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alexjc

Role of Learning or Adaptive AI

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Branched from a comment from fup in the AI Programmer's dinner thread. > I'd like to know how developers feel about the role of > 'learning' or adaptive AI in future projects. I was very interested an enthusiastic about this myself, so made a point of bringing it up whenever possible to professional AI coders (before or after the ritual exchange of business cards). Frankly, I was appauled and shocked. Not only do most game AI programmers not really care about learning techniques, if they could do without AI to create NPC behaviors, they probably would... (we won't get a balanced discussion here as we're all in the same camp, but it's true) In the industry, the whole mentality of creating a game is about designer control, and that makes ANY adaptive techniques extremely unappealing. With better AI, designers become less useful, testing is awkward... etc. Some companies are making the effort, but these require fundamentally different design techniques, so I can't see them catching on in the near future. Bad news for us AI enthusiast I'm affraid. I percieve a general "our solution is good enough" attitude, "so why change"? (I got the same feeling after my lecture on super-duperly advanced amazingly awesome navigation system :] "But A* works ok!") Removed off topic comment. [edited by - alexjc on March 18, 2003 7:23:11 AM]

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Resistance to change is not restricted to the games industry, although it IS particularly prevalent throughout that industry. Companies require a ''winning formula'', tried and tested and ''guaranteed'' to churn out a product in N days of production.

Learning systems and adaptive AIs are unknown quantities in the industry, in that very few people have any real understanding of them, let alone having experience with them.

There are, however, companies that are investing time and money in developing adaptive game systems. Don''t expect to see them on the shelves any time soon, as they are more long term projects.

For now though, independent developers will be the ones to set the pace in the advancement of game AI, because they (usually) have the time to put into the project and are not restricted by budget and production constraints. This means that we, as a community, should be working hard at improving our game AI. If WE can prove that a particular technique is stable, reliable and moderately easy to implement into an existing code base, then the industry will sit up and listen.

So, keep at it and let the good AI roll on!

Cheers,

Timkin

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I''m not surprised given the round table discussions from previous years. I was just interested to see if there had been any change in the last year.

I agree with Timkin. I feel we will see adaptive AI become more prevalent as time goes on. Once learning technologies start to get some exposure and developers become more comfortable with them (and as AI programmers become better educated) I have no doubt they will become widely used. Primarily because they provide an ''edge''. This is important in today’s cut throat industry.


PS. Alex, if you keep slagging off NNs I''m gonna come up North and give you a slap





ai-junkie.com

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> Once learning technologies start to get some exposure and
> developers become more comfortable with them

Bah! There has been focus; some best selling games... that still hasn't made any difference. What is needed is learning techniques that can be controlled, overriden and managed by designers, which almost beats the point of spending time on adaptive AI (certaintly at this point + couple years).

Combine the two (top-down / bottom-up), and you're sorted. Lots of research going into this. We discussed this on my part of the table at the AI Prog. Dinner -- one of the good discussions


Removed off topic comment.

[edited by - alexjc on March 18, 2003 7:24:01 AM]

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"Combine the two (top-down / bottom-up), and you're sorted.

Well yes, that much is obvious.

"and NN are overrated"

Certainly not by the games industry.




ai-junkie.com

[edited by - fup on March 18, 2003 6:25:52 AM]

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I think adaptive techniques will only find a place where a designer cannot feasibly do the job - agents on the Semantic Web, for example. That''s how most designers work.
The real problem is that in games, it''s frequently much easier to do things more rigidly; you avoid the situation where the adaptive AI works around the rules you''ve imposed, and you fight the problem, not the learning AI.

Put these two together and you can probably infer that Doom III will use waypoints and state machines, and SimCity 6 will use more agent-like techniques for its sims.

Adaptive techniques might also find a role in a less-important area - maybe NPCs learning reactions - but I wouldn''t expect adaptive end bosses

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One area where I personally have tried to employ adaptive techniques is in the strategic decision-making of the programmed opponent or artificial computer player (AI Player) of RTS/Strategy games. Both in Enemy Nations (a RTS) and again in my series of shareware, turn-based wargames (the Battles series), I tried to have the AI Player perceive (using influence mapping and pattern matching techniques) the human opponent''s tendancies and then have the AI Player change its goals to attempt to counter what it thought the human was doing. The results I observed were less than acceptable, due (IMO) to problems with the AI Player''s perception of the human''s tendancies.

All that being said, I think that using adaptive techniques in the AI Player is of interest to RTS and Wargame AI Programmers. However, I think that bot control in FPS games is where we will see the most progress at using adaptive techniques in commercial games, simply because there are more people experimenting and tinkering with bot AI than other forms of computer game AI.

Eric

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The major problem is establishing a sandbox -- by design or implementation. This needs to be done in order to make sure that nothing goes wrong (as decided by the designer).

For different applications, this is more or less difficult to do (implicit & explicit AI techniques), and it may in fact take as long to develop the sandbox as the adaptive technique itself!! Hence the apprehensions...

So, back to what you were saying Eric, it seems RTS would need less work to build/design that sandbox (a few consistency checks before lanching an attack). So it seems easier to create consistent behaviors -- than for an FPS bot for example.



Artificial Intelligence Depot - Maybe it''s not all about graphics...

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We are going to be experimenting with something simple on our game. We are going to be formulatically tweaking some of the response curves that we are using to decide behavior. So, as the game conditions change - in part because of the player''s strategy, those response curves will be modified slowly so that the competing AI''s decision structure will change as well.

Dave Mark - President and Lead Designer
Intrinsic Algorithm -
"Reducing the world to mathematical equations!"

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It's been my experience (in the non-gaming industry) that most people reject AI methods outright. They feel that it is to wishy-washy, and at home only in academia.

I think part of the problem is that for most people their introduction to AI comes in the form of systems such as COG, Deep Blue, or fancified ELIZA's. You rarely hear about actual successful implementation of an AI method that would solve a problem most programmers could relate to.

As far as the gaming industry goes, I asked a friend of mine who works for one of the game console companines. He told me that 'AI' is usually a very low priority on the list of things to do. Every project he has been involved in has used state tables mainley because they are easy to implement and easy to customize.

Another part of the problem, I would suspect, is the gap between academic research and industry publications. Dr. Dobbs, for example, tends to be a little less formal than your average research paper. The language is usually aimed at a wider audience and written in a way that facilitates quick digestion.

There is also a lot of bad-press associated with the term AI. There have been too many promises of HAL-like computers over the past twenty-years. I think if AI techniques are ever to really catch on, they will not be refered to as AI. I think a recent article on Salon.com talks about this.

Cheers,
Will


[edited by - RPGeezus on March 18, 2003 10:47:49 AM]

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