Game AI Roundup Week #43 2008: 8 Stories, 1 Video, 1 Quote, 1 Paper

Novack on October 28, 2008

Weekends at are dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. This week, the Roundup has been delayed a bit; however, we brought to you some very good articles and blog posts. 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 Wiki, a repository of knowledge about artificial intelligence in game development!

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.


And yet another very good article by Ted Vessenes on his blog BrainWorks (Go Ted!). This time he wrote about group thinking, some sort of flocking-like thinking, and the problems it brings to game AI.

There is a psychological concept known as groupthink, where members of a group discussing a topic gravitate towards a consensus based on a desire to minimize conflict rather than rationally discussing the subject. The play and film 12 Angry Men is a famous view of groupthink in action. A jury must decide whether a man is guilty or innocent, and the general group consensus is that he is guilty. But one juror refuses to ignore his intuition, even though it differs from the other jurors. The drama of the film is primarily based on how the other 11 jurors come to change their minds and eventually find the man innocent. Groupthink is a dangerous phenomenon because it can cause rational people to make irrational choices purely because it is the most common choice made by other group members. Just because a decision is right for everyone else in the group doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Cliff Bleszinski on Designing Gears of War 2

Gamasutra talked with one of the industry’s best known designers, Cliff Bleszinski. The result is an insightful interview, showing some really interesting things on the process of design.

With Gears of War 2 complete and releasing next month, Gamasutra sat down with Bleszinski to discuss his development process, the divide between games and Hollywood, the role of a designer in modern game development, and why as a well-known personality it’s important to pick your battles.

New Paper

Social Learning Methods in Board Games
Vukosi N. Marivate and Tshilidzi Marwala
Oct 2008
Download PDF

This paper discusses the effects of social learning in training of game playing agents. The training of agents in a social context instead of a self-play environment is investigated. Agents that use the reinforcement learning algorithms are trained in social settings. This mimics the way in which players of board games such as scrabble and chess mentor each other in their clubs. A Round Robin tournament and a modified Swiss tournament setting are used for the training. The agents trained using social settings are compared to self play agents and results indicate that more robust agents emerge from the social training setting. Higher state space games can benefit from such settings as diverse set of agents will have multiple strategies that increase the chances of obtaining more experienced players at the end of training. The Social Learning trained agents exhibit better playing experience than self play agents. The modified Swiss playing style spawns a larger number of better playing agents as the population size increases.

Funny Quote of the Week

This heavy flak shooted in the Dead Rising’s direction, from a site about horror movies -heh-, is still, pretty hilarious.

The game’s AI is simply dreadful. Path finding is horrendous, and if you are escorting several survivors that are wielding weapons (either melee or firearm) they will have no moral qualm about hitting you or other survivors. Several times I had survivors accidentally killing other survivors that were low on health.

Survivors aren’t satisfied with you bringing them to the security room. Occasionally, a few decide they want more out of you (such as food, alcohol, or even wanting to leave the mall and go for help). If you ignore them, they will seek these things on their own. Due to their own ineptitude, they will die.

xaitment Wins GIANTS Software as New Client

Swiss video game developer licenses the xaitEngine for their upcoming game.

Saarbrücken, Germany (PRWEB) October 23, 2008 — xaitment GmbH, one of the leading developers and service providers of artificial intelligence for the games and simulation industries, announced today that they have partnered with Swiss game developer, GIANTS Software GmbH, to incorporate artificial intelligence into their upcoming business simulation game, Farmer Simulator 2009. The game will be published by astragon Software GmbH and will be available in April 2009.

New ‘Puzzle Quest’ AI Doesn’t Cheat

The MTV’s videogame blog Multiplayer quoted Marcus Savino producer of the Puzzle Quest: Galactrix.

“What I can say about the AI more than anything else is that, for sure, it doesn’t cheat — guaranteed,” he said. “One of the cool things about the way this game works is it there is a sort of randomness. The way the puzzles pieces come on the board at the beginning of the battle is random — it’s like a roulette wheel or something like that. The logic of how the pieces come together doesn’t always favor the enemy or the player; sometimes it favors you and sometimes it favors the AI.”

AI IDE 2008: Dan’s Diary

In his blog Game of Design, Dan Kline posted recently various articles summarizing his adventures on the AIIDE 2008.

Well, the conference is over, and I think each day was more enjoyable then the last. Big thanks to Michael Mateas and Chris Darken and the organizers for setting it up.

Erratic, but immersive…?

XboxOZ360-gamer published a review on Saints Row 2 where talks about the game’s AI like this:

My largest issue with the game was the AI. There was just far too many times that for no reason a civilian would swerve and run into me. The worst of these was when I was defending a building and a van that did not belong to any gang and was simply a civilian drove up two sets of stairs just to run me over. This erratic AI behavior although frustrating, never really broke the experience for me.

Comments on Fable II

Here there are a pair of quotes from the media, summarizing the past week’s buzz on the release of the latest Peter Molyneux’s game.

Xbox 360 Review - WorthPlaying

The attempts to make you care about your spouse and child work significantly better than the game’s attempts to make you care about your dog, probably because you interact with them less, so their weird AI doesn’t stand out quite as much. I had a few weird glitches, including a strange moment when my character’s spouse got angry, divorced him, and then quickly changed her mind, existing in a weird state of being happy and content until I left the area, at which point the game informed me that a divorce had occurred. It was very strange indeed.

“Nothing’s perfect, but it’s somewhat baffling that the tactical AI does such an able job challenging you at close quarters, but that you can needle enemies at a distance with bolts and bullets and only the ones getting shot ever seem to react.”

A Sudoku Solver

The following Sudoku solver uses a simple but effective strategy. Even puzzles rated as “very hard” require no more than 15 milliseconds and 30 Kbytes on a 500 MHz Pentium 3 computer.

Sudoku is a popular puzzle in Japan (su is number, doku is place), to where it was imported from the U.S. It was popularized in the West by Wayne Gould, a New Zealander living in Hong Kong. […] In a November 2004 article in the Times, Gould was quoted as saying that some Sudoku puzzles are so difficult that you can’t solve them if your life depended on it.

Massively Multiplayer Open Source Game Development

Another Google Talk video on YouTube, this time on mmog development.

An MMORPG project is challenging for any development team, let alone a distributed team of “amateur” volunteers. This talk will explore the internal design of the FOSS MMO project called PlaneShift, and how that design was influenced by the strengths and weaknesses of the team structure and the community. Topics will include server design, network topology, NPC AI and management and player security, among others.

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

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