Post-Play'em - Observations on Game AI

Archive for the ‘Site Related’ Category

Migration Completed (finally!)

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Well, after being dead in the water after The Great Blogger Screw-over of 2010, I’m now on a new web host and using WordPress instead.

I’ve got a backlog of games that I have been playing and making observations on — some with the help of my son, Aaron, who has caught the spirit of noticing AI issues. I’m hoping to put these all up on here in the next week or so.

Anyway, we’re back. Make sure you subscribe to Post-Play’em in your manner of choice. (As of this writing, I still haven’t put any “subscribe” link on here.)

Migration from Blogger to WordPress

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Well, after the migration to the “New Blogger”, I discovered that they won’t support my php includes so that the blog can fit into the rest of my site. Therefore, I am going to ditch Blogger entirely.

After having worked as an author for a couple of other blogs that used WordPress, I figure that it was a decent solution. Therefore, I am going to begin installing WordPress and see if I can get all my existing content over to it. Things may look ugly for a bit but hopefully I can get it taken care of.
Oh… and a big thank you to Google/Blogger for screwing up dozens (if not scores) of hours of my work. Good work, folks.

Blog Migration

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Because Blogger is doing away with their FTP publishing as of May 1st, I have to convert this blog over to a new type of system with them. Unfortunately, because I have their custom code embedded in my Intrinsic Algorithm pages, this is likely not going to go smoothly. Hopefully, there will be very little down-time. Please accept our apologies if something goes amiss.

Team Fortress 2

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Ok… this really isn’t observations on the AI of Team Fortress 2. It is one of my weekly columns that I write for entitled “Play First… Code AI Later“. In it, I talk about how observing other players online (especially the bad ones) really helps make me a better AI designer and programmer. There is much to learn from watching the differences between how the good players approach things when compared to the less-than-stellar tacticians. Most of it is on a tactical level… not anything to do with pathfinding, aiming, etc. This is more about how to think as a soldier (or engineer in this case).

Anyway, hop on over… it’s actually rather long. Yeah… there’s definately a rant tone to it at times. *shrug* Sorry…

Web site troubles… new posts coming!

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Ok folks, I know this is getting old. I have been having horrible problems with my ISP since early April. I won’t name the ISP yet, but you can look it up for yourself, I suppose. I have been with this company for 6 years and things started fairly well. However, in recent years, especially since a buyout, things have been a little more dicey. Well, this latest issue has to do with a server move gone awry. If the issue persists, I won’t hesitate to name them… at about the same time as I go shopping for a new ISP – something I don’t want to have to waste time doing.

Because the site has been up and down for 5 weeks, I’ve been a little hesitant about posting. I have plenty of material I want to put on IA on AI and have been wanting to start putting some new observations on here. I have been assured that the ISP issue will be solved soon (although I was told that over a month ago). However, I think that I may just start writing some of this material anyway. Since I use Blogger, everything is stored on their site first anyway. It wouldn’t take me much to republish if I were to lose things.

Anyway, for those of you who have been checking the blogs and finding only errors, I apologize. I appreciate your loyalty nonetheless.

Thank you,

Dave Mark

Bioshock interview and Civ 4 notes

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Ok… this is kind of a Post-Play’em article. Check out my taped GDC interview with John Abercrombie, AI Lead on Bioshock over at IA on AI.

As I play further into the game, I will eventually post actual play observations. My interview has kinda spoiled the purity of my game experience, though. I know what to look for!

Also, I have posted my notes from Soren Johnson’s GDC lecture on the AI of Civ 4. It doesn’t get hardly at all into the actual mechanics of what they did (which I plan on doing in my Post-Play’em later) but rather covers how he tried to position the AI as somewhere between “good” (real) and “fun”.

Stay tuned for the actual Post-Play’em on that one!

