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Game AI been neglected because of graphics?


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#41 ChickenMcOwnage   Members   -  Reputation: 138

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 04:15 AM

Two companies are selling two seperate games: one with incredible graphics but mediocre AI, the other with mediocre graphics but incredible AI. Which do you think will sell better?

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#42 uncutno   Members   -  Reputation: 146

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 04:43 AM

Im sorry to nag about this, but this is the old "realistic vs. fun" argue, that can never be solved (bacause some think that reaslistic IS fun, and some dont).

But we can agree that games are suposed to be fun ,right?

So, if the game isnt fun, we can complain that its not realistic enough,
and that must be because the AI isnt realistic enough! right? Ok then
were clear.

My point is that i think alot of games with unrealistic AI is realy realy fun, and so, the "game company" did its part, and should not be blamed for its priorities. We must agree that games always can be better, and i think they will be and i hope that the ultimate game hasnt been developed yet.

My last nagging argument:
Think about the AI of the Super Mario Broz enemies... Now thats not alot of brain, but nobody blames them, because of all the fun!

dont say: bad AI / good AI,
say: bad game / good game,
THEN blame the company!

p.s: i totaly agrees with "WE NEED MORE AND BETTER GAMES" witch would be the result of better AI,GFX,SOUND,GAMEPLAY....



#43 SlayerDave   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 04:46 AM

I don't think that AI is being neglected because of graphics or physics. I think people have an unrealistically high expectation of progress in the field of AI. AI is ten times harder than physics (rigid body dynamics, fluid dynamics, etc) and a hundred times harder than graphics. What do I mean?

First, graphics and physics are just physics. "Physics" in games means Newtonian mechanics and maybe fluid dynamics. These topics have been studied rigorously for about 400 years. Computationally, you are just solving a geometry problem with ODEs (for rigid body dynamics) or a PDE (for fluid dynamics). Sure, it takes some work to design efficient data structures and algorithms, but there are really only a handful of possible computational approaches, e.g. separating planes, constraints, verlets. Graphics is just an approximate simulation of the behavior of light and its interactions with different materials. This is even easier than physics. The basic graphics pipeline is highly optimized and the pipeline algorithm is shockingly parallel and easily accelerated in hardware. Graphics is really nothing more than linear algebra and maybe a little calculus for lighting equations. Graphics has advanced so much in recent years because it is so easy. Yes, there is still a lot of room for improvement, but the problems are well understood.

Furthermore, the same graphics and physics methodologies apply to virtually all game genres. Rendering is rendering, regardless of whether you are rendering a shooter, a racing game, or an RTS.

On the other hand, AI is a very diverse field that is attempting to solve an extremely hard problem. Depending on your point of view, it either took a billion years of evolution or an act of God to produce intelligent agents here on earth. Are we to suppose that humans could have solved the problem in a mere 60 years? Of course, no one is suggesting that games implement conscious, sentient intelligent agents. Rather, games must produce the illusion that opponents are behaving in an intelligent, possibly coordinated, manner. The available AI methods depend strongly on the type of game being developed. For instance, FPS and RTS games need sophisticated path finding capabilities, but the underlying geometric data structures place very different constraints on the AI solution. The path finding methods used in a football game are likely to differ considerably from those in an RTS or FPS. Group-level tactical and strategic reasoning pose their own set of problems and potential solutions. Other seemingly easy games can actually be a big challenge for an AI programmer (for instance, do a google search for poker AI and you'll see what I mean).

None of this is meant to be a discouragement to AI programmers. I think that AI is an extremely important component of any good game, but I also feel that AI is significantly harder than many people realize, especially compared to graphics or physics.

#44 dx elliot   Members   -  Reputation: 325

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 05:46 AM

I think one primary reason as to why graphics and physics has (and still is) advancing more quickly than AI is because it's a hell of a lot easier to debug. Graphics and physics are instant... setup a scene, watch it for 2 seconds, and then put a bandaid on whatever is obviously not working (blending setting, texture, color, gravity, etc).

If we approach 99.9% humanlike AI, then I wouldn't really care as long as there's multiplayer to be honest. Unless it's a game like Black and White, now THAT was some very remarkable AI.

#45 Extrarius   Members   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 02:42 PM

SlayerDave: I think you far underestimate what has already been done in researching game-applicable AI. It isn't as if I want developers to have their design team researching AI for a year before starting the game, I just want them to buy an 'Intro to Game AI in 24 hrs' book and look at what is common knowledge these days.

#46 SlayerDave   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 03:20 PM

Quote:
Original post by Extrarius
SlayerDave: I think you far underestimate what has already been done in researching game-applicable AI. It isn't as if I want developers to have their design team researching AI for a year before starting the game, I just want them to buy an 'Intro to Game AI in 24 hrs' book and look at what is common knowledge these days.


Sure, there are plenty of commonly used AI techniques in game development. But the whole point of this thread is that game AI sucks, is progressing much slower than game graphics, and is making less of a positive impact on the gameplay epxerience than graphics and physics. I'm not suggesting that game developers become AI researchers - that's what CS departments at universities are for.

