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open math problems for multiplayer?

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I''m a recent addict of multiplayer action games (Ghost Recon, Combat Flight Sims) and also a mathematician. I''m very curious as to how games define the "state of the world" and transmit these states for multiplayer play. Of course I''m sure this various from game to game but there must be general principles. I''m especially interested in the possibility that there might be some big open algorithmic or mathematical problems related to this issue. I''d love to tackle these, if they exist. Many thanks for information.....

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Anything that relates to AI is an open-ended problem.

There is an increasing demand on more intelligent Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and the industry has never been able to come up with adversaries as potent as online multiplayer ones. Combat AI is particularly awful: the most advanced ones are still very tactical in nature (event-driven finite state machine, see IEEE Spectrum Dec-2002) and never adjust their tactical positions to account for the global situation. Newer games with superb AI such as Black & White or The Sims have been able to push the AI envelope, but 3D imagery & FX still dominates the industry (just look at how many 3D engines there is on the net, not counting the commercial ones).

So far, the online gaming world has been isolated from this issue as all players come from the real-world. But for the business model to make sense at a large scale (a la EverQuest ) and to adapt to the pressure for more compelling content, the new gaming worlds would have to be populated with NPCs. There is nothing more dull than a socially-driven MMORPG gameplay when only 10 players are online...|8-{

AI, like networking is a matter of processing power, memory and bandwidth. Here's a problem cut for you: Can you harness the computing power of the logged-in players to deflect some of the periodic tactical situation evaluations from the game server?


[edited by - cbenoi1 on April 1, 2003 7:39:49 PM]

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