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Back from E3

Monday, June 21st, 2010

E3 ExpoAfter dealing with delays in LA, stand-by flight bookings, and a late-night sprint through concourse B in Denver, I have returned from E3.

People keep asking me what I thought of the show and I realize I have no answer for them. After enough E3’s, they all just blend together. I didn’t see any of the keynotes yet – I’ll see them online or read about them. I didn’t wait in line to do demos of all the hot technologies – my time is too valuable for that. To be honest, I didn’t play a single game.

However, I did lurk and watch a lot. My goal at E3 is to take the temperature of the industry. What’s going on? What are companies doing or not doing? And then, I talk to people. It’s amazing how many studios are showing off smoke and mirrors at E3 and passing it off as gameplay. That’s unfortunate, but it is also what the consumer wants. They want to dream and salivate (mostly salivate). It’s also necessary as part of the business model that thrives on pre-release “buzz”.

“Sometimes, the result is a final product that is still smoke and mirrors.”

Anyway, it is also a good time for me, after observing what they are showing, to quietly and discreetly ask them what they really need going forward. And often, assistance with AI is high on the list. After all, placeholder AI for a demo is more smokey and mirrory than anything else. Unfortunately, unlike gameplay and building more levels, which can be planned out to some extent, most of the companies don’t really seem to know where they are going with AI. Sometimes, the result is a final product that is still smoke and mirrors.

And that’s where we can help.

On that note, it’s time to do all my follow-up communication. Hopefully in the next few weeks we can announce who we are going to be working with. There’s plenty of companies we are talking to. And we’re excited about every single one!

Intrinsic Algorithm at E3

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

E3 ExpoIntrinsic Algorithm will be at E3 in Los Angeles. Once again this year, we are meeting with studios, individuals, and recruiters to discuss potential AI consulting contracts. (To learn more about Intrinsic Algorithm’s AI consulting work, go here.)

If you or your studio needs a little help (or a big push) with your game AI, we still have some time slots available during the week. Please contact us so we can meet!

Oh… and maybe we will get to actually see some of the show floor this year. But we would rather meet with you instead!

Dave Mark to Speak at GDC Online (Austin)

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

I will be speaking at the 2010 GDC Online conference in Austin again this year. GDC Online is October 5th – 8th at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX.

Here is the tentative description of his session proposal as accepted by the GDC Online Advisory Board:

Session Description
Many areas of game design and programming benefit from very simple premises found in the 50-year old discipline of game theory. When games go awry, it is often due to not applying one or more of these ideas. Online competitive games in particular are prone to tipping precariously out of balance. By comparing staple online games such as World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, and Starcraft to classic game theory examples such as Rock-Paper-Scissors and Prisoner’s Dilemma, this lecture offers practical tips on how game theory methodologies can be used to craft well-balanced games—and potentially avert disaster!

Session Takeaway
The attendee will see some of the classic example problems of game theory in action, how their concepts can be applied to the design of online competitive games, and how those applications can create richer gameplay.

This will be my second appearance at GDC Online (formerly GDC Austin) and my 4th overall participation at GDC events. My 2009 GDC Austin lecture, “Cover Me! Promoting MMO Player Interaction through Advanced AI” garnered a attendee rating of 4.9 (out of 5) compared to the conference average of 4.29. This included a 4.9 score on the item, “Would you recommend this session to a colleague?”

My thanks to the GDC Online advisory board and the wonderful conference staff, Jen Steele and Kara Foley, for the opportunity once again. A special nod to board member Raph Koster whose excellent “Games Are Math” session from last year gave me a reminder of  how relevant this topic is.

Hope to see you all there!

(To download lecture slides from any of my past conference lectures, visit our “media” page.)

Airline Traffic Manager Interface Decisions

Friday, May 28th, 2010

For those of you who are following the development of Airline Traffic Manager (especially all those people who keep sending us wonderful emails asking about it), there are some decisions  that are starting to be made that will help jump-start the process once again.

