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What Do You Look for in a Book on Game AI?

Alex J. Champandard on September 13, 2007

I’ve done a lot of writing over the past few days, so today I want to hear from you!

AI Wisdom 4 Discount!

AI Wisdom 4

First a quick announcement; this is too good to miss… You can pre-order AI Game Programming Wisdom 4 for $44 (€32,

Discussion 6 Comments

Andrew on September 13th, 2007

How are the Game AI Programming Wisdom books, and is the back-catalogue of them worth buying at all? I've looked at them, but various quotes about the books and reviews don't make up my mind much. What is the actual content, and usefulness to different people? :) Also, that's Amazon.com, which might well charge more shipping to the UK, right? (I have not brought there, but its implied its free shipping for the US if you put a link to the US site!) The [URL=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ai-Game-Programming-Wisdom-4/dp/1584505230/ref=sr_1_1/026-3212836-5965205?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1189724243&sr=8-1]UK site page[/URL] doesn't even have the price available. :( Poor UK'ers... And the book I'm currently reading is "Programming Believable Characters for Computer Games", although I do have the shorter book "Artificial Intelligence for Computer Games" (By John Funge) which I am partially reading too - and never mind C++ books ;). The web seems a lot more useful for single very short articles, nice to have the examples in the self-contained books though and a more coherent whole. I also wonder; could you edit your post/poll to list the book's with the authors too? I might want to investigate any other books of interest - either at my library (which can be more useful then buying the £40 books if you don't know what's in them, especially on my budget!) or getting them for myself, since if you list them in a poll at least one other person thinks people would buy them! No idea what I'd want in a book when I'm still building bits of AI theory and practice into a workable whole however.

alexjc on September 13th, 2007

Hi Andrew, You can only get pre-orders at Amazon.com, but it's still a huge bargain. Shipping to continental Europe costs $8, so the total is $53 (€ 38, £ 26) which is a huge saving of 50% compared to the estimated cost of € 82, £ 52 (the price of the previous books). The exchange rate is very favorable! The AI Wisdom books are definitely worth reading for a programmer. They give you insight into how other programmers solve their problems. Sure, the articles are hit and miss, but overall it's good value... Yes, having a coherent "whole" is also very important to me, you're right... but you can also do that on the web, don't you think? Alex P.S.: Poll has been edited with the name of the authors.

gware on September 15th, 2007

Andrew, The AIGPW (and GPG) series are very interesting. You can really trust Alex when he says that they're worth reading. I'd recommend them to any aspiring ai game programmer. You can sure find some good documentation on the net, but you'll also find some very interesting points in these books. IMO, the first two are still good reference, but experienced programmers may already know most of the tips listed. Alex, What topic do I want to read about ? Good question. The last AI subjects that interested me the most were : - Jeff Orkin's GDC presentation (3 state and a plan) (BTW, I'm a bit late but it seems he has uploaded his master thesis, and probably with it some of the informations he got from the restaurant game) - Docs on behavior trees (yours are very intuitive and pleasing to read, great job) - Various docs about planning and robotics (in dynamic env. and with little information of the world/ low sensor input) - Some docs about Markov decision processes. I'm also interested in parrallel processing and how to effectively use it in AI. One last topic I like to read about is current state of the art in the industry. I like to see how others solved their problems ;) (i.e. I'd like to know how others solved problems I'm having :) ) Gabriel

Andrew on September 15th, 2007

Thanks for the advice guys, I'll see if I can get the books at some point somehow :D Oh, and on book content; I had a discussion today about AI (in games, simulations, whatever, anything with agents thinking), and I don't have any books which detail the psychology behind thinking - intelligence. Building anything but a UT Bot might well be easy to figure out some base system to design, but the intricate ways of coming to a decision, given a task to achieve (or even, just given no task, and a decision on what to do next) is really, really difficult for anything other then a simple case. What I mean is that some things might be easy to do - defining some broad emotions/feelings, and physical characteristics, in a scale rating and combining them. But then, coupled with that, taking into account history (learning, or just simply remembering and letting the code use that to make a "better" decision), the future, and other factors (involving other actors most likely, such as their relationship to the AI, or what they have done in the past/will do in the future/knowledge about what they might do), makes doing it without knowledge of how the brain works (any brain) is, well, frankly impossible without some reading on the matter! And ignore any misjudged comments above - I don't have any real design written down, so just slammed some related bits and bobs. I'd like to see if I can get some kind of AI (not "proper" AI, faked, since learning anything remotely like a human would be currently insane in a computer game due to the resources needed) which acts intelligently, with feelings/self-made decisions. Either of you got any recommended psychology (or other "ology") books which would be worth reading up on? Or would this perhaps be a worthwhile area for a Game AI book... ;)

gware on September 16th, 2007

I think you may want to read "Society of mind" by Marvin Minsky. It's good reading on how human intelligence created/built. HTH, Gabriel

Andrew on September 18th, 2007

OK, thanks a lot Gabriel, I'll check out the book.

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