Archive for September, 2009

User-Generated AI for Interactive Digital Entertainment

CMU Seminar

User-generated content is everywhere: photos, videos, news, blogs, art, music, and every other type of digital media on the Social Web. Games are no exception. From strategy games to immersive virtual worlds, game players are increasingly engaged in creating and sharing nearly all aspects of the gaming experience: maps, quests, artifacts, avatars, clothing, even games themselves. Yet, there is one aspect of computer games that is not created and shared by game players: the AI. Building sophisticated personalities, behaviors, and strategies requires expertise in both AI and programming, and remains outside the purview of the end user.

To understand why Game AI is hard, we need to understand how it works. AI can take digital entertainment beyond scripted interactions into the arena of truly interactive systems that are responsive, adaptive, and intelligent. I discuss examples of AI techniques for character-level AI (in embedded NPCs, for example) and game-level AI (in the drama manager, for example). These types of AI enhance the player experience in different ways. The techniques are complicated and are usually implemented by expert game designers.

I argue that User-Generated AI is the next big frontier in the rapidly growing Social Gaming area. From Sims to Risk to World of Warcraft, end users want to create, modify, and share not only the appearance but the “minds” of their characters. I present my recent research on intelligent technologies to assist Game AI authors, and show the first Web 2.0 application that allows average users to create AIs and challenge their friends to play them—without programming. I conclude with some thoughts about the future of AI-based Interactive Digital Entertainment.

CMU Robotics & Intelligence Seminar, September 28, 2009
Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
MIT Media Lab Colloquium, January 25, 2010
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Stanford Media X Philips Seminar, February 1, 2010
Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
Pixar Research Seminar, February 2, 2010

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Drama Management and Player Modeling for Interactive Fiction Games

A growing research community is working towards employing drama management components in story-based games. These components gently guide the story towards a narrative arc that improves the player’s gaming experience. In this paper we evaluate a novel drama management approach deployed in an interactive fiction game called Anchorhead. This approach uses player’s feedback as the basis for guiding the personalization of the interaction.

The results indicate that adding our Case-based Drama manaGer (C-DraGer) to the game guides the players through the interaction and provides a better overall player experience. Unlike previous approaches to drama management, this paper focuses on exhibiting the success of our approach by evaluating results using human players in a real game implementation. Based on this work, we report several insights on drama management which were possible only due to an evaluation with real players.

Read the paper:

Drama Management and Player Modeling for Interactive Fiction Games

by Manu Sharma, Santi Ontañón, Manish Mehta, Ashwin Ram

Computational Intelligence, 26(2):183-211, 2010.

Run-Time Behavior Adaptation for Real-Time Interactive Games

Intelligent agents working in real-time domains need to adapt to changing circumstance so that they can improve their performance and avoid their mistakes. AI agents designed for interactive games, however, typically lack this ability. Game agents are traditionally implemented using static, hand-authored behaviors or scripts that are brittle to changing world dynamics and cause a break in player experience when they repeatedly fail. Furthermore, their static nature causes a lot of effort for the game designers as they have to think of all imaginable circumstances that can be encountered by the agent. The problem is exacerbated as state-of-the-art computer games have huge decision spaces, interactive user input, and real-time performance that make the problem of creating AI approaches for these domains harder.

In this paper we address the issue of non-adaptivity of game playing agents in complex real-time domains. The agents carry out run-time adaptation of their behavior sets by monitoring and reasoning about their behavior execution to dynamically carry out revisions on the behaviors. The behavior adaptation approaches has been instantiated in two real-time interactive game domains. The evaluation results shows that the agents in the two domains successfully adapt themselves by revising their behavior sets appropriately.

Read the paper:

Run-Time Behavior Adaptation for Real-Time Interactive Games

by Manish Mehta, Ashwin Ram

IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, Vol. 1, No. 3, September 2009