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Game AI Roundup Week #47 2008: 13 Stories, 3 Quotes, 1 Video

Novack on November 23, 2008

Weekends at AiGameDev.com are dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. This week, we have a set of interesting media comments on current and upcoming AAA games; also, 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 AiGameDev.com. Remember there’s a mini-blog over at news.AiGameDev.com (RSS) with game AI news from the web as it happens.

Humans team up with AI

Physorg.com posted an article on a 3D online game, called “GIVE: Generating Instructions in Virtual Environments,” designed to help computers use language more like people do.

Hey, online gamers, artificial intelligence researchers need your help! As part of an international team of researchers, Northwestern University has officially released the first online game in which human players partner with artificial intelligence (AI) software –- in this case with the goal of solving a treasure hunt in a virtual world.

Artificial Technology Launches EKI One

Through Gamasutra we found out the announcement from Artificial Technology: EKI One Version 1.0 has been released.

German middleware company Artificial Technology announced the commercial release of EKI One Version 1.0, a modular solution for enhancing emotional behavior and artificial intelligence with virtual world characters. A free trial version is available for evaluation.

Computer games: matters of intelligence

Science Centric brought us the news about the University of Essex: hosted a workshop for some of the UK’s leading experts in artificial intelligence and games technology.

The University has hosted a workshop for some of the UK’s leading experts in artificial intelligence and games technology.

The workshop, at the University’s Colchester Campus, looked at the use of artificial intelligence in computer games today. Dr Simon Lucas, from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, explains: ‘We have become used to seeing major advances in graphic detail in computer games over recent years, but the ‘intelligence’ within these games needs to catch up to match the progress. This is one area where artificial intelligence comes in.

Voices from the dark side

This week we have a set of comments from mainstream specialized media on diferent AAA game’s AI.

Need for Speed Undercover



In the IGN Review of the latest NFS: Undercover we can read this, on the game’s AI:

The AI is about as dumb as can be, though it’s also pretty cheap. The computer assistance will cause the computer to catch up and even pass you with a same-powered vehicle, even without using nitrous, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It can also take turns better than you can, cutting down on its lap times. But it’s also really stupid as the computer will crash into oncoming cars that it can clearly see miles ahead without trying to get out of the way. Any sense of realistic drivers is thrown out the window the first time you see a truck and one of your opponents play a game of chicken with neither ever budging.

Tomb Raider: Underworld

ComputerAndVideoGames.com wrote this on the PS3 review of latest Lara’s game:

The AI is abysmal. Often enemies will stand completely still as you unload clips of ammunition into them. And that’s another problem; it takes 30 seconds of sustained fire to drop a single goon, while Lara’s health can be completely drained in half that time.

Left 4 Dead



In its review of the Valve’s zombie holocaust game, Kotaku wrote praises for the AI Director.

The level design may be static, but the artificial intelligence that controls where ammo, health supplies and zombies, Boomers, Smokers, Hunters and Tanks appear guarantees that each play-through feels fresh. During a single-player session, the A.I. director surprised me with a Witch I was fully expecting to be in the opposite corner of the room from a previous attempt — a quick tutorial in expecting the unexpected.

C&C: Red Alert 3

MyGEN wrote about the latest C&C franchise RTS game, for its Xbox reviews section.

My biggest problem with the single-player campaign rests with the co-commanders. They’re little more than a forced difficulty increase, demanding you contort yourself to their unrealistic and illogical patterns. The AI is slow, stupid and often ridiculous, plus the suffering is compounded by the madness of the game forcing you to split your resource pool equally with them. It’s a sad truth that it would probably be easier just to control both armies by yourself, therefore having a mandatory AI sidekick is a real thorn in the side of an otherwise respectable C&C; experience.

Fallout 3

The PC gaming blog 2404.org posted on a review on Fallout 3, and commented this on the game’s AI:

AI is another problem. Enemies have terrible pathfinding which is compounded by the profusion of rubble and uneven ground in every location of the game. When a raider with a knife is charging you, his AI works fine. When you shoot a soldier with a rifle and then retreat behind cover, he goes apeshit and runs around like a chicken with his head cut off, often making long detours to skirt a small pile of junk, or getting stuck behind barriers, or simply forgetting about you and going back to sitting on his ass chewing fat. When the AI gets missile launchers, they frequently blow themselves up.

IBM plans to copy the brain

The IT news publication heise online posted an article on the IBM’s intention to work on mimic the human brain way of work. Interesting enough, the videogames AI is -passively- mentioned in this article as a field of AI development.

The idea of simulating the human brain with machines has been an inspiration for scientists for decades, but so far, attempts to create artificial intelligence have not met with much success. Honda’s ASIMO is probably the most “intelligent” humanoid robot yet produced. It as a full quorum of the motor and sensory capacities required to function as a servant or to imitate the gestures of an orchestral conductor – but it still lacks a consciousness that would allow it to interact actively and above all freely with the environment. Artificial intelligence (AI) in computer games hasn’t progressed very far, either: it’s limited to clearly-defined, limited domains, functions and actions – such as in a shooting game, where “AI” allows a computer-controlled adversary to “intelligently” seek protective cover.

