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The Development of AI in Videogames

Posted 21 January

The gaming industry has increased its importance and influence since the late 20th century. It is specially attached to the evolution of Artificial Intelligence.  If you are interested on the importance of AI in the field of Videogames, keep reading! After reading all that we have to say here, you won’t hesitate in joining our Master in Artificial Intelligence.

The History of AI in Videogames

Artificial Intelligence in videogames is used to generate adaptive, responsive and intelligent behaviours. We can find this characteristic in non-playable characters, known as NPCs, with the characteristic of simulating and imitating human intelligence.

First of all, we have to know that the ‘golden age’ of arcade videogames began from the 70s forwards. After, the idea of opponents with artificial intelligence were becoming popular. It began with games such as Space Invaders (1978) or Pac-Man (1980). They had the possibility to increase the difficulty based on the hash functions of the player’s input. Also, it included different AI patters per enemy.

Thanks to that, it became more sophisticated with Dragon Quest IV (1990) and Secret of Mana (1993). A tactic system was introduced in order to allow the player to adjust the AI characteristics of each non-playable character during battle.

From the 90s onwards, new game genres appeared. With their appearance, new uses of AI tools as finite state machines also began to take place in the industry. Games began to include real-time decisions, pathfinding, players’ behaviour evaluation, interactive multiple-way dialogs and AI itself as main aspects of the game. Those new aspects began to provide more credible and immersive videogames. That happened thanks to the good imitation of NPCs’ human-like intelligence.

In modern videogames, pathfinding is one of the common uses of AI. This method helps the game to get one NPC from one point of the game’s map to another, taking into account the obstacles, terrain, etc. It is a characteristic that we can find in games such as Age of Empires (1997) or in Civilization V (2010). However, it doesn’t always work properly.

Uses of AI in Videogames beyond NPCs

There are people that only know the traditional control of NPCs’ performance by Artificial Intelligence, but there were several uses for it in the videogame industry. We share with you the main four aspects of AI hidden in videogames:

  • Generation of procedural content: it involves the creation of elements of the game environment as levels or music with automatization. The methods of AI are able to create interactive stories or even new content.
  • The behaviour of the user: this aspect allows to explore how people behave and use the game itself. Specifically, which parts that the players play repeatedly, and which ones make them quit the game. The analysis of those aspects allows the developers to fix problems and improve the game itself.
  • Alternative approach to NPCs: enhances the NPC believability as well as their individual and social behaviour. This is used to provide a more immersive game experience.
  • Modelling of the player experience: It considers the ability of the player to adapt the game itself to the player’s possibilities. Also, this aspect includes the ‘dynamic game difficulty balancing’. It gets the possibility to  adjusts the game’s difficulty in real-time thanks to AI.

Future of AI in Videogames

The innovation in the AI involved in the videogame industry will contain a higher immersion and experience while playing. In the case of the action genre, it will provide a better communication among NPCs and the player itself. It exists thanks to the configuration and programming of the game’s Artificial Intelligence.

Finally, one of the examples is the case of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege (2015). It is a cooperative multiplayer and first-person shooter game where when a player uses a grenade or reloads, among other multiple options, the AI detects the action and shouts ‘grenade!’ or ‘reloading!’. As a consequence, it makes the other players know what is happening and adjusts their way of playing to what the others are doing. This aspect can be developed further to ensure a better communicative skills and immersion through the improvement of AI’s techniques and methods.

 

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