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Paris Game/AI Conference ’11: Highlights, Photos & Slides

The Team on August 5, 2011

The Paris Game/AI Conference 2011 that took place last month represented a turning point for the field of artificial intelligence in game development. While Game AI has traditionally been associated with non-player character behavior and occasionally opponent strategy, this was the first conference to showcase the newly found breadth of the field — from procedural generation to experience management, including data-mining and physics-based motion.

Of course, the event broke all records and secured its place as the largest independent event about Game/AI worldwide — but you'd probably expect that! On top of that, this was also a turning point for AiGameDev.com (as the conference organizers) since the 2011 edition marks the fourth event in Paris/France at the CNAM, but the fifth edition will be held in Vienna/Austria in 2012.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

The conference this year brought together all middleware game AI vendors, including and most importantly, our sponsors! We're particularly grateful to all these companies for their support, without which the event wouldn't have been possible.

Havok Namaste Autodesk Spir.Ops

Table of Content

On this page, you'll find the coverage of the following sessions:

  1. The Best Ideas in Game AI from the Past Year

  2. Applying Reactive Planning Idioms to Behavior Trees

  3. Battle AI in TOTAL WAR: SHOGUN 2 and Lessons Learned

  4. 10,000 Ships Doing the Locomotion in X REBIRTH

  5. Stochastic Sampling and the AI in LOVE

  6. Drive-Orientation in SPLINTER CELL: DOUBLE AGENT's Bots

  7. What's New in Autodesk Kynapse 2012

  8. Data-Mining Techniques Applied to Games

  9. Parametric Character Animation in CRYSIS 2

  10. The Next-Generation of Game Planners

  11. The AI Director in DARK SPORE

That was day one, and day two follows:

  1. The Future of Deliberative Decision Making

  2. Visual Effect Techniques for Crowd Shaping

  3. Procedural Generation for Games

  4. Turn-Based AI in GREED CORP

  5. High Performance Racing AI in NASCAR 2011

  6. Blend Trees and Havok Behavior

  7. Automatic Annotations in KILLZONE3

  8. Emotions, Social Physics and PROM WEEK

  9. Rapid Prototyping of AI in... C++

  10. Natural Motion and BACKBREAKER

  11. Summary & Take-Away

Applying Reactive Planning Idioms to Behavior Trees

Speaker: Ben Weber (University of California, Santa Cruz).

Ben Weber explained the best ideas from behavior languages such as ABL, which was used to create Façade. We heard how he applied the techniques to a RTS bot, the EISBot, one of the favorite competitors for the AIIDE 2011 Starcraft competition. We also heard how you could use these design patterns within your own BTs.

Applying Reactive Planning Idioms to Behavior Trees
Ben Weber
Download PPTX or PDF

Battle AI in TOTAL WAR: SHOGUN 2 and Lessons Learned.

Speaker: Ingimar Gudmundsson (Creative Assembly).

TOTAL WAR: SHOGUN 2 is a strategy computer game developed by The Creative Assembly. This latest iteration in the series has focused heavily on its AI, and the game is receiving acclaim for its revamped battle AI. We heard all about it in this keynote!

Battle AI in TOTAL WAR: SHOGUN 2 and Lessons Learned
Ingimar Gudmundsson
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10,000 Ships Doing the Locomotion in X REBIRTH

Speaker: Simon Ellis (EgoSoft).

The upcoming game from EgoSoft in the X Universe will feature large numbers of space ships flying around, which presented many challenges on the locomotion system's implementation.

10,000 Ships Doing the Locomotion in X Rebirth
Simon Ellis
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Stochastic Sampling and the AI in LOVE

Speaker: Eskil Steenberg (Quel Solaar).

LOVE is an ambitious and stylish MMO game that features entirely procedurally generated planets. The world is inhabited by tribes of AI characters which can be hostile or friendly towards the player, and can build their own settlements autonomously.

Stochastic Sampling and the AI in LOVE
Eskil Steenberg
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Drive-Orientation in SPLINTER CELL: DOUBLE AGENT's Bots

Speaker: Axel Buendia (Spir.Ops) and Florian Deconinck (Spir.Ops).

Developed by Ubisoft along with Spir.Ops' drive-oriented behavior system, SPLINTER CELL: DOUBLE AGENT features bots that you can play against competitively in multiplayer mode. These bots provide an entertaining and varied experience as you play the game multiple times.

Drive-Orientation in SPLINTER CELL: DOUBLE AGENT's Bots
Axel Buendia
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What's New in Autodesk Kynapse 2012

Speaker: James Park (Autodesk).

Autodesk showed off the latest features of their Autodesk Kynapse AI Middleware including memory footprint and SPU optimizations, smoothed trajecteries in jumps and a variety of features and performance optimizations. This presentation emphasized the level of maturity that pathfinding solutions have reached over the years.

Data-Mining Techniques Applied to Games

Speaker: Georgios Yannakakis and Julian Togelius (IT University of Copenhagen).

Research in data-mining has matured a lot over the past decade, and can now be applied to a wide variety of problems reliably. There's a huge opportunity for games to help interpret players behavior, either once the game has launched or during development.

Data-Mining Techniques Applied to Games
Georgios Yannakakis and Julian Togelius
Download PPTX or PDF

Parametric Character Animation in CRYSIS 2

Speaker: Sven van Soom (CRYTEK).

