Blog: Artificial Intelligence in Gaming
When I say Artificial Intelligence in Gaming I’m sure one of two ideas come to mind. Either the control of Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) or more modern research areas such as AlphaGo and AlphaStar competing in Go and Starcraft respectively. Today, I’m going to focus on the former, Artificial Intelligence for the control of NPCs due to how it can immensely change the quality of a game and the immersiveness of its world.
Pretty much every game from First Person Shooters to Role Playing Games requires some form of an intelligent agent in order to function. Even from the very beginning Artificial Intelligence has been a huge part of gaming. For example, consider the early game, Pong. Although Pong can be played with two people, there is also a single player mode in which the computer controls the other paddle. Although a seemingly simple task now, game developers of the time had to begin laying the groundwork for Artificial Intelligence in gaming by designing a way for the agent to understand the game environment and react to a player’s actions. As video games got more complex so too did the intelligent agents that controlled NPCs. In Pac-Man, the ghosts each had their own personalities and responded to player actions in different ways. This concept of multi-agent environments can be seen as laying the groundwork for more modern games with tens to thousands of agents. If we consider a more modern game like Skyrim, there are now many more agents than in the games of the past and now every agent also has some form of affinity for the player depending on if the player has helped or hurt the NPC or their relatives. Even more interesting still are games such as Maden that try to emulate the actions of different real-life athletes so that their movement and decisions seem to copy their real-world counterparts. Additionally, since in modern games the world isn’t always fully observable to the player and the goal of a game is to be fun for a player, game developers have to tune their agents so that they can only use knowledge that would be available to a player and play in a way that doesn’t feel like cheating.
Although intelligent agents in video games fill a different role than what we typically think of as Artificial Intelligence in the real world, it’s still an interesting and vast world of growth and development.