Notes from “Playing Smart - AI in Computer Games”

Dave Higgins posted in his blog an article commenting on a paper from Eike F Anderson.

The AI in most computer games isn’t really the same as academic AI. It’s more of a mix of techniques that are related to A.I. and are mainly concerned with giving a believable appearance of intelligence. AI doesn’t have to be incredibly complex as very little is required to fool the human brain, a complex A.I would actually be hidden and therefore hard for the player to spot. “The concept of “less is more” can therefore be applied to AI in computer games.” The biggest requirement for creating a captivating illusion of intelligence in games would be managing and controlling perception, I.e. organising and evaluating data from an agents environment which would mostly be sensory data but would also include the communication between multiple agents within a game world.

LOTRO: Mines of Moria



Matt Peckham from PC World interviewed Jeffrey Steefel (Turbine’s executive producer) on the new LOTRO expansion.

GO: I read somewhere that the enemy artificial intelligence got a boost, which of course sounded a little odd, since in most MMOs enemies either notice you and charge or they don’t and just sort of wander aimlessly around.

JS: Well it’s a combination of things. First of all, we’re always trying to improve the AI. In Moria in particular we wanted to make the AI feel much more indigenous to the area. You’ll find that as you encounter monsters and bosses in Moria, first of all they look like they belong in the area they’re in, like they sort of grew up there. In some cases, their AI really takes advantage of the space they’re in if there’s water there, or if there’s molten lava, or something to give them advantage over you.

And then we have monsters who will respond to the new class capabilities, and it’s part of the overall balance. When you add two new classes to a game, you have to make sure they’re balanced against all of the other classes, and that was a significant amount of work.

The Sims 3: Developer Interview



WorthPlaying posted a set of questions answered by the The Sims 3 developers. Interesting comments on the game’s aI.

Q: We understand that the game features a continuous neighborhood and no loading times, but there won’t be multiple neighborhoods as in The Sims 2. Tell us a bit about this decision. How will it change what different players do with the game once they get it in their hands?

There is one neighborhood, and it is pretty amazing. We’ve been working exclusively on this one neighborhood, Sunset Valley for the last few years. It’s bigger and richer than anything we’ve made before. We really just wanted to make something that would blow people away, and we wanted to do more with the town than we have in the past.

No two towns will ever be the same after one generation in The Sims 3. As I mentioned, every Sim has complete AI throughout their life, so you’ll see people grow up, go to school, fall in love, get married, get jobs, move out, have families, grow old and pass away. It’s also possible to change all of the Sims in your town, so you can fill the town with whoever you like…yourself, your friends, characters from your favorite show, favorite band or sports team, anyone you can imagine…you get the point

Procedural builds new CityEngine

Develop published the news of a new version of CityEngine, the Procedural Inc. city generation software.

Zurich tech firm Procedural Inc. has updated CityEngine, its procedural city generation software.

The new version adds OpenStreetMap import, city model export to RenderMan and Google Earth, a swathe of video tutorials and user manuals, and a new interface to control building parameters, complete with automatic aligned regeneration of models upon parameter change.

Havok offers up Behavior Tool online

Also Develop posted about news from Havok, releasing its Behavior Tool for public download.

Havok has released its Behavior Tool for public download from its website.

The Behavior Tool is a bespoke application that allows users to build and simulate game-ready characters in a 3D level, placing the creation process in the hands of artists and designers. The authored content can then be used in games that use Havok’s Physics, Animation or Behavior middleware.

GDC Canada

On short news, the Canada Game Developers Conference, opened the call for submissions.

Think has put out a call for talk proposals for the inaugural GDC Canada, taking place on May 12th and 13th in Vancouver.

Brian Stinar’s Blog: AI for Video Games Project Update

Las week’s Roundup I posted about a project from Brian Stinar, developed in ActionScript. He updated his work.

Today I spent about 5 hours at Starbucks working on getting the dog I jacked from this dude to follow a path in ActionScript. Right now, I solved the problem related to applying the points on the incorrect place and getting the dog to follow the points on the path. I still want to clear the path after the dog has finished following it, make the sheep run away from the dog and work on the dog’s animation a bit. I think once I get the sheep running from the dog and the path cleared though, I am going to setup SVN and work on the splash screen and some other non-AI components of the game. My partner Jon has done an awesome job creating the AI framework, and we agreed to have him do a bit more AI and I would focus on the other structural points of the game. Our professors wanted to make sure all group members did AI related stuff, so path following seemed like a good place for me to work.

Expressive Intelligence: AI, Games and New Media



October 20, 2006 lecture by Michael Mateas for the Stanford University Human Computer Interaction Seminar (CS547). “Expressive AI (Artificial Intelligence)”, a process occurring when AI research and art mutually inform each other, is discussed using the interactive drama Facade (downloadable from www.interactivestory.net) as an example.



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

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