New “Game AI Pro” book is out!


After a longer than expected wait, the new collection book, Game AI Pro: Collected Wisdom of Game AI Professionals is out!

The book brings together the accumulated wisdom, cutting-edge ideas, and clever tricks and techniques of 54 of today’s top game AI professionals – all members of the AI Game Programmers Guild. The contents range from detailed analysis of well-known techniques through the latest cutting-edge techniques being actually being used in games today.

The book includes core algorithms that you’ll need to succeed, such as behavior trees, utility theory, spatial representation, path planning, motion control, and tactical reasoning. It also describes tricks and techniques that will truly bring your game to life, including perception systems, social modeling, smart camera systems, player prediction, and even an AI sound designer. Throughout, the book discusses the optimizations and performance enhancements that enable your game to run while maintaining 60 frames per second.

To see the table of contents of the book, visit the book’s site, GameAIPro.com.


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“Game AI Pro” Book Update (and TOC!)


The new compilation book that we mentioned a few months ago, Game AI Pro, will be released in a few more months (a bit later than expected). However, on the new site, you can see the table of contents.

A number of the articles that are in the book were actually subjects of some of the sessions at the recent GDC AI Summit. Naturally, the articles go into more detail on those topics.

Go take a look at a fantastic new compilation of wisdom from members of the AI Game Programmers Guild!

 


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The Next Vector: Improvements in AI Steering Behaviors #GDC #AISummit


For this session, Andrew Fray and Graham Pentheny tap into the power of steering behaviors and explain how they can augment and improve traditional pathfinding…

The Next Vector: Improvements in AI Steering Behaviors (GDC Link)

Format: 60-minute Lecture

Speakers: Andrew Fray, Graham Pentheny

Description:
While not receiving as much attention as their pathfinding kin, there is little denying that steering behaviors have their place in modern games. However, as with any technology, traditional steering behaviors have their edge cases and quirks. This lecture will present examples of how steering behaviors have advanced recently and how they can be used to provide more realistic movement in demanding situations. In one example, we will show how steering enabled the rapid coordinated movement of hundreds of agents in the mobile game, Fieldrunners 2. In another, we will present the method used in a AAA racing game which fixed some of the common problem that occur with traditional steering algorithms.

Takeaway:
The session shows multiple techniques to apply steering behaviors as standalone solutions or to augment existing pathfinding.

Speakers

Andrew Fray
Senior Engineer, SEGA Hardlight
Andrew is currently a senior engineer at SEGA Hardlight in the Midlands, UK, where he works on mobile and digital games. Previously he was senior AI programmer at Codemasters where he worked on titles such as Operation Flashpoint, Dragon Rising, and the F1 series of racing games.

Graham Pentheny
Software Engineer, Subatomic Studios LLC
Graham Pentheny leads AI development at Subatomic Studios in Cambridge, MA, where he recently worked on the iOS games Fieldrunners and Fieldrunners 2. He received a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Interactive Media and Game Development from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In his spare time he reads an unhealthy number of books on AI and programming language theory, and is an avid musician.


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Architecture Tricks: Managing Behaviors in Time, Space, and Depth #GDC #AISummit


Another of the sessions schedule for the GDC AI Summit…

Architecture Tricks: Managing Behaviors in Time, Space, and Depth (GDC Link)

Format: 60-minute lecture

Speakers: Dave Mark, Dino Dini, Luke Dicken

Description:
While the standard AI algorithms we all know (and love?) look good on paper, we often run up against barriers when we put them into practice. Usually, these barriers occur when NP-Hard problems clash with limitations on memory and processing cycles. Add in the necessity to allow for the simple, expandable, creation and management of behaviors and the scope of the problem expands significantly. This lecture will show three different tricks for helping AI solve difficult problems while staying manageable. Dino Dini will show how co-routines can help mitigate the “polling problem” in AI behavior. Luke Dicken will show how complex behavior planning can be done off-line and spliced at run-time as necessary. Dave Mark will show his “infinite axis” utility system that allows the simple design and processing of modular reasoners. All three sections will give concrete takeaways that can be applied to a variety of AI applications.

Takeaway:
The session shows multiple ways of addressing problems of scale in AI problems.

Speakers:

Dave Mark
President & Lead Designer, Intrinsic Algorithm LLC

Dave is the President and Lead Designer of Intrinsic Algorithm, an independent game development studio and AI consulting company in Omaha, Nebraska. He is the author of the book “Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI” and is a contributor to the “AI Game Programming Wisdom” and “Game Programming Gems” book series from Charles River Media. Dave is also a founding member of the AI Game Programmers Guild and has spoken at numerous conferences including being a co-advisor for the previous AI Summits at GDC. He continues to further his education by attending the University of Life. He has no plans to graduate any time soon.

Dino Dini
Video Game Lecturer, NHTV University of Applied Sciences, Breda, Netherlands.
Consultant and independent game developer.

