Roundup
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Game AI Roundup Week #11 2009: 6 Stories, 1 Demo, 1 Job

Andrew Armstrong on March 17, 2009

Our last update before GDC, which we’ll be covering continually. Be sure to swing by The Game AI Forums for some stimulating discussion, and also don’t forget Alex’s Twitter account for his random thoughts on Game AI…

This roundup was written by Andrew Armstrong (site). 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.

7 Ways to Make Your AI Smarter

HL2 Poor Accuracy

Rob Hale posts an informative look at AI with 7 simple and effective ways to improve AI, generally when it comes to shooters. The video below shows how inaccurate enemies don’t work too well for fun and immersion, with the quote below explaining it in more detail. Make sure to check out the full article of his.

“Prompted by this article over at Bit-Tech on How AI in Games works it made me want to blog about some of the ways you can make your enemy AI appear smarter without having to re-write your AI back end or invest in expensive middleware…

(On accuracy)…If your enemies carry guns then don’t turn them into Storm Troopers (unless they ARE Storm Troopers in which case it’s OK). While the Player should have an advantage ov er the AI in terms of accuracy making the AI too inaccurate will just result in them looking stupid. If the player realises that they can just stand still in the open while they pick off the bad guys with a single headshot each then their sense of immersion will be completely broken.”

Related AI Work: CodeBaby

CodeBaby

A very press-release-like article, but something worth a glance, where it looks at CodeBaby, a new virtual agent meant to implment some game AI features to help with customer service.

“The pair started CodeBaby to develop artificial intelligence technology used in BioWare’s games to power virtual assistants on corporate Web sites to help with customer service, technical support, sales and training.”

AI Programmer Job

TimeGate Studios has posted up an AI Programmer job, likely to do with Section 8, their new game project.

“The AI Programmer will work closely with the Lead Software Engineer and the rest of the development team to design and program AI systems for a next-generation first-person shooter game. This entails multiple levels of AI, and touches on several topics including navigation, behaviors, group coordination, environment awareness, tactics, goal-based planning, and terrain analysis.”

The State of AI Go Players

Go

Once again it seems AI can be forced to dominate human players of certain game types - ones that can be really just simply number crunched. It is still an interesting read to see how far AI’s playing Go have come - but like chess AI, it is debatable how useful to AI development it can be to brute force the most likely way to win.

“For the last two decades, human cognitive superiority had a distinctive sound: the soft click of stones placed on a wooden Go board. But once again, artificial intelligence is asserting its domination over gray matter.”

IGN: The Sims 3 Preview

Sims 3

The Sims 3 is a game to look out for in the realm of AI - these previews may well be held against it if the game is noticeably flawed in the AI department since it is so integral to the gameplay. Hopefully this IGN preview instead shows some good progress that will make the game a much more deep experience when simulating entire lives. Then again, how much is “Too much AI” in a game based around managing a virtual life? The AI preview video does make me wonder…

The Sims 3 is the biggest overhaul of the series to date, blowing up the scope of the game from a single household to an entire town. Smarter AI was required, not only to avoid having to micromanage all those bathroom breaks, but to also make the entire town feel like a living world, with potentially hundreds of sims leading rich and fulfilling lives around yours. Smarter AI also takes a load off of you, as you no longer have to hold your sims’ hands to do everything.

ActionScript Pathfinding Prototype

Here’s a simple but effective path-planning demo using A* written in ActionScript. The code is by Chris Lindsey of Green Mayo Studios, with data structures ported from Michael Baczynski’s AS3 Data Structures For Game Developers.

xaitment Secures More Customers

AI company xaitment has teamed up with two additional companies for its middleware offering:

Gas Powered Games and Forterra Systems have signed up to use German studio xaitment’s BrainPack AI engine bundle.

The BrainPack, which is built on xaitFramework 2.5, provides studios undertaking the early stages of a game’s development with a suite of AI tools to implement artificial intelligence, especially in the areas of advanced AI, decision-making and behaviors.

AI Talk at IGDA Meeting

Dawn of War 2

Finally, Chris Jurney is doing a talk called “On the War Path: Tactical AI in DAWN OF WAR 2″ at the local NJ IGDA Chapter meeting, taking place on the 18th of March. Hopefully there’ll be a bit of news around about it, or just some people who read this and are in the area can get to see some interesting material.

This talk will cover the new features and modifications made to the tactical AI of the Essence Engine to satisfy the needs of DAWN OF WAR 2. Included will be AI preproduction, handling units of widely varying movement capabilities, and designer tools used to instill personality. Particular focus will be given to pathfinding and behavior for large scale melee. All concepts will be illustrated with in game videos with lots of explosions.

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