Next-gen AI and Next-gen BS

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Next-gen AI and Next-gen BS

Lately I've been getting a lot (okay, a couple) of questions about artificial intelligence as it applies to gameplay. Is the new console generation going to give us better AI? Are these marketing claims true? What's going to change about computer players now that programmers have all this extra power?

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Yeah, never really thought much about AI until years later as a gamer. Hearing various segments on AI on NPR, I get the feeling that when better AI will be made, it most likely will not be from the games industry. Maybe from a gamer, but that's another story.

In any case, very good story. I still feel skeptical when someone mentions X will make games better, in one way shape or form. My X being the cloud, or cloud servers. I still don't fully comprehend the matter, and an explanation from anyone is welcomed.

It is really sad that today's (combat) AI seems so frigging stupid. Sure, as you pointed out making them strong is easy but strong and smart are also completely different. Why does the majority of today's AI feel that bad? Did the publishers at one point just cut the AI budget in half or simply froze it while all the other costs exploded?
I just want 2005 AI back :(
I don't even expect it to be better than 2005 AI. But at least it'd be an improvement over today's titles.

Would you consider an AI in fast-paced RTS-games to be strategy AI or combat AI? They certainly have the capabilities to choose counter units and tech paths, so they'd be strategy AI, but on the other hand they can also go crazy on micro, so they need to be tuned down to human levels, control groups of units like a player would as opposed to controlling single units, maybe formations? Tactical AI?
Of course there are also people trying to write the strongest possible AI: example youtube video

As a side note I wonder why Thief doesn't seem to be able to handle more than 5 guys at once. Is it some exponential resource usage problem in the AI? Or is it because of the graphics/physics/whatever engine? Or another bug in the AI? Or some problem stemming from having the game on all different platforms (e.g. PS3 architecture and/or XBox360 limited RAM causing problems)?

Cool feature.

The thing with AI is that a lot of it was invented a long time ago. Not that there are no optimizations and small breakthroughs here and there, but the big branches of AI research have existed since the 60s to the 80s (which, for computer science, is pretty much prehistoric). New AI in games does not come from new algorithms, but from inventive ways to use old algorithms to create new effects. The amount of variables an entity can take into consideration before taking an action may increase, but the thought process is pretty much the same for most games.

The only exception to the rule, as Shamus said, is when the number of entities grows. Each entity has to go through the thought process for its own state, and that means more and more is spent on keeping tabs on the internal state of every entity in the game. It is truth that its peanuts compared with the power needed to render every entity, but there are optimizations to that too (like only working on rendering those that are visible) that don't apply to the AI. The clearest example on the last generation was on the behavior of NPCs in games, with things like Assassins Creed mobs patterns and scale not being possible in the PS2/XBOX era; and I can't wait to see what the new AC or the new Arkham can do with the extra power...

rofltehcat:
It is really sad that today's (combat) AI seems so frigging stupid. Sure, as you pointed out making them strong is easy but strong and smart are also completely different. Why does the majority of today's AI feel that bad? Did the publishers at one point just cut the AI budget in half or simply froze it while all the other costs exploded?
I just want 2005 AI back :(
I don't even expect it to be better than 2005 AI. But at least it'd be an improvement over today's titles.

Pretty much.

As I said in a previous post, most of the AI research was done during the 60s. That means the field has been quite frozen for many years; there is little that would be considered "new". That is the reason modern shooters' AI does not differentiate much from Half Life 1 AI (and calling it "AI" might even be a little far fetched, most of them are hardly considered "weak AIs"). In terms of programming, they are not that different. The only difference is in the scale...

Since investing in AI research is a dead end (so much so that games like FEAR and Rage used their AI engine as selling points), and most people would consider the current state of the art to be "good enough", there is no point in most studios spending resources on it, the same way no one spends money on making a new 3D and rendering engine when Unity and Unreal are a lot more cost effective.

There's another way to categorise AI. AI that uses a few if/then statements to decide what to do, and AI that actually tries to calculate the best move.

The first kind is what nearly all current games use. It's cpu efficient but it is limited to the tricks that the programmer will teach it, and there are always exploitable holes in the logic.