“Widely regarded as the godfather of the soccer game genre” (GameSpot), Dino Dini is a veteran of the videogame development field. He created influential titles as Kick Off (1989), Player Manager (1990), Dino Dini’s Goal (1993), and Dino Dini’s Soccer (1994). He is now a lecturer in C++ video game programming at NHTV vocational university in Breda, Netherlands, and continues work as a consultant through his company Igneous Entertainment Limited. His philosophy for videogames is to treat game development as a creative process, with entertainment as its goal.

Luke Dicken
Founder, Robot Overlord Games
PhD Researcher, University of Strathclyde
Chair, IGDA AI SIG

Luke Dicken is the founder of Robot Overlord Games, and a researcher with the Strathclyde Artificial Intelligence and Games group at the University of Strathclyde in the UK. He is a three-time IGDA Scholar, and is one of the principal organizers for the web-based AltDevConf events. Luke has been passionate about artificial intelligence since playing “Creatures” as a teenager, and pursued it at university, first through several degrees in traditional AI before specializing in AI for games as part of a PhD he is still (occasionally) pursuing. Luke chairs the IGDA’s Special Interest Group on AI and was recently named as one of Develop magazine’s “30 Under 30” for 2013, but he hasn’t let it go to his head.

 


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Spaces in the Sandbox: Tactical Awareness in Open World Games #GDC #AISummit


Spaces in the Sandbox: Tactical Awareness in Open World Games

Format: 60-minute Lecture

Speakers: Mika Vehkala, Matthew Jack

Description
The intelligent use of terrain by game agents was a turning point in modern shooters and action games. Gone were the days where the enemies simply ran straight towards the player. However, the need for spatial awareness quickly went beyond static cover points — designers wanted to incorporate more complex spatial behaviors such as searching, running away, maneuvering for better line of sight, or even group tactics. Environments also became richer and more dynamic, making manual markup and scripting labor-intensive and brittle, and requiring more sophisticated techniques for world analysis. Using examples from IO Interactive’s, Hitman: Absolution, work developed at Crytek, and Xaviant’s upcoming RPG, Lichdom, the lecture will present two different approaches to dynamically processing spatial information to allow game agents to process their environment in believable, tactically advantageous ways.

Takeaway
The session gives attendees both concrete examples and theoretical suggestions as to how to improve the tactics of their own AI agents.

Speakers:

Mika Vehkala
Founder and AI Programmer, Gametec Consulting
Senior AI Programmer: IO Interactive 

Mika is the founder of Gametec Consulting, a private contracting company in the Netherlands that provides services in game AI, game mechanics, and tool development for games. He has worked in the industry since late 1999 including the past 4 years for IO Interactive as Senior AI Programmer on the recent Hitman: Absolution. Prior to entering game development, he was involved in the Finnish demo-scene and shareware community.

Matthew Jack
AI Consultant at Moon Collider, Co-founder at Intelligent Artefacts

Matthew is the founder of Moon Collider (www.mooncollider.com) where he provides AI consulting services for companies in the US and Europe, specializing in CryEngine 3 and Recast/Detour. Additionally, he formed Intelligent Artefacts (www.intelligentartefacts.com) with Mike Bell in January to build powerful new AI tools for multiple engines and platforms. Prior to that, Matthew developed AI at Crytek for many years in a senior R&D role, including work on Crysis and Crysis 2. He has since worked for Microsoft and AiGameDev.com, and consulted for games and serious games companies. Clients include Xaviant LLC and Enodo SAS, with products delivered to companies such as BMW. He has written for Games Programming Gems and Collected Wisdom of Game AI Professionals


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Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Uses of AI #GDC #AISummit


Last year’s “Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Uses of AI” session was one of our most popular sessions of the 2012 AI Summit. This years should be just as compelling.

GDC Link: Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Uses of AI

Format: 60-minute lecture

Speakers: Stéphane Bura, Ian Horswill, Leif Fogred, Jeff Orkin

Description
In the game industry, AI is typically thought of as a collection of simple tools used to make characters “do things.” This lecture will show three different ways that people have leveraged more esoteric AI techniques in manners not traditionally seen in games. Jeff Orkin (MIT Media Lab) will show how he used data-capture of players from his project, The Restaurant Game, and how data-capture can be used to generate not only actions, but procedural dialog as well. Ian Horswill and Leif Fogred (Northwestern) will show how constraint-based procedural level design for roguelikes can  generate content yet still satisfy designers’ needs and desires. Lastly, Stéphane Bura (Storybricks) will discuss using AI techniques to contextually parse the player’s actions to give him or her more control over NPCs. All three sections promise to give attendees something new and different to ponder about how they approach their own projects.

Takeaway
The session presents three technical applications of AI that aren’t usually thought of. The attendee may also be inspired to do their own creative thinking about uses for AI!

