We're obviously biased, but at AiGameDev.com we believe Game AI is one of the most fun and exciting careers you can have as a programmer! As Jeff Orkin, Lead AI Engineer at Monolith Productions behind F.E.A.R. and NO ONE LIVES FOREVER, puts it:
“The field of Game AI is still the "Wild West." We're just scratching the surface of what's possible, and there are still many unsolved problems, which leave open huge opportunities to innovate and do cuttingedge work that really could have impact on the entire industry.” — Jeff Orkin
Not only that, but game AI is a great career move as well. The skills you'll learn in design, programming and inter-disciplinary communication are a great asset — whether you decide to continue in the games industry as a Lead Programmer or move into serious games & simulation. On the topic, we've just released an in-depth report about the “Dark Secrets of the Games Industry and How it Affects your Career” with interviews from our resident experts here. You can find the special report PDF from this page.
Anyway, if you're a student keen to get into industry, or a hobbyist happy to watch from a safe distance, here at AiGameDev.com we'll be here to help! As you probably noticed, we've been building up to the launch of a new part of the site called PLUS. I've mentioned some things about PLUS here and there, but not revealed anything officially yet... so here's the full gossip!
Some Background and an Apology
As a community-driven site, we're always listening to your feedback (a screenshot of the latest poll on the right) and monitoring between the lines to see if there's anything we can do better... Turns out we made quite a big oversight!
Over the past two years since we launched AiGameDev.com PREMIUM, we've worked hard on providing continuous training for professionals, studios from all the different continents and publishers world-wide too. It's been quite a ride so far and undoubtedly it was the best place for us to start in retrospect, plus there's still loads in store...
But the fact is the very structure of our PREMIUM content is much more tailored to those who are very serious about game AI or already in industry. It's what makes the site unique, but at the same time maybe less accessible to students and hobbyist among you. (Sorry about that; in retrospect it's quite obvious.)
Students & Hobbyists
Anyway, we're working on a solution! As you've probably noticed on the site, from our email, the surveys and polls, or even IRC and Twitter, we're preparing AiGameDev.com PLUS. We haven't really said much about it so far, but now you get to find out pretty much everything!
We've designed PLUS with the following points in mind:
It's accessible for students and hobbyists, even if you don't do game AI professionally.
It's not for complete beginners, however, so it's best if you've done at least some programming before.
Affordable, both upfront and in the long run. You'll be happily surprised!
The parts of the PREMIUM content you get access to are uncensored and full length! In fact we have an improved layout template & player.
The features are both hand-picked from our current member's statistics, and voted by you. We received hundreds of votes, many thanks!
We've put a lot of time and effort into this, and listened to your feedback carefully. But if you've read this far, then no doubt you'd like some additional details!
Screenshot 1: The interview with Christian Gyrling about UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES is still available as a preview of PLUS! Get it here in the next few days.
OK, here's the full specification. PLUS is a monthly subscription that provides you access to the following every month:
- One Full Interview Recording
At the start of every month, you'll get access to an interview with one of the AI developers behind an acclaimed title. The interview, accessible via the site, will be available as HQ streaming audio/video and will typically last between 1 and 2 hours.
With interviews from the biggest AAA games as well as the community's favorite indie games, you'll get insights into both the most recent technology and innovative designs — though with a focus on the programming side of things!
- The Entire Transcribed Article
Below each video, you'll find the entire transcription of the interview as an article, browsable dynamically as you watch the interview. You can also decide to read the page without watching the video if you prefer!
Each interview is packed with information, if you want to make the most out of it you'll want to pause after each section, check the references. Having the text below makes sure you get all the technical terms and jokes!
- Live Session Access
Throughout the month, you'll get access to all the live online sessions that take place on AiGameDev.com! This gives you full access to masterclasses, tutorials and interviews that we run as part of our PREMIUM program.
The continuous live program keeps you at the cutting edge; you don't have to wait for large conferences to get the latest gossip! You also have the luxury of being invited into the living rooms of the veterans in the interviews or experts behind the masterclasses!