The second kind is how chess AI works. It still makes mistakes, but it is much less exploitable and can potentially be much smarter than the programmer who designed it. The catch, of course, is that its' effectiveness depends on the cpu cycles you can feed it.

Galactic Civilizations 2 does actually attempt to analyse the game like this, and it is noted for its' smart AI. And yes, that AI still has many flaws, but it's also considered to be miles ahead of other 4x games.

Bad Jim:
The second kind is how chess AI works. It still makes mistakes, but it is much less exploitable and can potentially be much smarter than the programmer who designed it. The catch, of course, is that its' effectiveness depends on the cpu cycles you can feed it.

Galactic Civilizations 2 does actually attempt to analyse the game like this, and it is noted for its' smart AI. And yes, that AI still has many flaws, but it's also considered to be miles ahead of other 4x games.

I like that idea because it surely can also be used to then choose one of the "less than optimal" options, making it seem more human.

Yup, we rarely see '98 levels of AI (Half-Life, Unreal, Thief), let alone '05 levels of AI, wich was pretty much the pinnacle of FPS AI (Half-Life 2, Far Cry [that one is debatable], F.E.A.R., Crysis in 2007).

I really hate to generalize, but sometimes I get the feeling that the more the time passes, the dumber the AI gets.

Heck, speaking specifically of Thief, The Dark Mod, a fan made free game using Doom 3's engine, has a much better AI than the new Thief, heck, it let's you move more freely (rope arrows on any wooden surface), put down torches and candles by shooting water arrows indirectly to them (let the spreading water put them all out), you can literaly grab torches and light other torches and candles and a whole lot of other neat features.

And all that was made on the Doom 3 engine by people on their spare time.
And it's completely free.

rofltehcat:

Bad Jim:
The second kind is how chess AI works. It still makes mistakes, but it is much less exploitable and can potentially be much smarter than the programmer who designed it. The catch, of course, is that its' effectiveness depends on the cpu cycles you can feed it.

Galactic Civilizations 2 does actually attempt to analyse the game like this, and it is noted for its' smart AI. And yes, that AI still has many flaws, but it's also considered to be miles ahead of other 4x games.

I like that idea because it surely can also be used to then choose one of the "less than optimal" options, making it seem more human.

Lol no. It would then just seem completely retarded rather than slightly retarded. I said _try_ to calculate the best move, not _successfully_ calculate the best move.

Chess is a bit of a special case because a computer can see every possibility half a dozen moves or so ahead, while humans will make plenty of mistakes that are exploitable in half a dozen moves. It has no real strategy, it just doesn't need one.

Most games aren't like chess. But there can still be a lot of room for the AI to consider various courses of action. But the AI will not be able to consider everything in most games.

It's sad that this isn't the scummiest thing I've read about video game marketers in the past week.

Hell, it isn't even in the top ten.

This is a dark, depressing time to actually care about video games.

rofltehcat:

Of course there are also people trying to write the strongest possible AI: example youtube video

That AI is cheating. It uses information unavailable to a human player, namely, which zergling is being targeted by each attack.

I don't know much about AI and only have the barest experience with programming, but it always struck me as odd to hear people talk about how CPU speed will improve AI because it doesn't seem like AI should be that CPU intensive. It's just a bunch of instructions after all. Even if enemy AI is incredibly elaborate with thousands of lines of code it still shouldn't stack up next to graphics. It's nice to see I'm not crazy.

Side note, it always seemed unfair to me that in games like pong the same computer that controls the enemy paddle also controls the ball's trajectory.

rofltehcat:
It is really sad that today's (combat) AI seems so frigging stupid. Sure, as you pointed out making them strong is easy but strong and smart are also completely different. Why does the majority of today's AI feel that bad? Did the publishers at one point just cut the AI budget in half or simply froze it while all the other costs exploded?

They probably realized you can't show off AI in screenshots.

DonTsetsi:

rofltehcat:

Of course there are also people trying to write the strongest possible AI: example youtube video

That AI is cheating. It uses information unavailable to a human player, namely, which zergling is being targeted by each attack.

