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Question about Post-Graduate Education

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Hey all. I've lurked on GameDev for a long time, but just created my account today. The reason is that I am finishing my undergraduate degree this year (with a major in Mathematics, minor in computer science) and was approached last week about becoming a Graduate student in Modelling. Now, I'm not a tech head or progamming guru by any stretch of the examination. However, I am very passionate about video games and would love to make it into the industry at some point in my life - at least, that's my pipedream. I do some programming in C++/C#, but my primary interests are in design - story, gameplay, storyboarding, etc. However, the one area that interests me and actually applies to coding in games is Artificial Intelligence. So, for the graduate thesis I have a little leeway in selecting a topic for study. One of the areas that my supervisor would be studying is machine intelligence/machine learning. I was thinking that I might be able to permute this a little so that it applies to her area of interest (probably more towards data mining, etc) as well as being applicable to the future of video game AI. Of course, with more and more powerful machines being made, more and more cycles are being freed up for AI. So my question is twofold: 1) Is there any study that I could do that might help me to enter the gaming industry some day? Or, alternatively, what is the direction that gaming AI is likely to take in the future? 2) Is it possible to be a part of the game development community when my only applicable (read: programming) skill is in artificial intelligence? Thank you very much to anyone who actually read this, GrandReaper PS: If there is a better category for this post I would deeply appreciate anyone suggesting it, or moving it.

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"gra" wrote:

>1) Is there any study that I could do that might help me to enter the gaming industry some day?

Sure. Pretty much anything you study, as long as it interests you, will probably help. http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson40.htm

>2) Is it possible to be a part of the game development community when my only applicable (read: programming) skill is in artificial intelligence?

Pretty much anything is possible. http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson50.htm

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Thanks. I appreciate the reply. If there is anyone with a little more specific information regarding the future of gaming AI or whether there are/will be jobs in the industry along the lines of an AI specialist (ie: contribute to only a small subsection of the program), that would be immensely helpful.

Cheers,
GrandReaper

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Your post reminds me of Steve Polge, who developed the Reaper Bot for the original Quake, which in my opinion was one of the better bot mods, namely because I could run a 16-player deathmatch on my P133 at acceptable rates. (I couldn't do this with Zeusbot, even though it was "smarter," per se.) Steve was hired by Epic to do the AI for Unreal Tournament's bots. So, your future looks promising.

AI is becoming far more sophisticated these days, using less scripting and a more behavioral form of decision-making. Of course, there are still pitfalls. Path-finding is a real killer when it comes to believable AI; a game that has plausible "reason" may falter completely if the path-finding is broken (I'm thinking of Gothic III). There are so many elements that come into play when developing a smart agent.

Like every field, AI is more complex than it seems. Still, I find it very interesting as well, though it isn't my specialty by any means (nor will it likely ever be). I don't know of any specific academic institutions you could approach to expand your knowledge, but I'm sure you could learn a great deal from exploring AI and artificial life samples. In particular, I find the techniques used in the Sims quite fascinating, how objects "emit" what needs they satisfy to nearby Sims, and the Sims decide what they want to do about it.

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