Civ 4 and Bioshock updates

Monday, February 11th, 2008

A month ago, I mentioned that I was going to be doing analyses of Civ 4 and Bioshock. Well, I have decided to wait until after the GDC next week. The reasons are clear…

1) I will be attending a lecture at GDC by none other than the man behind the AI on Civ 4, Soren Johnson entitled Playing to Lose: AI and “CIVILIZATION”. From the description of the session:

Artificial intelligence performs a crucial role for any strategy game, providing a compelling opponent for solo play. While many of the challenges of AI development are technical, there are also significant design challenges as well. Can the AI behave like a human? Should it? Should the game design be adjusted to accommodate the limitations of the AI? Should the AI be exposed to modders? How do we make the AI fun? Should the AI cheat? If so, how much? Do we even want the AI to win? [...snip]

And from Soren’s own blog, “Designer Notes” on a post entitled “A Farewell to Civ”:

Essentially, I will be talking about the difference between thinking of the AI as the player’s opponent and thinking of it as simply an extension of the core game design (what one might call the difference between “good” AI and “fun” AI). There will also be a long section on AI cheating – the bane of my existence for many years – concerning which type of cheats are acceptable to players and which type are not, using Civ as an extensive case study. Further, I hope to prove that, for Civ at least, there is no such thing as – and never could be – a “fair” difficulty level where the AI is playing the same game as the human. Your mileage , of course, might vary.

Given that I will be getting a peek into what he was actually doing in the AI design, I don’t want to stick my neck out and make comments about how wonderful this or that was and find out that it was either unintentional or cheating. That would be embarrassing. Also, I’m hoping to have the opportunity to interview him – or at least hang out with him to some extent. That would provide a lot of great material for a Post-Play’em entry.

2) On a similar note, I received this email a few weeks back under the subject of “Bioshock on Post-Play’em”:

Hey Dave,

Cool blog (both of ‘em). I’m waiting for the Bioshock review though… curious what you think. :)

See ya at GDC (?)

John Abercrombie (AI Lead on Bioshock)

Oh yeah… that wasn’t even remotely intimidating!

I’ve talked to John a bit since that point… he’s actually really cool about the whole thing. It’s not like I was planning on ripping his work apart anyway. I’m actually quite impressed with some of the things I’ve seen in the game so far (I’m still not terribly far in.) We are planning on getting together for a while during GDC. I’m very much looking forward to meeting him and talking shop. In fact, I hope to pick his brain a little on some of the much heralded AI in the game.

So that’s what’s holding me back on doing those two games right now. I hope to be giving you some juicy tidbits… if not next week during GDC, then possibly the week after I get back. Remember to keep an eye on the IA News blog next week as I report from the GDC and let you know all the nifty stuff I see and do (complete with pictures!).

… if I make it home without going into a coma. What a week GDC is!

Upcoming reviews – Bioshock and Civ 4

Friday, December 28th, 2007

In the post-holiday mode, I have been playing through Bioshock and Civilization 4 (“Warlords” expansion). I plan on doing a post on each of them in the near future. Civ 4 especially has me intruiged since I spent way too long playing Civ 2. Also, at the 2008 GDC, there is a presentation on the AI of the Civilization series that I plan on attending – so this is research, right? :-)

Make sure you check back – or better yet, make sure you subscribe to the RSS feed so that you can keep up with whatever I am doing over here at Post-Play’em.

In the mean time, if you are an AI fan, make sure you check out my other blog, IA on AI for news and commentary on the world of game AI. (It wouldn’t hurt to subscribe to that one either!)

Technical AI reviews at

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

AIGameDev.comNot to distract attention from my blog, but my friend, colleague and co-author in AI Game Programming Wisdom 4, Alex Champandard of AIGameDev has a brilliant series of articles on his site. They are technical AI reviews of major games that are written in a bulleted sort of fashion such as “21 tips from [Title] to use in your game.”

Much of the time there are links to interviews or write-ups by the AI designers themselves that Alex uses to put together his lists. Often, that is where the true meat of the entry is. The content is definitely geared towards the programmer or designer, but much of it can be digested by the game enthusiast as well. The best part is if you have actually played the games as well so you can have a peek under the hood and see what was causing it to be so engaging.

Since Blogger allows me to paste in urls automatically, I’m going to cheat and paste links to each of the articles:

Anyway, after completely immersing yourself in the AI wonderland that is, please remember to stop back by here once in a while! :-) Alex would want it that way, too!

New Intrinsic Algorithm blog – “IA on AI”

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Just a quick note, make sure you check out our other blog, “IA on AI“. That is where we will be posting links to interesting stuff on the web about AI or game development. Just thought you may want to know!