No, siege tanks follow predictable algorithms and the AI can calculate which zergling will be hit. If you were playing in a time warp or if you were like The Flash, you could do it too.

However, it's really just being fast, not all that clever. How does it modify its' production after scouting the enemy I wonder? How does it interpret a bunch of enemy units at the edge of its' vision? Does it realise, as humans would, that there are probably more units it can't see behind the fog of war? If it sees ten zealots on two seperate occasions, can it decide whether they are the same zealots?

Bad Jim:

DonTsetsi:

rofltehcat:

Of course there are also people trying to write the strongest possible AI: example youtube video

That AI is cheating. It uses information unavailable to a human player, namely, which zergling is being targeted by each attack.

No, siege tanks follow predictable algorithms and the AI can calculate which zergling will be hit. If you were playing in a time warp or if you were like The Flash, you could do it too.

However, it's really just being fast, not all that clever. How does it modify its' production after scouting the enemy I wonder? How does it interpret a bunch of enemy units at the edge of its' vision? Does it realise, as humans would, that there are probably more units it can't see behind the fog of war? If it sees ten zealots on two seperate occasions, can it decide whether they are the same zealots?

Unless your enemy manually selects the targets. So, if 2 incredibly fast people were playing against each other, the tanks would still win.

"It's such a hard problem that in the early days programmers usually cheated and gave the AI extra resources to make up for the massive cognitive handicap."

And in the more complex strategy games, like Civ V, they still do.

I always thought it'd be easiest to just keep adding to the AI throughout development, programming from the most generalised situations possible to the most specific up until the point that it becomes pointless. They probably already do that.

I'd buy a full priced Civ V re-release if the entire AI system was redone, and all difficulty related to the AI's competency alone. But of course, that is a monumental task.

Last game with good AI, or should I say that REALLY pushed combat AI was STALKER.
Because it ran over 1000 NPCs on the map... it cheated a little, there is offline and online AI, and in the early builds it could have also formed squads and completed the main storyline...

Here, I hope you guys find this interesting (you too Shamus), I know I did:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_KHvJ4qFZM&index=2&list=PLD2B82E405CF9650C

I would love a column on the tech in STALKER... or STALKER just :P

The problem with AI, in my opinion, is that developers refuse to make the AI movements and action interact. If you're strafing sideways, you need to be less aware of things around you, because you're paying too much attention to not tripping while strafing (just an example).

As it is right now, AI is a dot on the map that moves anywhere it pleases with no navigational or awareness trouble (always locked dead center on your person, only missing if the accuracy RNG gods say so under specific circumstances, etc.)

They need to have a front, a back, and sides. Their legs are not wheels. They should actually have to turn in a direction before they can move in it. Strafing can be a thing, sure, but it needs to be a blind sideways walk, not a coldly calculated automatic movement at full speed that never causes pathing issues. (The AI should STRUGGLE to keep themselves situated and aware that the wall they just ran into will make them fall over, not just skate around on roller blades effortlessly in any direction with no consequence)

TLDR?

Put more work into AI movement and awareness. It shouldn't be perfect or effortless.

Olas:

rofltehcat:
It is really sad that today's (combat) AI seems so frigging stupid. Sure, as you pointed out making them strong is easy but strong and smart are also completely different. Why does the majority of today's AI feel that bad? Did the publishers at one point just cut the AI budget in half or simply froze it while all the other costs exploded?

They probably realized you can't show off AI in screenshots.

It's worse than that. Most people can't even properly evaluate the AI after they've been playing for weeks. A lot of it is about perception.

Ever played a 4X game like Civilization and found out, after spying, that the AI factions are all at about the same tech level, even the tiny ones that are barely surviving? Doesn't it annoy you that the game is obviously giving them tech at certain intervals rather than make them do proper research?

Well, suppose the AI plays by the rules. Should it trade tech? If the other faction is not a threat, then yes. It is also rational to sell even advanced tech to minor factions at prices they can afford, since nothing is lost and something is gained. The result of all this logically justifiable tech trading is that each faction ends up with the same tech.

