I’m not the first person to admit that I don’t have the firmest grasp on quantum mechanics or the computational mechanics that utilize them. Sure, I’ll bust out the Schrodinger’s cat situation at the many intellectual gatherings I’m totally invited to, but that’s where my familiarity with all things quantum ends. Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab wants that to change for the world’s youth, and found the best way to accomplish that task was through non-other than Minecraft.
X-COM creator Julian Gollop on "brute force" blockbuster game development and the lost promise of intelligent AI
In a genial interview, strategy-game elder statesman and creator of the original X-COM: UFO Defense Julian Gollop talked to us about his imagined alternate history of gaming, his preference for procedural systems, and how he feels modern games have abandoned the promise of advanced AI in favour of shinier visuals and reward mechanics designed to massage players' egos.
Gollop first came to GDC in 1995, to discuss AI, when turn-based strategy games like UFO / X-COM were the cutting edge, just as RTS was taking over. “In those days, I believed firmly that the future of computer games was all about AI. That in twenty years time we'd be interacting with NPC characters in computer games that actually had real intelligence and could respond to you in really intelligent ways. Boy, I was wrong. So wrong!”
In preparation for our not-too-distant subjugation by skull-faced machine-men, I thought I'd bone up on the latest advances in electro-brain design and stop by this year's GDC AI summit. Kicking off the summit was a trimuvirate of talks about the AI behind PCG-fave XCOM, stabby sequel Assassin's Creed 3 and the super-shiny “space ninjas with machine guns” shooter Warframe. The talks showed a fascinating variety of uses for AI: XCOM's combat AI was the most immediately familiar, but supremely clever in insinuating the personality of enemy types - and a far cry from the use of AI to determine Connor's foot placement in AC3. Warframe, meanwhile, deploys AI as a dungeonmaster, cobbling together levels from pre-built components to fit the needs of its players. It's smart stuff. Perhaps... too smart? Read on to unpick alien plans, parkour and player-centric dungeon design.
I still play the original Supreme Commander a lot. Partly because of the huge scale, but mostly because nothing else has this many different types of exciting robots, and if something did, they probably wouldn't explode so perfectly.
It also has unusually good AI, and this is a story about that.
The Fields of Isis is a map split by mountain ridges. One in the middle divides your possible routes to the enemy base. Two outside each base concentrate all incoming forces into a tight chokepoint, making it easy to defend. I'm fighting a single top-level AI, and I have a plan.
It can be difficult to convince your DotA-virgin friends to jump into League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth with you for a match or two. The gameplay is still foreign to a lot of gamers, and can feel overwhelming at first; and they've heard stories of the viscous, hyper-competitive community. That's why Riot Games developed the Co-op vs. AI mode for League of Legends, which just launched yesterday—it was hailed as the perfect way to play with friends, without all the stress and pressure of PvP play. But what will our two resident LoL-addicts think when they face down the most challenging bots the genre has ever seen? (And more importantly, who will get the higher kill tally?)
Some breakthroughs are awesome. Others are downright frightening. We're unsure how to categorise this latest news that university students have developed an AI system for StarCraft: Brood War that can beat seasoned human players. Read on for details.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Conspiracy theorists love 'em. Codemasters have taken their time in responding to rampant speculation about F1 2010's AI, and in that time all kinds of damaging hypotheses have appeared: When AI opponents disappear from view, they blip out of existence, reappearing semi-randomly when the game thinks you're in need of excitement! The speed of AI cars has nothing to with their design, engine quality or driver skill, and everything to do with their position in the field!! Pieces of Sebastian Vettel's front wing were found embedded in the back bumper of Ted Kennedy's Oldsmobile after the Chappaquiddick crash!!! What's true, what's tosh? Thanks to an official statement issued yesterday, we now know. Sort of.