AI IN GAMES

While the RTX 2080 has some additional bells and whistles there is much more to meet the eye. The RTX 3080 extends on the features of the RTX 2080. AMD has followed the developments in DX12 with Windows 10.

AI has long been a part of the game with on playing characters. Now however a new class of AI is available with modern higher performance computers. Multiplayer game servers can track player interaction.

Nearly all games need some amount of artificial intelligence — most commonly to give the player non-human opponents. But conversations about good AI in games are still dominated by Façade, Black & White, The Sims, Versu, and F.E.A.R. — all of which came out years ago. 

First-person shooters normally showcase enemy AI that’s just smart enough to challenge the player as they go around shooting everything that moves. The player is a predator, and the hordes of lookalike bad guys scurrying around the screen are the prey. But Alien: Isolation’s Xenomorph reverses that convention. The free-roaming alien is the one in a position of strength, and the player — stripped of her power — gets to feel what it’s like to be hunted.

Game AI techniques generally come in two flavors: deterministic and nondeterministic. Deterministic behavior or performance is specified and predictable. There’s no uncertainty. An example of deterministic behavior is a simple chasing algorithm. You can explicitly code a nonplayer character to move toward some target point by advancing along the x and y coordinate axes until the character’s x and y coordinates coincide with the target location. Nondeterministic behavior is the opposite of deterministic behavior. Behavior has a degree of uncertainty and is somewhat unpredictable (the degree of uncertainty depends on the AI method employed and how well that method is understood). An example of nondeterministic behavior is a nonplayer character learning to adapt to the fighting tactics of a player. Such learning could use a neural network, a Bayesian technique, or a genetic algorithm.

DEVELOPER PROBLEMS

Developers traditionally have been a bit wary of AI that is nondeterministic, although this is changing. Unpredictability is difficult to test and debug—how can you test all possible variations of player action to make sure the game doesn’t do something silly in some cases? Game developers face an ever-shortening development cycle that makes developing and testing new technology to production-ready standards extremely difficult. Such short development periods make it difficult for developers to understand cutting-edge AI technologies fully and to see their implications in a mass-market commercial game.

A new game isn’t usually ‘pre-trained’ like a machine learning algorithm would be; it’s not practical to write a neural network during development to observe tens of thousands of players and learn the best way to play against them, because the game isn’t released yet and there are no players!

The game is usually supposed to provide entertainment and challenge rather than be ‘optimal’ – so even if the agents could be trained to take the best approach against the humans, this is often not what the designers actually want.

MODERN GAMES

Modern upcoming games like Halo: Infinite will feature next generation gaming experience. Many other studios are working on modernizing their game engines. The move to more advanced AI techniques has caught the attention of a few studios but it may gain ground in the coming years as PC and console alike become more powerful. RDNA2 graphics have elementary AI support and this is likely to evolve looking forward. DX12 DXR has also influenced studio development with improved graphics.

Consoles pressure the gaming industry as they spend a lot of cash on games. This results in a period represented by the console lifecycle. The lifecycle is nominal as many 84 million Xbox 360 consoles are still in use. Xbox One is popular and about 51 million units were sold. Now the Xbox Series X has managed only 3.5 million units so far. The Playstation 2 still is the all time best selling console with some 155 million units sold.