Conversely, it is amazing how often people will get caught out by an AI with random behavior and assume it was being clever. I heard one little anecdote about a developer who made a pool game and got numerous complaints that the AI was too good at lining up its' next shot. But this was entirely down to chance, as the AI simply potted balls and had no code for lining up it's next shot.

Another thing about AI is that if you announce you have advanced AI, someone will invariably find a hilarous flaw and post a video on Youtube. A lot of people will, in fact. And making a sophisticated AI is no defense against this, because try as you might, someone will find it. Even full strength chess AIs have been caught making hilarious errors.

So if you know that most people cannot tell good AI from bad AI, and that announcing good AI is likely to backfire, why would you invest heavily in it?

We'll have to settle for if(), then () until we have true artificial intelligence.

Then we can just ask our robot overlords how it all works.

Two games made me think "the AI is bloody good on this", the original half life, when the enemies actually retreated and used cover to flank, made me completely rethink my gaming approach apres Doom "run and gun" and F.E.A.R, that was spectacular, they kicked over tables, ducked round corridors, it was madness. F.E.A.R actually blew my mind, I played it even though horror games genuinely scare me. F.E.A.R 2 is one of the few time I can remember a game getting worse with AI.

Without being a LEET twat, PCs have had the CPU/GPU power of the new consoles for about 5 years and bugger all has happened AI-wise, doubt it will change much, unless the money available from console land means people invest more in development because they will get the return now.

And now I know why Joshua Graham wasted me in 2 shots.

Of course his base stats where invincible to begin with, but the accuracy and aggression where definitely a non-wimped combat AI.

"Look at how the fish swim out of the way in the water!" in Xbox One's Call of Duty presentation was enough to set off my bullshit alarm.

For the record, the original Thief and Thief 2 must have been programmed by time travelers because the guard AI was designed to have different alert levels based on the number of times the guard had noticed the player. If you upset them too much or too often, they would remain in a more alert state which made them more aware of their surrounds and more aggressive in pursuit of errant noises.

Haven't played the most recent Thief game to compare, but it sure doesn't sound like much of an advance from the originals.

The article is true for AI in most games nowadays, but if we're looking at AI in a game like chess or Go then the situation changes. In games like those with both no random elements and no hidden information, duplicating the current state of the game and running many simulations of how the game will play out given a certain move becomes a very effective and very computationally intensive tool; they will benefit strongly from raw horsepower because it means that they can simulate more games in a given amount of time.

When you throw in random elements, hidden information, and/or nerfing the AI intentionally so that it behaves like a human, the benefits of these traditional machine-learning-based approaches dwindle. It's still viable for a lot of digital adaptations of modern board games, though.

In regards to AI development, it's incredibly easy for a developer to overestimate how effective AI will be before he codes it. I'm recalling the story of Trespasser here: the developers had an intricate AI system which modeled each dinosaur's emotional state that they couldn't get working in time for launch, so they ended up just cranking all of their aggression to the max and leaving it there. It's a hell of a lot easier to imagine those systems working than it is to actually get them working; I'd expect that some of that blindness is responsible for a lot of the grandiose statements that good AI requires more horsepower: the systems they're planning on implementing are much more complex than the ones that actually end up getting implemented.

And unlike graphics, AI (outside of the machine-learning approach I mentioned earlier) doesn't scale easily with computational power. You can double the size of textures or the amount of polygons in a model or do better lighting calculations relatively trivially, but adding in states and sensory data for AI adds much more in design complexity than functionality (especially since AI is entwined with gameplay development and graphics aren't).

rofltehcat:
It is really sad that today's (combat) AI seems so frigging stupid. Sure, as you pointed out making them strong is easy but strong and smart are also completely different. Why does the majority of today's AI feel that bad?

