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the International Game Developers Association’s Artifi-cial Intelligence Interface Standards Committee,which Iset up and chair,help to standardize and improve the ap-plicability of middleware gaming solutions. Meanwhile,most of academia seems trapped tackling problems of lim-ited use,
such as increasing some remotely relevant algo-rithms’performance by a few percentage points or pro-ducing yet another agent architecture.With industry addressing most game AI problems inseclusion and academia examining these problems half-heartedly,what hope is there for a future impact of aca-demic contributions?For techniques such as pathfinding and finite state ma-chines,I’m afraid the light we see at the end of the tunnel isan oncoming train. Why compete with a specialized mid-dleware industry on some minor efficiency gains? However,the increasing computational power now available to gameAI unlocks some great opportunities for academia.At the National University of Singapore,in our Interac-tive Intelligence Labs and multidisciplinary Games Lab,we’re pushing ahead in several areas.
Automated content generation
With the ongoing increase in realism and high fidelity invirtual game worlds,art- and content-production costs aregetting out of hand. For example,you can no longer haveone artist paint sprites for an in-game object or create a sim-ple 3D model with a color texture. Today,for the same in-game object,you usually have an artist who paints concep-tual pictures; a modeler who designs the corresponding 3Dmodel,rigging it and producing normalmaps; an artist whoprovides various textures (such as diffuse,specular,or trans-parent); and an animator who designs the 3D model’s ani-mation,perhaps using additional expensive resources suchas motion capturing. This trend of increasing complexitywon’t end anytime soon. For example,it continues to expandbecause of the need to add physics properties to the models.At the same time,players want ever-increasing free-roaming environments. The number of necessary assetsand the additional time for design,along with increasingart and contentcomplexity,creates an enormouscost ex-plosion. It’s no wonder that each new generation of gameshas higher production costs.Consequently,
techniques are gaining pop-ularity—that is,techniques that generate art,environments,and other content automatically,reducing the amount of handcrafted art. Figure 1 shows an example of a game thatliberally applies procedural technology for its large forestareas.Large-scale automated art and contentgeneration practi-cally screams for AI technology. Sure,you can generate thecontent without AI,but AI lets designers and artists do theirwork more efficiently and increases the resulting quality. Todo this,we need to address such questions as•How do we design exciting vistas,natural-looking ter-rain,interesting city layouts,and stylish textures andanimations?•How can we generate art and content that fulfills thegame’s design vision,art direction,and technicalrequirements?•Designers and artists will use our tool; how does thisaffect concepts,algorithms,and interfaces?Advanced techniques might even generate new con-tent in real time during gameplay.However,let me insert a word of caution on
outcomes in procedural generation,which someview as a desirable feature (especially those with a ma-chine learning background). From a development per-spective,outcomes that the designers didn’t foresee canoften produce undesired results or break players’sus-pension of disbelief. The problem is that a game con-tains all kinds of implicitly represented mechanics andknowledge,such as which elements provide player en-tertainment,what game objects are for,or what graphical
owadays,many games use basic game AI techniquessuch as pathfinding,steering,and finite state ma-chines.
And,the number of middleware companies that fo-cus on game AI technology is growing. Initiatives such as
Game AI Is Dead.Long Live Game AI!
National University of Singapore