The most recent iteration of Crytek's sandbox shooter, set in New York, combines the incredible technology of CryEngine 3 along with the trademark gameplay that defines the series. In particular, we heard about the animation technology under the hood and how it's used by the AI.

Parametric Character Animation in CRYSIS 2
Sven van Soom
Download PPTX or PDF

The Next-Generation of Game Planners

Speaker: Luke Dicken (University of Strathclyde).

The use of planners in the games industry is at a key junction; how to stay competitive with other solutions. Innovation in technology could certainly help, and R&D is a great place to turn for inspiration.

The Next-Generation of Game Planners
Luke Dicken
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The AI Director in DARK SPORE

Speaker: Dan Kline (Maxis).

In the tradition of its developer Maxis, DARK SPORE is an innovative RPG game that features some radical AI design. In particular it addresses two of the most promising game design frontiers: player monitoring and experience management.

The AI Director in DARK SPORE
Dan Kline
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The Future of Deliberative Decision Making

Participants: Arjen Beij (Guerrilla Games), Eric Jacopin (CEC Saint-Cyr), Ben Weber (University California, Santa Cruz).

Recent trends have not been very favorable to STRIPS-style planners, with many developers switching away from using the approach in practice. Why is this the case and what can be done about it?

Visual Effect Techniques for Crowd Shaping

Speaker: Clodéric Mars (Golaem).

Making realistic looking crowds involves more than just picking an algorithm. How can designers and artists craft the overall behavior of the crowd and what tools should they use to do that?

Visual Effect Techniques for Crowd Shaping
Clodéric Mars
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Procedural Generation for Games

Speaker: Julian Togelius and Georgios Yannakakis (IT University of Copenhagen).

Procedural generation is a simple and effective way to add more variety to games and increase the quantity of levels available for players. It's been proven to be a particularly good option for independent and casual games, as well as some AAA games too!

Procedural Generation for Games
Julian Togelius
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Turn-Based AI in GREED CORP

Speaker: Giliam de Carpentier (Vanguard Games).

Greed Corp is a turn-based strategy game which focuses on strategic battles on a map featuring a land collapsing mechanic. Players choose one of four factions (Freemen, Pirates, Cartel, Empire) in matches of around 20 minutes. The opponent AI in this fun tile-based strategy game went through multiple iterations!

Turn-Based AI in GREED CORP
Giliam de Carpentier
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High Performance Racing AI in NASCAR 2011

Speaker: Neil Henning (CodePlay).

NASCAR races have forty-three cars racing in tight packs around the tracks, and Eutechnyx set out from the start to create a realistic experience where drivers have distinctive personalities and race just like their real life counterparts. Optimizing that game to run smoothly on modern consoles, particularly the PS3, was quite a challenge!

High Performance Racing AI in NASCAR 2011
Neil Henning
Download PPT

Blend Trees and Havok Behavior

Speaker: Jason Turbin (Havok).

In this session, Jason presented an impressive live demo of Havok Behavior, a middleware library and toolset for character animation. He showed in particular details about the HFSM, the blend tree, the registration of animations with the world, all tied together in an interactive locomotion demo given using Havok's tools themselves.

Automatic Annotations in KILLZONE3

Speaker: Mikko Mononen (Keino Yhtiö).

Since voxel-based techniques work so effectively for navigation, why not apply them to other parts of the toolchain such as terrain reasoning? In this presentation, we found out how Recast was applied in Guerrilla Games' latest hit, and how to handle other automatic annotations too!

Emotions, Social Physics and PROM WEEK

Speaker: Josh McCoy (University of California, Santa Cruz), Mike Treanor (Expressive Intelligence Studio).

PROM WEEK is an innovative AI-based social game developed by Expressive Intelligence studio and Michael Mateas, creator of Facade. The game features ground breaking gameplay with puzzles based on emotions and traits of characters preparing for a high-school prom.

Emotions, Social Physics and PROM WEEK
Josh McCoy, Mike Treanor
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Rapid Prototyping of AI in... C++

Presenters: Matthew Jack (Moon Collider), Doug Binks (Intel).

Matthew Jack and Doug Binks showed a working prototype for dynamically reloading game code (and BTs) written in C++, as if it was a script!

Rapid Development
with Runtime-Compiled C++
Matthew Jack, Doug Binks, Adam Rutkowski
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Natural Motion and BACKBREAKER

Speaker: Simon Mack (Natural Motion).

BACKBREAKER is an American football game that features realistic physically simulated tackles that make you feel every hit and blow. It uses Natural Motion?s Euphoria, a game animation engine that generates motion on the fly based on physical simulation of a character's muscles.

Natural Motion and BACKBREAKER
Simon Mack
Download FILE

Summary & Take-Away

One of the big take-aways from this year's conference was "iteration" — as William van der Sterren pointed out in his final words. Iteration for working with technology that's been used for decades in the field yet still improving it, iteration for finding exciting and challenging new applications for AI technology, iteration for making a great game and working with designers and play-testers to keep increasing the product's quality, and iteration for the conference itself with an extra poster reception, the live stream, a great V.I.P. dinner, and continuous coffee breaks, etc.

It's an exciting time to be in Game/AI as a field. Developers are not only mastering the technology but also applying it to brand new domains and entering uncharted territory too! The conference is doing the same next year as well, so I hope you can join us there once again at the heart of the community.

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