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Neurotic bots beats “Age of Mythology” AI

According to a blog post on the New Scientist magazine web site, an experiment (pdf file) by some Austrian researchers shows you don’t have to be entirely sane to beat the AI in the 2002 RTS game, “Age of Mythology” by Ensemble Studios.
The group wants games to be more engaging by having emotional, not just coolly calculating, computer players. Instead of just challenging your rational planning and decision skills, you’ll have use your emotional intelligence too.

I am also very interested in the inclusion of psychology into the AI of computer games and simulations. I am very well versed in psychology and emotional response. However, I’m not entirely sure whether they proved any point here. They could claim that it was their model, which simulated “the big five” emotional dimensions to personality recognised by psychologists. On the other hand, it could very well be game design decisions or poor AI.

“Age of Mythology” was the follow up to the “Age of Empires” series. Those games were not well known for their AI prowess. (In fact, when lead designer Rick Goodman left to found Stainless Steel Studio, the bloodline was improved significantly with Empire Earth which was known for its AI. I’d love to see their neurotic bots take on that game.) Additionally, there are so many combinations of how the bot AI designed by the researchers could match up with the AI for AoM, that simply balancing those two alone would be daunting. Some very simple arbitrary choices about coefficients used in decision making could have skewed any other data one way or the other. I’m not discounting their research, but as a simulation modeller, I know the challenges involved in creating a multi-variate system such as this.

On the other hand, I think it just says more about what Ensemble did – or did not do – with the game design and AI of “Age of Mythology”.

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