They don’t just turn off whenever you get behind a mound, you want them to search you out but not to instantly know where you are.
Dan: You play in multiplayer and you watch someone put up a loaf, you don’t wait, you think that you’ll attack that thing or you’ll go around it. And the AI makes that choice.
Jobs of the week
This time, there are plenty of open positions in several studios; Gamasutra Jobs and tech_centric list jobs in THQ - Kaos Studios, Raven Software, 2K Sports, Rockstar San Diego, 2K Marin and Spencer Reed Group.
Spencer Reed Group: AI Programmer
We’re looking for dedicated, self-motivated programmers with a passion for making games and using game technology to develop state-of-the-art training applications. Ideal candidates will have a solid understanding of how to implement non-player characters and their interactions with the user. Agility to work on a variety of tasks with poise and focus is a must, as are team-based work practices. New hires will work along with our programming team to coordinate development across several simultaneous tasks.
THQ, Kaos Studios: Senior AI Programmer
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
Raven Software / Activision: Senior Gameplay Programmer (AI)
Description: Raven Software, developer of numerous award winning games, including Quake IV and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is seeking a senior gameplay programmer with experience in AI.
2K Sports - Visual Concepts: Software Engineers - AI/Gameplay
* Work on one or a combination of videogame titles
* Specialize in animation, gameplay and AI
* Contribute creatively as well as technically to the gameplay 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
* Must have prior videogame development experience
Rockstar San Diego: AI Programmer
•Develop and maintain our state-of-the-art AI systems, including path-finding, navigation, perception, behavior execution, vehicle control, and autonomous decision making.
•Work closely with project programmers and artists to interface AI functionality with creature control and animation systems and data.
•Work closely with project designers to provide efficient and robust AI control mechanisms and ensure their proper use.
•Develop new techniques and algorithms as required in any AI subsystem.
•Write and maintain technical design and software system documentation.
Rockstar San Diego: Behavior Programmer
• Develop motor-driven ragdoll behaviors using the Euphoria ragdoll AI engine.
• Support and interface with the project teams in usage and development of cross project behaviors.
• Maintain and enhance the stability and quality of resulting behavior performances in game projects.
• Help define and further clarify requests for new behaviors
2K Marin: AI Programmer - Bioshock 2
2K Marin is seeking the talents of a highly self-motivated AI programmer who enjoys a collaborative and creative work environment, and is looking to work directly with content creators to give them the power to create amazing experiences.
SUMMARY: Improve, maintain, and contribute to the AI systems in the engine for the 2007 Game of the Year, Bioshock. Create new inhabitants of Rapture, as well as give them the ability to interact with the world in new ways.
Good Week for (PSP) Sports
The past week, the last versions of the PSP3 sport titles FIFA and NBA received some good reviews on the AI side, by the specialized media.
IGN: NBA ‘09: The Inside Review
What has been addressed somewhat is the AI of the players in the game; they don’t make nearly as many stupid moves as they did in last year’s game. Now, you’ll actually see the game taking advantage of fundamental parts of the sport, such as passing to open teammates that are parked on the perimeter waiting for the ball or taking advantage of mismatches and capitalizing on them. The AI also won’t commit as many clock management problems as before, so it will take a shot instead of holding on the ball or fouling a player when they’re behind. Plus, while it will still make a number of plays where it will run out of bounds and call for the ball or commit turnovers by stupid passes, the frequency of these problems have been somewhat reduced. In fact, the game will perform some impressive defense on poor passes, although the passing mechanic does seem to slight the bounce pass in the game in favor of tossing the ball through the air where it can easily be intercepted.
FIFA Soccer 09 - CNET Reviews
With opponent AI that absolutely will not stop until it gets the ball from you, FIFA 09 is now firmly rooted in simulation territory. Experienced players can still use the left-trigger-enabled trick system to run around players, but unless you’re passing the ball around effectively, you have little hope of keeping possession. The result is a game that’s heavy on midfield battles—even the commentators remark on how often possession moves between teams. The AI is particularly good even on the easier settings, not only moving in to take the ball off you, but springing offside traps and adapting their tactics throughout each match. This punishing difficulty forces you to up your game, and you soon start to develop a rhythm and accuracy that can cut through defenses to score some spectacular goals. Only the odd AI mistake from your own team conspires against you, with goalkeepers running to punch a ball that’s flying well wide of the goal or the computer selecting the wrong defender for you when the other team is on a break.
Call of Duty: World at War Hands-On
Good comments also took the last part of the Call of Duty franchise, previewed by Rob Wright for Tom’s Games.
The enemy artificial intelligence was impressive, too. As soon as a teammate went down, Japanese soldiers would patiently wait for one of us to crouch down by our wounded comrade and all of the sudden, grenades would begin raining down on us. If one of our team tried to secure a heavy machine gun or artillery position, Japanese soldiers would rush the point to retake it. During two different Japanese campaign levels, our team trekked through thick jungle terrain, enemy camps, and even an airfield. While the placements of most enemy soldiers were the same, their reactions were not. Sometimes Japanese soldiers would attempt to flank our positions, and other times enemy soldiers would simply charge at us with their bayonets.
Indie side news
The first (working) demo of a Torque oriented ‘Tactical AI’ Kit has been released.
[…]this demo’s intention is to show off the artificial intelligence code that I’ve been working on a little over a year now. When you spawn into the game, you need to lead your squad (or let the AI squad lead you!) through a winding road in a middle-eastern town full of insurgent forces. Fight your way down the road alongside your squad buddies and make it to the end to win.
When you start the game and enter the main menu screen, press the Start Mission button, type in the squad position you want in the text box (1 is team leader, 4 is 4th man, etc). Click the Launch Mission button, and spawn into the game. If you are the squad leader, use the U key to regroup your squad and have them follow you, press the Y key while pointing at a location to have them move there, and press the I key to have them hold and wait for orders. If you are not the squad leader, you need to regroup with your squad before they will move through the level. After each firefight, you need to regroup to get your squad moving again (leave no man behind!)
Stay tuned next week for more smart links from around the web!