Once you subscribe to PLUS, you'll be automatically rebilled until you unsubscribe. You can unsubscribe anytime from your profile page, there's no minimum subscription. After that, your membership will expire at the end of that month. Those of you familiar with AiGameDev.com PREMIUM will be familiar with this model. The difference is that PLUS works incrementally on a monthly basis, so it's cheaper upfront (by popular demand).
Bonuses & The Catch...
First, the good news... We'll be giving out fast mover bonuses for those of you that sign-up quickly:
KILLZONE 2 signed by the Guerrilla Games' AI team! The three copies will be sent randomly to people in the first 30 people.
Email consulting if you're in the first 60. If you need any advice for your hobby project, or personalized career advice, here's your chance.
Bonus video for those of you that sign up during the first day, “Tales & Advice from the Trenches: Being an AI Programmer in Industry”.
Now the bad news... We have to limit the number of people who can sign-up to PLUS, and it will only be available for one week. Here's why:
As a small company, we're very careful about overheads and price accordingly. To make PLUS work, we're using a batching strategy by opening sign-up only during one week.
We're also limiting the PLUS spots because we want to keep the atmosphere live sessions friendly and interactive, and not webminar like. With a moderate number of people, we can answer more questions.
When we launched the PREMIUM part of the site, we limited the number of sign-ups and closed registrations after a week. When we re-opened the price went up.
Think of it as a charter subscription. The content is solid but we need to fine tune the details. By signing up now you get to help shape PLUS, and get a cheaper price.
We have very high standards for PLUS (even more so for PREMIUM) so we'd rather play it safe than sorry and limit the subscriptions to what we can safely support.
In short, There may never be such a promotion again, and if/when it happens it will most likely be a more expensive entry point.
Screenshot 2: The interview with Drew Staltman about DEMIGOD's hybrid goal-based action optimization AI was one of the highest rated in the poll.
Pricing & What Now?
Actually, we're not announcing the price just yet, but we'll be emailing the PLUS launch mailing list about it within the next few days. If you're interested in PLUS you can sign-up here to find out the price. In the meantime, you can assume that:
- You get access to the equivalent of a conference recording, for example SIGGRAPH. To buy videos of only the Character Animation track would cost you $180.00.
- It'll be cheaper than live training programs in other fields, for example game institute courses are $225.00 minimum.
- It'll be comparable to buying multiple good books on the topic, AI: A Modern Approach is $132.00 and Game Engine Architecture is $65.00 for example.
- It's more affordable than AiGameDev.com PREMIUM on a monthly basis, and it'll be less to join upfront as well!
Anyway, I hope you'll be happily surprised when PLUS opens its doors exactly four days from now on Wednesday, September 29th at 18:00 Europe, 17:00 U.K., 12:00 Eastern and 09:00 Pacific (other timezones). But here's what you should do now:
Go to the official PLUS launch page, sign-up and browse around the pre-launch content!
If you haven't already, sign-up to the PLUS launch mailing list to get notified for the launch.
The day before we launch, we'll release a full video showing you "Behind the Scenes" of PLUS.
Mark your calendars for the time & date the doors open so you don't miss it, and watch the countdown...
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me personally at <alexjc at AiGameDev.com> and I'll get back to you shortly!
Screenshot 3: A presentation by the Guerrilla Games team about KILLZONE 2 will be made available for PLUS subscribers early next year.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does PREMIUM compare to PLUS?
A: PLUS is a subset of PREMIUM, so if you already have an active membership you'll get everything that's included in PLUS, and everything else as well!
Q: Would I miss out on PLUS if I don't subscribe next week?
A: Yes. We have no future plans at this stage, and they'll depend on how things go! If you're PREMIUM already, we'll keep an option for you to go PLUS at any time.
Q: Can I show the videos during a class I teach?
A: No. PLUS is a non-commercial and individual subscription. If you're charging students and getting paid, then you need a license as none of the existing packages cover broadcasting and redistribution. Contact us by email <admin at AiGameDev.com>; we have everything you need :-)
Q: What if I'm so happy with PLUS I want to go PREMIUM?
A: I'm glad you asked! There's a seemless upgrade path you can take by simply clicking on the upgrade button within your profile page.
Q: I'm still reading this page? Where should I go now?
A: Go and watch the UNCHARTED 2 interview, and read the special industry report available from the PLUS launch page, and sign-up to the mailing list!