My point was just that AI doesn't appear to be progressing as fast as graphics or physics because AI is a lot harder. Players want a more realistic game experience and it's a lot easier to crank up the graphics and physics than it is to implement high-quality AI.

#47 Extrarius   Members   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 05:03 PM

Quote:
Original post by SlayerDave
Quote:
Original post by Extrarius
SlayerDave: I think you far underestimate what has already been done in researching game-applicable AI. It isn't as if I want developers to have their design team researching AI for a year before starting the game, I just want them to buy an 'Intro to Game AI in 24 hrs' book and look at what is common knowledge these days.


Sure, there are plenty of commonly used AI techniques in game development. But the whole point of this thread is that game AI sucks, is progressing much slower than game graphics, and is making less of a positive impact on the gameplay epxerience than graphics and physics. I'm not suggesting that game developers become AI researchers - that's what CS departments at universities are for.

My point was just that AI doesn't appear to be progressing as fast as graphics or physics because AI is a lot harder. Players want a more realistic game experience and it's a lot easier to crank up the graphics and physics than it is to implement high-quality AI.
Perhaps I'm misreading this thread, but to me it feels like it is about the lack of AI in games, rather than the lack of game AI techniques. The problem is poor or no implementations in real games (as opposed to indie games, tech demos, and proof-of-concept projects). We know how to make awesome AI, but nobody is using it in commercial game development.

#48 BrianL   Members   -  Reputation: 530

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 04:41 AM

[quote]We know how to make awesome AI, but nobody is using it in commercial game development.[\quote]

As you sugested, I am goign to respond separating techniques from features. In the end, techniques are just a particular implementation. Yes, they can be critical for time savings during dev, etc, but the player won't necessarily be able to tell the difference between a Fuzzy Neural Net Probability Wavelet AI and an massive, huge set of if statements. ;)

Features people have mentioned in this thread so far are:

1) Strong tactical AI
2) AI that recognizes failures and changes tactics
3) Presenting the player with more challenges and diverse situations.
4) Replayability

(I apologize for my FPS-centric response, it is the area I am the most familiar with).

Strong tactical AI typically is applied in tactical games. ;) This is an area that is expanding, but you are right, perhaps devs aren't taking advantage of it enough. On the other hand, there are many games out/coming out which do. Band of Brothers and its squad/flanking/etc. Killzone and ShellShock (which William was involved with). I can't think of other names off hand, but there are several games exploring these concepts.

AI that recognizes failure and changes tactics is another good item. There are two obstacles here to more of this in games. The first is recognizing failures, attributing them to an action, and coming up with an alternate behavior is a decent amount of work. The other issue is that alternate tactics means more behavior permutations (and frequently more animation/audio content). Of course, there has to be room in game play space for the AIs to do something else. If, due to game design, an AI is constrained to a room with a single weapon and told to charge the player and kill them, the alternate behavior options are minimized.

Point 3 I would argue is a larger issue. This is more of an 'application of AI by content team' issue. Generally, level designers (or whoever is wiring a map) determine what routes there are, what AIs are in the space, when the AIs are created and destroyed, what areas the AIs can traverse (particularly important in console games with streaming; you need to know what textures are going to be in what area). Yes, AI programmers provide tools for level designers, but as they are the 'clients', it is frequently up to them to determine what is needed in the bigger picture.

Point 4 is closely tied to point 3. As the work of level designers generally dictates what happens and where, AI programmers ability to create diverse situations is constrained by the gameplay environment and embedded logic. Do you have any examples of replayability you would like to see?

#49 BrianL   Members   -  Reputation: 530

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 04:47 AM

And just to show I am not trying to globally defend AI programmers everywhere, here is a paper with some issues I agree with. :)

http://www.simbionic.com/gameai/papers/AAAI04-WS4-Wetzel.ppt


#50 Ferretman   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 06:24 PM

Quote:
Original post by John Reynolds
I agree Physics has become an important part of certain genres of gaming. However, I don't think it has done so at the cost of AI. Every project I know of has dedicated AI programmers, and indeed more AI programmers than Physics, and if you look around at who is hiring it is clear how in-demand AI programmers currently are.

The Graphics vs Gameplay balancing-act has eased somewhat thanks the the GPU. Now the graphics has its own processor it freed up a lot of CPU time to Gameplay, Physics, AI, etc.


At the 2005 GDC (and indeed at many of the past few GDCs) virtually every serious project had a minimum of one dedicated AI programer. Several had two, and a handful had three (which just astounded me). They tended to break things up into handling different layers at that point, which I thought was interesting...this guy did the top-level strategic decision making AI and handed orders off to the guy who handled individual unit AI. The third usually did something like animation-related stuff, or companions, or perhaps NPCs (who usually just need to follow orders and not look completely stupid otherwise). It was fascinating.

I think AI will continue to be a major factor in any larger game design, with physics becoming more and more important where it makes sense (like FPS games).
Ferretman
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#51 Ferretman   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 06:30 PM

Quote:
Original post by jollyjeffers
As others have said, it's going to be a while before AI takes center stage - but with the advent of these multi-processor/multi-core systems, and the inevitable switch to multi-programming, I reckon AI will get a chance at the big time.... [smile]. Fingers crossed the argument that processing resources are limited will become null and void.


