In about a week, we’ll be launching the next phase of AiGameDev.com; it’s an entirely new part of the site that’s dedicated to professional game AI developers, with online training to help you stay ahead of the pack.
If you’re thinking it’s an online blend between the best AI sessions at game development conferences, the most practical books on game AI, and informal discussions with experts in the field, you’re on the right track! The difference is that it’ll be a continuous program which you can access from your computer on-demand, as well as participate and interact if you want.
You’ll get action-oriented material, including working code and expert tips distilled from decades in the trenches. Plus topic-specific reports will save you time when you have a common problem to solve. Better still, you’ll not only get access to information that’s regularly updated, but also published with short turnaround times!
We’ve taken into account all your feedback and suggestions over the past months, and here’s what we’ve come up with…
Prototypes & Code Samples
On the programming side, we’ll implement a variety of different algorithms and techniques, then apply them into game prototypes. Since we’re looking at this from a neutral perspective, we won’t be trying convince you that what we’ve done is revolutionary. Instead we’ll take existing techniques from research papers or less-often documented techniques from industry and compare them in practice. Then you can take the results, avoid the pitfalls, and apply the useful bits into your games.
Having working prototypes to build upon should enable you to innovate more during pre-production, and help you to find less risky solutions while you’re in production. To do this, we’re implementing a prototyping environment that focuses entirely on AI, animation and physics — optimizing everything and discarding cosmetics to decrease turn-around times.
NOTE: More technical details about this prototyping environment (a.k.a. “industrial-strength” sandbox) this weekend. Stay tuned!
Specialized Technical Reports
More generally, you’ll be able to get your hands on PDF reports that deal with a particular topic. We’re focusing on combining different expert’s knowledge and experience on the same subject (grounded in both industry and research), to give you a balanced overview of the field — with examples from a variety of games. It’s something useful to read while you’re compiling or updating your assets!
Not only will these reports go into the details, but they’ll also give you high-level actionable summaries too (if you’re in a rush) that you can take and apply into your game & team. What’s more, the documents you get will be continuously updated as we gather tips and tricks from the latest games and our growing list of guest experts.
NOTE: Stay tuned for another preview of a special report in the Insider’s area in the next few days.
Audio / Video Sessions
The online A/V meetings are an ideal complement to the code and reports, as they’ll add a little more interactivity and personality into the information. Often, sitting at a whiteboard and explaining something is much higher bandwidth than any amount of text… and what we’ll be using the closest thing we’ve found online!
That said, you will have the choice in going for the live and interactive sessions, and get to pick the brain of experts and join in on the discussion in the chat. Or you can wait until later and download the high-quality local recording and transcripts as we make them available. We’ll even provide iPod friendly versions for you to listen to on the way to work!
NOTE: The full line up for the next three months will be announced on Monday.
“It felt a bit like the AI Dinner at the GDC, except only Alex had a face.” — Robin Baumgarten, after AiGameDev.com’s first live Q&A.
Our Founding Experts
Over the next few months, we’ve lined up some of the best people in the field of game AI — but none better than the resident experts here at AiGameDev.com who helped us get everything setup.
Javier Arevalo — An industry veteran who worked as a Technical Lead or Producer at companies like High Voltage Software, Pyro Studios and Radical Entertainment, on a variety of games including the Commandos series.
Jeff Orkin — AI programmer extra-ordinaire best know for his work on F.E.A.R. as well as No One Lives Forever 2, currently involved in research at MIT’s Media Lab.
Hopefully, you read the first part of the Terrain Reasoning report last week, which included the insights from:
Kevin Dill — Works as a Senior AI Programmer at Rockstar, having previously developed AI for Master of Orion 3, and Kohan 2.
Sergio Garces — Is a Senior AI Programmer at Radical on Prototype. He previously worked the AI of Praetorians and Imperial Glory.
William van der Sterren — As a consultant for CGF-AI, he assisted Guerrilla Games in creating the AI for Killzone and Shellshock Nam ’67.
Paul Tozour — Is best known for creating the AI for Metroid Prime 2 & 3, as well as Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3 currently on Project Offset at Intel.
Also, if you read about our online seminars this week, you’ll also remember:
Phil Carlisle — veteran game developer behind the Worm’s AI, currently researcher & lecturer at Bolton University.
Mikko Mononen — Lead AI Programmer on Crysis & currently Indie developer at Secret Exit and AnyFun Games.
How Much Will It Cost?
Given the GDC price tag of over $1,500.00 — and even specialized conferences like AIIDE costing about $750.00 — it’s fair for you to be wondering how much the program at AiGameDev.com will cost. And that’s by far the most common question we’ve been receiving, and the answer is…
Less than you’re thinking most likely, but only for the first week.
And there’s a very good reason for this. Since you’re joining the program from the beginning, you’ll play a key role in shaping the program’s content to your needs, and for future members too. In exchange, you’ll get the best deal you can ever expect from us — as our way of saying thank you. We call this a charter membership.
This is a one-time offer since this is the first time we’re launching publicly. Not only that, we’ll be limiting the sign-up period to a week! After the first week of October, we’ll no longer accept new sign-ups, and will shift our focus on current members until we’re ready to open things up again. Finally, you’ll never see this same price again. Once we re-open we’ll increase the monthly price significantly — to reflect the extra value it will have acquired.
Now, if you sign-up as a charter member next week, you’ll benefit from the first price offer as long as you remain a member. We’ll announce the exact price in a few days, but if you’re curious about the number now, or have any questions about the program, you can send me an email directly at alexjc at aigamedev.com.