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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FREE: “Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Uses of AI” from GDC AI Summit


One of the top sessions from the 2012 GDC AI Summit has been released for free on the GDC Vault. The session rated a 4.56 (out of 5) on the attendee reviews and was our 3rd highest-rated lecture.

Last year’s GDC AI Summit features a collection of sessions that don’t fit into the “main stream” of game AI. As such, we figured it deserved its own session. Chris Jurney (Double Fine), Michael Robbins (Gas Powered Games) and Ben Sunshine-Hill each brought their own unique gem to the party!

Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Uses of AI

From the GDC 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. Michael Robbins will show how he successfully used neural networks for tactical decision-making in Supreme Commander 2, Chris Jurney will discuss computer vision tricks for Kinect in Double Fine’s Happy Action Theater, and Ben Sunshine-Hill will explain how to use AI techniques to dynamically adjust level of detail to match what a player is likely to perceive and remember.

Ben Sunshine-Hill, Software Engineer, Havok

Ben Sunshine-Hill is a software engineer at Havok, working on character pathfinding and local steering. Ben recently completed his PhD work at the University of Pennsylvania, designing ways for game characters to switch behavioral techniques in real-time, and for games to exploit players’ limited powers of memory and perception. His dissertation was ultimately titled “Perceptually Driven Simulation” after his original title, “Messing with the Player’s Head for Fun and Profit“, was rejected.

Michael Robbins, Gameplay Engineer, Gas Powered Games

Michael Robbins is a Gameplay Engineer with Gas Powered Games working on everything from UI to AI. He has been working in the industry for a little over two years after being a long time member of Gas Powered Games’ modding community. His most notable work is featured in Supreme Commander 2, released March 2010.

Chris Jurney, Lead Programmer, Double Fine Productions

Chris Jurney is a rock and roll experimental lead programmer at Double Fine Productions, with 12 years experience in games and simulation. He has shipped numerous titles in the games industry including Company of HeroesDawn of War 2, and Iron Brigade. Chris frequently speaks on the topic of game AI, having presented at GDC 5 times as well as at GDC China, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, aigamedev.com, and various IGDA chapters. He has also written articles published in AI Game Programming Wisdom and frequently modifies his behaviors and routes to avoid the enemy psychics of Galactic Rear Admiral Thoothius Branx.


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AIGPG Compiling New Book of Game AI Papers


The AI Game Programmers Guild is announcing a new initiative to collect industry knowledge on game AI and put it in the public’s hands. From 2002 through 2008, this role was filled, in part, by the AI Game Programming Wisdom series of books edited by AIGPG co-founder, Steve Rabin. The AIGPW books were a spin-off of the larger and broader Game Programming Gems books started in 2000 by Mark DeLoura. Unfortunately, due to declining sales, the series was not continued into a 5th book. The remaining AI-related articles were funneled back into the Gems series.

This decision and its ramifications was received with disappointment by authors and readers alike. In particular, the members of the AI Game Programmers Guild discussed ways of addressing this void and what role the AIGPG could play in a solution.

After a 5 year break, we are pleased to announce that a new “AI Wisdom-like” book project is being undertaken! The project will once again be under the guidance of Wisdom editor, Steve Rabin. The content, however, will be supplied by the almost 350 professional AI programmers of the AIGPG. As such, the series is being re-branded as “Collected Wisdom of Game AI Professionals.

The focus of the series will be tried and true techniques from actual games. While there may be articles that address experimental or cutting-edge techniques, we do not expect the book to contain large amounts of academic research that, while potentially interesting, was often of marginal use to “in the trenches” game AI developers. This approach is similar to how the AIGPG tries to fill the yearly GDC AI Summit with solid technique and takeaways.

The papers will be selected from a combination of the traditional submission/acceptance model and a more hand-picked model of individuals or small collaborative groups “assigned” to work on a topic. While the majority of the content will come from inside the professionals of the AIGPG, outsiders are welcome to submit provided the technique is directly related to game AI. (At which point the question would be, “why aren’t you in the AIGPG in the first place?”)