Speakers:

Ian Horswill
Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Northwestern University

Ian is an AI researcher interested in cognitive modeling for virtual characters, particularly modeling of emotion and personality. He has also worked on procedural character animation in the Twig system. Ian received a PhD in Computer Science from the MIT AI Lab in 1993, where he developed the first robot to use embedded real-time vision as its only sense, technologies from which were used in the Sony Aibo. He is past chair of the standing committee of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s (AAAI) Symposium Series, as well as the 2009 International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG), and program chair for the 2013 Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE) Conference.

Leif Fogred
Game Researcher, Northwestern University

Leif Foged is presently at Northwestern University where he is completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Previously, he worked as a Software Engineer at Zynga and Amazon Game Studios.

Stéphane Bura
Lead Designer, Storybricks

A role-playing game writer of 25 years, Stéphane Bura has advanced degrees in artificial intelligence specializing in the study of emerging properties in complex worlds. Before joining Storybricks as their Lead Designer, he worked with Kalisto Entertainment, 10tacle Belgium, and as an independent game design consultant. His essays on game design theory can be found at http://www.stephanebura.com .


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GDC AI Summit Sessions Being Announced


We are pleased to announce that the sessions for the annual GDC AI Summit, organized bye the AI Game Programmers Guild, are being announced.

We will be posting information about each of the 11 sessions here over the next few days as the details of each are finalized. If you just can’t wait for the info, check out the AI Summit page and/or the GDC Schedule Builder for more info.

The AI Summit is a fantastic experience. Not only is it a great way to hear about the latest and greatest in the game AI world but makes for a wonderful venue to hang out with your fellow AI programmers before and after the sessions. We really hope to see you there this year!

For the latest updates on this and all other AIGPG news, please follow us on Twitter or our new Google+ page!


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AIGPG on Google+


The AI Game Programmers Guild now has a Google+ page. We will try to do our best to make sure that the contents of this blog get echoed there. Please add us to your circles so you can keep up!

Also, remember that the AIGPG has a Twitter account! That is valuable not only for keeping up with the blog here, but also various tidbits from events like the GDC AI Summit!

Thanks!


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GDC AI Summit Returns! Got any requests?


For the 5th time, the AI Summit will be part of the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. As always, the AI Game Programmers Guild is responsible for producing the content the Summit. Internally, we have already begun work on preparing for the 2013 event.

Over the past 4 years, we have refined our preparation process to something we feel generates high-quality content. This process typically involves the guild members discussing which topics “need to be covered” each year and then staffing those topics with people who have relevant things to contribute. This differs from many conferences where the content is drawn largely from what speakers want to talk about. We believe our process is more attendee-focused in that we are trying to anticipate what our attendees would like — or even need – to hear.

What is it that you want to learn more about from the GDC AI Summit?

While we have all sorts of ideas of what we should put in the program, we also want to know what is it that you want to learn more about from an event such as the GDC AI Summit?

Things that we would like to know from you include:

  • What techniques or architectures do you want to hear more about?
  • What recent games have had AI that piqued your interest?
  • What types of advice would you like to hear from professional AI developers?

This request is not without its caveats, however. For example, please note that the AI Summit is not meant to be an entry-level tutorial on AI. We decided when we started this that there are plenty of sources from which people can learn the basics of game AI. While we have had sessions that are geared more towards people new to AI, you will not find us spending time on “what is a finite state machine?”

The AI Summit has also been about the mysterious and esoteric.

Really, that’s not what GDC is about anyway. GDC is about cutting edge… the “latest and greatest“. I would add that the AI Summit has also been about the mysterious and esoteric, as well. That is, what is off the beaten path? What are the experts using that might be of help to other AI developers?

Another disclaimer here is that we can’t necessarily take into account all suggestions we may get from the public. The number of session slots we have each year is limited — 10 hours over the two days. While it has been suggested that we could easily fill an entire week with content, it is just not feasible for us to do so. (By combining 2-3 speakers per hour-long topic session, we already cram more information into our two days than is humanly possible to digest!) Still, we would like to hear what other ideas are out there so we can at least take them into account.

So… what’s on your mind?

So, we turn to you… it doesn’t matter if you are a professional game developer, a student, or an enthusiast — whether you are planning on going to GDC or not — what are the things you would like to hear about if you were to be hanging out with us for those 2 days? What’s on your mind?

Please feel free to comment here… and know that the over 350 members of the AI Game Programmers Guild are listening!


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Ready for a Huge Dose of AI Wisdom?


Well lookie at what has showed up on Amazon! The upcoming book, “Collected Wisdom of Game AI Professionals” is a collection of scores of papers from AI Game Programmers Guild members on a huge variety of game AI subjects.

The listed release date of “May 15, 2013″ might be a bit off. The plan is to have it out in time for GDC. We’ll let you know as things change.

Also, stand by for a peek at the abstracts of the papers over the next few months! Subscribe to this blog or follow @AIGPG on Twitter to see the updates as they come out.


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