Vote Now! 2009 Awards for Game AI

Alex J. Champandard on December 19, 2009

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Awards for Game AI, where the best games of the year are nominated and voted by professionals, enthusiasts, and researchers in artificial intelligence for games. Last week you submitted your nominations, and here are the finalists. You have exactly one week to pick the best candidates by visiting this page. Vote now!

The entries below were chosen thanks to emails, comments, and discussion in our official IRC channel at in #gameai. Each nominee had at least two people behind it. Special thanks to Phil Carlisle, Kevin Dill, and Ricardo J. Mendez for their suggestions and descriptions.

Best AI in a AAA Game

Dragon Age
Outstanding production values, believable social interactions, reasonable facial animation, and combat AI integrated into the gameplay. (Thanks Kevin Dill.)
The Sims 3
Compelling traits, unique individuals, and incredible emergent stories that occur in the game thanks to the autonomous behaviors.
Killzone 2
Arguably the best combat AIs ever built for a first- or third-person game shooter, which shines in single player sections as well as in the multiplayer bots in Skirmish.
A Hero AI capable of playing such a complex RTS RPG hybrid game with a deep strategy, allowing over 70% of players to play only offline!

Best Non-Player Character

Ellis (bot) in Left 4 Dead 2
He's arguably the funniest of the cast in Left 4 Dead 2. Great animation and dialog lines.
Chloe in Uncharted 2
One of the protagonists of the Game of the Year, Chloe is a favorite among the gamers. Her behavior is very believable, combined with great voice acting.
Tiger in World of Zoo
Inspired by technology at the Media Lab at MIT, these Big Cats are among player favourites to interact with.
Morrigan in Dragon Age
While the characters are sometimes controlled by the player in combat, the rest of the time they are very believable and immersive. (Thanks Kyle Walsh.)
Anthony Prince in GTA 4 Gay Tony
Incredible writing and production values for a character that's an integral part of this GTA 4 DLC story.

Best AI in an Independent Game

AI War
This indie game is famous for its huge battles and over 30,000 active ships in the universe, but innovates on the RTS design front as well with its procedural population.
This iPhone sports game hit #1 after its release, and proves that Natural Motion's technology can run on more limited hardware.
Gratuitous Space Battles
This fun game relies on AI to control the battles once you've set everything up. (Thanks Phil Carlisle.)
Galactic Arms Race
An innovative game about exploration and combat, where you can find new weapons that are procedurally generated using AI.

Design Innovation in Game AI

Procedural Geometry Left 4 Dead 2
The sequel to last year's award winner, L4D1, innovates by allowing the director to control the geometry to influence which path survivors must take. (Thanks Kevin Dill.)
Three Way War in [PROTOTYPE]
This open-world game by Radical Entertainment innovates by placing the player in the middle of a huge raging battle between the infected and the military. (Thanks Ricardo J. Mendez.)
The Animals in World of Zoo
This simulation game features believable and lovable animals that players get to interact with via the Wiimote. (Thanks Kevin Dill.)
Flocking Petals in Flower
This artistic game leverages flocking technology to create believable flower petals flowing through the air as a core game mechanic. (Thanks Ricardo J. Mendez.)

AI Technology in a Supporting Role

AI Director in Left 4 Dead 2
Valve's experience management technology is now responsible for the weather and geometry, as well as the spawning of the infected.
The City in Assassin's Creed 2
Ubisoft's game relies on living breathing cities as a backdrop to the action, and in this sequel they took it to the next level.
Natural Motion in Backbreaker
Active ragdolls are used to animate the players on the football pitch, bringing new life to the game.
Three Way War in [PROTOTYPE]
Scaling up to provide ~200 characters in a city in battle required many technical changes and optimizations.

Technical Innovation in Game AI

Combat AI in Killzone 2
Guerrilla Games innovated in their most recent game by including a hierarchical task network planner, as well as most elements of RTS game AI.
Hero AI in Demigod
The Gas Powered Games team used an innovative goal-based action optimization algorithm to help solve the challenges of this RTS / RPG hybrid.
30,000 Units in AI War
Nick Park implemented the technology for this game on his own, inspired by his experience with large scale database systems.
Evolution in Galactic Arms Race
The team lead by Ken Stanley implemented genetic algorithms and neural networks to generate new efficient weapons behaviors for this space game.
The Tools in World of Zoo
The game created by Blue Fang relied heavily on tools to help the designers create new believable and entertaining creatures. (Thanks Kevin Dill.)

Most Influential Published Research

Multi-Agent Control in Adversarial Games [PDF]
An amazing next-step for animation control that takes into account gameplay, and an innovative use of reinforcement learning
An Architecture for Game Behavior AI: Behavior Multi-Queues [PDF]
A promising and very applicable approach from AIIDE, using behavior trees for interaction and coordination.
Aggregate Dynamics for Dense Crowd Simulation [PDF]
This compromize of different technologies seems like a great way to solve crowd-flow problems at a macro- and micro-level.
Improving Offensive Performance through Opponent Modeling [PDF]
Player modelling is one of the big open areas of research, and this paper is the most interesting contribution this year on the topic.
Code Coverage for QA (Game Programming Gem)
This paper may have a profound impact on the way we test games and particularly AI, using tools to help better testing.

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Stay tuned on December 28th for the final results, which will be posted publicly on the main blog.

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