For more information on submitting to this new book, please see more information on Steve Rabin’s web site, AIWisdom.com

 

 


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2012 GDC AI Summit — Highest-Rated Sessions and Speakers


Last week, we received the session and speaker ratings for the GDC AI Summit. We wanted to share some of the highlights with you.

First off, of the 9 summits this year, the AI Summit was the 2nd highest-rated one. Our average score was only 0.02 behind the Indie Summit (and they’re a hard act to beat!). This year’s scores were also better than our scores from last year. (Note that despite the fact that there were only 4 choices on the form, GDC put the scores on a 5-point scale to align them with the historical numbers.)

Additionally, we are really growing into the bigger room that they started giving us. Our average attendance was 272 this year — although that might be slightly lower than it should be because of some logistical problems with counting. Compare that to 238 last year and 203 the year before and you can see that this is really taking off! Our top session brought in a whopping 392 people!

Once again, most of our sessions were very tightly clustered with near-identical average ratings. However, we like pointing out some of the top ones that stuck out:

Top Sessions

Once again, this year, the rant session was the highest-rated session with a rating of 4.73 (out of 5). (In the “you can’t please all the people all the time” category, 2 people rated the session as “poor” – presumably one of which is whoever left “boring” as their comment.)

The 2nd highest session (4.63) was the tactics session by Alex Champandard, Mathew Jack, and Philip Dunstan. While their content was admirable, the comments also suggest that people were mesmerized by their incredible presentation method!

With a 4.56, the #3 session of the year was the “off the beaten path” session with Chris Jurney talking about computer vision, Mike Robbins on neural nets in SupCom2, and Ben Sunshine-Hill on using AI to determine the proper level of on-screen detail.

As I mentioned, a good number of the sessions were packed in with similar scores right behind the 3rd place one. So close that they’re almost identical. Congrats to all the presenters across the board… good stuff, folks!

Presenter Scores

Because we have so many people that were in multiple sessions, and so many sessions with multiple people, there isn’t always a direct mapping of session scores to presenter scores. To solve that, I look at who had the highest per session score as well as who had the highest aggregate score across all their appearances. Steve and I would like to recognize the highest people in those lists.

Highest Individual Lecture Performances

For the 2nd year in a row, Brian Schwab’s rant knocked it out of the park. His 4.65 rating was the top individual lecture performance.

Here’s the top 10 individual lecture performances (out of 35 person/lecture entries) :

Brian Schwab – Rant                                        4.65
Dave Mark – Psychology                               4.61
Rez Graham – Rant                                         4.60
Rez Graham – Panel                                       4.59
Matthew Jack – Tactics                                  4.59
Stéphane Bura – Rant                                    4.58
Ben Sunshine-Hill – Non-Traditional AI   4.57
Mike Robbins – Non-Traditional AI           4.57
Kevin Dill – Rant                                                4.57
Alex Champandard – Tactics                       4.57

Highest Summit-Wide Performances

When you combine all the sessions people had, things shake out slightly different. These are the top 6 speakers for the year (out of 25). The number of lectures is in ( ):

Rez Graham                       4.60 (2)
Matthew Jack                    4.59 (1)
Alex Champandard         4.57 (1)
Ben Sunshine-Hill             4.57 (1)
Mike Robbins                    4.57 (1)
Dave Mark                          4.56 (3)

As with the lectures, there is a huge pack of people all clustered under this pack, but the people above are the ones that had broken away.

AI Summit Advisers Steve Rabin and Dave Mark want to thank everyone who was involved this year. While we have highlighted the people and the sessions above, we want to make sure that you all know that the entire Summit was incredible… again. Everyone who participated came well-prepared and the content was varied and insightful.

Remember that you can find the slides and videos posted on the GDC Vault. For your convenience, we will be linking to the individual presentations on our papers and presentations page here on GameAI.com.


