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What Trends in Game AI Do You Anticipate for 2008?

Alex J. Champandard on January 1, 2008

The first developer discussion of the new year on AiGameDev.com is a fantastic opportunity to discuss trends for the upcoming twelve months. What do you think will be hot, or not?

Screenshot 1: Trends in artificial intelligence and game development.

In particular,

  • Scripting Languages — Will discontent with Lua spread or will its adoption continue to grow? Do you foresee any competitors?

  • Middleware — Do you foresee any major shifts in the middleware business? What are you looking forward to the most?

  • Technology — Is there any particular AI technique that you think will make it big in 2008? If not, why not?

  • Game Innovations — What games do you think will influence the field of game AI the most?

Let everyone know what you think; post a comment below!

Discussion 6 Comments

alexjc on January 3rd, 2008

Good point seth. My first prediction is very similar: [LIST] [*]The increasing availability of planners (HTN mainly) in middleware solutions. [*]An increasing focus on co-operative AIs, like the dog in Fable 2 or Alyx in Half-Life 2. [*]Designers becoming more efficient at designing groups / eco-systems (with emergent behaviors) and integrating them with the story. [*]A great boost in popularity of behavior trees and their editors... [*]Developers becoming more unhappy with the Lua interpreter's performance, but alternatives on the horizon (e.g. a compiler). [/LIST] Regardless, it'll be interesting to see what happens! Alex

Dave Mark on January 3rd, 2008

I will have to vote for cooperative behaviors - whether that be with the player, against the player, or just in the background. Also, I think that the major break away from state-based machines will be a big deal. Look for more autonomous agents and less scripting. Certainly that will be limited to the games that can support and show off these sorts of behaviors, but the change will happen nonetheless.

ToddM on January 5th, 2008

There's definitely a trend toward so-called "sandbox" games, and away from scripted games (as Dave mentioned), which is expected to continue, and to create greater use of autonomous agents and everything that they entail. It seems that this is much more of an evolution than a revolution though. Autonomous agents will continue to grow in importance, but other techniques (e.g., scripting) will continue to be used to drive and direct story lines. With regard to autonomous characters, I look forward to the development of more complex behaviors that go way beyond the standard fight or flight. I'd like to see fewer game units used as cannon fodder, and a much greater use of the subtleties of negotiation, including intimidation, threats, etc. Imagine how much better it would be to have game entities who embody the desire to not only achieve a group goal, but also individual preservation. For example, if groups of enemy units include individuals who want to be promoted (maybe all of them do), then their goals of achieving objectives would by necessity also include their own preservation. This can lead to greater motivation to negotatiate, perhaps not only with the player character, but also with each other. The complexities of game play would be much more compelling. It'll also be interesting to see how the mod community changes over time. As the emphasis moves away from pre-scripted behaviors and set triggers (though continues to include them), and toward the development of complex characters, behaviors and physical sensors, the third-party development tools will also need to adapt to this change. Modding will by necessity be even more involved in character development (as objects/agents/behaviors/sensors are created), and less with event/location based scripts. This shift will change the nature of mod development a bit, but will be an improvement for the development of more engaging games.

Dmitriy Iassenev on February 26th, 2008

2AnthonyW we used LuaJIT in Stalker, and it proved it is very efficient (2.5-3 times faster than pure Lua). It is a pity that it can compile only in x86 instructions, which limits it to PC platform only :( This can result in less intensive Lua usage on consoles. it is also interesting to know if guys from Crytek have memory or/and speed issues because of Lua usage.

alexjc on February 26th, 2008

Another potential problem with LuaJIT is that some consoles don't allow code generation at runtime. So that rules out anything that's dynamic JIT. Compiling a dynamically typed language is much harder when you can't do it with runtime data to help you out... The approach ShedSkin (Python) takes is to require you to write tests for each function to show how it will be used, which gives you the types/data to compile the functions before execution. Alex

Dmitriy Iassenev on February 27th, 2008

2AnthonyW I reviewed discussion "Squirrel vs Lua" and Mike Pall (LuaJIT author) proved LuaJIT is very fast. I haven't got deep into Squirrel though. About future scripting language usage in games: I agree, most of the modern engines have reach WYSIWYP editors, which allow game designers to do a lot of things without scripting. Probably, script languages in future game engines will be used for data description purposes only. BTW they have several good properties for this: * it is easy to find out what is wrong with the data, since there are descriptive errors * it is easy to use with any version control system, since merge operations on binary data are painful * no LittleEndian/BigEndian, alignment and other issues of course, it is slower solution, especially if you store triangles in script :-), but it may help in most other cases.

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