How AI in Video Games is furthering our knowledge of programming AIs in general.

AI had humble beginnings. In 1957, Arthur Samuel successfully played a match of checkers with an artificial opponent. [1] This came with some restrictions however, such as his opponent being the size of the room he was playing in. We’ve come a long way since that almost prehistoric computing period and a new age of AI has dawned on us in video games such as Bioshock Infinite‘s Elizabeth being an almost new standard of AI on her own.

Elizabeth [2] is a very interesting example of AI. She isn’t just a follow along companion or just a recruit you can hire like in The Elder’s Scrolls : Skyrim or Fallout, Elizabeth adapts to the player she is with. She can follow or lead while being reactive to the protagonist character and still proactive in pushing players through the story arcs. The team in charge of programming her faced many challenges in non-combat situations. Will having her function to merely follow the player they said it opened “a comedy of errors” while in play. They knew for this character they needed to step up the AI from previous video games.

They wanted Elizabeth to feel like a real person next to you during the campaign. Never too close to you to be “creepy” but also never straying too far as to become impersonal with the main character. It was a tricky blend but through long hours programming they were able to create what is now a critically acclaimed as the best AI in video game history! It is a far cry from the AI of Watson in Sherlock Holmes : Crimes & Punishments. Who would often feel like he was stalking the player with his obsessive teleporting. (Gif Attached)

At its core, Artificial Intelligence is imbuing interaction between people and machines. Video games already blend this line with player input being the key factor of progressing the story. But what is AI? This is an interesting question Graft, K. [3] posed to multiple game AI developers on Twitter. Some responses were quite interesting such as “Teaching the game to make decisions that provide context for the player’s own decisions”. Now I’m not one to spell the “end is nigh” for teachers out there but that does sound awfully similar to how teachers in school show pupils how to do tasks and homework. Perhaps one day we could see AI implemented into the real world through similar means? Though that is probably as far away from us as we are from that checker game in 1957!

Currently, AI is still a developing format with limited research. Sadly, The video game industry takes almost no note of cutting edge AI research which is truly a shame in my eyes. As if we could combined or albeit limited research of AI with the expertise of developers who knows what we could create. However, the challenge of learning with less data known is well known and almost inspiring to computer scientists these days [4] so it may be possible one day soon we will have Terminators and Personal AI Assistants helping us out in our regular routines!

Thank you all for reading, I hope this article on how AIs are currently evolving was suitably entertaining!

References:

[1] – Togelius, J. Why Video Games are essential for inventing Artificial Intelligence. http://togelius.blogspot.ie/2016/01/why-video-games-are-essential-for.html

[2] – Corriea, A.R. The long road to building AI for Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth. http://www.polygon.com/2014/3/18/5522450/the-long-road-to-perfecting-ai-for-bioshock-infinites-elizabeth

[3] – Graft, K. When Artificial Intelligence in Games becomes… Artificially intelligent. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/253974/When_artificial_intelligence_in_video_games_becomesartificially_intelligent.php

[4] – Knight, W. To get truly smart, AI might need to play more video games. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601009/to-get-truly-smart-ai-might-need-to-play-more-video-games/

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How AI in Video Games is furthering our knowledge of programming AIs in general.

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