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AI Summit Slides and Videos on GDC Vault!


The GDC Vault is back up and running post-GDC. That means you can get your hands on some of the content from the AI Summit. If you had an All Access pass for this year, you can watch videos of all the GDC sessions (including, of course, the AI Summit). Even if you did not attend GDC, however, you can still get the slides from the sessions for free!

Note that they are running a beta on the Vault right now. They are checking into the viability of selling individual subscriptions for people who did not attend GDC. You might want to fill out their inquiry form and see what this is all about.

Remember, if you have GDC Vault access because you were a speaker or had an All Access pass, you can view sessions from prior years as well! That means you can catch up on the other 3 AI Summits too! For your convenience, we have linked those sessions from our Papers & Presentations page on the AIGPG site. We will be adding direct links to the 2012 videos and slides on this page shortly so that you can always return to find a convenient list of sessions.


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Photos of the 2012 GDC AI Summit


Thanks to our unofficial AIGPG photographer, Neil Kirby, the photos are pouring in from last week’s Game Developers Conference. The links below go to the picture sets on Neil’s Facebook page, but the sets themselves are open to viewing by the public. Please credit Neil on any usage of these pictures. If you would like larger versions, contact him via the AIGPG list (members only).

We will be posting pictures from the annual AIGPG dinner party (Sunday night) and the annual AI Programmers Dinner (Friday night) in the next day or so.


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Congratulations to Dr. Ben Sunshine-Hill and Brian Schwab!


At the Game Developers Conference the past few years, one of the speaker’s gifts is a deck of cards showing the top-rated speakers of the prior year. Two people from each Summit and Tutorial are selected with the remaining cards being the GDC staff and the highest-rated speakers from the main conference.

This year’s deck featured AI Summit speakers Dr. Ben Sunshine-Hill (although he wasn’t a Dr. at the time) from UPenn (now at Havok) for his lecture about his “Alibi Generation System” for crowd AI, and Brian Schwab (Blizzard) for his lecture (with Dave Mark) on using randomness in AI.

Ben Sunshine-Hill and Brian Schwab -- MVPs of the 2011 GDC AI Summit

Prior year’s MVPs included:

  • 2009: Damián Isla and Peter Gorniak
  • 2010: Alex Champandard and Michael Dawe

The only problem that we here at the AI Game Programmers Guild see with this formula is that the folks that present at the AI Summit all seem to be MVPs!

We look forward to seeing who the 2 MVPs will be from the 2012 AI Summit… it’s hard to wait a whole year to find out!


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GDC AI Summit begins! #GDC #AISummit


The GDC AI Summit begins today in San Francisco. Every year, dozens of AIGPG members help put on 2 days worth of AI content as part of the annual Game Developers Conference.

If you are wanting to follow along with some of the fun, check out @AIGPG on Twitter. We will be trying to mention a lot of interesting highlights.

Also, keep an eye on this blog over the next few weeks for uploads of the slides from this year’s presentation!


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GDC AI Summit: Turing Tantrums – AI Devs Rant!


Once again, the traditional AI rant session will be a part of the GDC AI Summit. The rants have historically been one of the highest-rated sessions in the Summit and we expect this year to be no exception!

From the GDC site description:

Sometimes things just need to be said. Saying them out loud in a room filled with (hopefully) like-minded people just makes it all the more interesting and cathartic. Seven AI developers – and one AI evangelist designer – from all corners of the industry will deliver quick, to-the-point, and often humorous, rants about what’s on their mind regarding game AI.

This year’s rants will feature Dave Mark (Intrinsic Algorithm), Michael Dawe (Big Huge/38 Studios), Kevin Dill (Lockheed Martin), Brian Schwab (Blizzard), David “Rez” Graham (EA/Maxis), Neil Kirby (Alcatel Lucent), Stéphane Bura (Storybricks), and Mike Treanor (UCSC).


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GDC AI Summit: Existential Crisis – Do We Really Need AI?


