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Semi-Robotic Swans, New Writers And Career Opportunities in Game AI

Alex J. Champandard on October 1, 2009

I used to think of this site as a swan. What you see on the surface, including those many in-depth features and attentively formated articles, have that apparent elegance of a swan gliding over a lake. Under the water, what you don't see is little duck feet paddling like crazy. It used to be just me working full time on the blog, then my wife Petra joined and we launched small startup — and after that I took on a second shift ;-) These days, however, the best analogy is some kind of amphibian multiped with 10 or more limbs each pushing in the same direction. So if a swan is still an appropriate metaphor for our work on the site, it's more a half-mutant semi-robotic multi-legged swan that's gone much further than the pond we originally intended it to swim in!

What I'm trying to say is two fold: firstly, thanks for being a duck leg. This site wouldn't work without the passion that's palpable in this community, and frankly without it I probably wouldn't want to do this either. Secondly, things are changing fast and we're doing our best to cope! So bear with us. The Premium area means we'll be around as a small business as long as we don't do anything stupid, so you can understand why a lot of our efforts are focused on over-delivering every month; it helps make sure we can keep doing this full time. However, I realize that the blog right now isn't quite up to the high standards we set ourselves over the last few years, but we've been working on that...

A few weeks ago, I wrote an email asking for contributing authors for the blog, and I picked the two people that best fit the profile. In an incredible coincidence, one was a judge in this year's 2K Bot Prize (Luke Dicken) and the other person was the 2K Bot Prize winner (Jeremy Cothran)! They're both working on their respective debut articles: one is an editorialized report from CIG '09 and the other is about using sqlite for AI in Unreal Tournament.

NOTE: If you'd also like to write for the blog, send me an email at <alexjc at AiGameDev.com>. What follows below is a quick update about what's new and what to expect from the blog & site.

Career Opportunities

With the hope of the economy improving (or in the interest of stimulating it), there's now a new sub-forum for Career Opportunities in Game AI, which is intended for studios that have positions open, as well as independent developers looking for contracts. Here's how it works currently:

  1. Anyone can read the forum, even if they're not signed-up to the site.

  2. To post an announcement, you just need to be a premium member.

I posted the first job opportunity yesterday. It's a position as a AI programmer on the Game Brains project, a consortium based in Dublin made of one company (Neat Sciences Ltd) and two research institutes (University College Dublin and the National Digital Research Centre). The job is "to build a library of reusable AI components." Experience with game development is required and knowledge of modern AI techniques such as evolutionary algorithms is suggested. You can read the full post to find out more about the position.

New Staff Writers

Jeremy Cothran won the 2K Bot Prize this year with his SQL-based bot. He's currently writing about the bot's design and architecture, so stay tuned... After that, he'll be writing a more regular feature about independent, open source and amateur projects or mods that feature AI. If you think you have a game that's interesting, feel free to send it in to <editors at AiGameDev.com>.

Luke Dicken is an AI Researcher based in Glasgow, who specialized in Automated Planning for Autonomous Systems. He's @LukeD on Twitter, and his homepage is here. After his report from CIG '09, he'll be writing a regular column about white papers that are relevant to game AI, similar to the reviews I occasionally write about recent research.

Interesting Articles...

Someone mentioned in the IRC channel (#gameai on irc.freenode.net) that all the interesting articles are Premium now. I told him that wasn't entirely true, but certainly all the Premium articles were interesting! As evidence, here are a couple of articles you may have missed — which will keep you busy until the new columns get up and running:

We're also lining up some great highlights for the Autumn, so be sure to stay tuned! Comments and suggestions are also very welcome — as usual.

Discussion 2 Comments

bonzofsp on October 1st, 2009

As for me, I agree with your "over-delivering" statement. I generally can't keep up with the new content. Often sticking stuff into my "I'll look at it later" folder and hope content slows down a little so I can catch up. So I definitely feel my premium membership is well worth the cost.

alexjc on October 1st, 2009

Thanks bonzo :-) You'll get a break over the Winter hollidays late December and early January! Alex

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