Were I to guess it is because the design goals of single player shooters have changed. If you want to make a new Call of Duty then you have a lot of design goals built around the idea of set piece battles with predictable sequences of action all striving for making a video game that plays like the highlight reel of a half dozen different action movies. The problem you have in this case is that AI that can actually make decisions beyond the most basic of shoot or not shoot lends unpredictability to the whole equation. While one conceivably write an AI that meets the exacting needs of a particular shooter sequence, it would be difficult (to understate things tremendously) to pull off and programmers don't exactly work cheaply. The solution, then, is to have most of the mooks you run into have only the most basic AI - they are generated somewhere the player can't see, they follow a route between a set of nodes, and then they take position and take occasional shots at the player until they're inevitably dispatched. For more complex behavior, you simply hard code a certain behavior - you don't want that exciting knife fight sequence to be missed because your AI decided jumping off a railing onto the player was a dumb idea given it's situation. The result is simply that most modern shooters rely very heavily on scripted sequences of actions rather than on any kind of system used to make a reasonable or rational decision.

But all is not lost - other genres find that having challenging AI that can surprise a player is important. RPGs like Skyrim are too "big" to use the tedious handcrafting that scripted sequences require and thus they rely on incredibly complex AI to run the show most of the time. Of course with Skyrim you can easily see one of the problems with leaving just about everything up to the AI - many of the common bugs in that game are the result of AI not acting like it should. Strategy games are generally simply too complex to have pre-programmed moves plotted out in advance and thus they must rely on AI to actually make decisions. As Shamus said much of the genre lives and dies on the quality of it's AI. Indeed, I think you'll find AI alive and well in most genres as the shooter is one of the few that is simple enough and small enough to rely heavily on hand-crafted sequences. And even then it is only in the big blockbuster games - ARMA and other simulators rely extensively on AI across the game.

Alpha Maeko:

Put more work into AI movement and awareness. It shouldn't be perfect or effortless.

Unless the act of motion itself is a key challenge for the player (say a Racing game or Mirror's Edge) I see no reason why the AI ought to have any trouble with movement given that any player of reasonable experience won't have to fumble around with their controller or keyboard to move left or right. That said, I do recall an Unreal Tournament mod that included lots of little realism tweaks to movement that would make your suggestion reasonable. After all, a player could trip when strafing (but it appeared to be chance based) or going down stairs (it was more common if you went backwards or were strafing) so why not shackle the AI with the same. Of course that game also enforced the idea that a gun occupies volume and many an attempt to turn and shoot at someone behind me was thwarted by a rifle smacking into a wall.

What I think it really boils down to is that the AI ought to have the same limitations as a human player. Making them bad at movement in a game where it can reasonably be expected that players will have no trouble does not make the AI seem more human.

A good topic to discuss. Sure, the combat AI routines are peanuts compared to the requirements of graphics processing but when I think of "Super AI", I'm thinking of the limitless potential that the field has yet untapped.

Think of an open world game where every single NPC has dynamic interactions with others AND the player, where their actions are determined on the fly depending on ever changing parameters. You'll have to write a human simulation, much in the vein of The Sims. When you increase the complexity and reactivity, the computational needs would surely skyrocket no?

An example:

Bob is a farmer somewhere in Tamriel. He has 2 daughters in their teens and a troublesome son who's running with the wrong crowd. He worries about whom he should marry his daughters to and how he should straighten out his son. After all, last month he had to bail him out from the local guard after his son tried to steal a noble's purse as some sort of rite of passage at the thieves guild. Thing is, the bail cost him his savings and then some. He's now in debt and all he can hope is a really good harvesting season. One of his daughters is in love with a local banker's assistant, but Bob isn't sure if the boy has the smarts to make a career and provide for his daughter should they marry. With so many worries, and the death of his wife some 6 years ago, he's been starting to have a drink before bed just so he can fall asleep better.

This is just One character among thousands in this imaginary game. You'd need to simulate a working economy, personality traits and relationships between characters and more. I wonder how impossible this kind of thing would be in terms of processing power, let alone to design algorithms for.

DonTsetsi:

rofltehcat:

Of course there are also people trying to write the strongest possible AI: example youtube video

That AI is cheating. It uses information unavailable to a human player, namely, which zergling is being targeted by each attack.

No.. the siege tanks are on auto fire. The programmer of this script knows how the siege tanks AI pick targets, and predicts how to avoid splash.

If you move one zergling to a tank, the tank will shoot it. If you move that one zergling with another 99 behind it, it will still be shot at as it's the first in range of the siege tank.