In the 2011 AI Summit, we featured a panel of experienced AI developers discussing some of the non-technical issues that AI developers face. This year, the Summit will have a similarly non-technical panel discussing the “how”, “when”, and “why” of game AI rather than simply the “what”.

This 25-minute panel features four familiar AI veterans Chris Jurney (Double Fine), Dan Kline(Maxis), Kevin Dill (Lockheed Martin), and Rez Graham (EA: Sims Division) and will be moderated by Summit co-adviser, Steve Rabin (Nintendo of America).

From the GDC site description:

It’s easy for AI programmers to look at games and say, “I would have added this” or “they should have fixed that”. However, simply asserting that a game could have had better AI only addresses one issue. There are always other factors to consider. How much would it have cost? What were the schedule pressures? And frankly, where does AI fit in the overall vision for the game? Are there even some games that *gasp* don’t need better AI? This panel will explore these questions and provide some perspective into where AI fits in this vast universe of game development.

David “Rez” Graham, Software Engineer III, Electronic Arts (Sims Division)

Rez is an Artificial Intelligence programmer at Electronic Arts working on The Sims team where he most recently worked on The Sims Medieval and the Pirates & Nobles expansion.  He has worked in the games industry for over 6 years spending most of that time working on various kinds of AI, from platformer enemy AI to full simulation games.  He is the co-author of “Game Coding Complete, 4th Edition” and regularly speaks to colleges and high schools about working in the games industry.

Daniel Kline, Software Engineer, Maxis

Daniel Kline has been an AI and Game Programmer and Designer since 2001. He has shipped 5 titles and developed 10 titles, working with companies such as Activision, Electronic Arts, Blizzard, LucasArts, SquareSoft, and Midway. He was Head AI and Gameplay Engineer on Star Wars: Force Unleashed, AI programmer on Diablo 3, and the engineer and designer of the first two levels of Call of Duty: Finest Hour. He has spent over 5 years doing Interactive Storytelling research, design, programming, and pre-production for 3 different companies and AAA blockbuster titles. He is currently finishing Darkspore at Maxis.

Kevin Dill, Staff Software Engineer, Lockheed Martin Global Training & Logistics

Kevin Dill is a staff software engineer at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Simulation Center. He is a recognized expert on Game AI and a veteran of the game industry, with seven published titles under his belt. He was the technical editor for Introduction to Game AI and Behavioral Mathematics for Game AI, and a section editor for AI Game Programming Wisdom 4. He has taught classes on game development and game AI at Harvard University, Boston University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Chris Jurney, Lead Programmer, Double Fine Productions

Chris Jurney is a rock and roll experimental lead programmer at Double Fine Productions, with 12 years experience in games and simulation. He has shipped numerous titles in the games industry including Company of Heroes, Dawn of War 2, and Iron Brigade. Chris frequently speaks on the topic of game AI, having presented at GDC 5 times as well as at GDC China, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, aigamedev.com, and various IGDA chapters. He has also written articles published in AI Game Programming Wisdom and frequently modifies his behaviors and routes to avoid the enemy psychics of Galactic Rear Admiral Thoothius Branx.

Steve Rabin, Principal Software Engineer, Nintendo of America

Steve is a principal software engineer at Nintendo of America, where he researches new techniques for Nintendo’s next generation systems, develops tools, and supports Nintendo developers. Before Nintendo, Steve worked primarily as an AI engineer at several Seattle start-ups including Gas Powered Games, WizBang Software Productions, and Surreal Software. He managed and edited the AI Game Programming Wisdom series of books, the book Introduction to Game Development, and has over a dozen articles published in the Game Programming Gems series. He’s spoken at the Game Developers Conference, moderated the AI roundtables, and founded the AI Game Programmers Guild. Steve teaches game AI at both the University of Washington Extension and at the DigiPen Institute of Technology. He earned a BS in computer engineering and an MS in computer science, both from the University of Washington.

 


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