Game AI Roundup Week #48 2008: 8 Stories, 1 Video, 1 Paper, 1 Job

Novack on December 5, 2008

This column is dedicated to rounding up smart links from the web relating to artificial intelligence and game development. This week, the main character seems to be Intel’s tech demo, Smoke and the framework behind it; 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.

Gabe Newell Writes for Edge

The Valve’s CEO, wrote an article for the revamped game industry site, on behaviors, storytelling, pacing, and more. A very good reading for the first story of this roundup.

To achieve a sense of story you need there to be some notion of intentionality on your opponents’ part. This is entirely different from a difficulty level which just ramps up to a constant level.

In terms of the signal that you’re giving the player, a difficulty level is like a flat line response as opposed to a wave. We tend to think of it almost in terms of signal processing. A difficulty level just says ‘go up to this level and remain constant’ in terms of the experience that it’s giving to people. That isn’t really the most entertaining experience that you can give people. They want peaks and valleys and really big reactions to the choices that they make.

Lua Coroutines

At the blog cbloom rants, a post regarding Lua scripting and IA was posted the past week.

I generally think of simple game AI as being in 2 (or more) parts. The 2 main parts are the “brain” (or reactions) and the “job” (or task). The job/task is what the guy is currently doing and involves a plan over time and a sequence of actions. This is best done with a coroutine of some kind. The brain/reaction part is just a tick every frame that looks around and maybe changes the current task. eg. it’s stuff like “saw the player, go into attack job”. That can be well implemented as a regular Lua function call that the game just calls every frame, it should just do stuff that doesn’t take any time and return immediately.

Job: Lead AI Programmer

This week we found an open position at Recoil Games, courtesy of Gamasutra Jobs.

RECOIL GAMES and RADAR GROUP are co-producing “EARTH NO MORE”, a groundbreaking original IP action-adventure game for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Earth No More fuses together genre-pushing emotional drama and a disaster setting of global scale.

We are looking for a LEAD AI PROGRAMMER for our ambitious next-gen project EARTH NO MORE.

Crafting Experience

In her blog Symptom of a Greater Cure, Sara Pickell published an article on design, from the perspective of the experience created for the player.

Just as the frame and color of a wall behind a picture can be important in how it’s viewed, presentation is every bit as important in games, if not more. It becomes incumbent on the designers to try and craft an overall experience for the gamers, even more than just a game to play. This could be small things like interface colors, but also in the art style and especially in the emotions evoked within the player. Left4Dead’s great claim to fame is the sheer excellence they’ve poured into their experience crafting, making sure you really feel certain ways about certain things, and that the game’s AI assists in creating a great experience rather than hinders it.

AI meeting in Buenos Aires

Angel “Java” Lopez posted on his blog a summary of the first Artificial Intelligence meeting developed in Buenos Aires, the past Nov 26th.

Last Wednesday Nov 26th, I attended to the first meeting of Artificial intelligence in Buenos Aires. The motivation for the meeting was to contact other persons interested in AI, and begin to form a group of interest, coordinate activites, or simply, exchange opinions and knowledge about AI.

Video Games: To Help or Killing AI?

IEEE Spectrum Online published an article entitled Bots Get Smart, with a simple (yet of deep implications) question: Can video games breathe new life into AI research?

Because a high fun factor is what sells, the video-game industry has become increasingly keen to make use of developments in AI research—and computer scientists have taken notice. A watershed came in 2000, when John E. Laird, a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, and Michael van Lent, now chief scientist at Soar Technology, in Ann Arbor, Mich., published a call to arms that described commercial video games as “AI’s killer application.” Their point was that research to improve AI for such games would create spin-offs in many other spheres.

Performance Scaling With Cores

Orion Granatir senior engineer and Tech Lead on the Intel’s Smoke project, wrote an article for Gamasutra, encompassing the details of the new multi threading oriented framework.

“To maintain Smoke’s highly modular design, interfaces were developed between the various systems and the framework itself—a key feature. The framework’s job is to enable communication between the various systems. For example, we might have a geometry interface for changing the positions of models or a behavior interface for changing AI states of specific objects. The Scheduler uses the task interface to schedule and invoke work with each system.”

And more on parallel programming

Along the release of the Smoke tech demo (see below), Intel also published an online paper on its Framework.

Designing the Framework of a Parallel Game Engine
Jeff Andrews
View Paper

“With the advent of multiple cores within a processor the need to create a parallel game engine has become more and more important. It is still possible to focus primarily on just the GPU and have a single threaded game engine, but the advantage of utilizing all the processors on a system, whether CPU or GPU, can give a much greater experience for the user. For example, by utilizing more CPU cores a game could increase the number of rigid body physics object for greater effects on screen, or developing smarter AI that gives it a more human like behavior.”

Smoke: Game Technology Demo

Intel Software Network released the source code of Smoke, a tech demo, showcasing the framework capabilities for multi threading.

Smoke is a tech demo that showcases a framework to support n-way threading of game technologies. By properly threading a game it can have more accurate physics, smarter AI, more particles, and/or a faster frame-rate. Smoke demonstrates one way to achieve better games. All of the source code for Smoke is available for download.

AI Summit at GDC!

Dave Mark, our fellow contributor here at, posted in his site outstanding news about AI at the next GDC.

The new AI Game Programmers Guild […] is putting on a 2-day AI Summit at the 2009 Game Developers Conference. We have a lot of great people putting together 14 hours worth of lectures and panels on the current state of game AI as well as our vision of its future.

GDC AI sessions

Phil Carlisle, another guru of our community, also posted some insights, and a call for art help in his blog at GarageGames, related with the story above: the AI sessions at the upcoming GDC.

As a member of the AI game programmers guild, an industry based initiative to push the boundaries of game AI, I’m going to be at GDC doing a few sessions this year. One of them I could really use some artistic help with.

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

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