Game AI Roundup Week #46 2008: 8 Stories, 1 Video, 1 Paper

Novack on November 18, 2008

Rather late this week, but still we have a Roundup full of insightful stories and news on the game AI community; as always, there are some good articles and blog posts for you to read. Remember, there’s also lots of great content to be found in the forums here! (All you have to do is introduce yourself.) Also don’t forget the Twitter account for random thoughts!

This post is brought to you mostly by Marcos Novacovsky (aka “Novack”). If you have any news or tips for next week, be sure to email them in to editors at Remember there’s a mini-blog over at (RSS) with game AI news from the web as it happens.

Blobs in Games: Reflexes and Brains

In his blog (well known for his extensive information on pathfinding), Amit Patel wrote an interesting post on brain process and AI game design.

The brain is a complex organ with complex processing. But it’s slow. Early AIs were written to explore the highest level of brain functions — things like planning, logic, natural language, creativity, problem solving, mathematics. Like the higher levels of the brain, solving these problems is slow. In game AI, planning and pathfinding are examples of the higher level processing, and these are often slow.

Mike Sellers’s Online Alchemy

Mike Sellers is presenting his new blog, already loaded with interesting articles on AI and game design. We’ll be following this new source of interesting posts! Thanks to Jurie Horneman for sending it in.

In this blog I’ll be writing about artificial intelligence, game design, virtual worlds, massively multiplayer online games, social games, and a variety of usually related subjects. I welcome topical, respectful discussion.

My background: I run Online Alchemy, a small company in Austin, Texas, specializing in online social games, particularly those with a virtual world component. We have been working for six years on advanced social AI for games and simulations (I’ll talk about that in another post), including working for several years with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). We have also created a unique social networking technology and have a variety of games in development.

Funny Quote of the Week (with moral)

Richard Bartle published in his QBlog a post entitled “AI and Computer Games“, with some really funny, but meaningful parts:

I have to say, if I went to an AI conference and talked about MMO design with no reference to AI except, at the end, saying “and you can probably use these things for AI somehow”, my talk would not be received very well. The audience would in all likelihood throw things at me. Quite why AI experts nevertheless feel perfectly free to do exactly this the other way round to game developers is anyone’s guess. They’re not going to build any bridges with it, though, and could drive the game developers away.

AISB’09 Symposium: AI & GAMES

Through the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research we found a Call for Papers for the AISB’09 Symposium, “Adaptive and Emergent Behavior and Complex System”.

Computer games now form an important sector of the computing and entertainment industries, and they are very sophisticated in many ways. The need for better artificial intelligence (AI) in games is deeply felt, however, and recognised by the industry. Conversely, games offer new challenges and excellent application domains for AI technology and research. Games are increasingly used for education, serious games or game-based learning, where story and AI techniques create a believable, engaging experience for learners.

This symposium focuses on the application of artificial intelligence or intelligent-like techniques, frameworks and theories to the creation of interactive engaging intelligent games

Beginner’s Guide to Far Cry 2

Sarcastic Gamer published one of its “Survival Guides”, this time for Far Cry 2, giving strong emphasis to the game’s AI.

While the destructible vegetation, environment flammability, and the incredible weather effects are all quite stunning, most of the credit goes for the game’s engaging experience goes to the AI department (could there actually be such a thing) at Ubisoft. The AI in Far Cry 2 are unlike anything I have ever seen.

AI for Video Games Final Project

Brian Stinar wrote a post in his blog introducing the works on his final project, developed in ActionScript.

For my final project, Jon Bradley and I decided to work together on a video game he has an idea for. The game is all about herding sheep. So far, Jon has done a huge amount of work. Today I made some progress on implementing path following in the ActionScript framework Jon developed. I still need to make something actually follow the path, as well as figure out why my path adding is getting messed up with regards to clicking on a sheep or the shepherd whenever you are trying to add a path.

Genetics for Games: Part 1

John Sedlak in the blog FocusedGames posted an XNA-oriented article (first of a series) about the first steps on AI, with code examples.

One of the biggest features lacking in most small games and even larger games is some form of intelligent computer player. This article series is aimed to get you, the developer, to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to creating your game’s AI players. We will eventually be discussing what a genetic algorithm is as well as neural networks but for now, we need to start with the basics.

Free PDF Book: Practical AI Programming in Java

I wrote this book for both professional programmers and home hobbyists who already know how to program in Java and who want to learn practical Arti?cial Intelligence (AI) programming and information processing techniques. I have tried to make this an enjoyable book to work through. In the style of a “cook book,” the chapters can be studied in any order. Each chapter follows the same pattern: a motivation for learning a technique, some theory for the technique, and a Java example program that you can experiment with.

Practical Artificial Intelligence Programming in Java
Mark Watson
November 11, 2008 - Third Edition
Download PDF

Reality Bytes: Peter Molyneux in the RollingStone!

Yet another -but very interesting- interview with our main contributor… Peter Molyneux. David Kushner from RollingStone talked with him, about Fable 2 and more.

Plenty of video game designers cite sci-fi author Isaac Asimov as a childhood hero. But Peter Molyneux, who devoured I, Robot while a wee geek in Guildford, England, took the dream of artificial intelligence literally. “Asimov thought that if you can simulate a mind it would be alive,” he says. “I thought we’d have robot slaves and lovers by now.”

AI and the Future of Games as an Expressive Medium

A very interesting talk about facade and moves towards an “automated designer”. Thanks Phil!

Artificial intelligence methods open up new possibilities in game design, enabling the creation of believable characters with rich personalities and emotions, interactive story systems that incorporate player interaction into the construction of dynamic plots, and authoring systems that assist human designers in creating games. Games are fast becoming a major medium of the 21st century, being used for everything from education, to editorial news commentary, to expressing public policy and political opinions. Game AI research can radically expand the expressiveness of games, supporting them in becoming a mainstream medium for societal discourse. These ideas will be illustrated by looking at two projects: the interactive drama Façade (released July 2005, downloadable from and current work on automated game design support.

Stay tuned next week for more smart links from around the web!

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