First and foremost is how to proceed with the game interface. The original interface was written in Microsoft Foundation Classes. MFC was never meant to be permanent solution. Instead, it was merely a way of visualizing what was going on in the game simulation engine. Unfortunately, MFC is a bit unwieldy. It got to the point where it was more of a hindrance than a help.

We have been keeping an eye open for possibilities during this (very long) lull in development. One option was to go to the successor of MFC, Windows Forms. Windows Forms are based in .NET and are significantly easier to use than MFC and they can be customized nicely to make for an attractive interface. However, there is still that “Windows app” feel to it. That’s not all bad. On the other hand, I’m a little wary of combining my existing C++ code with .NET as that tends to get a little prickly.

Other solutions have been proposed by colleagues including Flash, something from TorquePowered, and even simply using DirectX. One of the drawbacks of  those options is that I would have to bring in someone else to do the interface – which the budget does not support at the moment. Windows Forms I can do on my own for the most part.

Speaking of money, we have been keeping an eye on the rise of community fundraising sites like KickStarter. It’s a way to raise funds from the community by promising contributors a final product and maybe even perks on top of it. If the funding goal doesn’t get met, the contributors don’t pay anything. I have a feeling that a couple of well-placed mentions of the fundraising would generate a ton of money. Again, it’s something we are looking into.

Anyway, I just wanted you all to know that we haven’t abandoned what was our original pet project. For all of you people who are dying to play the most detailed, realistic airline management sim ever made, I’m still planning on making it! Hang in there!

Heading to E3 2010

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Dave Mark will be heading out to SoCal once again for E3.

E3 ExpoMuch like last year, actually attending the conference (as in seeing the show floor) is a bit of a misrepresentation. In fact, there were rumors going around that there was some sort of show where you could play all sorts of new games. There was no time to see if any of that was true, however. Too many meetings!

So, like last year, Intrinsic Algorithm is actively meeting with studios, outsourcing companies, and recruiters regarding their need for AI consulting. If you would like to set up and appointment, feel free to contact us.

Otherwise, if you are one of our many colleagues and will be trolling around the Staples Center, make sure you say “hi”… if you manage to pick Dave out of a crowd of 50,000. (Giving me a call might be easier.)

Heading to GDC and the AI Summit

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Once again, Dave is heading to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and once again he will be helping run the AI Summit as a presentation of the AI Game Programmers Guild.

In addition to his role as Summit Advisor, he will be delivering a joint lecture with Kevin Dill entitled Improving AI Decision Modeling Through Utility Theory and taking part in a panel, Deciding on an AI Architecture: Which Tool for the Job?

If you are at GDC this week, you should be able to find Dave at the AI Summit or at any of the various AI roundtables or lectures. See you there!

Consulting for Project Aurora Games

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Intrinsic Algorithm has entered into a consulting contract with Project Aurora Games to provide AI design and programming services for their debut space-based title.

Project Aurora entered into discussions with Intrinsic Algorithm in October of 2009 after their Founder and Creative Director, Mbambu Miller, met Dave Mark at the 2009 GameX Industry Summit in Philadelphia.

Intrinsic Algorithm is excited about assisting in the creation of Project Aurora’s unique gameplay vision.

Returned from GameX Industry Summit

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I have returned from the GameX Industry Summit in Philadelphia. It was a small, but interesting event with a number of good speakers. I am looking forward to working with them again in the future.

2010 GDC AI Summit Announced

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

The GDC folks have put up the main page for the AI Summit at the 2010 GDC. This year, I am listed as a Summit Advisor alongside Steve Rabin. While I helped out a lot last year, I wasn’t listed as an official advisor. That makes for a wonderful honor. I’m so pleased to be working with all the great people in the AI Game Programmers Guild to put this event on.

Back from AIIDE and ready for GameX

Monday, October 19th, 2009

I returned from AIIDE over the weekend. You can follow the posts of my observations and session notes on IA on AI with the tag AIIDE 2009.

I will be leaving on Thursday for GameX in Philly where I am giving a lecture with Kevin Dill on “The Art of Game AI”. That’s a fancy way of saying I’m covering things like multi-attribute utility theory, response curves, and weighted randoms.
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