I submit that this has alrady been done a couple of times with some games, where the marketing made a huge deal about how amazing the AI was going to be...and then players were pretty much let down hard when the game hit the market (I'm thinking UT Online and various RTS games here). That put a bit of a crimp into making claims that were perhaps over the top.

At the GDC roundtables we've occasionally had folks asking what to do if they built their AIs too smart and/or too hard. We've always told them they should be so lucky...

Quote:
[i]

If a couple (or more!) big name games take the time to put some truly powerful AI into things, the sort of stuff that gets people going [oh] at how damn impressive it is, then they'll raise the bar. Raise the bar and others will almost certainly follow...


This is absolutely the case, and I think we've seen it slowly come true across genres. Games that don't do something in particular that has become widespread quickly get slammed by the reviews.

At this year's GDC we saw an incredible number of design walkthroughs that had a huge amount (I thought) in common with each other. Lots of different games but the basic AI engine designs were very similar, as if developers have been trying lots of things and slowly settling on a small handful of approaches that give them the design flexibility they need, which raising the bar another notch.


Ferretman
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From the High Mountains of Colorado
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#52 Ferretman   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 06:34 PM

Quote:
Original post by Zodiak
Well, I just think that when one DOES create an awsome AI, the gaming industry will get that boost like with physics. What I mean, is if you haven't heard of a certain game, and then it comes out with average graphics etc. but with some awsome AI system, it will immediately be noticed... It's just a matter of making an excellent AI system, that's all. Because above all, people tend to admire AI the most when it's there. So the game will be a huge success, with millions of people going like 'Oh, Joe, check it out... Yesterday that <beep> had actually outsmarted me... it's so fun! I created a line of defence in the north, but that <beep> anticipated it and attacked me from the rear..." something like that. It's way way more fun to play with good AI than with graphics + physics because without AI they mean nothing
(unless we are talking about multiplayer).



I like your train of thought but have a problem with your example...specifically, how will the player know that the AI "anticipated" his line of defenses and hence attacked from the rear? Unless the AI tells him somehow, or perhaps the player's avatar "debriefs" the AI after the fact, the player doesn't really know whether the AI anticipated him or cheated.

One of the things one loses when playing against an AI is the boast-and-goad factor you have when it's your buddy on the LAN....not sure how to solve that one though.


Ferretman
ferretman@gameai.com
From the High Mountains of Colorado
GameAI.Com

#53 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4680

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 06:45 PM

For computer gamers, this means almost nothing, but for console gamers Halo and AI became synonymous. The fact that enemies reacted and spoke trash and there was strategy that you and a teammate could perform made the worthwhile. It'll be interesting to see what Halo 2.5 on the XB2 will bring. Prettier graphics or more clever AI (hopefully both). You can definitely sell a game on AI. The problem is delivering and not letting the publishers force you to concentrate on graphical eye candy.

#54 Ferretman   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 03:47 PM

Quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
For computer gamers, this means almost nothing, but for console gamers Halo and AI became synonymous. The fact that enemies reacted and spoke trash and there was strategy that you and a teammate could perform made the worthwhile. It'll be interesting to see what Halo 2.5 on the XB2 will bring. Prettier graphics or more clever AI (hopefully both). You can definitely sell a game on AI. The problem is delivering and not letting the publishers force you to concentrate on graphical eye candy.


The designers behind HALO and HALO 2 had some of the very best presentations at the GDC I've seen. They got a standing ovation after the end of their presentation back in 2003...it was simply superb (and I suspect many of us were envious of their design tools).



Ferretman
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#55 Timkin   Members   -  Reputation: 864

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 07:54 PM

(Hi ferretman, good to see you around here again!)

Personally, I think that AI and physics will necessarily have to advance hand-in-hand. If the games characters are unable to meaningfully interact with a complex, realistic environment, which they need to do to offer meaningful interactions with the player, then the player is going to very quickly lose interest in those characters and hence the game. For example, if the player can bounce grenades through a doorway to kill the enemies in a room, then the NPCs of the game should be able to do the same. If all they can manage is to walk into the room shooting at anything they see, then the player is going to feel very quickly that they are up against weak opponents.

As to the comments about how does one 'know' when the game AI was 'intelligent', yes that's an issue that needs to be resolved (and I haven't seen any convincing, non-scripted answers to this yet). However, in my opinion, most people would be convinced of some level of intelligence in an opponent that adapts to the players strategies to overcome them. So, in the RTS genre, for example, adapting strategies from maps to map (using analogous scenarios and past map experiences to infer the possible activities of the player) and adapting between games (using direct experience of that player to define alternative strategies that are challenging to the player). The ultimate benefit of this latter form of dynamic strategy formation is increased replayability of the game and hence better value for money form the players perspective.

Cheers,

Timkin

#56 njpaul   Members   -  Reputation: 354

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 10:06 AM

AI being neglected? Not so much. Original and innovative game ideas being neglected? Definately. Time for the indie scene to come up with the ideas of the future.




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