If a human was micromanaging those siege tanks the script wouldn't work, as it cannot predict which zerglings will be shot based on the siege tank's AI.

That's what I think of it anyway.

rofltehcat:

I just want 2005 AI back :(

image

So, so much.

Just one more game the likes of Unreal Tournament 2004, Timesplitters: Future Perfect, etc. Just so I know it's the last. So I can tell myself that this is it, and so I don't keep waiting...

...hoping...

...wishing things would get better again...

I remember there were talks about a hardware AI accelerator back in 2006 (that's when everyone wanted to add another dedicated card inside the PC - PhysX, sound, raytracing, AI, progaming network...). We laughed that games would have an 'intelligence' slider.

It is probably true that AI is probably not intensive, but who knows what it will be like when it gets really complex. AI in Thief can probably be pretty primitive, but there's a reason why people play shooters in multiplayer - people still behave quite a bit different than even the best human-like AI. If you start adding quite enough complexity, it may start taking up more resources than the programmers would want to dedicate to it.

Which is another point - if the AI takes up 2% of the processing power (I know, that's probably too much) but the game is struggling to run at 1080p, I supposed they'd rather tone down the AI a notch rather than having to rewrite the renderer or redo half of the graphics assets in the game.

There was also a discussion about this when the X360/PS3 era was about to start - that AI can have one CPU just for itself, with a dedicated thread and everything, not taking up the resources that are needed for rendering and other stuff. So sure, maybe the AI itself wouldn't even have to be better than on a PS2, but more horsepower would free up the resources needed elsewhere.

SupahGamuh:
Yup, we rarely see '98 levels of AI (Half-Life, Unreal, Thief), let alone '05 levels of AI, wich was pretty much the pinnacle of FPS AI (Half-Life 2, Far Cry [that one is debatable], F.E.A.R., Crysis in 2007).

As far as shooters go, that's pretty obvious I think. Most shooters have been 'consolitited' and made to work best with a gamepad. That means you can't have the AI too smart and unpredictable, otherwise the enemy will be more difficult to track and hit with the thumb stick. Halo has brought us a new of shooter - one that is not based on precision, but timing. A few years later, and shooters have devolved into shooting galleries - where you only need to point your crosshair on one point above the enemy's cover and wait until they pop up their head. You'll also note that this has affected enemy placement as well - in 'modern shooters', enemies most often come from the front, simply because with a gamepad, it's difficult to make fast turns so having enemies come from all sides makes the game difficult and more frustrating to play on a gamepad. Rage made some good impression for finding some really good mechanics for AI, enemy placement as well as the control scheme that works just as well with a KMB as well as a gamepad, but most devs apparently cant' do so well.

But to be honest, we often remember the old AI better than it is. In 2001, Halo made quite a good impression on me for its AI, but when I replayed it years later, the enemies just feel stupid. Half-Life is quite the same, I can't even tell why I thought it's so great back in the day. Same for Crysis. I mean I know the AI in those games is quite complex and interesting but I no longer see the 'whoa' effect they had on me. I FEAR to replay F.E.A.R. so I don't spoil my memories of its advanced AI too.

I wonder how the AI in Shadow of Mordor (Assassin's Creed: Middleearth) will actually work. They are making all kinds of promises in their promotional material but we'll see how much of that is real and how much of it ends up being bad.

VoidOfOne:
In any case, very good story. I still feel skeptical when someone mentions X will make games better, in one way shape or form. My X being the cloud, or cloud servers. I still don't fully comprehend the matter, and an explanation from anyone is welcomed.

The Cloud was the subject of my dissertation, any specific questions you're interested in?

This is why I like games like AI War: Fleet Command and Spellforce. Both make a deliberate effort not to have the AI try to pretend to be human at all. In AI War, the AI players follow strict rules that are known to the player. The trick is that the situation is massively asymmetric and the AI could easily wipe the floor with you if it just threw everything at you, so you have to carefully plan your strategy around the AI's known reactions. Similarly, Spellforce is fairly similar to Warcraft in principle, with the human player collecting resources and building up a base and army and the AI superficially looking similar. But the AI doesn't actually build an army, it simply spawns units on a timer, and continuously escalates throughout the game. For the most part it plays fairly similarly to other RTS games, but it means you can't just turtle up in your base and fight a war of attrition, because you are guaranteed to lose if you don't make the effort to take out the enemy bases.

