Post-Play'em - Observations on Game AI

Posts Tagged ‘GDC’

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!)

Going to GDC?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Hey all… if you are going to be at GDC, make sure to let me know! Of course, if you are an AI person, we are likely to see each other at the roundtables or other sessions, but I would hate to be standing next to you and not know who you are!

You can also give me a shout on my myGDC page. See you there!