Dragon Age is probably also worth a mention for doing it the other way around - the human player can essentially program the AI for their party. There are only limited tools to do so, but it can give you a situation where instead of a human fighting an AI pretending to be another human, you have an AI fighting a human pretending to be another AI.

Long story short, AI that mimics humans can be tricky, but isn't always necessary at all. You don't need all players to play in the same way if the situation isn't symmetric in the first place. And since very few single player games actually are symmetric, there is plenty of opportunity for this sort of non-human AI to be used.

Bad Jim:
Ever played a 4X game like Civilization and found out, after spying, that the AI factions are all at about the same tech level, even the tiny ones that are barely surviving? Doesn't it annoy you that the game is obviously giving them tech at certain intervals rather than make them do proper research?

Somewhat ironic that your post was about people not actually realising what the AI does, since Civilisation (the latest one at least, I can't remember exactly how previous versions worked) is one of the ones that actually doesn't cheat as you suggest. Requirements for tech (plus culture and other things) are scaled to the number of cities, precisely so that all civs generally stay at around the same tech level and simply expanding as fast as possible doesn't guarantee victory every time. The bonuses and penalties the player and AI get depending on difficulty levels are explicitly stated (mainly just happiness and base research requirements), with no other cheating occurring.

rofltehcat:
It is really sad that today's (combat) AI seems so frigging stupid. Sure, as you pointed out making them strong is easy but strong and smart are also completely different. Why does the majority of today's AI feel that bad? Did the publishers at one point just cut the AI budget in half or simply froze it while all the other costs exploded?

I think the biggest problem is that the better the AI is, the more difficult the game becomes! As a player, you do want to be able to defeat the opponents and part of that is figuring out their behaviour. As they get more complex, outwitting them becomes more like outwitting an actual person.

Also I wonder if there isn't an uncanny valley effect with AI as there is with animation - an almost intelligent opponent is a lot freakier than one who just walks backwards and forwards between two fixed locations.

Excellent article. I had not considered that it was the complexity of programming holding back AI and not processing. In that event, my only hope for the 8th gen would be that we'll see a substantial improvement in physics engines. Object texturing and such should also get a boost thanks to so much more RAM being available.

But how would you respond to claims from development studios that claim the AI is intensive?

http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/10/titanfall-cloud-explained/

Don't get me wrong, Titanfall is published by EA who has been trying all sorts of shenanigans to shoehorn cloud gaming so I would expect coverups but is this a blatant lie?

"For starters, it wouldn't allow for the resource-intensive AI-controlled combatants and busy battlefields the team had in mind."

Now, what I could read from that is that they needed the processing to take some of the load off of the consoles, but they say it is intensive.

dolgion:
This is just One character among thousands in this imaginary game. You'd need to simulate a working economy, personality traits and relationships between characters and more. I wonder how impossible this kind of thing would be in terms of processing power, let alone to design algorithms for.

That's kind of what the article is talking about. Basically, it's a list of logic statements with minor calculations. Each one does require processing in much the same way that a word document takes up RAM when open, but the amount is minor.

In any event, just like you can keep opening word documents until your pc runs out of resources and crashes (or you run out of available handles), you can absolutely run into a hardware limiting number of things to keep track of in addition to what kind of game it actually is. But all of those things aren't being rendered in real time. It's all basically just a series of lines in a text document getting processed behind the scenes. This is still not difficult for machines to do. Rendering would be.

What the next gen of technology should offer is a better platform for more accurate and robust physics engines. That will make a larger difference in immersion than more polygons which have gotten pretty damn good already in the 7th generation. I do wonder about AI and what can be done to make it more streamlined like physics engines allow. For example, the Source engine can be used by a variety of games for its physics (albeit ancient), but AI can be so game specific that I wonder if it will ever be possible to have standard AI models for developers to use that can be improved on as time goes on.

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